Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last post of 2009

So once again we find ourselves making a fuss over an arbitrary calendar division. It is something I have ranted about before, so I will spare everyone the trouble (myself included) of rehashing it. I will even spare everyone a secondary rant on Avatar, which I saw today for the first time, much to my chagrin.
I write only to wish the best to those who do mind that it's the last day of the year, those who are so heartily concerned with the dates of the secularized Christian feasts of the Gregorian calendar. I love you and I care for you, I miss you and I wish all the wonderful things in the world for you. We spend our days searching and hoping and desiring and, sometimes, fulfilling. We drink, we laugh, we cry, we shout and we live, last year, this year and the next. It is for you that I write, for you that I long, for you that I live. Happy New Year.

"Seeking happiness, we spend our lives in suffering." - Tibetan Book of the Dead

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Festive, finally!

It snowed today, interspersed with a beautiful, pale bone sunlight. Sometimes it was gravitous, sticky flakes, as on my walk home tonight. The wind swirled and the cold, wet projectiles pelted my face, but I loved it. I was immensely happy. I danced through the snow, sliding down the sidewalk, singing “Winter Wonderland” as well as my scratchy throat would allow. It felt right, finally. Even now, I sit at my desk, eating a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and listening – God help me – to Christmas music.
Noel, noel; o holy night.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Merry something

The prevailing belief, based on years of scholarship and study, is that Jesus, "called the Christ," was not born on Christmas (Christ's mass), nor in the year zero. The calendar we use today is not even the calendar used in Roman or Jewish cultures. Very early Christians didn't celebrate Christmas, but only Easter. The day for Christmas - December 25th - was arbitrarily chosen, meant to coincide roughly with Saturnalia and other pagan winter solstice celebrations. Some Christian churches, notably the Greek and Russian Orthodox, don't celebrate the 25th as Christmas, but instead have long celebrations either before or after that date. In fact, Christmas wasn't even designated a federal holiday in the US until June of 1870. Puritans banned the celebration as hedonistic.
Christmas has become almost entirely commercial these days. December 25th is not the day when Christians celebrate the birth of their savior, but is instead the day they celebrate spending money, giving unnecessary gifts and overeating, to the point that magazine after magazine lists articles on how to prevent weight gain during the holidays, how to choose gifts that won't be returned or regifted, and how to prevent yourself from going completely broke. Airlines charge extortionate prices for flights which are no different than any other, except in date.
Throughout much of the world, Christmas is not a holiday. Other cultures and other religions celebrate their own massive festivals; Eid, Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year or Bikrami Samvat (March 16th next year, in case you're wondering) are all 'holy' in some way to those who celebrate them. In fact, one might wonder if Christmas should be such a big deal to a 'non-practicing' or unbelieving Christian. If one doesn't consider the context holy, why then the date? This year, having been living in another country, Thanksgiving seemed to have much more gravity to it, my American heritage more important in the contrast.
The date is, in the end, unimportant. We assign it however much importance we wish, based on whatever criteria we choose.

But then, this could all just be the frustrated rambling of a girl who doesn't know how to tell her parents that she can't make it home for Christmas this year.