Nov. 27th, 2015

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As wintery weather hastened my early Thanksgiving holiday respite into weary departure and long drive homewards in wet and slightly icy road conditions, I tried concentrating on safely arriving home; whilst all the while trying to block out the gaudy lights, holiday themed music on the radio and the thoughts of decorating which distracted and annoyed me. I groused, it is a wonder we as American can, in good conscious, shamelessly celebrate without forever grousing about costs and obligations, both spiritual and secular. And yet for one-thousand and five hundred years, nations prior to the birth of America have celebrate one ever changing holiday: Christmas.

I could not help but to think, here was a fabricated holiday by the early Christian Church, spring from the mind of a mad and wonderful noblemen & soldier turned monk1, blended with Roman Pantheon, Azur True and a dash of Gaulish Celtic for good measure; which were indeed times of indulgence and celebration for the hastening of Spring.

And if that was not enough, about a thousand years later, add the crazed twists of a mad, brilliant, monk and scholar who gave the world, "Santa Claus", which was fabricated to ease children's hearts during the Reformation2 with a twist of ancient Krampusnacht3 to ensure children were "nice and not naughty". And that as a result of, or countering therein, a wide scale commercial market for decorations and indulgence may have began 3a.

And then, about three hundred years later, add a brutal English Monarch, whose German Mother and Husband (and first cousin)4, brought forth and back in vogue all the decorations, traditions and symbols we associate with modern Christmas; even though England originated the twelve days of Christmas before its suppression by Cromwell. I read in the histories of the time, that although there was still great emphasis on the spiritual aspects of Christmas, it was lessening to a time of secular celebration and indulgence.

And finally, in America, a land where on the 25th day of December, 1775, Daniel O'Shay and his family were almost lynched and fled their home in Boston, Massachusetts, because as a Catholic dared to celebrate Christmas. A land where immigrants made ornaments from apples and squash, used candles made from lard and what native materials were available to celebrate Christmas in the new world - from native game to homemade and home crafted gifts to home brewed drinks. The Christmas traditions from the european immigrants did not change much in scope until after the Second World War, when perhaps more emphasis was placed on material bounties rather than on spiritual offerings thanks modern production, the end to large scale ware and readily made goods & wares now easily affordable.

I began to muse that in America, the giving gifts and indulging of holiday themed cuisine and beverage has been taken to a whole new level of indugence. Even with the best of intentions of sharing from the bounty of Americans whom can afford, we as a nation have, once again, altered the precepts and concepts of Christmas. More commercial entities have made great strides in producing and promoting wares and good and services for Christmas in America both domestically and, ironically, from Europe. Danish Gulg or German Yule log or English crackers are as common as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer dolls made in China. Some of my fellow Countrymen would argue that as Americans, we have strayed away from the meaning and intent behind Christmas. Some might even argue that the commercialism has finally taken over as was warned back in the 1950's and 1960's, and impoverishing Americans with needless debt and needless duties to give. And some, myself included, have embraced these indulgent behaviors and have engraved them into memory of wonder and cherished thoughts, justifying the mass indulging.

In the end, the best argument for spiritualists can offer is symbology; marketers and manufacturers can, at best, offer dreams of peace and plenty to sate the secularists.

It would seem therefore, the only reasonable argument which can be offered is that as Christmas has changed throughout the centuries, blending and reforming precepts, perhaps in each individual's mind, Christmas can be formed into an image that blends those elements which bring spiritual comfort and secular pleasure in equal portions and in equal measure. And with that final musing on a very rainy and icy night, I concluded reason and my journal home.

1= Francis of Assisi.
2= Dr. Marin Luther.
3= Krampusnacht was a pre-Christian German holiday in where demons roamed the countryside looking for naughty and wicked; this was transformed into "Black Peter" accompany St. Nicholas and, briefly, Santa Claus, looking for naughty children. The practises of Krampusnacht are still celebrated by "kidnaping" young woman and their families offering drink and food as "ransom" to return their women.
3a= The Christkindlmarkt of Germany sold foods, decorations and gifts in each town for weeks preceding upto Christmas. The first wide scale commercial efforts for secular celebrations.
4= Queen Victoria.

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