Friday, December 21, 2007

More Solstice Stuff

Since I like to pretend to be a historian, let's look at the history of Christmas, to compliment yesterday's post. One of the treasured traditions of early Christmas celebrations was wassailing, when the peasants came to the lords' houses to seranade them, and then were "invited" in to partake of the lord's wine cellar (and usually whatever the lord had laying around the castle, as well). In return, the peasants were obsequious for most of the rest of the year. This kind of disorder was distasteful for our Puritan forefathers, but since they didn't control the political structure until establishing the "Citty on the Hill" in "New England", there was little they could do about it. Among the early laws drawn up in Plymouth, however, was the outlawing of public celebrations of Christmas (a law that remained on the books in Massachusetts until late in the 19th century). This new abscence of observation eventually won converts in England, as well, which provides a part of the backstory for Dicken's A Christmas Carol, when Scrooge threatens to make Bob Cratchit work for part of Christmas day.

I couldn't find a good video of wassailing (maybe I could wait until someone posts on office party? ...mmm), so this video will have to suffice, since it has "Here We Come a Wassailing" with footage of Stonehedge.

Now it is time, however, to recall what Christmas is really all about--"an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and 'this thing' which tells time"

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