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The New Year isn’t just about resolutions and hangovers — it’s about foreskin.

New Year 2016

Author and foreskin enthusiast David Farley chronicles his search for the elusive tegument in his 2009 book, “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town.”

 Until it slipped away, the foreskin of Jesus was paraded through town annually on Jan. 1, the Feast of the Circumcision.

(edited from article published by the Jewish Transcript Agency)

 Circumcision, the bris, is celebrated eight days after the birth of a Jewish boy. Jesus was a Jew. And New Year’s Day is eight days after Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’s birth.

Several Christian denominations explicitly connect the dots. The Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Lutherans and the Eastern Orthodox all ring in the New Year with the Feast of the Circumcision.

  • In Roman Catholicism, the day has been celebrated under a number of different names over the centuries: the Anniversary of the Mother of God, the Octave Day of Christmas (on which Jesus was circumcised, according the King James version of the Bible), the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord and the Octave of the Nativity. (Octave means eighth.) Today, it’s known as the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
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Reliquary of the Holy Prepuce

No one is denying that Jesus was circumcised. Christian lore mentions a relic  known as the holy foreskin. As with many relics, items believed to be the Holy Prepuce began to show up in Europe during the Middle Ages — in places we know today as Belgium, France, England, Italy and, of course, Israel. Churches, chapels and abbeys were built to house and celebrate the purported foreskins. Jewel-encrusted boxes were designed to protect them.

The author David Farley was unable to locate his target in Calcata, Italy, as the holy relic mysteriously disappeared in the early 1980s.  Will the holy foreskin ever be found? Sadly, much like the Maltese Falcon, it has a penchant for disappearing, showing up elsewhere and disappearing yet again. But according to Vatican.com, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome holds the remains of the Holy Umbilical Cord — so there’s hope.


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