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December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas. And the eucatastrophe of your choice to you all. Actual posting will recommence shortly. [11:57 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Merry Christmas.:

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 03:45 PM:

And a merry Winter Festival of Your Choice to you too!


Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 07:59 PM:

Merry Christmas from my parents' freezing cold basement in the Catskills, where they keep the computer, it being a Tool or Engine of sorts which decent folk keep not in the parlor or sitting room.

Ah, another finger snapped off.

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 09:28 PM:

Happy winter festivities to all, and to all a good night.


John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 11:09 PM:

I was hoping for A-Rod coming to the Sox...but some eucatastrophes are just too expensive...even for the Valar of Baseball.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 12:55 PM:

And a happy St. Stephen's Day too.

Good King Wenceslas looked out,
On the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night,
Tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gath'ring winter fuel.

Do you have any idea how close I came to being named Wenceslas?

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 01:09 PM:

Wenceslas D. Macdonald. Has a kind of ring to it, but I think I prefer James. :)


James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 02:10 PM:

Golly. That was a stutter. Miss Teresa, could you delete the extras?

-- JDM

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 02:22 PM:

'Twas done by the time you posted the request, Jim.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 03:58 PM:

And Happy Boxing Day. :)

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 09:18 PM:

What's 'Boxing Day'? Is it anything like the 'Day of Returns', which should fall on Saturday this year in the US? :)

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 10:46 PM:

Barry, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas (in the UK). Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it has to do with the (defunct?) custom of employers presenting their employees with a gift box on that day.

The vicious human blood sport has no part in it.

Kellie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 12:39 AM:

Xopher, it's unfortunate it has nothing to do with the sport. Especially if it's a tradition involving giving something to employees. Just think of the potential returns.... And maybe it does have something to do with boxing. Don't a lot of pink slips arrive this time of year? Seems the employers are just getting all metaphorical with the holiday.

Oh, and Happy Holidays.

Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 01:27 AM:

Wenceslas is a traditional name in my mother's family. At least one boy child in every generation has been named that, or our family's nickname for it , "Lalo," for the last 6 generations.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 08:13 AM:

Thank you, Kris. I wondered what a child named Wenceslas would actually be called. Wen? Ces?

Lalo would never have occurred to me.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 12:15 PM:

You're all wrong. It's called "Boxing Day" because of the fights that are a part of the social landscape this time of year.

(From New Zealand, for example, comes the news that one guy killed his cousing over a gold ring that the killer thought should have been given to him.)

Sefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 04:48 PM:

"Wence" sounds like a nice contraction. Kind of like calling a "Winchell" "Winch."

I really like "Good King Wenceslas." A lively and dignified little ditty.

* * *

I just listened to a wonderful Jean Shepherd monologue concerning his induction into the world of hard drinking, as a late-teen steel mill worker. I wonder how people who have seen "A Christmas Story" know that "Ralphie" grew up to be a bohunk raconteur?

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 03:40 AM:

Ever read "Hogfather" by Terry Pratchett? (www.dymocks.com.au/ContentDynamic/Full_Details.asp?ISBN=0552145424) and probably somewhere on Breastless or your online book catalogue of choice.
A good story, but it still doesn't help solve our problem of whether we should institute our own Antipodean, Southern Hemisphere midwinter festival of some sort, or adapt Yule/Christmas/Saturnalia/&c to a midsummer version.

David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 03:52 AM:

Alan: Ha. That one actually took me a little bit.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 07:05 AM:

www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/boxing.asp Deals well with the much-disputed origin of the name "Boxing Day"

It even got into Parliamentary debate in Australia:
www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/Parlment/HansTrans.nsf/ all/CA256D110020B6CD4A2564350022CDCE
Mr ZAMMIT (Strathfield) [3.53]: The Minister for State Development, and Minister for Arts spoke about Australia and New South Wales being part of a global economy. Nothing brought that home to me as much as when I visited China about 10 months ago with the former Premier. When we visited a very large factory the first question I was going to ask the factory manager was what he paid his staff, but instead I asked him , "Do you give your staff holidays?" He replied, "Holidays, yes, every Sunday." ...
[Page 5689]
... I have a definition by Rabbi Brasch of how Boxing Day began. He says:

The custom originated with the Romans and their feast of Saturn, during which they gave each other presents as an expression of the merry spirit of the celebration of the winter solstice.

[This I see more as one of the existing customs Christmas is based on. Remember, Christmas is not Jesus' birthday, it's the celebration of the birth. This was more familiar to Europeans in older times, when people had name-days rather than birthdays. I have an adopted friend whose parents picked a day for his birthday, not knowing the actual one, in a similar way.]
... The definition of Boxing Day in The All-Australian Calendar Book says:
Boxing Day probably takes its name from the fact that on the day after Christmas in Britain, the alms boxes which had been placed in the churches over the Christmas period were opened. The contents were distributed to the poor. On the same day, apprentices and servants broke open small earthenware boxes in which their masters had deposited small sums of money. In large households, the family may have used this day to distribute Christmas boxes to their staff.
[Strange that we can pinpoint the exact day Jesus was crucified, yet commemmorate it on a different day each year, but even the year of his birth is debated (tho' if the shepherds bit is true, it's obviously not midwinter) yet we have an exact repeated anniversary for it.]
St Stephen was the first Christian martyr, stoned to death by jews as a heretic (not unlike all the later Christians killed by other Christians for being heretics). Maybe that's why his feast is straight after Christmas.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 09:31 AM:

A good story, but it still doesn't help solve our problem of whether we should institute our own Antipodean, Southern Hemisphere midwinter festival of some sort, or adapt Yule/Christmas/Saturnalia/&c to a midsummer version.

