Thursday, 24 December 2009

It's Christmas Eve...

And in the spirit of Christmas I figured it was time to share my thoughts on the season. I think Christmas lost it's magic a while back, somewhere in between learning the value of money and discovering the truth about Santa. When you're a child the concept of a big fat man breaking into your house isn't nearly as disturbing... it's magical and fascinating and fills you with Christmas. But then you start to wonder, how fast does he actually have to be moving to hit all those houses in time? And how fat must he be after all those cookies and pies? And I wonder if Muslim kids get presents too? Oh and what about those kids that don't get chimneys? Maybe there's some sort of correlation between chimneys and good behaviour in children... after all Santa sells Christmas to kids for good behaviour and if you know he can't pay you a visit anyway, what's the point?

I remember finding this aeronautical engineers report on Santa when I was younger (after I found out it was all a lie) that I'm going to share with you. Check The Truth Out Here for the maths behind why Santa doesn't make it. Turns out he has to be travelling at 650 miles/second with a grand total of 0.001 seconds to get out the sleigh, get in the house, leave presents, eat and drink the goodies, fill the stockings, get back up and get off. But hey, if magic's possible, breaking rules of time and speed shouldn't be a problem! Oh and if you're sat there wondering about how fat he must be (which I know you're just bursting to know) that answer is worked out for you too! The friendly fatty would have consumed almost 3000 tons by the end of the evening, which I imagine would be hard to stuff down a chimney...

On the topic of Santa, I do find his story a good one. We start off in the 4th century with a nice old bishop of Myra: Saint Nicholas. Nick was famous for giving poor folk generous gifts, most notably these three daughters of a Christian bloke who were given dowries so they wouldn't have to turn to prostitution and start selling their souls on the street for grub. Turns out German paganism influenced our Santa in those early attempts to hold on to their traditions through the painful Christianisation. Apparently Santa and Odin have a few things in common - 13th century literature tells us Odin rode an 8 legged horse that could pretty much fly which is kinda similar to the reindeer... ok that's not that great a comparison, but Odin had a long beard too... Kids would leave boots full of carrots or straw for Odin's flying horse near their chimneys and as a reward Odin would replace the snacks with gifts. That sounds familiar to me... Oooh oooh and Odin's horse is called Sleipnir which sounds a little like sleigh to me, though that could just be the way I'm reading it! There's loads more I could say on the subject but you're not here for a history lesson - one last point I'd like to point at would be the red. Yes, if you don't already know Santa was given his red suit by CocaCola to help sell Coke! Ok that might not actually be true, but it's something I heard out on the grapevine. I asked the mighty minds at CocaCola (meaning I had a look online) and they say it was some guy called Thomas Nast who made Santa red and they just used his interpretation... believe what you want.

Moving more to the Christmas part, I do find it all a bit fake. From the forced family time to the over stretched materialism beyond ones ability to survive in our cheery Capitalism. But even when we're all broke and in debt, spending money we don't have on Christmas presents no one ever really appreciates is what Christmas has become. I'm not big on the Christmas cheer, not because I'm a scrooge, but rather more to do with the fact that I hate being forced to love. It's all a load of - expletives - and you know it! If I love someone why should I wait for birthdays and Christmas to show them and shower them in gifts and attention? Why not do it all year round? Nobody appreciates things they're given when they're expecting, people are far more pleased with love and gifts on any other day of the year.

Before the Christians stole the day, it use to be a celebration of Solis Invicti or "unconquered sun". Basically celebrating any of the sun gods pre Jesus - everything is just on repeat with a different name. There are no new stories or ideas, just old ones shuffled for a new audience. Winter festivals were always everyones favourite, probably something to do with not having to do much work any more seeing as farming in snow is pretty pointless. When it was time for things to change the Pagan Winter Solstice was pushed out and replaced with Christmas, but we still decorate trees and give each other gifts. I am curious as to when Christmas will be pushed out and replaced by whatever comes next, but maybe that's just what all this mainstreaming of the holiday is about. Buy buy buy!! This is our new religion; over here in the West at least.

So to sum up, my thoughts were along the lines of buh humbug but with a few historical references. Let's see if my three ghosts pop up and answer some questions for me, hey?

Happy almost tomorrow chaps =] hope you all ('all' not referring to many people, but an important bunch nonetheless) have an awesome holiday season whatever it is you're celebrating. And if you're not into the celebrating I hope you enjoy not having to work or the snow or even just reading this, 'cause you've got to try to enjoy things otherwise it all just takes longer to troll through!

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