small blue flowers

Tuesday

belly christmas


Bah Humbug. There I said it, I have heard the same things said about Christmas year after year after year, the joys of the season the blah blah blah. You tell someone that you’re not avidly pro Christmas and you either get immediately labelled as some militant hippy “Oh but the commercialism” or a grumpy old scrooge. I may have a touch of the grumpy old scrooge about me this I won’t deny but it’s not why I’m a bah humbug sort of a girl. I just find it a very awkward time and given half a chance (I rarely am) I’ll hide away and pretend it isn’t happening. It’s not a miserable approach, I’m perfectly happy in my own company but invariably some kind but misguided soul takes pity on me and places much emphasis on the “Oh but you can’t spend it alone”. Try pointing out you can to these people. It’s hard work. Nine times out of ten it’s easier to give in and suffer someone else’s Christmas feeling like the Grinch. There’s far too many expectations for this time of year, I never feel comfortable enough to just bumble along in the daze that I normally do. Everything has to be oh so magical and everything has to be oh so special. I was operating under the illusion that it all already was to be honest.

So from me there will be no quirky covers of Christmas songs, no touching tunes or traditional tracks. No. I’m going to look at that which I know best so from me you’ll be getting lectures on The Science Of Christmas.

And the odd song.

Where to start? With the fat man himself of course: Why is Santa such a lardy boy? The genetics of father Christmas.

Santa is a big fat man in a bright red suit. Why can't he help himself with the mince pies? How on earth does he squeeze down the chimney with such an impressive gut? Why isn't Mrs Claus putting the big man on a low carb high "something posh sounding salad with balsamic vinegar" diet? Is Santa so rosy in the face because of all the grub and tipple or is the poor man genetically challenged?

From what I've read it may not be his fault. There could be a genetic flaw in the big guy that means he really can't help it. It is likely Santa has at least a couple of genetic defects that means he has a propensity to portliness and a hunger that never really quite goes away. Most sadly these genetic defects probably means Santa is suffering early onset of diabetes. Mrs Claus must be a very patient lady indeed. I fear for his blood pressure, especially in a career with fixed deadlines and an almost impossible work load. I suppose the holidays are good at least but that one heart attack inducing night of activity will be the death of father christmas. Or, the death of father christmas comes when all the little boys and girls stop believing in him. He busts a gut (ho ho ho) for them and then they give up. The snotty little ingrates.

Is he a positive role model for the little kiddies? He's giving to the good, he shares, he meets his deadlines. These are all admirable qualities indeed. He pulls off red in a way many would be envious of. He has a healthy glow about him (the sherry I bet) .... but he is a portly gent and with Jamie Olivers current war on anything tasty (I know I know) Santa is the anti-role-model. If kids look up to Santa more than Jamie Oliver (who never gave me presents and mostly gave me a headache) then this plague of child obesity I hear so much about in the news could go through the roof.

MP3: Jarvis Cocker: Fat Children

Book: Can Reindeer Fly? The Science of Christmas
CD: Jarvis Cocker

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Monday

Io Saturnalia!




This is the first of my Xmas posts on pre-christian Xmas festivals (with added christmas song goodness). As you may have guessed most of these pre-christian festivals are based on the winter solstice. Saturnalia was the Roman winter solstice festival where they celebrated the rededication of the temple to the god Saturn. Saturn's staue was hollowed out and filled with olive oil (as a symbol of his agricultural deification) and his feet which had previously been bound, were unbound at this time. The binding was to ensure Saturn's subordinance to Jupiter, while the loosening symbolized Jupiter's free reign during Saturnalia.

 

Traditionally this festival started on the 17th December (our calendar - in the Julian calendar this would be around the 25th December) and lasted anything from three to seven days, depending on the decree of the current Emperor. The celebrations included school holidays, slaves were allowed to gamble (see how nice the Romans were?) and even role-reversal in that the masters often served the slaves a banquet. This also involved the slaves wearing a red, felt pileus cap - the symbol of a freed slave - , not unlike that which Santa Claus wears.

Practices that carry over to the present day include the exchanging of gifts on Sagillaria, the last day of Saturnalia, singing holiday songs (in the nude), decorating the house with candles(to signify the return of the sun after the solstice?) - even cutting down evergreen trees, decorating them and dedicating them to Saturn. According to Wiki this was to honour the fact that evergreens remain alive during the harsh winters. I'm sure the irony was not lost on the poor evergreens as the axe bit into their trunks.

In essence, Saturnalia was much like the Christmas that most of us practice today. I wonder who are/were more pious in relation to their religious festival; the Christians at Christmas or the Romans at Saturnalia? So how did Christmas replace Saturnalia? At this point the only Christian festival was Easter, probably the most important of the Christian celebrations. It is thought that the Christian church decided to nominate the 25th of December as Christ's birthday in order to usurp Saturnalia. Much of Rome was Christian by then and it was probably easy to push this through in favour of a pagan celebration. Of course this may be perceived as doing Christianity a disservice, but I think it's fairly clear Christ wasn't born on 25th December. It's also quite interesting that essentially the festivals were very similar in the way they were celebrated and really all that's changed (apart from naked Carol singing) is the deity.

 

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age    (www / buy)

Kristin Hersh - Jesus Christ  (www / buy)

 

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Sunday

Christmas Bluets

It's appropriate that the approach of Christmas sees Bluets rise up Lazarus-like (but not quite Christ-like as we don't quite have the omnipotent mojo). So, yes, we should be back, talking about christmas things and posting our christmas music, probably like much of the blogosphere. And then, if it all goes to plan (which often it fails to) we'll do a Christmas podcast, probably sometime around Easter.

We aim to talk about our favourite Christmas songs, our favourite mixes, our most hated christmas releases and pre-christian festivals (that's not a Stone Age Glastonbury, or T-Rex in  the Park). Expect scintillating posts soon,

HJW