Saturday, December 17, 2011
The Obligatory Christmas Article
The approach of Christmas brings harrassment and dread to many excellent people. They have to buy a cart-load of presents, and they never know what to buy to hit the various tastes; they put in three weeks of hard and anxious work, and when Christmas morning comes they are so dissatisfied with the result, and so disappointed that they want to sit down and cry. Then they give thanks that Christmas comes but once a year. - Following the Equator Mark Twain
Mark Twain doesn't have a whole lot to say about Christmas so I was doing a little research. Okay, very little research. I went to Wikipedia [I owe you guys a donation] for the Obligatory Christmas Article I am about to write.
We are all well aware that Christmas is on Dec. 25th. But did you know, on that date, the Constitution of the Republic of China was signed? That's Taiwan to you and me. The Taiwanese have declared Constitution Day as a national secular holiday and it is celebrated much like Christmas.
The Twelve Days of Christmas starts on the 25th and runs until Jan 6th.
I noticed that the Armenian Apostolic Christmas is January 6 and the Eastern Orthodox Christmas is on January 7th. Not December 25th. I don’t know why.
Saint’s Days are very popular this time of year. All Saints Day kicks off the season on Nov. 1st. [We call it Nevada Day and celebrate our statehood although there probably isn't a single saint in the entire state.] St Nicholas [Dec. 6]; St Stephen [Dec. 26]; St John the Evangelist [Dec 27]; St Sylvester [Dec. 31]; St Basil [Jan 1] – they all have their own individual Saint’s Days.
These two holidays startled me - January 1st is the Feast of Circumcision Day AND the Feast of Fool’s Day. Probably no coincidence there. You’d have to be a fool to volunteer for circumcision.
Numerous festivals are celebrated around the shortest day [or is that the longest night?] of the year, Dec. 21st. Yule, Yalda, Saturnalia and a whole slew of others around the world. New Agers and Pagans seem to like these holidays. Australia and New Zealand have to celebrate winter solstice in June. They’re a little backwards down there.
Humanists picked the 23rd for their HumanLIght Day. Americans love Christmas Eve and the Brits love Boxing Day on the day after Christmas. Pancha Ganapti isn’t well-known here but the Hindus celebrate the patron god of the arts from Dec 21st thru the 25th. Kwanzaa starts on the 26th and runs through January 1st. Hanukkah is a confusing holiday unless, of course, if you are Jewish. It has a different set of dates every year.
Atheists don’t seem to have any specific holidays of their own. Since there is no creed or specific guidelines when you have a non-belief in god or gods, they tend enjoy whatever holidays are meaningful to them as individuals.
Whatever you are celebrating this time of year, I hope we can all agree that New Year’s Day holds the promise of bright tomorrows and that New Year's resolutions, like hangovers, soon wear off. I wish you all a Happy Holiday Season, whatever that may mean for you. Me, I think I’ll start with All Saint’s Day on November 1st and celebrate every day of mirth, merriment, singing, dancing,feasting and getting gifts that I can find well into January.