Holiday Greetings

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Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends and Happy Chanukah to all my Jewish friends. Oh, to the non theists out there, I wish you a Happy Thursday.

Every once in a while some curmudgeonly columnist will decry the commercialism of Christmas and urge everyone to get back to the roots of the holiday. If my understanding of the holiday is correct, it celebrates the birth of Christ. So, Christmas is a gigantic birthday party. What do you do at a birthday party? Eat, have fun, give gifts. Which is what people do for Christmas, too. Seems to me that giving people you love presents to celebrate a joyous birth is right in there with the spirit of Christmas. I know that there is a religious component too, but people seem to take that seriously as well. I would guess that Christmas and Easter are the days when the most people go to church. That’s just a guess though.

As a non Christian, I’d think that Easter is the more serious and somber holiday. It commemorates the death and rebirth of Christ, which is serious business. That’s why people take it more seriously as a solemn religious holiday. People don’t give gifts lavishly as they do on Christmas. That seems fitting to me. I will admit that the whole Easter Bunny laying eggs thing is a mystery to me. Who came up with that, Lewis Carroll? It just doesn’t seem to fit in with a somber holiday, but I guess you have to do something to engage the kids.

Chanukah is a different type of holiday than Christmas. It’s a more solemn holiday and the modern tradition of gift giving is the influence of Christmas since the two holidays fall pretty closely together. This year they coincide almost exactly, but Judaism uses a 13 month calendar, not the 12 month calendar of the western world. For those interested Judaism 101 has a pretty good description of the reason behind the holiday.

While you are celebrating, please keep in mind the people who are away from their families working here or overseas fighting against the Islamic Fascists. I won’t point you towards any specific charity, but there are several that benefit military personnel, especially wounded ones. Even a small donation will help make someones holidays a little happier.

Be safe, enjoy the time with your families, and as I tell my son, above all, Don’t Do Anything Stupid. Really, you don’t want to end up as the subject of a blog post, do you?

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I will admit that the whole Easter Bunny laying eggs thing is a mystery to me. Who came up with that, Lewis Carroll? It just doesn’t seem to fit in with a somber holiday, but I guess you have to do something to engage the kids.That goes back to the pre-christian holiday celebrating the British fertility goddess Oester. Not so much concerned with engaging the kids as with, um, creating them. That’s how fertility symbols like rabbits and eggs (And nowadays, chocolate) became associated with the Resurrection of Christ. It just so happened that the best time for planting seed, both crops in the field and, um… that other thing… was around the same time as when the Jews celebrated Passover. On the human fertility side, counting nine months ahead puts the expected birth date in the middle of winter after the harvest is done with, when the new mother could devote more time to caring for the infant.

  2. No problem. I gotta do something with the assorted trivia I’ve absorbed over the years. No one’s willing to play Trivial Pursuit or You Don’t Know Jack with me more than once…

  3. Ted, it was a random thought that, like most of my thoughts, came unbidden to my consciousness. Cybrludite, I know the feeling, my brain is clogged with completely knowledge. I can sing the theme song to F Troop. Like that’s a useful skill.

  4. Thanks for the plug for donations to military assistance organizations. While there are many that are outstanding, a couple really come to mind. One is the Wounded Warrior Project (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org) which is as it says. Another is the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (http://www.specialops.org/) which pays for the college education of the children of spec ops warriors who have been killed.Both organizations do wonderful work.

  5. Most Christian holidays are conscripted from the pagans. Considering it is unlikely that December 25 is the actual birthday of Christ. Consider the shepherds in the field. Shepherds tend sheep in the fields during lambing season. Lambing is in the spring. You mention Easter, another holiday stolen for pagans. The origin is traced to Queen Ishtar, also known as Samurais, Queen of Babylon. She married Cush, a mighty king of the time. They had a child named Nimrod, who became a mighty hunter and warrior. Let me tell you a story, much of which is supported by biblical verse. Genesis 10:8-10 states: “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”Following the death of Cush, Samurais became wife to Nimrod. She was a goddess and he a man-god, so incest wasn’t considered a problem. Later we find that Nimrod was killed by an enemy and his body chopped up into pieces. Myth has it the pieces were spread to every corner of the kingdom. Ishtar tried to reassemble Nimrod, and succeeded except for one piece. She wanted to have a big fertility ceremony, but the missing piece was the necessary equipment. This pissed her off, but she dealt with it as any good Jewish wife would. She made up a story. Ishtar told her subjects that Nimrod had ascended the Sun God Baal, who was supposed to be her deceased husband, Cush. She issued a proclamation that Baal should forever be present on Earth in some form of fire. Oil lamps and candles did the trick. Eggs come into play at this point because she claimed that she was the goddess of the moon, and that every 28 days her eggs would fall from the full moon into the Euphrates. These became known as Ishtar’s Eggs. The first time this happened was the spring equinox, which is about the time Ishtar got knocked up again. She claimed Immaculate Conception, pronouncing the light rays of Baal as the source of her pregnancy. Nine months later she produced a son; Tammuz.Tammuz, the supposed offspring of a god, was worshiped as a man-god. His word was law. It was noted that Tammuz had a fondness for rabbits, so Ishtar proclaimed the little critters to be sacred among her subjects. Thus we have Ishtar’s rabbits. Tammuz willed the rabbits to hide Isthar’s eggs because he didn’t want to share his mother with another child. Ishtar spent a good deal of time searching for the eggs. Thus we have Isthar’s egg hunt. As he matured, Tammuz was supposed to become a great hunter like Nimrod and his father, but it didn’t take. The poor dude was just too clumsy and was killed by a wild pig. Ishtar was enraged. She had all pigs slain and ordered they be eaten by her subjects. The peasants were grateful for the bounty. This became known as Ishtar’s ham. There you have the story of the pagan origin of Easter.

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