Friday, 21 December 2012

The Mayans Save Christmas

It's a Christmas Miracle.
Not only has the world not ended [Can I be the first to say "I told you so?"], but the temperature today is actually less than thirty degrees; so my last post before my holidays won't be me whinging about the heat.
But, speaking of the heat, well . . . it's Australia. Of course it's hot, but its hot because it's the middle of Summer. It's Summer, and it's Christmas. And so I've been wondering about what Christmas means, in Australia. That's right.
The Word of the Day is: 'CHRISTMAS'.

Christmas /'krisməs/ n. 1. Church festival of the birth of Jesus, celebrated on the 25th of December. A holiday of giving gifts, greetings, etc.

I don't think Australia has had the best relationship with Christmas. Like I said, it occurs during summer, which means all wintery celebrations of snow and 'staying warm in the winter' i.e. the Little Match Girl; And staying inside with your family . . . it doesn't mean very much. If we all stayed inside, we'd swelter.
Then there's the fact it's a Christian holiday, despite the much more prominent fact that Jesus was probably not born on the 25th of December. The most reliable sources have placed it some time in April. But the fact is, we didn't have the same calendar back then as we do now, so it's sort of a moot point.
besides, I'm not Christian, and so aren't a lot of people.
But we celebrate it anyway. So let's go further back.

The original Yuletide, upon which Christmas evolved, was originally a winter feast. It still is considered a 'Feast Day' to some Christians.
But the reason it was a feast was because crops and farming were less providing during winter, and the feast was a celebration of a good harvest by eating the surplus before it was stored away; and since it's summer it loses that ingenuity.

Oh, and don't get me started on Christmas Island . . .

So why do we bother with all this Christmas nonsense? Well, partially because a lot of immigrants, early settlers and convicts were Christian, and the holiday was commandeered by Christianity, so it made people feel more at home. The same way the Botanical Gardens made them feel more at home [by bringing plants from their native country here] they brought traditions here to make it like their old life and it continued on until it became a public holiday.

But I think there's a much better reason for Christmas and it's best explained in the way I interpret Santa Claus.

Yes, SANTA CLAUS. A real man, mind you. We've warped and twisted it around a red suit and ho ho ho; but Santa Claus was a real person. If you've heard of Santa Maria, or Santa Fe, you may realize that Santa is not a made up name. It is a translation of 'Holy' or 'Saint'. And Claus, or should I say 'Klaus' is a short form of Nikolaus, a German form of the given name Nicholas. So yes, Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas.
But the way I look at this Father Christmas legend. Y'see, Nicholas was a Bishop, and whether or not the story is true about the famine, and Saint Nicholas riding on a donkey handing out presents; or of him bringing children back to life, it IS known that he would give folks secret presents, such as by hiding coins in their shoes.
Why did he do this? Well, he was supposedly 'doing God's work'. But more than that, I like to think he was distributing his wealth to those who needed it, so that they didn't feel like the peasants they were.
It was about making people feel like someone cared. Making them feel like they mattered . . .

At least, that's what I think.

And it's a beautiful idea. making people feel like they matter. Making them feel like somebody loves them. I don't need Christmas trees and snow and Jesus and reindeer to understand and appreciate a concept like that.
So I interpret Christmas to be a time when you stay with family, or friends if it better suits you. For at least a day visit them, share time, and perhaps gifts. Put on some sort of spread or a barbeque if you have a lot of people coming, not to celebrate the harvest, but because you'll have a lot of mouths to feed when all your family gets there. And you celebrate the fact that you're loved, and that you love others.

That's how I interpret and justify Christmas.
Of course, you probably didn't need that. There aren't that many Scrooge's out there that don't think Christmas matters. And those that do wouldn't read a blog post about Christmas. So am I just wasting my time?

Maybe. But it doesn't matter. Because it's the holidays. And I have time to spare. After all, the world hasn't ended yet.

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