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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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So this is Christmas Day

It is raining. It has been raining most of the day. Still, it is Christmas Day.

About 96 percent of Americans say that they celebrate Christmas in one way or another; but Christians didn't start celebrating Christmas until the fourth century A.D. Apparently, the earliest Christians weren't nearly as interested in Jesus' birth as they were in his resurrection from the dead. Historians believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel to be written about Jesus, around 50 A.D., and it doesn't even mention Jesus' birth. It starts with his adult baptism.

Only the Gospels of Luke and Matthew tell the story of Jesus' birth, and they give slightly different accounts. In the Gospel of Luke, an angel appears to Mary to tell her that she will give birth to the Son of God. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is Joseph who learns in a dream that Mary is pregnant with the Son of God.

The Gospel of Luke tells the story of how Mary and Joseph went to the city of Bethlehem because of the Roman census, and since there was no room at the inn, they were forced to take shelter in the barn, where Jesus was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The Gospel of Matthew tells how a group of wise men go to find the baby that has been prophesized as the future king of the Jews. They follow a bright star in the East until they find Jesus, and they offer him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh....

Unfortunately for the church, Saturnalia was usually celebrated with drunken revelry. And for Christians, for the next thousand years or so, Christmas became the wildest party of the year. There were huge feasts and street parties that often led to riots. It was writers who helped turn Christmas into more of a domestic holiday. The poem "The Night Before Christmas," published in 1823, was one of the first works of literature to suggest that Christmas should be focused more on children than adults. And Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol, in 1843, helped popularize the idea that Christmas should be about family.

--from today's The Writer's Almanac

So it is the writers are to blame for the domestication of Christmas? Whether they are or are not, I posted a Christmas Day piece on Write Stuff: All I want for Christmas. Also, Blue Sky Asheville published a personal Christmas essay that you may read here: The nights and days before and after Christmas.

My sister-in-law needs help finishing a 3L bottle of Blush Chablis and some Dutch apple pie. Meantime check out Listless's two favorite Christmas things and Edgy Mama offers a great Christmas meme.

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  1. Blogger 1000 black lines | 3:25 PM, December 26, 2006 |  

    1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
    CJ: Homemade Egg nog with extra nutmeg.
    2. Letter to Santa?
    CJ: Dear Santa,
    How would you wrap world peace in a brown paper package tied up on top?
    3. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
    CJ: Definately a wrapper.
    4. Colored lights on your tree/house or white?
    CJ: Multi-colored.
    5. Do you hang mistletoe?
    CJ: And yeah, mistletoe was hanged for crimes against humanity.
    6. When do you put your decorations up?
    CJ: After Thanksgiving Day.
    7. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
    CJ: Leftovers with couple bottles of the Black and Tan.
    8. Favorite holiday memory as a child:
    CJ: My father reading the Advent story from the Gospel of Luke.
    9. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
    CJ: Never really bought into the notion of Santa as a person. More of a Dickens and fan and enjoyed the ideal of Father Christmas.
    10. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
    CJ: No. Christmas day.
    11. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
    CJ: With care, lights and some coffeebeans.
    12. Can you ice skate?
    CJ: Yes, but it had been awhile.
    13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
    CJ: Books; one in particular was an illustrated book about Renoir and his paintings.
    14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
    CJ: Family and friends.
    15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
    CJ: Pies.
    16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
    CJ: Candlelight Christmas church service, but recently it has changed to Christmas Euchirist.
    17. What tops your tree?
    CJ: It used to be a star, but since I’ve moved so often the star has disappeared.
    18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
    CJ: Both.
    19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
    CJ: Joy to the World.
    20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
    CJ: Yuck.

  2. Blogger zhoen | 6:09 PM, December 26, 2006 |  

    Well, the Puritans and anti-Marian factions of the Catholic Church may have had something to do with shutting down Christmas as a baccanalia. Long before the writers.

    Merry Yule,

  3. Blogger Edgy Mama | 1:02 PM, December 27, 2006 |  

    Nice. Thanks for the history lesson and for participating in the memeness.

    In many parts of the world, Christmas is still all about drunken revelry (particularly South American countries). One of my SILs is Chilean and she thinks we are booooring on Christmas. I guess the Chileans stay up all night, dancing and drinking!

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