Christmas Musings

It’s over. I’m here, stranded on my sofa, unable to move, only my brain keeps on working on some lines that keep on echoing in my mindย  : ” my heart ( but also head, stomach….I would add) aches and a drowsy numbness pains my sense as though ……”a ton of carbs I had swallowed.๐Ÿ˜ฉWell, this is not the faithful reproduction of the poem, but I have got the feeling that Keats must have been thus inspired after having attended some Christmas family parties. However, after these three days of masochistic food marathon, I cannot help but wonder: what is this Christmas spirit about? What is it that we long for, as soon as Autumn sweeps away the summer sparkle? After a long pondering ๐Ÿค”, Iย have come to the conclusion that the Christmas spirit has nothing to do with religion, births of Saviors, renewed feelings of empathy for humankind etc.; Christmas is all about the wonder of lights and food. It has always been so.

For example, before the fourth century A.D., the 25th of December was very popular even among the Romans, only that it was Mithras, originally a Persian deity who was said to be either the son of the sun or the companion of the sun, the one to be celebrated. At that time, the 25th of December was considered the winter solstice, that is, the moment when days begin to lengthen and the power of the sun to increase, hence, the fittest day to celebrate the son of the sun. Of course, the best way to glorify such a god was to kindle lights everywhere in token of festivity. When the doctors of the Church perceived that this celebration was becoming dangerously popular even among the Christians, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day. Thatโ€™s why we keep on lighting our towns and houses after so many centuries: in memory of the god of the sun!

Therefore, the popularity of those rituals stands in the power of light, rather than the name of the god it was meant to be honoured. Light is the symbol of life over death, fertility, joy and Christmas illuminations and decorations, wherever we live, make us arouse an instinctive sense of childish wonder, as if for a while all that light had the power to hide the ugliness of the world. It is that illusion that we long for.

The other question is: why do we feel compelled to overeat during Christmas holidays? Maybe, there are anthropological reasons, as it is now winter and we have to store fat for the long cold season. Some of you who might be reading this post in warmer climates might object this point, of course, hence, I would like to remind you that, first of all, we live in time of globalization and that if you are celebrating Christmas, it is because some European soldiers and monks settled in your lands centuries ago exterminating the people who had inhabited them bringing the traditions of their cold mother countries…….. in the name of the Savior, of course.

 

28 thoughts on “Christmas Musings

  1. That it still needs repeating – – Jesus wasn’t born on our Christmas Day – – continues to amaze me. And that people in southern latitudes happily overindulge in midwinter festive fare when they’re sweltering in midsummer heat is just evidence of human irrationality. Less “tidings of comfort and joy” (as the carol has it) and more feasting with comfort and joy … and indigestion!

    • Christmas celebrations are true evidence of human irrationality as it is the time when that unrestrained child inside us who seeks for wonder and pleasure is allowed to surface…..with the consequences we know.๐Ÿ˜’

    • Here in Italy we usually have a fish based menu on Christmas Eve( as……it should be the light day๐Ÿ˜‰), the other two days we traditionally eat meat, lamb in particular, lasagne, cannelloni…….and we fry almost everything ( meat, fish, vegetables…). Then we end up with the typical Christmas Italian cakes: panettore, pandoro, torrone etc. .This is for lunch and the dinner……just the same. ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜’

  2. wasn’t the Persian who fought the Greeks? Hence the movie 300 Spartans. I know that at that time the Greeks were fighting among themselves ( told you Mrs. Tink I know a bit of history),
    point being, I have none, actually I do, you said in the first paragraph that you are sitting on the soffa without anything to do or something like that, guess what…….. I can see your “kids” that you teach saying the same.. “Thank goodness Mrs. Tink is not busting our balls, we can at least play nintendo for the next 24 hours”.
    Love ya

