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Monday, 27 December 2021


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"...The best guess is that Jesus of Nazareth was born in March, although the evidence for that is slender too."

I have no 'skin' in this but my guess would have been whenever the Romans collected taxes. Wasn't that why Joseph and Mary were traveling? And would it not be after harvest time? I really don't know, but being scientific about it seems logical to me.

Speaking of St. Nicholas, I visited his summer residence in Turkey a few years ago - https://www.flickr.com/photos/7331818@N02/31525411427

Dunder and Blixem sound very cute, but the Dutch words for thunder and lightning are donder and bliksem.

Sinterklaas is in The Netherlands under fire these days because his assistant Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is dressed up as a blackface. It’s almost 2022 and I think it is time we should change this now. Some political activists don’t find this enough. They even see connections with slavery, but that’s nonsense. The tradition is much older that and traces back to the early middle ages. Originally he was from Germany and his assistant was Krampus. All over Europe there were traditions in winter with such bogeyman. Many of them painted their faces black. The French photographer Charles Fréger has been collecting them from all over the world. Imagine that you got one of them on your doorstep in the dark days of winter.

Christianity copied a lot of things from other religions within the Roman Empire. 25 December was the birthday of Mithras. The religion that was named after this Persian sun god was especially popular amongst soldiers. In the fourth century the christians adopted the date as the birthday of Christ. The are many more things that Christianity took over from Mithras as they also took elements from the Greek and from the Egyptian Isis religion. You won’t find a lot about the Jesus and Maria stories in the Bible but they are almost similar to the ones of Isis and her son Horus.

When I was very young my father, a foreman butcher in the local Co-op, worked Christmas morning, finishing at midday. It only became a public holiday here in Scotland relatively recently. Hogmanay, on the other hand…

Donner and Blitzen still mean “thunder” and “lightning” - but in German.

I think this year, Black Friday was indeed the busiest shopping day of the year and that "it was never the busiest" is shall we say not quite correct. Black Friday was the top sales day in 2006-2009 in both sales and traffic. Some years 12-24 was larger but clearly not always.

I love the George C Scott version (his Scrooge is so evil Cratchit is played by David Warner!) but I really recommend The Muppet Christmas Carol also. It is fairly faithful, and Michael Caine plays Scrooge perfectly straight. He reportedly only accepted the role because the production agreed with his stipulation that he play Scrooge completely straight, as if at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A few years ago, a good British television (aired on FX in America) adaption was made starring Guy Pearce which developed Scrooge's character with the background of why he was so psychologically damaged. Not canonical, but good just the same, and elements were fairly scary, befitting a ghost story.

Patrick Perez

Interesting, thnx Mike,
a few remarks though;
"Donner und Blitz" is German (thunder and lightning)
"donder en bliksem" is Dutch (idem)
Sinterklaas is spelled as one word.

Happy New Year!

“Donner” and “blitzen” mean “thunder” and “flash” in German, so not likely a mispronunciation of the Dutch.

The strangest Christmas fact I’ve ever run across,


but probably too gross to put on TOP. I find it offensive, as well as strange.

I celebrated Christmas with some yule goat at one of the local Indian restaurants (the Chinese restaurants were all closed).

Great history lesson! Thank you. And Merry Xmas and Happy Nyew Yar!

You're welcome. (Season's Greetings from Groningen in the north of The Netherlands)

Thanks Mike,
Xmas trivia is always an interesting topic.
I recently read a couple of articles from The Conversation.
This one is about the history of celebrating Xmas, and it’s not-so-Christian origin:

And this one covers some Christian myths about the Mother Mary:

The myth about the virgin birth, and the mis-translation that underpins it, is new to me.
Hmm, you may want to vet this comment the check whether it meets your policies about banned topics. The first link may be mostly harmless - the second link may be more controversial.
Acknowledging I am an atheist, and former Presbyterian. I’ve been away from religion for so long I can’t judge whether such a topic will be taken benignly or cause some chagrin.

Happy holidays Mike.
Thank you for your great website and interesting articles throughout the year. This one is no exception.
All the best for 2022.

No ham, but we had a re-heated roast porketta from a local deli, super delicious. Now back to mostly plants, I hope (it's really hard, I find, to transition from a mostly whole foods, plant based diet to a meat and dairy splurge, then back again).

22. Santa's reindeer are most likely all female, and probably pregnant. The antlers of uncastrated male reindeer fall off before Christmas; pregnant females carry theirs through winter. (The antlers of both sexes fall off at some point during the year.) Castrated males may also carry their antlers over the Christmas season, but would Santa ever, ever castrate his male reindeer? I think not. Although, thinking twice, this would be a terrifying tale to tell little boys who were bad the year before.

Very interesting article, Mike. To me, one of the more interesting pieces of trivia about the modern American version of Christmas, is that many of the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews of the Tin Pan Alley era

I ate dirty rice a spicey cajun dish, for Xmas dinner. I'm making jambalaya with beef and turkey sausage for this evening's meal. People eat a lot of ethnic food in Orange County, California.

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