Saturday, December 7, 2013

Happy Holidays, y'all!

You know, it's that time of year again; as we approach the end of the year, we enter the Holiday Season. And just like every year of late, there are those who can't be happy unless they're given the opportunity to feel angry about something. And this time of year, the majority of them are the fine folks who don't believe in American values like "inclusiveness" and other sentiments best expressed at the base of the Statue of Liberty (you know, that whole "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" thing).

People like (just as an example) Bill O'Reilly, who want to pretend that there's some kind of "War on Christmas." They have decided to make themselves angry over something as innocuous as wishing people "Happy Holidays," instead of saying "Merry Christmas."

This is a particularly stupid thing to get cranky over, if you think about it, because the time in question, often referred to as the "Christmas season," runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas, and usually spills over into New Years, which is three holidays right there.

(I'm going with the current, somewhat commercialized version of the "Christmas season" - you know, "free market = good thing" - as practiced here in America in the 21st Century, so keep your cranky little historical interruptions to yourself - I might just mention them later anyway. And incidentally, the current "Christmas season" seems to have extended itself almost to Halloween at this point, which is yet a FOURTH holiday.)

December is just littered with minor Christian holidays, some of which (depending on your particular flavor of Christianity) are considered of relative importance, such as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12 (which is moderately popular here in New Mexico for some reason).

(A little trivia for you: the "Immaculate Conception" doesn't refer to the birth of Jesus, but to the day Mary was conceived, probably a decade and a half or so earlier: see, in order to give birth to the child of God, her birth had to be "immaculate." A lot of good Christians get that wrong - it's pretty much a Catholic thing.)

December is particularly full of Feast Days to various saints, from St Francis Xavier (December 3) to St Lucy of Syracuse (December 13). Yesterday, December 6, was St Nicholas Day, if it helps - that, at least, has a Christmas-based attachment to the holiday.

At least five of the December saints are Johns, if you count one non-English variation: St John Damascene (December 4), St Juan Diego (December 9), St John of the Cross (December 14), St John of Kanty (December 23) and, of course, St John the Apostle (December 27).

A lot of the saints were Johns; that's why Jesus needed to make sure that the prostitutes got into heaven first (Matthew 21:31). * ba-dum CHING *

Now, that last John (the Apostley one) is actually a part of a whole series of Feast Days (an even dozen of them, in fact), which make up a string of holidays immortalized in the song "the Twelve Days of Christmas." You'd think that somebody fixated on Christmas traditions could at least remember that much.

There's a whole buttload of secular holidays and commemorations going on: December 10 is Human Rights Day, December first was World AIDS Awareness Day; it seems like every time you turn around, somebody wants to remember, bring attention to, or sell something. Look up International Civil Aviation Day, and Poinsettia Day (which is also Christmas-related, if it helps - December 12). In fact, today (December 7, 2013) is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. (Did you remember? SpaghettiOs did.)

December 22 is Forefather's Day, commemorating the Pilgrim's landing on Plymouth Rock. You want a whiter, more all-American holiday? And how come you didn't celebrate it last year, you commie?

The day after Christmas, December 26 (which is also St Stephen’s day, one of those Twelve Days of Christmas I mentioned earlier) is Boxing Day, which is mostly (but not entirely) only still celebrated in England.

December 4 through December 21, a roughly 2-week string, are considered Zappadan, celebrating the life and works of Frank Zappa. Popular culture also gave us Festivus (you know, for the rest of us) on December 23.

If you happen to be African-American, Kwanzaa runs from December 26 through January 1, and it's a commemoration of African heritage; having first been celebrated in 1966, it's now officially older than a lot of the people bitching about it. (Here's a thought: if you're going to complain about people not honoring your white, Christian traditions, perhaps you shouldn't complain when they hold celebrations in honor of theirs.)

But just because other religions aren't Christian doesn't mean they don't have their own celebrations. For example, if you're of a particularly pagan turn of mind, December 21, 2013 will be the Winter Solstice. Among the Germanic people, this was known as Yule - it's one of the many pagan celebrations that the early Christian church hijacked. (Where do you think the term "yuletide" comes from?) There's also Saturnalia, which is a festival based around fertility rituals that comes from the Greco-Roman traditions (and certainly sounds like more fun than another round of carol-singing).

