We're putting the Christmas tree up today. One of the benefits of waiting until after both boy's birthdays is that the trees go on sale...if you can find one, that is.
I like the tree. It is a good pagan symbol co-opted several hundred years ago by christian religious officials who figured Easter was too long to wait for a good party.
"Why miss a good excuse to eat a pig?" they were probably thinking. "It's really dark and cold and we could use some fun, eh?"
(For convenience I have taken the liberty of translating the Northern European "Ja" into the more familiar "eh", which is Canadian, as you well know, eh?)
The currently popular traditions of eating ham, burning a log, hanging evergreen boughs, holly, mistletoe, and of course, "Da Tree" are derivations of the good old "Feast of the Pagan god, Jul. The Jul feast seemed like way to good a deal to leave to the pagans, so Pope Gregory told Mellitus to get out in front of the celebration and get those heathans to convert to christianity and start sending their monetary patronage to Rome...or else the pope's kind and loving god would have them killed. Mellitus told the pagans that they had been wrong about the winter solstice thing and the party was really about the birth of christ.
(The pagans might have asked Mellitus if christ were simultaneously born at a different time in the southern hemisphere, but they only had astrologers to make stuff up at that point in time, having not yet imported astronomy from Greece in its logical form, and so they didn't know that the winter solstice happened at a completely different time of year in Terra del Fuego.)
The pagans, being pretty tipsy with all that meade, ham, and turnip greens coursing through their veins, decided that there was no sense in letting some fanatical weirdo in a red suit and funny hat kill a good buzz, so they told Mellitus, "Sure, whatever, Dude. Take a load of your sandals and have a hit off the old horn of plenty, or something like that." ( you believe me about the turnip greens, don't you?)
The Pope got his money, the pagans got their party, and Mellitus died and got to be a saint.
And after centuries of tortured history, I have a tree in the living room. We decorate it and watch the needles fall off. It's a grand tradition based, not on popes or pagans, but in family togetherness.
I like it for several reasons. It brings back childhood memories of times when I didn't understand how screwed up adult humans really are. There's food and drink and good smells...and... Everybody tries to be nice to each other.
Well not everybody but we ignore those people. They can kill their own happy buzz, but not ours, right? I mean, anyone who wants to puff up and be offended when someone else wishes for their happiness is simply unworthy and forgets the original meaning of christmas...
War on someone else's winter holiday traditions and beliefs.
So let the meade flow. Peace on Earth and Good will toward all...
Kurt Vonnegut makes a few political observations:
Loaded pistols are good for people unless they're in prisons or lunatic asylums.
Millions spent on public health are inflationary.
Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down.
From our "All Morality comes for God" Department, this news report:
The End of the Case - Sat, Dec 17, 2005
Accused sex attacker Peter Braunstein was captured yesterday after a two-month nationwide manhunt. He was reading Lee Strobel's The Case for Faith, which, as I noted here, has an interesting take on the problem of evil -- including an enlightening chapter explaining why we should worship a God who kills little children.
I bet if he were reading The End of Faith, we'd never hear the end of it.
I watched a Sam Harris speech this morning on C-span. He is the author of The End of Faith. More here: