December 9, 2016

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT:

Hanover Christmas Pageant Celebrates 100 Years (Nicola Smith, 12/07/16, Valley News)

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Mystery in Hanover, a beloved annual tradition that brings together the community for a choral performance reenacting the birth of Christ.

The Christmas Mystery has two performances, at 4 and 5 p.m. on Sunday, in Dartmouth College's Rollins Chapel. Both are open to the public at no charge, although donations are welcome.

The mystery is two-fold. First, of course, there's the mystery and awe surrounding the events in the manger in Bethlehem, and second, there's the question of which Hanover High School student will play Mary, which is kept a closely-guarded secret until she appears on stage during the pageant.

The celebration dates from 1917, when the wife of the then-pastor of the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College organized the first performance at the church, according to an article by Marilyn "Willy" Black, a retired teacher and former Hanover Selectboard member. After the church burned in 1931, the Mystery moved to Rollins Chapel for good. [...]

Students from the high school and other Hanover residents play the roles of the angels, shepherds, the Magi, and a page. The young woman who plays Mary is, according to tradition, one year out of high school and is chosen by her peers for demonstrating kindness, thoughtfulness and integrity.

"It's not always a popularity contest, it's really lovely to see who they pick," said Pam Mobilia, the steering committee chair. Three generations of her family have participated: her father, herself and now, her daughter.

Joseph is typically played by an older man who has contributed in a significant way to the life of the town. Although his identity isn't as hush-hush as that of the student who will play Mary, organizers still like to keep it quiet, so there's a sense of surprise when he walks on stage. The narrator is Aharon Boghosian of Gilberte Interiors in Hanover.

This year, Mobilia said, a large number of Hanover residents have volunteered to participate. She estimated that there are about 50 angels and 18 to 19 shepherds.

The audience and performers sing carols throughout, culminating in Oh Come All Ye Faithful, during which audience members, who have been encouraged to bring at least one wrapped gift for a child, bring the presents to the front of the chapel. The gifts are donated to The Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction. 

Posted by at December 9, 2016 12:33 PM

  

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