  3. First of all, as an ex-student of yours, I was very pleased to find out about this blog and your articles, which I read with much interest!
    That being said, I agree with your point, but only partially.
    As you very well described, Christmas celebrations as they are today are pure madness. From a merely economic point of view, it could be compared to the “Black Friday” (it may be actually less profitable) with the only difference of (in some cases) buying gifts for other people rather than for yourself. From the “gastronomic” prospective, if it all comes down to meeting with relatives (close or far) just to share a feast, then it is not different from another X festivity, like let us say “Thanksgiving” (I intentionally chose a non-italian festivity for my example), or a regular Sunday, but “better”. Thus the legitimate question: “Leaving out religious matters for a while, what is Christmas really all about?” Because, as it is, it hardly makes sense, right? Yes, but no!
    Let me explain what I mean.
    During these holidays I have heard many people, including close friends, complain about Christmas being somewhat sad,bad and/or “empty” and meaningless. And they’re right: Christmas, as we perceive it today, IS meaningless. We have all grown up connecting these holidays with gifts and feasts and Santa and bla bla bla. The truth is that all these elements only help us miss the point of Christmas. Because yes, we are INDEED missing the point.
    As the name itself suggests, the core is Him, Christ, and for sure he wasn’t born in a castle or during a feast. He embraced the state of utmost poverty.
    Now, before I move on, please keep in mind that yes, I am a Christian, but NO, I am NOT trying to convince you, convert you or making a point about Christians being the best human beings on the planet. What I am trying to say is that you simply cannot conceive Christmas without it’s true, deeper meaning, which is the Nativity. But even so, there are a few things that we must stress out, or else we risk causing our already crippling idea of Christmas a greater damage.
    First, and quite obvious, it is not just “Jesus’ birthday” (as somebody above already mentioned this topic).
    Second, we do not “feel compelled to overeat during the holidays in the name of the Savior”, quite the opposite. The fact is, even if you add Christ to the equation but without removing all the other “consumeristic” aspects, you are still bound to miss the real meaning of it all!

    Christmas is something intimate, that has nothing to do with presents and overeating. Those things only risk to spoil it, as a matter of fact. Even among Christians, the core of this festivity is often misunderstood.

    I am struggling to find words not to sound moralistic or anything, but if you are a Christian then it is worth taking some time to reflect on the deep and intimate meaning of Christmas. On the other hand, if you are not Christian, then you are somewhat bound to miss it, maybe not entirely, but still miss it. Because, how can you find joy in something you don’t believe in? Of course it will be an empty holiday, as it often is for many (Christians included!). It might as well be called somewhat else!
    “Black Thanksgiving”, perhaps?

    P.S: I sent you a “friend” request via LinkedIn, would you accept it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Dear Emanuele, it is a pleasure to hear from you after many years . You sounded a little bit moralistic,actually, but you know me well, we’ve been together for 5 years, then, you should know that the only “faith” I have left is for my football team and I have been that close to lose even that one, trust me. I know it might sound blasphemous, but this is who I am. I enjoy the rituals of a festivity which is meaningless to me. However, I don’t think I miss the message of Christmas. I think I can find it in many moments of our lives without associating it to religions and dogmas. I’ll be pleased to “befriend” you on Linkedin .
    Peace &Love my dear
    S.G. ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ™‹

    • The pleasure is mine, Prof! I know it would have sounded way more moralistic than I intended, but I took the risk. Nonetheless, having been your student I got the spirit of your previous post, and I felt like replying not because it sounded blasphemous or what (I don’t mean to judge anyone), I just wanted to say my opinion; nor am I implying that it is impossible to experience such feelings without associating those to religions.
      About your faith, I honestly think that even the Almighty himself wouldn’t be able to fix it. You know I am not a passionate football fan, but in this case: “Forza Roma!”

      Peace, Love and Happy New Year!

  5. I love that food is associated with Christmas – I can eat all the sweets I want guilt free. Have another chocolate. After all it’s Christmas!
    And I also like the association with light and the sun.
    Enjoy your holidays, โค

  6. Stefy, to see Keats so used to glorify carb consumption and couch wastrelry, ah, it does my irreverent heart good. And then a gentle diatribe on the pagan ancestry of Christmas with a last finger pointed at crusaders… you really are a kite on a stiff sugar wind. I love it. Happy New Year, you free thinker!

  7. oh wow – love this

    โ€ my heart ( but also head, stomachโ€ฆ.I would add) aches and a drowsy numbness pains my sense as though โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€a ton of carbs I had swallowed.

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