I’m watching an interesting show on the History Channel right now.
I just spent five hours helping my son finish a project he’d blown off– one that was supposed to have taken three weeks. He’s in a gifted reading program and while he likes the choice of bigger books, he isn’t so keen on the extra projects.
He may be now. While this took two nights and a ton of our time, the finished projects are so cool, he was jumping up and down with excitement before he went to bed. (Not usually a time I like him so energized…) I’m hoping the lesson he’ll take away from this is that there is much pride and good feelings to be had on a project finished and done well. I hope. A lot. Things with the kiddies have been a little difficult lately.
But back to the program. My brain is too fried to work, so I’m sitting, “veg”-ing and learning about the origins of this holiday season. I’m already familiar with a lot of this. Just look at the office picture a little down and to the right and you’ll see “some” of my books. I’m a nut for knowledge. <g>
Lately, I’ve noticed some people are getting upset– feeling that the reason for Christmas is being forgotten. I don’t know if this will help, but it might put things into perspective if we remember that this original holiday season had nothing to do with Christmas. And… there have always been other celebrations at this time of the year– in addition to the celebration of Christmas. But, here’s a bit of random history from the show.
The Norsemen celebrated Yule at this time of the year– in honor of Odin. Yule was a celebration of life in the struggle of harsh mid-winter. The yule log burned for up to twelve days and each day was a party. It was said that each spark off the yule log represented a pig or calf that would be born in the coming year.
The Romans (Saturn was the God of this celebration) had a month long party (though, I remember a shorter period of time in some writings) called Saturnalia and it was said to be a celebration of the disorderliness of life. (Boy, does this one fit now. <g>)
December 25th in particular, was the winter solstice and the original celebration of the birthday of the sun god, Mithra.
Christmas actually came later. The bible doesn’t give the time of birth of Jesus, but facts actually support a spring birth. The choice to celebrate Jesus’ birth was made because the celebration of Mithra was already going on that day. The original pagan holiday was eventually taken over by this new celebration.
In England, when the celebration of Christmas was established it wasn’t really religious– more like a carnival. This was a crazy, anything goes kind of celebration. They even had a Lord of Mis-Rule. Probably a play on the “yule” tradition.
In the seventeenth century, my ancestor, Oliver Cromwell, came through town with his puritan ideas and changed everything. (He did a lot more– horrible, horrible things– but we won’t go there. Weird to know I exist because he did. <shudder> ) The fun and games went underground because Christmas was outlawed. Then later, King Charles II restored Christmas.
The puritans weren’t too happy about this and well, a lot of other things, so they came here. In 1659, they outlawed Christmas again in America… but it didn’t take. Not all of them agreed. <g>
(Here’s a fun “off the subject” Wickipedia fact. “The label “Puritan” fell out of use when their movement became the status quo; it was replaced by the broader term Nonconformist, which was used after the English Restoration to refer to all Protestant denominations outside of the official Church.”)
Wow. Nonconformist came to mean something entirely different later on, didn’t it? <g>
Okay, there was more to the show, but I missed it and I’m too sleepy to go into a lot more detail. You all probably know this anyway. <g>
Plus, I was distracted by emails from my son’s teachers. They’ve really been working hard with us to figure out what our son needs. He’s bright, but too talkative and easily bored and every year, we’ve had to deal with his idea of what school should be– a party. A time of social celebration. An All-Year Holiday Season! heh heh
I laugh now, but not normally. It’s a constant battle and frustrating because according to them, he could easily ace things. Instead, he just decides he doesn’t need to do the work because he already gets it. Yes, he’s told me this. Sigh.
And now that I’ve rambled sleepily and probably bored you all to tears, I’m going to watch a little of the next show about beer then go to bed. Yes, Christmas then beer. Only I would find that oddly amusing.
If you’d like to follow the write-up of this show, you can find it here. http://www.history.com/minisites/christmas/