For our Hindu friends, Friday the 13th this year will be Gita Jayanti, celebrating the "birth" (creation) of the Bhagavad Gita; technically, it's held on the Ekadasi (11th day of the waxing moon) of the month of Margashirsha in the Hindu calendar, so I did that math for you.

If you happen to be of the Buddhist persuasion, tomorrow (the eighth day of the twelfth month) is Rohatsu, or "Bodhi Day," commemorating the enlightenment of the Buddha. (If you happen to live in a Zen Buddhist monastery - I don't, but your mileage may vary - this would be the last day of a week-long sesshin, or meditative retreat.)

Hanukkah ended on December 5 this year. Since our right-wing friends like to trumpet the term "Judeo-Christian traditions," it's surprising how few menorahs I saw in the windows.

If you are a follower of the Jedi church, I really don't know what to tell you. "Life Day" is a Wookie holiday, and falls about once every three years on our calendar. But the first human awareness of it came about this time of year in 1978. Make of that what you will.

In that magical era of the Fifties that conservatives like to pretend was a special time in American history when everything was perfect, they liked to refer to America as "the melting pot," where people from all cultures could live and thrive. So, really, if the phrase "Happy Holidays" offends you, perhaps you should consider why you're such a crappy American.


  1. In my post below on the subject of people getting offended by others wishing them "Happy Holidays," I pointed out that the word "holiday" is derived from "holy day." So when you wish someone "Happy Holiday," you're actually giving them a religious greeting. But don't tell the lunkhead O'Reilly, or any other troubleo-making malcontent.

    The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, as you correctly pointed out, celebrates Mary's conception, which, IIRC, meant that she was born without Original Sin. The only human being, I think, who was given that special designation.

    So Happy Holidays to everyone, whatever your persuasion.

    And Festivus for the rest of us!

  2. Happy Holidays Nameless.

    You seem more bitter than happy. Why post about Christmas at all? I have very close friends both Jewish and atheist who celebrate Christmas. Mostly because of their children. But also because it's a kick-ass holiday that's hard to top. Judeo-Christian? Yes, there is a connection. Most Jews and Christians who have befriended each other don't see it as a big problem. Same God. Jews are constantly waiting for a Messiah who will never come. They don't hate Jesus. He was a good Jew. We're all part of a family. Atheists like Christmas. Informed Christians and Jews see this as a positive thing. Why listen to dickheads?

    The commercialization of Christmas is not really important. It is less important to listen to right-wing points of view. I'm mostly just guessing. But why anybody would care a hoot about Kwaanza is beyond me. You don't want to celebrate Christmas because of some problem you have with organized Christianity?

    Okay. Not much to talk about there.

  3. Merry Christmas and or Happy Holiday to all! Or, just have a rip roaring helluva fine month.

    The grandkids will be carrying on the tradition. Pretty much as they experience it as kids.

    Now, back to Santa's workshopp. After a quick stop at The Spirit Shop of course!

  4. Well, gee, Flyboy. I don't know what to say. Other than you apparently haven't figured me out just yet.

    "You seem more bitter than happy." Wow. You say "bitter" like it's a bad thing. Like watching the hopes and dreams of a million children getting crushed by the slowly-grinding wheel of bureaucracy, and then giggling quietly, isn't a life-affirming hobby.

    I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the food that nobody makes until this time of year. I love the lights, and the decorations, and the mistletoe. I love the fact that everybody has to pretend to be happy and joyous, or take crap from people like you.

    I love the ceremony. I love the tradition. I love the elves, and the tree, and the Yule log. I love standing off about 1500 meters in an unoccupied office window and watching Santa going into the mall, and slo-oo-owly squeezing the trigger... if I can do that just before a busload of kids from the orphanage goes in, that's just a bonus.

    I don't really care about Kwanzaa (that's how it's spelled, if you're curious). But that's because I'm white. I'm guessing you are too, based on your pig-ignorant statement there. But I don't begrudge other people the chance to celebrate their heritage. After all, I like to celebrate mine, I just accept that my heritage is full of murderers, criminals and people who needed a good flogging (and sometimes got one. And sometimes enjoyed it).

