Flutterby™! : Good Afternoon

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Good Afternoon

2004-12-25 18:28:52.368597+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

As an atheist raised with a lot of Jewish culture, with a bit of Methodist thrown in for good measure, I've never really been able to accept Christmas. This year, however, I realized something: Just as Christianity has appropriated the symbols of other traditions and rituals for its holidays, heck, they didn't even bother to change the name of Easter, so consumerism has appropriated symbols and rituals and from Christianity and other cultures and turned it into a celebration of consumption.

And I'm way more okay with that than I am with trying to convince myself, all evidence to the contrary, that it's about the birth of the messiah.

On another note, one of those traditions is the train around the tree. Around our tree it's my dad's old A.C. Gilbert American Flyer[Wiki](none of that newfangled Lionel) S-gauge trains. These guys, amazingly, survived his childhood, and mine, and even stand up to the occasional toddling visitor we have here.

These are particularly apropos because A.C. Gilbert was "the man who saved Christmas", for reversing the opinion of the Council of National Defense in 1918 that parents should buy War Bonds rather than toys.

But what struck me as I was setting up the figure-8 that loops around the tree and a neighboring table leg or two was how toys have changed. There have always been war toys, so this isn't a screed against green plastic army men or die-cast tanks, but Charlene and I recently went into a Toys-R-Us and spent some time searching for Play Doh, and in the process searched through an amazing amount of action figures and the like. Where the children of my dad's era and before were inundated with toys of construction and transportation, I believe kids these days get a much higher ratio of figures of combat and fighting to those of creation and commerce.

[ related topics: Religion Children and growing up History Sociology Consumerism and advertising Machinery Trains Fabrication Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Easter made: 2004-12-27 19:41:17.525618+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Though you probably already realize it, in non-English speaking cultures (and in the Eastern Orthodox Church), the celebration of Christ's resurrection is called "Pascha" or something similar.

Which is, of course, derived from the name of a Jewish holiday: Passover.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-28 18:52:05.649675+00 by: Dan Lyke

Or, transliterated from the Hebrew, something like pesach. Thanks for the reminder.

I used to be heavy into mythology, we had some pretty detailed discussions on one of the FidoNet 362 forums, I had a bookshelf with which I was very familiar from which I could quote all sorts of obscure arcana, but that interest has fallen off over the years. I remember writing an argument once that Halloween was the most uniquely Christian of the major holidays, although I can't at all remember what the specifics of the argument were.

Nowadays I'm more interested in ways that I can make the spiritual experience work for me. The mythology is secondary, and it's most important that it doesn't get in the way, even better if I can draw the elements of the mythology out of things I actually believe in.

(Since I'm a materialist I don't actually believe that I believe in such things, I believe that they're real, but I guess that's the case with all belief systems, huh?)

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-28 21:44:41.150595+00 by: ebradway

As far as action figure go, blame Star Wars. Personally, I would have prefered a "fully operational battle station" (DeathStar) rather than a stuffed Ewok... But the market spoke...

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-29 16:18:19.728239+00 by: Shawn

As with all Christian holidays, Halloween falls at a time to coincide with/offset a pagan holiday (Samhain). Yet, unlike other holidays, Halloween celebrations bear almost no similarities with their pagan counterparts.

Samhain is a time of preparing for the darkness and hardships of winter. It is a time to consider and make sacrifices in one's life - to let go of things that can drag us down. It is also noted as one of the times when the fabric between the spirit and mortal worlds is thinner, making it a time to remember lost family and friends.

Halloween took this one concept of spirits, etc. potentially being able to "cross over" and invoked a variety of traditions meant to provide "protection" from supernatural forces.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-29 17:09:48.505143+00 by: Larry Burton

Regardless of one's religious affilitations it's all just an excuse to throw a party.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-30 12:58:42.471516+00 by: polly

or watch REALLY scary movies.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-30 18:35:52.694959+00 by: Dan Lyke

It's a Wonderful Life[Wiki] always scares the hell out of... oh, you mean Halloween. Nevermind.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-02 21:22:39.257881+00 by: baylink

I actually was surprised, this year, how few places I saw

"The Reason for the Season".

In fact, one of only two wasn't even on a church.

I did get a fair kick, though, out of "Happy Jesus Christ Day!" on one church. :-)

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-02 22:34:41.200158+00 by: Dan Lyke

The only place I saw that was over at More Like This where Bill said "axial tilt the reason for the season".

#Comment Re: made: 2005-01-03 00:48:00.95092+00 by: polly

i started back to church last month (november) and noticed there seems to be more people attending church as compared to last year's numbers (same church). our membership has several relatives in active military service in iraq. i'm thinking there is a co-relation to the upswing in active attendance. i'm doing it for my grandson. he goes with "nona" every sunday AND low and behold, i've been asked to be the 1yo-2yo sunday school teacher. so i guess grandson is going to get a LOT of his grandma every sunday.

as an aside, i did tell the preacher who asked me to do this that i was a BIG sinner, she said i was in the right place...then i mumbled something about "dirty thoughts", lol, she said she didn't think i would share that with the little ones. friends, i tried to explain to the preacher without being TOO specific. there is only so much that you can share with the preacher,such as writing erotica, lol. i feel that it is just a matter of time before i get zapped :<

today is called "epiphany sunday" (methodist). historically we aren't supposed to take our christmas decorations down until after today. this was the last day that the three kings were added to the nativity scene that is under the church christmas tree. all of the december sundays were devoted to the celebration of jesus' birth....some great singing from the choir. we did NOT get the hallejuhah chorus.

as dan says..it's all about a belief system. you have yours and i have mine and don't preach to the preacher, lol. merry merry and a happy happy!