Pao Tzu's Christmas essay comes in a few days late and a
few dollars short. But, considering that no one else
but he and Lenny submitted essays, he gets the 1st Runner-up
prize in the Pigdog Journal Christmas Essay Contest. It's a
travesty of justice, but what can you do? -- Ed.
The Christmas holiday is an adaptation of the pagan
winter solstice rites. Pagans in northwestern Europe conducted a
yearly celebration which is remarkably similar to the Christmas we
know today. There are key differences which I will attempt to
enumerate in this essay.
Most pagans lived together in small communities and/or nomadic
groups which included all members of their family who were not married
out to other communities. In many cases, these family groups were
brought together by marriages resulting in common kin. In the western
tradition of Christmas, families are scattered about with bookmakers
taking long odds as to the probability that everyone will show up.
The Christmas holiday is complicated by the exchange of presents which
causes many family members not to participate because of their own
Gift giving among pagans was almost entirely mutual, utilitarian,
and practical. Things commonly exchanged included livestock, lard,
intoxicants, and wives. However, in the Western tradition, it is more
common for family to give each other bulky items they know will be of
absolutely no use. This is the case with beanie babies, furby,
popcorn makers, preserved meats, and cars. More often than not, the
western practice of gift giving ends with both sides feeling lousy as
a result of the exchange. One side for giving too rich a gift, the
other for a gift which was poor (i.e. Peter Vella.)
Trees play an important role in the winter holidays. In pagan
tradition, these trees were cut down for firewood and the sap which
allowed people to paint their bodies with solanaceous plant extracts
and dance in a dehydrated frenzy for hours on end. Christmas trees
are also used for firewood but this is usually unintentional.
A traditional pagan winter meal consists of very cheap but plentiful
foodstuffs. Commonly used items are wild berries, mushrooms, and
edible shrubs. The reason being that these small communities must eat
very little of their staple goods as planting season is months away.
Christmas meals usually consist of enough food to fill everyone who
showed up as well as for everyone who didn't. This results in an
overload of food, making everyone flatulent as well as lazy.
Santa originates from the concept of "cinter claus," a scandanavian
demi-god who led a pack of reindeer for the sole purpose of finding
thieves, jumping them, and packing their stolen property into his
gigantic sled. He commonly was aided by two or three thugs who
painted their faces with soot in order shock potential targets. This
myth was later translated by Americans into a fat man wearing red who
dropped through chimneys and simply left things behind for those who
were not thieves.
Chakkahananuh, or however it is spelled, was invented by men with
mutilated genitals in an attempt to stretch oil out as long as
possible. Gifts are also exchanged during this holiday such as
counterfeit diamonds. It is dissimilar from Christmas as everyone is
not so encouraged to eat and drink themselves into oblivion. Most
people who celebrate this variation of the winter solstice already
live with their parents, grandparents, and possibly great-grandparents
so there is no need for long-distance travel.