    Just out of curiosity (and, to be honest, I don't REALLY care), where did you get the idea that I don't celebrate Christmas, based on a post where I pointed out that there are more holidays in heaven or earth, Flying Jr., than are dreamed of in your philosophy?

  5. I'd rather laugh than cry and our seasonal hypocrisy glows like the nose on a plastic caribou. Perhaps it's that Puritan heritage we talk about although I've always laughed at it. They were the only croup in the western world that has ever banned it, both in England and in America because they knew the shaky and pagan ground it grew out of. I like Christmas for my own reasons. It's time America learned to laugh at Americans.

    If one is, and I am, an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, one is supposed to maintain that all days are holy -- and I do. They are all precious and irreplaceable and god knows they are numbered. My family celebrated it, atheists that they were and I also put up a tree and gave presents to my children because it's a national holiday and whether one is silly enough to insist that all the supporting folk tales made up over thousands of years, from Magi and Mangers to Rudolph and Reindeer are truth, or if one simply loves the colored lights in the palm trees and the idea of benevolence toward children, toward people in or not in our chosen tribe, it brings out the best in us - or at least I thought so as a child and in those Fox-free times.

    It's fun to give presents. It makes you feel good to be charitable and IS good and would be if Jesus were never born or born in in a different year or in the Galilee and to a mother with 6 kids and no husband. Charity, compassion, benevolence and the absence of tribal enmity are good things and sufficient reason for the season.

    So yes, it's a good holiday on its own and maybe especially on its own because when you let gods in the door many decent things jump out the window and run for their lives and history speaks for itself on that matter.

    Should we laugh about how Americans use it to snicker and snark and berate and condemn and curse each other while mumbling about sacred babies born to sinless virgins yet not actually human? Why the hell not, because it's as hilarious and hypocritical as it is disgusting and an insult to the values we attribute in our dishonesty to our traditions.

    So I'll be having Christmas dinner with my godless family this year and if anyone thinks I spent too much or too little -- if anyone wants to spoil it with their myths and mysteries and covert Mithraism, let me remind you that all nights are sacred, all dinners and all that eat them and that the bickering and snickering and bigotry is dishonest and disgusting -- and would be on any night.

    It's a Jewish tradition on the Passover for the youngest male present to ask מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות. Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot? Why is this night different from all other nights? Contrary to the litany, I have to insist it isn't and whether you insist there was a Moses or a Jesus or that Enlil was born on Wednesday and Ninhursag was his mother, -- if you're so full of self righteousness that you can dictate to others, may Bill O'Reilly puke under your tree. Otherwise lets pretend we can have peace on earth or at least to men of good will and if we can on December 25, why the hell not on all other nights?

  6. Gee whiz, folks. In the spirit of the season, why don’t we just Baruch Atah and annoy each other.

    1. Insh Allah.

      Angels selling ham on rye
      from a push cart in the sky
      Hold the mustard
      hold the mayo
      Gloria in excelses deo.

      Angels we have heard on high
      Tell us to go out and buy!

  7. Replies
    1. Ad men are the biggest offenders against our language. Remember the soup that eats like a meal? Do we want to be around a soup that eats? But really, the English of 1950 is barely understandable to the generation that just knows a cloud is a web server and can say "crowdsourcing" with a straight face.

      So you can't expect anyone to understand what it used to mean or be intelligent to know the difference between this morning's usage and that of long, long ago when cell phones were bigger. So adiós you gay caballero and so long to those Kentucky farm workers. Fa la la la la.

      Just don't spell it wrong. Meaning lasts only moments but spelling is forever.

  8. See there Nameless? I got you to share something about yourself. I guess I just get a little touchy sometimes around this season. Last night's Christmas concert was to a full house. Everybody singing carols. Beautiful choirs, children, a flute, bells, my own poor imitation of a string quartet on my Alesis synthesizer, lots of piano and organ.

