Saturday, December 24, 2011

ROBBLOG #357 H O L I D AY Edition


It’s the Holiday Season.

Christmas.
Hanukkah.
Yuletide.
Saturnalia.
Saturnalia? Be patient and read on!
December 25th.
Santa Claus.

So how did it all start?
If you play to the tune of a Christian Christmas, you believe that Christ was born in a Manger in the village of Bethlehem. Shepherds and Wise Men- angels too, attended the birth.
Probably the afterbirth.
Wait!
That doesn’t sound right does it?
Anyway, it was quite the party in that cozy little cave in the wall. The cattle lowed and the sheep baa baaed and Mary and Joseph simply stood there gazing down at the Christ Child wondering what they got themselves into, what with raising a child in those days and all. A wonderful little story filled with Love and Peace.

Then there’s Hanukkah.
A Saviour-less holiday since members of the Jewish Faith are still waiting for the Messiah- even though the musical was written years ago. This Hanukkah is all about oil that burned for 8 days and nights. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the second century BC. Now Hanukkah moves around some. It can be celebrated at any time from late November to late December so one never knows when to take Hanukkah Holidays.

It can be confusing but when it’s Hanukkah time one lights the Menorah, spins the Dreidel, eat Latkes and attends Synagogue.

Ever heard the real story surrounding December 25th from the scholars? From History. History is the documented facts concerning things that actually happened when they actually happened.

It seems the Roman Pagans celebrated the Holiday of Saturnalia. It was a week- long funfest celebrated from December 17 until December 25th. There was widespread intoxication, singing door to door (sounds familiar) only in Roman times they did it in a state of nakedness. That may also sound familiar and much more interesting.
Getting naked and singing!
Well, we’ve all been there- haven’t we?
There was lots of sex too and why not? What would a Roman Holiday be without rape and sexual freedom?
Cookies were also consumed along with copious amounts of wine.
Okay. Now, this is really sounding familiar.
Unfortunately, on the downside, the holiday also included human sacrifice too. Seems that was a way of life back then, whereas today our “Human Sacrifice” is all about drinking and driving or shooting someone in the street…and the Conservatives still want to repeal the current gun laws. It’s not like shoving someone to the lions in the Coliseum but it has parallels-doesn’t it?

Then in the 4th Century- after the Manager Scene story in Bethlehem, Christians decided to use the Saturnalia Festival, hoping to convince the Pagan masses to turn to Christianity. The Pagans were promised salvation and were told they could continue to celebrate Saturnalia as part of being a Christian.
Did it work?
Nope.
Well, not entirely.
The Christians were successful in concluding that Christ’s Birthday was actually December 25th-not sometime in the dreary month of February.

That’s right readers, mortal man decided that the Son of God was born on December 25th, not some Angel descending from the Heavens. Although, again it’s a nice story and who doesn’t love an Angel? We all have them and can hear their voices if we just take the time to listen and believe. Even though December 25th continued to be the Birthday of Jesus those pagan practices- like stringing garland around the house continued, resulting in the Christians having little effect on the merry-making during Saturnalia.

That continues today. Oh we call it Yuletide, Christmas or the Season to make Mary but it still has roots in Saturnalia.

Finally, Santa Claus.
Santa began his life as a Saint.
Many of us follow that same course. Why if I told you the number of times someone has said to me- Rob, you’re a “saint”.

Nick was a Bishop who eventually turned into the red suit-clad man who lives at Canada’s North Pole. Oh, the Swedes and Americans try to claim him but he is really a Canadian!
Once again History tells us the story of St. Nicholas. Europeans brought him to Canada.
Vikings dedicated places of worship to him. Columbus named a port in Haiti after him back on St. Nick’s Day – December 6th in 1492.

When the Protestants revolted in the 16th Century, St. Nick almost lost his place in history. The Protestant Reformation didn't take too kindly to Catholic Saints and tried to erase St. Nick from the record books. They weren't successful and according to history the Puritans may have been partially responsible for entrenching the enduring story of Santa Claus into a more secular observance of his message of love and peace and gift-giving. The regular folk just loved the idea of St. Nick it seems.

Today's image of Santa Claus is a combination of the poem written by Clement Clark Moore- "A Visit from St. Nicholas" as well as commercial artists from over the past 100 years. So, there you have it. That's how we ended up with this December celebration that may of us refer to as "The Holidays".

Here's a wish that you and yours will have a Holiday that will be Merry and Bright. Enjoy the quiet splendour- if only for one day. Shake a hand. Send a smile. Give a hug. Enjoy and celebrate this time on earth- for it's a short ride.

Merry Christmas! Season's Greetings! Happy Hannukkah! Happy Holidays!

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