Monday, January 03, 2011

Merry Fricken' Christmas!

Have you noticed it’s getting darker earlier? Yes, but after the holidays it’ll start getting lighter earlier.

- Christmas

o Pagan ritual of the end of the harvest.

- Easter

o Pagan ritual of the beginning of a new harvesting season.

Early man became terrified at this time of the year. It is unusual to find anything particularly vivacious due to longer periods of darkness or cold. What was needed was a little encouragement that the seasons would once again change back, that after the period of longer darkness would emerge a period of longer light. That encouragement came in the message of hope and hopefulness.

Those who brought this message of hopefulness were like shepherds guiding people through the darkness. All that was needed was proper preparation in order to get through the winter, and at this time of year those who had plenty would be encouraged to give-off surplus in the form of gifts. This would ensure the survival of the group, and surely those who had more to give would be remembered for it in times of plenty and perhaps be able to prosper because of it. So there may have been a bit of a selfish motive even then – Give a bit now to the needy (a good thing) and when everyone is in bountiful times, they will remember and still support you (a good thing too).

So the custom of last-minute shopping, this furious exchange of goods, is not new! Merchants are offering discounts; people are madly dashing-about even though we all know we will get through the winter!

The themes of this season aren’t new either: Hope, joy, celebration are all being heralded as the emotions to be experiencing, as a way to ward off the despair and fear that would have naturally occurred to early man. Caveman instinct has us caroling about singing songs about what a “wonderful time of the year” it must be, since the plainly obvious cold and darkness must mean their opposite.

Merry Christmas? “Have you noticed it’s getting darker earlier?”

Happy New Year? “Yes, but it will soon get lighter longer.”

These are the expressions I’m going to replace with their counterparts this year. No freaking “Merry Christmas” for me. And no “Happy Chanukah” either because it means essentially the same thing. “Ramadan” is just another ritual around the harvest, but it is not celebrated at this time of year so they don’t go around saying “Happy Ramadan” in competition with “Merry Christmas” so I’ll leave that alone. I do have a problem with Kwanzaa though. Any modern ritual, created in the 20th century is NOT authentic. Jolly old fat guys, yuletide logs, and menorah candles – all these are steeped in the ancient mysteries. A tradition only as old as I am is not a tradition at all, and besides it stole every symbol it has (besides it’s Swahili name) from the dominant cultures it was supposed to be breaking free from.

So sorry if I’m the Grinch who stole Christmas from you, but I will leave-off with this: The message is still a good one: Gathering before the night is sensible. Passing-out the little extra is good for tending to the herd. Yes, we probably will have another springtime after this, but then again, who knows? Telling each other stories of hope is a good countermeasure for the natural anxiety and depression that still seems to accompany this time of year.

And since we’re all going around bullshitting ourselves about the true origins of these rituals, it’s a good idea to also bullshit our offspring. Lie to the children! Lie to ‘em all! It get’s them off to a good start for their own round of bullshitting. Plus it makes plastic trinkets all the more marketable.

So happy hibernation period to all! I bring a message that the earth is round, and it will soon move around the elliptical orbit it is on and become closer to the sun again!

Now put that on a card and sell it!



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