Twenty-nine holidays from various traditions fall between the last week of November and middle of January.
Yule, also known as the 12 days of Christmas, can begin between December 20 and December 23, depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar.
In Nordic and Germanic countries, it begins on the day of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, usually December 21st. Yule is celebrated for another 12 days though, through January 1st, at the shortest or until the 12th of January (“twelve days” or “until the 12th day”).
Many, of these ancient holidays were ‘Christianized’ owing to the genius of St. Paul, the principal architect of what became the Catholic (Universal) Church.
Yule celebrations were originally referred to as “Drinking Yules”, with an emphasis on drinking as an important part of the celebration.
The Yule goat brings gifts, especially gifts for good children.
The Krampus, or Christmas Devil, a Germanic demon, comes to punish bad seeds and naughty children.
Krampusnacht is an annual festival celebrated through the Alpine region from Austria and Northern Italy, to Solvenia, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic. Like the Yule goat, the Krampus is horned and may wear cowbells on his backside reminiscent of Santa’s sleigh.
The Krampus arrives on December 5th well before Christmas. St. Nikolaus also arrives this night.
The Krampus carries a birch bundle to beat naughty children before stuffing them into his basket and carry them off.
The Church tried to ban Krampusnacht as far back as the 12th century, but with little success.
By the 19th century, Father Christmas (Santa Claus) was arriving on a Yule Goat which eventually became twelve reindeer one for each day of the twelve days of Christmas which is often referred to as ‘The Yuletide’ season. The ‘twelve reindeer’ became 8 in Clement C. Moore’s 1822 poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas”.
It was Moore’s poem that provided the visual imagery and commercial impetus for what Americans imagine to be the idyllic “Night Before Christmas”.
In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic we are told to scuttle family gatherings and avoid holiday intimacy and intimacies…
The precautions will sadden some who try to comply and irk many to the point of ignoring the ubiquitous admonitions that permeate the social environment and tend to dampen what should be the festive holiday spirit.
It is precisely times like these that many will conjure fanciful flights of nostalgic fantasy and longing…
Anyone who believes he or she had an Ozzie and Harriet, Currier and Ives, Norman Rockwell, or Irving Berlin kind of “White Christmas”, needs to seek and secure professional help immediately…
Anyone who believes that such is the norm for family gatherings during the holidays should do likewise….
In fact, gift cards for head examinations would be a great gift idea….
Question: Why do we refer to this crowd of Christmas crazies as “loved ones” anyway?
There’s nothing wrong with solitude and introspection…
Christmas is as good a time as any, maybe even better, to engage in a therapeutic rap session with one’s self…
Taking stock of our thoughts and feelings may be just what is needed as we anticipate an inoculated end to the global health crisis and a new administration that will give us another crack a the American experiment in egalitarian democracy.
Perhaps we can reach a consensus and common ground as we contemplate what it truly means to be able to freely go about our business and wish each other: