Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Would Socrates Say About Christmas?

I certainly ate too much at Thanksgiving...and I'm still enjoying the left overs...there was no meat on the table, but we had tons of carbs and several sweets so that was more than enough! I find myself in a slump...unmotivated, uninspired and, blah-the holidays for me kicks off the season to question lots of old habits and traditions that I'm not so sure are relevant anymore in my life, and I have to also question were these traditions ever relevant? 

Traditions are a great thing for families and a wonderful way to keep balance in our lives but I also think sometimes we need to examine these traditions just to see if they make sense! Socrates said "a life unexamined is not worth living," of course I'm not forgetting what happened to Socrates (recent documentary on PBS brought this back into the front of my mind) So today I examine, ask questions, find answers,  and ponder possible resolutions.

(I have to digress here for a moment when looking into origins of anything I think of Henrik, an online friend living in Denmark.  He knew perfect English and that was a good thing & he proceeded to teach me a few words in Dansk and we explored word origins together doing research, and it was totally fascinating!!  I know it's not your typical boy meets girl online relationship, I am drawn to certain ones who have something to teach me)

So with that said, where does the word Testify come from? You stand before a court to give testimony, your testimony is sworn now on a Bible, the word of God...but where did that begin?  Found this out while watching that same documentary on Socrates and the Early Democracy of Greece- and even though I did research checking for proof to support this idea, some articles disagreed with this origin & yet the explanation they gave was too vague for me, this one however does make sense!! So my research said when one came to speak to Gods of ancient Greece men had to place their hand over their testicles--thus they stood in testis, maybe this could be the true origins...But on this documentary they said when ancient Grecians came to speak to the Gods they had to bring along a sacrifice--(this made more sense to me, since sacrifice was the Cell Phone of that Century, and being done in 300 they would kill an animal and cut off the testicles and hold the bloody testis up to appease the Gods while they asked for Grace to be bestowed upon them, they gave TESTIS to the Gods thus came the word Testify--

Women of that time had no power in government or Religious doctrine... so they never had to grab or clutch their crotch, but they performed rituals a plenty of their own... such as killing & burying an entire litter of piglets and then digging the carcases up and ....[OH Ill save that one for another day] I'm exploring or examining this:

Why do I celebrate Christmas? What is the ORIGIN OF IT?  I am not of a religious nature--have never been baptised into any religion, I never thythe and as a child growing up we didn't have Christmas in our home!! The whole notion of creation was never explained to me in any form...IN fact I recall only one time in my childhood when toys were presented to my sisters and me...other than that maybe a bowl of walnuts sat on the table or a random card sent in by well wishers would arrive and be stood up on the table, then discarded to the trash a few days later.

So why do we, [my family] have Christmas now? I had to examine this and after a recent talk with my Mother who finally admitted to me she has a strong dislike of Christmas and always has...I searched my memory banks for the reasons behind the celebrating of Christmas for [US]

Well honestly I began celebrating Christmas when I met the man I married and later we had a all parents I wanted my child to have everything I didn't have and that included Christmas! We told him the story of Santa on the roof, we chopped a live tree and brought it into my spotless living room, I baked cakes and hung stockings, I set up nutcrackers and felt covered reindeer!  WHY?

I learned all the traditions of Christmas outside my upbringing. At school I was in the art department from 6th grade on was the main focus of my life [that and riding horses]! So it was that in art class I loved creating the red-construction paper chains and drawing donkeys and camels on the murals to be used as backgrounds for the Christmas pageant of Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus.  The plaster of paris ornaments we shaped by hand along with the homemade torn-paper mache dolls, were so COOL.  For me it was FUN and it was a time to be creative and to do things that otherwise I wouldn't get the opportunity to do!! It made me feel Good to be part of a group of creative people!

So it was that I got to know the event we call Christmas.  I learned of course that is was a religious holiday celebrated by Christians and that was ok, my Mother and sisters said they were Christians although the sisters were at that time Jehovah's witnesses, all 3 of them had been baptised, but I held firm to my non belief system.

I also learned the celebration we call Christmas originated as a Pagan festival in honor of the Goddess of Nature first held in Babylon!  It was a gluttony of excesses-- partying, food, drink, and gift giving...and was done each Dec. 25th. 

In the year 350, The Pope Julius  decided to use this celebration as a means of converting the Pagan Romans to Christianity by continuing this raucous celebration...and the day of choice was Dec 25th...but scholars say the birthday of the man named Jesus...they the same as my Birthday..Sept 29th!

To top it all off there was the music, I have always loved music and it was me who spent many a night listening to the little radio that Big Sis got with the saved Greenback stamps....that same Christmas music ringed through the halls of the old buildings that housed our elementary, jr, and high schools. In those days our schools were with-in 3 blocks proximity to each other. So I learned the songs and sang along from Silent Night to Rudolf.

I recall playing the triangle in the little chorus and I learned the words to the rest of the Christmas carols (the origins of the Carolers: began as mummers and was part of the celebration in ancient Rome called Saturnalia, honoring the God of Agriculture, Saturn, and this celebration started in Dec and slid into January when neighbors would go from house to house and sing and rejoice due to the bounty of harvest...thus began the Carol Singers) 

 So in art class I drew and cut out the Star of Bethlehem and squashed aluminum foil all over it...and then when I brought it home there was no tree, no lights, no colored balls, no fruit cake no carols on the little radio..and it seemed drab and cold in comparison to the Joy we were having at school in celebration of Christmas!

So this memory of Christmas that started in a child who had no reason to  celebrate Christmas felt it as --warmth-- that is what was instilled in me via a school system and eventually became a way for me to share warmth with my family, my son, and since we were at it may as well invite my mother, my sisters, and later on their husbands and then later still the girlfriends of my son.  So this is how Christmas grew to be in my life the history of the event notwithstanding the foregoing!

When I moved to NY to run away from the overburdened life I had created for myself I bought this little tree even though I lived alone and had no one to share the holiday with...I worked every single Christmas that I lived there the time and a half was too good to pass up...BUT this ugly little tree made in China and purchased at the 99c store warmed the emptiness, and made me feel closer to the family I had run away from!! (does that make sense?)

 So as Socrates examined the world in which he lived he asked questions that he wanted answers to --he questioned the power and the power consumed him...I have to question can this warmth we all wish to create during holiday time come directly from within US? Why can't it originate solely from inside our heart as part of our emotions toward the people we love, and cant it be expressed outwardly so everyone feels it and returned in kind?  Do we really need a funny looking tree with a star on top to create this wonderful feeling of warmth? Can we be like the Who's down in Whoville, can we have Christmas without a tree, a plum pudding, and a Visa bill in January?

I sure hope so, cause I dont feel the warmth anymore~

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