Christmas is nearly here

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Everyone will hopefully be ready for Santa Claus in just a few days, but most importantly we celebrate the coming of the Baby Jesus who changed the world. While we keep in mind His birth is actually the reason for the celebration, it’s also fun to look at all the folklore that surrounds this wonderful season of Christmas.
For instance, I have learned that in Britain, the Holy Days and Fasting Days Act of 1551, which has not yet been repealed, states that every citizen must attend a Christian church service on Christmas Day and must not use any kind of vehicle to get to the service. Of course, almost none of this would be accepted today. It was a good thought then though, I’m sure.
Another almost ugly fact is that a traditional Christmas dinner in those years in England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard!
Today, we get to the really secular part of the Christmas buying season. Visa cards, alone, are used an average of 5,500 times every minute in the United States.
I also learned this – it appears Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts or pinecones are also a good source of nutrition. Oh my gosh, there are so many better ways to get all these nutrients than trying to chew up pinecones.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is, of course, a wonderful story, but here’s a little twist on that. “On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus landed on a rooftop and heard a very loud, ‘snort, sniff honk, snort, snort’ coming from one of his reindeer. Since Santa was in the sleigh behind them he didn’t know which one it was. Soon it happened again, only louder this time, ‘snort, sniff, honk, snort, snort.’ Dogs in the neighborhood began to bark. Santa said, ‘Please be quiet, you know we have to be silent when we deliver presents on Christmas Eve, so that no one will know we are here.’”
“He went to work lifting the sack of toys out of the sleigh, when he heard the noises again only a little louder this time. Lights came on all over the neighborhood and some people even stuck their heads out of their windows. Santa was horrified. Jumping back into the sleigh he drove quickly back to his home at the North Pole. He lined up his reindeer and said, ‘We are not going to deliver any more presents until the reindeer who’s making these funny noises with his nose steps forward and apologizes.’”
“None of the reindeer stepped forward. Santa held up a piece of paper, ‘I know who it is and I’ve written your name on this paper. But I want to give you a chance to do the right thing on your own.’ Still none of the reindeer came forward, so Santa did the only thing he could do … he read off the rude-nosed reindeer.”
Of course Santa Claus is another wonderful tradition celebrated even by some adults. Here’s a story about the train set: While working in a store as the Santa surrogate the man explained. “I had a lot of boys ask for an electric train set. I would tell each one, ‘You know your dad is going to want to play with it also. Is that OK?’ The usual answer was a quick, ‘Yes,’ but after I asked one boy this question, he became very quiet. Trying to move the conversation along, I asked, ‘What else would you like Santa to bring you?’ He promptly replied, ‘Another train.’”
But here’s an important thing to remember:
“If you want the great gift giver
To come on his sleigh and deliver,
Then remember this simple rhyme
And recall it at Christmas time.
If in Santa you do not believe
Christmas gifts you will not receive.”
Mistletoe is another tradition we have to deal with. If you want to kiss someone, just catch the person under the mistletoe and all is fair, I think, even in this time of political correctness. In France the plant is known as Herbe de la Croix because it is thought that Christ’s cross was made of mistletoe wood. But the early Christian Church banned the use of mistletoe because it was associated with the pagan Druids, who believed mistletoe growing on oak trees was the most sacred form of plant and that it offered protection from evil as well as a source of magic.
The early Christian Church replaced it with Holly, which is why we “deck the halls” with it. The sharply pointed leaves of Holly were supposed to symbolize the thorns in Christ’s crown and the red berries were to symbolize his blood.
So it’s a busy time for all of us, but there’s much to celebrate, like the love of family and friends. As far as gift-giving … it seems that as we get older our list gets shorter because the things you want can’t be bought!
Most importantly, however, we celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. About that, It has been said that Three Wise Women would have arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, brought practical gifts, cleaned the stable and made a casserole, and there would be Peace on Earth! Merry Christmas!
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)



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