A Christmas Rabbit-hole.

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, December 23rd, 2017 - 26 comments
Categories: culture, making shit up, religion, Social issues - Tags:

It’s that time of year yet again when yes,  I’ve been known to don a humbug hat and mention, just in the passing of course, that Christmas celebrations in the middle of summer make no sense whatsoever. We all know that Christmas replaced celebrations that were based on seasons and astronomy. And that’s fine. But due to some persistence of older underlying traditions in the Northern Hemisphere, at least the somewhat meaningless metronomic monotony of simply taking a date and sticking with it through thick and thin and regardless is avoided somewhat. Turns out Jesus was probably born in June anyway. June 17th for those addicted to dates.

Funnily enough, that more or less coincides with Matariki and would recapture the original or traditional seasonal or astronomical roots of such celebrations. Meanwhile, our summers would be free to do with, whatever we choose or wish. Oh. And New Zealand (besides other settler colonies in the Southern Hemisphere) would get to be “ahead of the game” as it were. Not that Northern Hemisphere countries would switch their Christmas celebrations to June. They value the carefree nature of their summer too much, and anyway, would probably baulk at the idea of sticking their hands up for the double financial whammy to be incurred by such a move.  What’s with the expectation that parents, many solo and piss poor these days, splash out for Christmas and (is this proof of miracles or something?) conjure up a summer holiday on the side? Plus. Shifting everything to summer leaves those those dragged out winter nights and short cold days drudging on with no prospect of a celebratory break!? Who’d choose that?

So this idea that Jesus was born on December 25th. That was the brainchild of Pope Julius I apparently. According to the same article that mentions Pope Julius I, and that’s even more poorly written than this one, Bacchanlia had been celebrated in Italy around late December. And like Christmas, there was wine and…well, women only. Until the guys gatecrashed the whole affair, made it a night time celebration, and the wine (allegedly) married up with hormones to give us the pre-cursor of that rollicking Christmas tradition of “having sex you might regret having had”.

And this is where this scattered post ends. Because time’s getting on and I’ve got stuff needs organising.

So Merry Christmas or Summer Solstice, or whatever your bag is.



26 comments on “A Christmas Rabbit-hole.”

  1. Keepcalmcarryon 1

    It’s all pretend but the sentiment doesn’t have to be.
    Merry Christmas

  2. gsays 2

    Hey cheers Bill, good wishes to you and yours.
    I enjoy your contributions, shifting Christmas to may be the most radical one yet!
    Please keep up the good work, planting seeds.

  3. ropata 3

    A new midwinter holiday at Matariki is a bloody good idea.

    Agreed Christmas in summer is a pain in the arse, our family does a big hangi afterwards, and to me that feels more special.

    I’m so goddamned burned out I have been useless at work for the last couple of weeks. Looking forward to a break.

  4. The Fairy Godmother 4

    I think the saddest thing is the way it has been commercialised. It’s all about buying things. Children are being trained to be little consumers expecting lots of often rubbish plastic toys, these break or are discarded within days and land up in landfill. . I wouldn’t mind if the old traditions were there be they the Christian story of the birth of Jesus or the St Nicholas tradtion of giving practical useful gifts such as warm boots to poor children or the bacchanalian tradition of feasting and being merry.

    • Stephen Doyle 4.1

      True, I’ve asked a class of Year 8s why we celebrate Christmas, and usually less than a quarter can tell me. Easter is even worse.

  5. KJT 5

    So. The “office party” is obviously a continuation of Bacchanalia.

    Unfortunately the tradition of “tell no tales” was, not continued. 🙁

  6. Shona 6

    As a foodie I would love to be able to eat hot rich food at the right time of the year. When it’s cold and everyone is miserable and in need of a big feed. Compliments of the season.

  7. weka 7

    Totally on board with this. I see lots of stressed people at the end of the year then having to get even more stressed buying lots of stuff they often can’t afford, and spend time with people they may or may not want to spend time with when burnout or needing a break. The pressure to have a good time is strong too. I like some of the ritual around Christmas, but it is totally something designed for midwinter. We should be doing something at this time of year that helps people relax and unwind.

  8. I think we should have a weeks holiday at both times. Celebrate both Matariki and the Summer Solstice.

    • Incognito 8.1

      I second that motion. Those in favour of the motion, say “aye”.

      Edit: and all shops closed, of course.

      • weka 8.1.1

        Hang on, no-one’s suggesting we don’t have summer holidays! Just that we don’t do the big feast thing in mid summer, but in mid winter where it belongs.

  9. Peter 9

    I do not care what they call it Jewish Muslam Christian Hindu the more the merrier so long as we get of work.

  10. Its the best perhaps only time to buy turkey .As lovers of turkey we buy a couple get
    the butcher to cut them into four put them in the freezer ,Result hot turkey in
    winter ,the correct time to eat turkey.

  11. Rosemary McDonald 11

    Don’t do christmas, never have….have no sympathy for those who put themselves through it. Saying that as she recovers from a mis timed trip to pak ‘n spend….

    But, any excuse to play a bit of Tull….

  12. mary_a 12

    Celebrating Matariki makes far more sense and besides, it has some spiritual, as well as cultural bearing for NZ.

    Those who want to celebrate Christmas can do so, without involving the whole country. Also, stop making it so damn commercialised. Same goes for Matariki, keep it personal and spiritual. No need to promote either as commercial festivals.

    • Anne 12.1

      …it has some spiritual, as well as cultural bearing for NZ.

      So true. I don’t recognise it as a religious sentiment but rather something that comes from deep within. More and more Pakeha – including me – have come to regard Maori heritage as part of our heritage too. My English parents brought up 5 children in NZ and now we have as much Maori blood in the family as we do English.

      We have evolved enough to make Matariki an annual official celebration.

  13. SPC 13

    Nothing wrong with having a (the summer) holiday at this time of year, a population wide respite within the annual school/university break.

    A little unconvinced by the expert opine mentioned.

    “Generally accepted research has placed the nativity to somewhere between 3BC and 1AD. Using the St Matthew’s Gospel as a reference point, Mr Reneke pinpointed the planetary conjunction, which appeared in the constellation of Leo, to the exact date of June 17 in the year 2BC.”

    If one ignores a birth during King Herod’s reign (37-4BCE), and regards a planetary conjunction as a star. Why not the sun, it is at least a star, or a full moon – specifically the term standing star does not refer to a planet at all, and never has. Any Matariki tradition waka navigator could tell you that.

  14. Robert Guyton 14

    Thanks, Rosemary.

  15. Paul Campbell 15

    In our house we celebrate xmas, the capitalist holiday of buying things for small children, our family tradition includes putting up a decorated xmas tree and tying a $20 to the top to remind us what the holiday is really about … Years ago when we lived in the US we would put the tree out with the $20 still in place for a homeless person to find

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