    You see two years ago, I invited my grandkids to come to the same concert. I called their dad personally. I thought it would be a fun way for them to see a more traditional way of celebrating the season, meet some other children and perhaps share the joy. They were four and a half and seven years old. My son-in-law made it very clear to me in no uncertain terms. His children would not be entering any church even for a Christmas concert. He happens to be a rabid atheist. Considers the church to be something from which he must protect his children. I'm sure I don't love him any the less for it. He's the finest husband and father that I know today. A good friend and a hard-working man. I consider him a wonderful asset to our family.

    I think I get what you mean. It is rude to say "Merry Christmas" to a complete stranger or someone at Trader Joe's or at the park. I usually just say, "Have a nice holiday." I think I communicated in my comment that I don't obsess about keeping Christmas all about Christ and christianity.

    I think you have a very intelligent and engaging style of writing. I'll be careful to winnow out the rants from the greetings next time.

  9. ok... you missed a whole big bucket bunch of neato days in Decemberish....

    December, 2013 Daily Holidays, Special and Wacky Days:

    1 Eat a Red Apple Day

    1 World Aids Awareness Day

    2 National Fritters Day

    3 National Roof over Your Head Day

    4 Santas' List Day - we hope you are on the "Nice" list

    4 Wear Brown Shoes Day

    5 Bathtub Party Day

    5 Repeal Day - The 21st Amendment ends Prohibition. I'll drink to that!

    6 St. Nicholas Day

    6 Mitten Tree Day

    6 Put on your own Shoes Day

    7 International Civil Aviation Day

    7 Letter Writing Day

    7 National Cotton Candy Day - would you like some fairy floss?

    7 Pearl Harbor Day

    8 International Children's Day - Second Sunday in December

    8 National Brownie Day

    8 Take it in the Ear Day

    9 Christmas Card Day

    9 National Pastry Day

    10 Human Rights Day

    11 National Noodle Ring Day

    12 National Ding-a-Ling Day

    12 Poinsettia Day

    13 Ice Cream Day

    13 Violin Day

    14 National Bouillabaisse Day

    15 Bill of Rights Day

    15 National Lemon Cupcake Day

    16 National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

    17 National Maple Syrup Day

    18 Bake Cookies Day

    18 National Roast Suckling Pig Day

    19 Look for an Evergreen Day

    19 Oatmeal Muffin Day

    20 Go Caroling Day

    21 Forefather's Day

    21 Humbug Day

    21 National Flashlight Day

    21 Look on the Bright Side Day

    22 National Date Nut Bread Day - or September 8!?

    23 Festivus - for the rest of us

    23 Roots Day

    24 National Chocolate Day

    24 National Egg Nog Day

    25 Christmas Day

    25 National Pumpkin Pie Day for recipes see Pumpkin Nook 's Cookbook

    26 Boxing Day

    27 Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day

    27 National Fruitcake Day

    28 Card Playing Day

    29 Pepper Pot Day

    30 National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

    31 Make Up Your Mind Day

    31 New Year's Eve

    31 Unlucky Day

    ... just can't make this stuff up, see, so..... Happy Oh Ollie days!

  10. okjimm, I hope it's not too late to wish you and your family a very Happy Pastry Day, today, December 9th. And may all your pastries be flakey! Oh, and Happy Card Day as well. Does that include Social Security Card?

  11. Now, reread your list, Jimmbo - I got more than a few of those.

    Just for my own peace of mind, though, I'm going to skip "Take it in the Ear Day" again this year.

  12. Happy Human Rights Day! May everyone remember the smallest minority in the world is the individual and the profound implications that carries with it.

  13. Shaw...I thought Happy Card Day was a celebration of those who tell bad jokes. Like....
    What nationality is Santa Claus?
    North Polish.

    oh Namelss One.... my favorite holiday is still Zappadan ...

    I can't wait for the Annual St Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast

    Happy Ollie Dayz

  14. In a logical world, shouldn't "National Bicarbonate of Soda Day" be January 1 instead of December 30?

  15. hmmmmm.... I was always more of a pepto boy on the first..... something about the pink, I guess....but that is illogical too.

  16. As for me I simply always drank mucho H2O and walla, no hangover after the New Years Eve festivities.

    Dehydration is the revelers worst enemy.


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