11
   

what's the point of Christmas?

 
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:02 pm
Andrew, "Ground Hig Day"? Don't know what it is, but I like the sound of it.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:14 pm
@MontereyJack,
My fingers are as fat as my brain sometimes, Jack.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 04:20 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Quote:
Candlemass (now known as Groundhog Day in the USA --see how it degenerates?) started out as a Keltic rite of weather prognostication.

He's good (unless you count spelling)!
0 Replies
 
tenderfoot
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 05:42 pm
Ask any kid what he knows about Xmas and he'll tell you father Xmas will come in his sleigh and fill his stocking with presents... Don't forget you were taught that when you were a kid.. Just cause we get old doesn't stop us wanting to be kid's again, so Xmas is the time you revert back to your childhood memories.

PS my children were brought up in Queensland Australia, they had never seen snow or a reindeer, they couldn't understand why their father Xmas didn't use kangaroo's
George
 
  3  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 05:58 pm
@tenderfoot,
Quote:
PS my children were brought up in Queensland Australia, they had never seen snow or a reindeer, they couldn't understand why their father Xmas didn't use kangaroo's


http://img442.imageshack.us/img442/1884/roodolphpm8.jpg
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 06:52 pm
I had no idea that everyone was celebrating Christmas the same way as I was and that now we need to re-invent it.

Okay. This is the last year for laying around on the beach all day counting the pelican flights and watching the girls go by while listening to books from Audible.com. We will no more wander up to the Sandbar Bar and sip margaritas as the sun sets the sky ablaze nor shall we muse as darkness settles on how wonderfully deep our friendships are after all these years.

Oh yeah, and forget going to the big bookstore the day after Christmas to trade reads. (Everybody picks three books, everybody else buys them. No limit to the number of participants.)

We also have to re-invent the Scrabble Marathons. I know, I know, everybody loves to play ten to twelve games in a row until three in the morning, but re-invention demands that we think of something else.
(One tradition needs to be kept:
no Television News for the entire period.
Papers will continue to be bought and especially good articles will continue to be read out loud at breakfast followed by what I am afraid to say is adult discussions of the issues.)

I am also going to insist that white wines, unless accompanied by the appropriate cheeses, be banned.

Joe(patooie)Nation
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 06:54 pm
There was no "Christmas" at the beginning and the first Christians did not celebrate birthdays at all. The first few hundred years everything was observed--the manger story, the magi, etc.--on Epiphany. By the Fourth Century, however, the Church had organized to the point of having a liturgical calendar and, probably to compete with the Pagan celebration of Mithras--that is not a certainty--it was decided to observe the birth of Jesus of Nazareth as a feast day around the time of the winter solstice. Thus Christmas was observed, not really celebrated from that time on.

The point of Christmas was therefore to observe the birth of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, in the liturgical calendar.

It was not a celebration or festival for some time and, at various times and among various groups within the whole of Christianity, it was considered improper to 'party' at Christmas. But humans sort of insist on developing traditions and Christmas nevertheless developed its own marked by its own imagery, myths, legends, folklore, decorations, music and customs and was expressed as meaning a time of gift giving, charity, magnanimity, and special time spent with family and friends. And sadly, it has also morphed into the enormous commercial enterprise that it has become today.

There are still special moments nevertheless.

When I took over as director of a church choir years ago, I was advised that it was their custom to devote an evening of caroling--mini concerts given at the hospital and a nursing homes. I didn't especially enjoy that sort of thing but managed to be gracious and tolerated the activity for the first hour or two.

Then we wound up at a nursing home and all ambulatory and otherwise mobile residents dutifully assembled in the large meeting room, smiled and nodded to the traditional Christmas carols. I suppose they appreciated it. I wonder if they weren't just being pleasant. There was one young black kid--maybe late teens or early twenties--so profoundly brain damaged that his head was encased in a heavy helmet so that he would not hurt himself. He was strapped into a wheelchair and backed up against a far wall where he sat, head lolling to one side, mouth open, vacant eyes staring at nothing.

I might not have noticed him had he not been black--he was the only black person in the room.

When we did our rousing rendition of Jingle Bells, however, the residents became especially animated, clapping along with us. I happened to glance at that far wall and saw that kid break into the most huge and wonderful grin I have ever seen. Somehow, some way the music got through the fog and touched him.

It made it all worth it. I never minded going caroling with the choir ever again.

That's the point of Christmas.



0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 08:39 pm
First of all, Christmas in the U.S. is a legal national holiday. So, if anyone in the U.S., from a Christian family, finds it ambiguous to not celebrate this legal national holiday, just say these simple words: I will be Jewish for one day!
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 09:17 pm
@Joe Nation,
Quote:
I had no idea that everyone was celebrating Christmas the same way as I was and that now we need to re-invent it.

