Yes, boys and girls its that time of year again. Yes, its Christmas time, before long German children will be looking high and low for the traditional Christmas pickle. Black men will be helping Santa to unload gifts from his sleigh on Christmas Eve.
Yes, Christmas was so beloved by our ancestors in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that they passed a law against it, "anybody who is found observing [it], by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way." The law was later repealed after twenty five years, apparently by the Chamber of Commerce, who also voted down the suggestions of renaming the colony "Grinchland."
There is no such thing as a traditional Christmas, it's American as apple pie and as German as strudel. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas arrives each year wearing a red Catholic Cardinals hat. He doesn't arrive by sleigh, but by steamboat of course! Black Pete his trusted assistant is by his side to carry the saint's book which holds the names of children who have been good and which have been bad. Saint Nick will bring the good children gifts and candy.
For the bad children and those on the fence, Christmas Eve could be a day of high anxiety. Saint Nick won't just bring you switches, he'll sic Black Pete on you, to use them! If you're a really bad kid, Black Pete snatches up the bad children and puts them in a duffel bag and takes them to Spain. Don't ask me why Spain is the destination, I guess, in the Netherlands that's the worst place they can think of to take you. Personally, I wouldn't mind spending Christmas in Spain.
Ah, but the deep symbolism of the Christmas tree. When kindly Saint Boniface cut down the first tree to discourage the pagans, it was an oak, and it was the tree of Thor. Then, when the Saint saw a spruce tree growing in the roots of an oak tree, he used it as a symbol of Christianity. All Thor got was a day of the week named after him. (Happy Thorsday everyone!) So now that we have our traditional tree how about traditional decorations? You know fun stuff like, nuts, dates, paper flowers, pretzels and apples. Nothing says Christmas, like pretzels hanging from the Christmas tree!
Then there was an angel and the sheppard was tending his flock and he was very afraid, and the angel said unto him, "Lo, what are you doing out here? It's the middle of winter, there ain't no grass growing out here this time of year."
Almost every culture on Earth celebrates the winter solstice, the solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year. So the Christian church imposed the holiday of Christmas over the Pagan rituals of getting drunk and misbehaving. Instead, we go out and buy each other crap, isn't that better? However, if your family is like mine, there are still die hards who get drunk and misbehave at Christmas.
The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest celebrate a Potlatch festival during the winter months. During the Potlatch you celebrate by giving your wealth away, how rich are you? How important are you? It all depends on what you give away. Now a holiday such as this can really upset the merchants association. Everyone of the native American's giving each other gifts, I give you a blanket and you give me a sack of corn. Not much of a need to buy anything, so the white man proposed to the Native Americans that they knock it off.
"We will dance when our laws command us to dance, and we will feast when our hearts desire to feast. Do we ask the white man, 'Do as the Indian does?' It is a strict law that bids us dance. It is a strict law that bids us distribute our property among our friends and neighbors. It is a good law. Let the white man observe his law; we shall observe ours. And now, if you come to forbid us dance, be gone. If not, you will be welcome to us." Chief O'wax̱a̱laga̱lis
WWJD? I think he'd side with the chief. A holiday dedicated to redistribution of wealth. The anti-greed day celebration. In 1885 the Potlatch was outlawed in the United States and Canada.
"Every Indian or other person who engages in or assists in celebrating the Indian festival known as the "Potlatch" or the Indian dance known as the "Tamanawas" is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than six nor less than two months in a jail or other place of confinement; and, any Indian or other person who encourages, either directly or indirectly an Indian or Indians to get up such a festival or dance, or to celebrate the same, or who shall assist in the celebration of same is guilty of a like offence, and shall be liable to the same punishment."
The potlatch was "by far the most formidable of all obstacles in the way of Indians becoming Christians, or even civilized." Missionary William Duncan 1875