I received a ‘happy holidays’ non-Christmas card from a switched on friend and curled my lip in mild disdain. Why must a Christian First World tradition be modified into the New Age One Size Fits All practice?
It stuck in my craw…!
But like a burr on a blanket, it scratched. So I thought I’d scribble a blogbleat to vent my discomfort. I started giving the practice some thought.
Wikipedia tells me that Christmas cards were first produced for sale in the 1840’s by a founder of the Penny Post in England. Hmm! A marketing ploy!?
Most emphasized merriment and happiness with scant religious tones that pervaded most cards in my Christmases in the latter part of the 20th Century.
But thinking about it more, I recall the Incwala holiday in mid-December in Swaziland – when the King was purified and the First Fruits were celebrated.
This common African ritual has been re-formulated in the US as Kwanzaa, an African American cultural commemoration and promotion of sound African communal principles.
Yule was an indigenous midwinter festival celebrated by the Germanic peoples, later supplanted by the term Christmas tide.
Iranian people celebrate the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice as, “Yalda night“, which is known to be the “longest and darkest night of the year”. In this night all the family gather together, usually at the house of the oldest, and celebrate it by eating, drinking and reading poems. Nuts, pomegranates and watermelons are particularly served during this festival.
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In 2017, Hanukkah is from in the evening of Tuesday, 12th December until the evening of Wednesday, 20th December.
Ōmisoka (大晦日)—or ōtsugomori (大晦)—is a Japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year. Traditionally, it was held on the final day of the 12th lunar month.
The origins of Hogmanay may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances, including gift-giving and visiting homes of friends with special attention given to the first-foot, the first guest of the new year.
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December.
Wassailing was drinking an old English toast during the custom of carolling; Mumming was an old English practice of dressing up and partying, probably originating in the old Roman Saturnalia of mid-winter.
Holly, ivy and mistletoe were used in celebrations of the Winter Solstice Festival to ward off evil spirits and celebrate new growth.
My conclusions after this brief socio-historical analysis are that:
- The Christmas period is celebrated in many non-Christian cultures for reasons other than commemorating Christ’s birth.
- Christmas cards are just commercial dross with no special intrinsic significance
- People all over the world celebrate and feast at this time
- For whatever reason, this time of year is a time to gather and feast with loved ones and rejoice in new life, first fruits and forget the evils of the past year.
Sorry to say, but the way the inclusive, bunny hugger, non-discriminatory world is going Christmas Day will soon be re-named Universal Happyday or some such anodyne label.
Whatever! – It’s a good time for a hooley or two!
Happy Hooleydays to y’all!
May y’all find some time to wassail with your cobbers, rejoice in the good things of life and be thankful.