Didn't I see you guys on Hallmark TV Special?
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 10:17 pm
@sozobe,
That's Yule, not Christmas.

I don't really understand why people say they're celebrating Christmas when they're celebrating Yule. Seems a cop-out to me.

I miss Noddy.
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Dec, 2008 10:26 pm
I don't celebrate christmas, I celebrate a day off, share some presents around and eat fine food, drink too much. We follow some traditions (like a decorated tree, and brightly wrapped presents) because that's what we grew up with. I don't see anything religious about it. In fact I think getting up for the dawn service on Anzac Day is much more religious.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 04:41 am
@George,
George said:
Code:Re: Joe Nation (Post 3501294)
Quote:
I had no idea that everyone was celebrating Christmas the same way as I was and that now we need to re-invent it.

Quote:
Didn't I see you guys on Hallmark TV Special?


It was called Lobsterfest at Christmas on the Beach or the Legend of Sandy Claws.
Joe(dah-da-da-da-dum)Nation
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 07:56 am
@ehBeth,
I do too.

I was talking about the "original purpose" though... Christmas was overlaid on Yule.

I variously call what I celebrate Christmas, or Yule, or the festival of lights, or a midwinter festival, or nothing.

Whatever it is it's hardly pure -- "Yule" would be no more accurate than "Christmas," probably. (We do sing Christmas carols; we do play dreidel and light the menorah; we do exchange gifts wrapped in red and green paper; we do bring a lot of fresh greenery in the house etc. It's a grand mishmash, which serves that "original purpose" of brightening dark and cold days well enough.)
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 09:12 am
@sozobe,
Hopefully not everything from original purpose

There are many references to Yule in the Icelandic sagas but few accounts of how Yule was celebrated beyond the fact it was a time for feasting. According to Adam of Bremen, Swedish kings sacrificed male slaves every ninth year during the Yule sacrifices
George
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Dec, 2008 10:10 am
@Joe Nation,
Quote:
It was called Lobsterfest at Christmas on the Beach or the Legend of Sandy Claws.

...in which our hard-boiled hero breaks out of his shell, gets some tail and learns
The True Meaning of Christmas.
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Dec, 2008 04:09 am
@saab,
When was Christmas first celebrated? I'm guessing during the decline of the Roman empire maybe 400 years before Iceland was settled. What's Yule? I know the word but I always assumed it was a synonym for xmas.

Have a cool yule!
saab
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Dec, 2008 05:24 am
@hingehead,
Yule some say has the same meaning as jolly in English, which I doubt. That is if it might have come into the English language from jul to jolly. Meaning a fun time. But this fine details in ord languages is not really my speciality.
It is written jul in Scandinavian languages. There is no other word for this celebration. The word did not change when Christianity came to Scandinavia.
Old Norse jólablót or midvinter blot was celebrated in the midwinter. The special God was Jólner one of Odin´s many names.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Dec, 2008 07:45 am
@hingehead,
Hinge, the word "Yule", meaning the mid-winter celebration in England, Northern Europe and elsewhere came into the English language from the Old Norse word Jul during the time of the Viking presence in England, considerably later than the collapse of the Roman Empire. About 500 years later, in fact. The word was used pretty interchangeably with Christmas, as it is now. These were just two different words to designate the same festival which had been traditional for millenia past. Christmas, of course, with the presence of the prefix 'Christ-' connoted a celebration of the birth of Jesus whereas Yule did not necessarily have this connotation. But the word in the Scandinavian languages, as well as the traditions of the celebration, pre-date Christianity by a looooong stretch.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Dec, 2008 08:57 pm
@saab,
saab wrote:

Yule some say has the same meaning as jolly in English, which I doubt. That is if it might have come into the English language from jul to jolly. Meaning a fun time. But this fine details in ord languages is not really my speciality.
It is written jul in Scandinavian languages. There is no other word for this celebration. The word did not change when Christianity came to Scandinavia.
Old Norse jólablót or midvinter blot was celebrated in the midwinter. The special God was Jólner one of Odin´s many names.



Then there is "yumpin' yimminy" for "jumping jimminy." What is this parsing of Yule? So, where did the "Yule log" come from?

Soon, someone will make a connection to a Neanderthal celebration.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2008 12:05 am
@Foofie,
Foofie wrote:
Soon, someone will make a connection to a Neanderthal celebration.


They've a really nice Christmas market in Neanderthal. (Actually, we've passed it yesterday, but unfortunately I didn't make a photo as proof.)
 

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