|The Season Upon Us|
|Opinion - Global Warning|
|Lisa Jain Thompson|
|Sunday, 25 December 2011 09:00|
Fairfax, VA, USA. There are many wonderful musicks written for the winter holidays. There are a lot of sappy, sentimental words said and written in the media. Perhaps we should discard outright all of it outright. The masses, the 99%, have no taste, after all. Not like us highly educated types.
Down with Christmas! Down with Hanukkah! Down with the Winter Holidays! We should be working on our manifestos and manuscripts. Something intellectually useful.
But there must be something about mid-winter deep inside the human DNA. Across the northern hemisphere, where humanity grew from tribal bands into peoples and shared societies, celebrate the moment when our star stops its seeming retreat and begins our slow trek back to spring and the world’s rebirth.
King James Version (KJV)
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.The Baby Jesus, of course, was not born in mid-winter if you believe the first written accounts of his nativity. Sheep were a-lambing and lambs do not arrive in the depth of winter. Lambs are smarter than that. But there were these great celebrations at mid-winter that drew millions of participants around the world. If you can’t beat them, join them.
And so the mass celebrating Christ’s Birth was moved to late December to compete with the various traditional Winter Solstice celebrations. Not to mention the Roman Saturnalia.
Everyone likes a party. Even the early, prototype Christians who enjoyed the Saturnalia even as they worship Christ as the Son of God. The Church Fathers could not have been happy. How are you going to keep them down in the church after they’ve seen Saturnalia? And so the birth of Jesus of Nazareth was moved to mid-winter. The Church Fathers knew a good gig when they saw one.
In the long run, however, say two thousand and eleven odd years, we still celebrate the winter solstice whether we call it Solstice, Christmas, Saturnalia, or some other holiday. Our sun is victorious, promising that this cold winter will eventually leave and we shall survive to plant our hopes once again in spring.
At the winter solstice we look both back and forward. Back towards the memories of gatherings of family and friends who are no longer with us. Forward to the brave new world we know will reborn before us.
To everything there is a season.
I like Christmas carols. Perhaps it is a remnant of my childhood I still hold dear. Perhaps, my Catholic Education. But I like music. Classical. Rock and Roll. Pop, swing and Solemn High Masses sung by a great choir. So why not Christmas Carols? What Child is This? O’ Holy Night. Adeste Fideles. Coventry Carol. I Caught Santa in Bed with Mom and My Sister. Ok. I made that last one up. I think. You never know though. Even Bob Dylan has recorded Adeste Fideles and I like to sing. So I repeat, why not Christmas Carols?
Even if you don’t believe, and I don’t, it’s a great story. Birth to savior and leader to the final denouement, it’s a cross cultural archetype that underlies a multitude of great stories, novels and movies. Spartacus. Osiris. Jesus of Nazareth. Blatantly in Dune. It’s an ancient story often well told. We want to believe even when we don’t. So sing as if the world might end tomorrow if we don’t.
And I do believe that the Fourth Movement (the Chorale) to Beethoven’s should be sung on New Year’s Eve to herald in the coming Year. So I sing Christmas Carols and play them on my CD player and the Cloud.
Looking backward to Christmas past, I remember long tables filled with food cooked by my grandmother. My extended family would begin gathering at my grandparents early on Christmas afternoon after church and we would celebrate into the mid-evening.
And yes I did sit at the kitchen table in the beginning, apart from the adults. I had many aunts, uncles, and cousins down to twice removed and we all were definitely Sicilian. And definitely American from my immigrant grandparents to the second generation born in the United States (me) and the third (who showed up later in my teens).
I remember toys. I remember family. The toys, other than a few, are vague in my mind. My family is not. What I remember is the warm and happiness of having family around me and, most of all, my grandmother’s embrace.
So I celebrate the holidays and put up a Yule tree remind me of everyone and everything and give my kids memories to keep as they may wish.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 24 December 2011 22:54|