Christmas is timed around a solstice festival for polytheistic heathens. In Australia it has almost passed on as a religious festival to become a secular holiday dressed up in gift-wrap reds for Christmas Day and cricket whites for the Boxing Day Test.
It makes the idea of facing church a bit like looking through a glass darkly; but the dark absorbent glass set into church windows offers some rare jewels inside, as the posts this week will try to illuminate. The first are in Reims.
A day trip from Paris
Reims is a day-trip from Paris and many people who visit it on these terms know it mostly for its Champagne Houses: Tattinger, Veuve Cliquot, Pommery and others; and there are many more in nearby Epernay.
Reims offers much more. It has witnessed the exchange or settlement of power, or a symbolic reconciliation between political antagonists, for over a thousand years.