capriuni: A a cartoon furry monster whistling a single note; text; One-Note Nellie (1-note Nellie.)
('Cause I know the TV story is different from Robert May's original book. But it's the TV story that most people know -- anyway -- it's the one that I know)

Okay, we all know that "Rudolph" is a terrible story, because it teaches the 'moral': "Difference will inevitably, and naturally be despised until it can be exploited, so that the resulting exploitation must be celebrated as a happy ending."


We know this? We are agreed?


So you know what else sticks in my craw?

The "happy ending" for the "Abominable Snowman" -- being turned from Mean/Evil to Kind/Nice by having all his teeth forcibly removed.

No. No. No. No. NO!!

It's not whether or not you have teeth that makes you "bad," but how you use them.

It makes me want to write a Christmas story out of spite, where the day is saved by a giant monster with 5,000 sharp teeth, and three dozen sharp horns, and black shaggy fur. And, furthermore, the way the monster saves the day has only a tangential relationship to those teeth and horns.

(Meaning: they don't save the day by biting through or cutting anything, but by being smart, and compassionate, and maybe understanding of [problem at hand] because they know what it's like to be feared and misunderstood)

Eta: something like this critter:

Christmas monster
capriuni: A NASA photo of the planet Saturn in a "Santa cap" text: Io, Saturnalia (Saturnalia)
I posted this information a Year-and-a-Day Ago, but I tried to do something with embedding (I think), and got something wrong, so that all that showed up on my journal was nearly impossible to actually read. And somehow, I never caught it. ...I only caught it last night because Audrey commented that I probably made even fewer posts last December than I did this year, and so I went back and checked (I actually posted more).

So I'm trying again:

It all started when I got to wondering why we only seem to use "Merry" for Christmas greetings, and "Happy" for everything else. So I went to The Online Etymology Dictionary to look it up. This is what I found:

Old English myrge "pleasing, agreeable, pleasant, sweet; pleasantly, melodiously," from Proto-Germanic *murgijaz, which probably originally meant "short-lasting," [snip]. The only exact cognate for meaning outside English was Middle Dutch mergelijc "joyful."

Connection to "pleasure" is likely via notion of "making time fly, that which makes the time seem to pass quickly" [snip, again]. There also was a verbal form in Old English, myrgan "be merry, rejoice." [and a third snip].

The word had much wider senses in Middle English, such as "pleasant-sounding" (of animal voices), "fine" (of weather), "handsome" (of dress), "pleasant-tasting" (of herbs). Merry-bout "an incident of sexual intercourse" was low slang from 1780. Merry-begot "illegitimate" (adj.), "bastard" (n.) is from 1785. Merrie England (now frequently satirical or ironic) is 14c. meri ingland, originally in a broader sense of "bountiful, prosperous." Merry Monday was a 16c. term for "the Monday before Shrove Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).

I think that the link to "Short time" is probably key. The fact that "Christmas Comes But Once a Year," has always been key to its celebration, I think, since it's also always been tied to the passage of time -- at least, since the days when the New Year moved to January 1. The happiness you wish someone for their birthday is the the quieter, longer lasting (and less exhausting) sort.

There's also the association with music and singing (Fa-la-la, la, la, la-la-la, LA!), and bounty... And Christmas, is, at its core, a harvest festival. (All hail the Hogfather!)

So "Merry," in its proverbial DNA, contains all those ideas lumped up together. So its stayed tied to "Christmas" even though we don't remember why.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I'm actually surprised that I couldn't find it in the archives. There was an answer about the census order that sent Joseph and Mary out on the road, which talks about the year he was born (and is a pretty cool read, for its historical and political trivia) and one about the calendar date for Christmas (Which is a much shorter, if witty, answer). But I couldn't find any questions about the shepherds, which kind of surprised me (since they're in more carols than you can raise a baton for, not to mention every Nativity scene).

So I went ahead and sent this off. As I was writing it, I realized I could probably Google for information on "sheep husbandry," but figured sending the question to "The Straight Dope" would get the answer out to a wider number of people:

When I was in college, I took a course on the history of Judaism and Christianity, and the teacher pointed out that Jesus was born at a time when shepherds were watching their flocks by night, and that the only time they'd be required to do that would be during the lambing season, when the ewes and newborn lambs would be most vulnerable to predators.

First: is this true? Were the sheep of that time and place hardy enough to fend for themselves, except during extraordinary circumstances?

And second: so when is the lambing season in that part of the world? Human political records are hard to keep track of (and subject to the biases of dueling historians) but sheep are sheep, and I imagine that the lambing season in Judea today is pretty much the same as 2000 years ago, even factoring in global warming.

Just wondering.

Thank you.

(I realize now it's probably too long [and snarky] to get answered, but oh well, I can't take it back now.)

Then again, according to that answer about the census, Luke retconned the whole "Born in Bethleham" thing in order to make Jesus's birth fit the prophecies about the Messiah. So it's very likely that that the shepherds were retconned in, too.

But still, being able to point out the lambing season, and that the angels specifically told the shepherds to "Leave your ewes and leave your lambs," is a reasonable way to point out to a True Believer that late December/early January is likely not Jesus's actual birthday, but just his observed one, without getting accused of being anti-religious.

(ETA: unless, of course, the lambing season in that part of the world actually is in late December/early January, in which case, I will shut up about it, and sing various versions of "Happy Birthday" with everyone else)

ETA 2: Okay, I'll shut up about it! I found a webpage all about the Awassi sheep -- the ancient, indiginous, breed native to Lebenon, Syria, and Isreal and apparently:

In Iraq, the principal lamb­ing season of Awassi ewes is in No­vember, and in Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel in Decem­ber-January.

(That's a nifty page, btw, with a lot of info and photos (just in case you want to get crafty and obsessively geeky, and make your Nativity scenes historically and biologically accurate)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Yule Father)
Some thoughts.

  • Not as good as the first one.

  • Just seeing David Krumboltz (the head elf, and Charlie, on Numb3rs) makes me happy.

  • But yay! Mother Goddess officiated at their wedding, and she was bedecked like the sun! That made my little Paganish heart happy.

  • Why is it that reindeer in Santa movies always have to be so annoyingly unreindeer-like (or even stag, hart, or white tailed deer-like, for that matter)? They're always some sort of mad pony-puppydog hybrid.

  • Just once, I'd like to see a Santa-centered movie where the reindeer fly as Clement Clarke Moore wrote them:
      As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
      when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
      So up to the housetop, the coursers they flew,
      With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too.

    That is: along the ground most of the time, and then mounting into the air, occasionally, when needed, instead of like some sort of helicopter.

  • I'd also like to see a "Santa" movie where "Santa" is recognised as being his title, not his first name. Saying: "Hello, Santa!" is like saying: "Hello, Mister!"

I'm just full of peeves tonight, aren't I?


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