Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Happy Holidays and other celebrations

Last week, we discussed the Krampus and other travelers with ole Saint Nick. I thought I would lighten the mood a little and discuss some pleasant Christmas traditions.

We have all probably have heard about the 12 days of Christmas. But what are they? In the early centuries of the Christian church was common not to have unified days of celebration. This was particularly true when it came to Christmas.

Many people celebrated December 25 as the birth of Jesus. This celebration involved giving gifts as the wise men did with the baby Jesus. According to many sects of the Christian church, the wise men were not present at Jesus’s birth. These people exchange gifts on the traditional day that the wise men arrived, which is January 6.

The 2nd Council of Tours in 567 A.D. declared the 12 days of Christmas, a time for celebration between the date of observance of the birth of Jesus, and when the wise men arrived. It also corresponds to the Feast of the Epiphany, in which Jesus is revealed to be the Son of God. They declared this time to be the twelve days of Christmas, as “Holy Days.”

For those of you, like me, who get upset because people insist you say Happy Holidays, and not Merry Christmas, do not be distressed. The name Holiday is a shortened version of Holy Days. So when some political correct person comments that you say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, snicker under your breath because you know what they are exactly suggesting, even if they do not.

I want to point out something that I think is ironic. As many of American TV watchers know, it is the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Christmas classic; Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In honor of this date, CBS has been running commercials featuring Rudolf walking through the TV sets. Stars of current CBS shows are wishing him; “Happy Holidays”. The irony of this CBS shows Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer every year, and in it they must say “Merry Christmas” two dozen times in that show.

Many people celebrate Adam and Eve Day, which is December 24. It is a feast and celebration where they retell the story of Adam and Eve, and the Paradise Tree. Although, the fall of man from the Garden of Eden is a story of sin and failure, it concludes with a promise of the coming of a redeemer and savior.

I describe this celebration in my novel, “Legend of the Mystic Knights”

    It was Christmas Eve, and everyone gathered in the town square. A large fir tree was being erected. The entire town and members of the castle came to see the tree, for it was a joyful event in the dark time of winter.

    People came and decorated the tree with paper flowers and apples. Many regarded Christmas Eve as Adam and Eve Day, and this was why there were so many apples adorning the tree. They referred to the fir as a paradise tree, for it represented the tree in the Garden of Eden.

We all know Santa Claus comes and brings presents to good girls and boys. Before Santa Claus became popular there was Tomte. Tomte was an elf from Sweden or Norway, who would bring gifts; he had a long white beard and wore red clothing.

Before Tomte, there was the Yule Goat. Yes, I said a Yule Goat. The Yule Goat would knock on doors handing our presents and food. Again this was celebrated in the Northern Countries in Europe. This tradition may have originated with the Nose god Thor. He rode a chariot drawn by two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, which means Tooth Barer and Tooth Grinder. Thor once had to stay with a poor family; he slaughtered his goats to feed them, afterwards using his hammer Mjölnir to resurrect the animals.

Although Christmas has become a celebration of gift-giving and merriment, I would remind everyone what this celebration really means. As Linus, in Charlie Brown Christmas said,”…I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

    'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Moreover, please if you can, help those who do not have the financial ability to celebrate Christmas. In regard to this, I would like to share one of my favorite lines, which is at the end of the carol, Good King Wenceslas.

    “Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,

    Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”

Have a wonderful and safe Merry Christmas and Holiday Season.


  1. I learned some really interesting stuff with this post Bill! The Yule Goat? That's kind of funny, yes? And I now know why so many apples in European decor around the holidays. Very neat! So Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays to you and yours)

  2. I did not know about Adam and Eve Day. I like learning about old Christmas traditions and traditions in other parts of the world. Thanks for the reminder to remember and help the less fortunate. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you.

  3. William I've heard the song a million times and probably know most of the words but until reading your post I had no idea what the 12 days of Christmas is. Nor did I have a clue about Adam and Eve day. Thanks for the education.

    1. The song itself is a hidden code. Catholicism was outlawed in England for a long time, and the song was created to teach them about Catholic doctrine.

  4. It's good to know that Happy Holidays is a shortened term for Holy Days. I'm sure that tid-bit of trivia will serve me well one of these days.

  5. Very interesting. I never knew any of these stories so this is the first I am hearing of them. As a side note, as someone raised Jewish who is married to a Christian, we always say happy holidays in my household as there is more than one holiday we are celebrating!

  6. Possibly my favorite post of yours yet, William! And, as always, I learned something new, both about Adam and Eve day, and the 12 days of Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  7. Thank you everyone for your nice comments, and everyone have a wonderful Merry Christmas.

  8. Interesting post. I never knew of the Yule Goat or Adam and Eve day or many of the other historical pointers you mentioned. I can't imagine why anyone would have an issue with saying Happy Holidays. Not everyone celebrates Christmas and it is the holiday season for many people with varying beliefs around the world. Everyday is holy. To me, and many others I know, this quote by former US President, Calvin Coolidge sums up the true spirit of Christmas. "Christmas is not a time nor season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." Not to say this is the correct way of looking at it, it's just another way of looking at it.

  9. There are a lot of things I didn't know or even heard about before reading this post. Happy holidays.

  10. I really find this post interesting and informative. But I also got little confused somewhere, I do not know, how this confusion can be solved.
    Many times we hear about the Christmas and different traditions. Its nice to know that people celebrated it in a different way in passed years.
    As a Muslim I believe Jesus in the same way I believe Muhammad (Peace and blessing be upon them) as messengers of God. I do believe Adam and Eve and consider them as the father and mother of mankind. I also believe about the tree, God forbade Adam and Eve to eat the fruit and finally they eat it as Devil deceive them. As a result both Adam and Eve were sent to earth.
    After this post I came to know that there are many similar believes.

    Thank you for sharing.

  11. As always you've provided some interesting history. And I too will laugh silently when someone insists on using Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas to avoid religious connotations.