Daniel and the Three Holy Youths
A Christmas Play

by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis

The story of Daniel and the Three Holy Youths, on which this play is based, is narrated in the Book of Daniel, chapter three, and on the Deuterocanonical Addition, containing the Song of the Three Youths. The story takes place in the year 605 B.C, in Babylon, after the deportation of the Hebrews from Jerusalem. Among the captives were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Their story is familiar to all, to some extent. The obvious question is, why present it at Christmas time? Is it an appropriate play for Christmas? What is the connection, if any, of this story with the Nativity of the Lord? Perhaps these and other similar questions pass through your mind.

Daniel and the Three Youths, a central image of the Incarnation, serve as a preparation to the great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. The Church often remembers Daniel and the Three Holy Youths in her hymnology. How often, you may ask. Every week? How about every day! Yes, every single day of the year! In what service? Especially in the Matins, and more specifically in the Katavasiai, the Canon chanted or recited, which deals with the Feast commemorated.

To us and to our children, the story of Daniel and the Three Holy Youths offers valuable reflections, especially courage. God still needs courageous and faithful children and adults. Recalling this story should give us courage to stand for the truth in face of adversity... despite the consequences... standing for what we believe, and doing what is right—no matter what! God still needs men, women and children who refuse to turn away from God, who refuse to give in or give up.

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