The Ides of December have once again betrayed our budding/brooding holiday spirits. Tens of millions of Americans, from Missouri to Maine, are waking today to the many horrors of a winter Nor’easter. See “Second Storm in a Week Moves East” (Wash. Post/AP, Dec. 16, 2007) Here in Schenectady, the Daily Gazette headline says “Wintry weather expected to take its toll on region” (Dec. 16, 2007). Not only are roads treacherous, with snow “expected to change to sleet and freezing rain by mid- to late morning,” but the hectic rush to complete holiday shopping chores will have to wait for snow removal duty — with shoveling made especially strenuous due to the heaviness of “wintry mix” precipitation, and snow blowers of dubious assistance dealing with the “dense, icy mess.”
we make a snow buddha
—- by dagosan, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)
It looks like a Winter Wonderland, but it has me wondering yet again why we jeopardize our physical and psychic health every year trying to perform an already-stressfully long list of holiday chores – – and accomplish the related travel — in the time of year that is most likely to have the most inhospitable weather. Whenever I make that observation, I am told (in tones of total resignation), “it’s traditional.” To be honest, such reasoning almost never makes sense to me when a change can greatly improve a situation, and can be done in a cost-effective way that shouldn’t offend reasonable people.
where I sat as a child
I wait out the storm
……….. by Hilary Tann, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)
orig. pub. in Upstate Dim Sum (2004/I)
. As you surely know, the historical person whose birthday is being celebrated on Christmas, was almost certainly not born anywhere near the 25th of December. As the website All About Jesus Christ respectfully tells us in Was Jesus born on December 25?:
“It wasn’t until A.D. 440 that the church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Christ. This was not based on any religious evidence but on a pagan feast. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. December 25 was used as a celebration of the birthday of the sun god. It was observed near the winter solstice.
“The apostles in the Bible predicted that some Christians would adopt pagan beliefs to enable them to make their religion more palatable to the pagans around them. Therefore, some scholars think the church chose the date of this pagan celebration to interest them in Christianity.”
The All About Jesus site also explains why it is far more likely that Christ was born in in the spring or fall than in a cold month:
“The Bible itself tells us that December 25 is an unlikely date for His birth. Palestine is very cold in December. It was much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. Also the shepherds were in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.”
So, “tradition” surely need not be a barrier to choosing a more sensible time of year for staging our society’s biggest holidays — unless, we still want to make Christianity more appealing to the pagans among us and we are going to let the pagans dictate our schedules. Needing to have snow on the ground to be in a holiday mood seems, let’s be frank, a rather childish, and far too Northern-Euro-centric notion. We need to get over it — if only to help assure that as many of our loved ones as possible can travel in safety and with some assurance that they will arrive and depart when planned. As a bonus, we wouldn’t have to dig our cars out, before heading (in bulky, hot clothing unsuitable for indoor shopping), on treacherous roads with ineffective defrosters, to mall parking lots cluttered with space-stealing snow banks.
update (Dec. 21, 2008): Encore post “let’s move Christmas to May“.
red bows decorate
the ‘Closed for the Season’
…… by Hilary Tann, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)
For now, we’re stuck with Christmas in December. If the current storms are impacting negatively on your holiday spirits or plan today, or you simply want to amplify your Christmas-season joy, click on our newly-created collection of “Holiday Haiku from Schenectady” (December 2007), which has two dozen poems written by three haijin who hang out in Schenectady: Yu Chang, Hilary Tann, and myself. [They are presented in a Word Document that can be printed on both sides of a letter-size sheet and made into a tri-fold brochure.] A few of the haiku and senryu are sprinkled in a joyously seasonal mix throughout this post. Many thanks to Hilary and Yu for agreeing to join in this project.
sheds her tears
……………… Yu Chang, haiga in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady (Dec. 2007)
the ice-fishing hole
……………………. by david giacalone
the paperweight –
……………….. by hilary tann
my father’s footsteps
bigger than mine
………………….. by yu chang
“Holiday Haiku from Schenectady” (December 2007) – real haiku & senryu by Yu Chang, David Giacalone & Hilary Tann, from Schenectady, NY, USA – click to print the free brochure.