December 20, 2010

Holiday 2010

O star of wonder, star of light, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light.

A Guiding Light
An epiphany is defined as a sudden, intuitive perception of or revealing insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, often initiated by a commonplace occurrence or experience.

Epiphany*, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, is also known as Three Kings Day. As the story goes, this is the day three wise Eastern astronomers, the magi—inspired by the appearance of an exceptionally bright star—arrived in Bethlehem to visit the Nativity. This journey, and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, is viewed as the first acknowledgement by the Gentiles of Jesus’s divinity.

Afterwhile, in Moravia…
Originally used to teach geometry to students in early 19th-century Germany, the Moravian Star was first made in 1821 in the village of Niesky. Shortly thereafter, the star was adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of Christmas time. The 26-pointed star remains a potent symbol of the season and is hung from the beginning of Advent until Epiphany in January.

There are Moravian stars with 20, 26, 32, 50, 64 and 110 points. The variety comes from the division of the bases of the points—using an octagonal rather than square face. As an example, the common 26-point Moravian Star becomes a 50-point star when the squares and triangles that make up the faces of the polyhedron are transformed to octagons and hexagons.

Geometry is one of the oldest sciences and is the part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, and the essential attributes of an object in space.


May your year be guided by insights, and delight in multi-dimensions.

Jennifer Elsner & David Shields
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* The word Epiphany may derive from Epiphania, the name of the great fair held after Saturnalia in pagan Rome.

Click here to reveal even more. Thanks Sufjan Stevens for Sister Winter.

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