As for Good Friday, it's because it's based on Passover, which varies through the year, because it's based on the Moon and the Vernal (or, in Oz, Autumnal) Equinox, which don't come together on consistent dates even disregarding the way our calendar fails to match the sidereal year.

Easter (in the Western Church) is the first Sunday after the first full Moon on or after the Vernal Equinox. Further distortions are added by the fact that it's the Paschal Moon, not the real Moon, which makes it impossible to calculate just by knowing the astronomy (hence my giving up on it some time back), and in the Eastern Church by the fact that Easter is restricted to never fall during Passover (which they now claim is out of "respect" for the Jewish festival, which I must say is Not Period for the time the rule was established).

Christmas is a named feast day (as the -mas ending indicates). It's decided by the Church and put in their calendar. They can move it or take it out if they want (as they did with my name-Saint's day).

Therefore, Australians ought to celebrate Easter according to their hemisphere, but Christmas according to the calendar. Ignoring the Paschal thing (only because I don't understand it), that would put Easter on October 3 in 2004.

This is up to Australian Christians to decide, of course (though I'd certainly recommend having some sort of mood-lifting celebration in the dead (and dark) of Winter). As for my own religion, I certainly think Oz Witches oughtta do Yule in June and Samhain in May, not to mention casting the circle the other way around (because "sunwise" is counter-clockwise below the equator). Did I say "not to mention"? I stopped mentioning it when someone pointed out that since I live on the East Coast of my continent, Water should be in the East...

Shet mah mouf.

Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 11:22 PM:

Xopher, not going to go there. I always vaguesly wondered how they practiced ritual in the Southern Hemisphere (I'm a solo-practicing Dianic Wiccan....)

Interesting post, gives me thought.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2003, 11:21 AM:

Paula, AFAIK they don't change anything at all. I'm hoping some Ozian Wiccans will comment. If any read this.

There's an interesting dynamic between the traditional and the local, which I'm trying to explore in my own Wiccan practice. So far traditional wins out mostly.

Ralf ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2003, 11:17 PM:

Most pagans here in Oz switch the rituals around 180 degrees on the wheel of the year, particularly if they're more earth/season than higher planes work oriented. It makes sense from a deity perspective when you view gods as an evolution of animism, e.g. think of every tree as having a spirit, and a forest having a spirit also; think of every person having a spirit, and a community having it's own spirit; think of a field as having a spirit for every major stage in the cycle of life.

Then there's those who think more in solar, astral, higher planes work where seasons don't come into it so much. But that's probably less pagan and more ceremonial magic :-)

All the best, whatever you believe,


Ralf ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2003, 11:21 PM:

Xopher: many pagans here do cast circle the other way around ... The direction of the elements is another whole kettle of fish of course. Some change it based on immediate location, some change it based on hemisphere, some leave it as it is. I fall into the last camp -- although to me it is relative to my direction, i.e. air in front of me to clear the way; fire on my right to light the way; earth on my left to shield me; water behind me where it is always felt but never seen.


Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 03:22 PM:

The cynical me feels the need to point ut that, while "Boxing Day" might ahve originated with another meanign, the current meaning at least in Winnipeg is "The single biggest SALE day of the year" for virtually every business known to man. Including all the pre-Christmas ones. It's a kind of modern madness -- buy all the stuff you didn't get for Christmas.

Though fun to hear (from a comfortable distance) of stores that normally open at 10 AM opening at 7:00, and letting the line trickle in through the back door so the people stuck in line can stand in the back warehouse and get coffee for the second hour of their line-up, instead of outdoors in the freezing cold. And yes, those who brought a tent and waited from the night before, because the first 10 people got the chance to buy a $200.00 DVD player fo $5.00.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 03:37 PM:

Ralf - thanks! I've always wondered about that, and whenever I asked I got strange looks...the only information I was able to obtain suggested that there was no change made.

Thank you for being a primary source on the topic. Also, your elemental attributions are beautiful. (To me, of course, that would mean you're facing East...but to each hir own.)

Ralf ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 06:21 PM:

Xopher: I wonder if maybe facing East (the first ray of light signifying all Light) and where the elements are relative to the body has merged over time, just because no-one had to think about not facing East for that reason... :-)

All the best,


Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2004, 12:44 AM:

Interesting and possible; I dunno. I always begin in the North, which is where the Hidden is, because it's the one quarter of the (northern hemisphere) sky where the Sun never goes. All things begin in the Dark: the child in the womb, the chick in the egg, the Year in Samhain.

But that's me. Other members of my coven cast starting in different directions; we use all four tools too. But we're a bunch of neo-eclectic upstarts!

andrew ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2004, 11:37 AM:

Is is a downer for a man-child to express his ambivalence for the holiday season? Hope not.

Hate: presents, family, candy canes, egg nog, wreaths, a trunk full of crap. Family.

Like: snow, darkness, cold-ass wind, single-malt scotch whiskey.

Love: my far-away friends. My ex-girlfriend, still.

Want: a ten-foot tall firecracker.