"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Ten Days to Christmas: Peace … and Glitter!

Ten Days to Christmas: Peace … and Glitter!

From “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Vintage Christmas Traditions edited by Linda Davies:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

From Christmas: A Short History from Solstice to Santa by Andy Thomas:

“As mid-December approaches in Western countries, a special atmosphere sets in. The weather and light have a feeling all of their own, and by way of acknowledgment, people start mounting a festival that has been with us, in some form or another, since ancient times….

“They put up colorful lights and sparkling objects to illuminate the gloom, hunt for gifts that might please loved ones, encourage good cheer, extend a spirit of goodwill beyond the usual boundaries, and plan meals on a scale rarely attempted in any other season, as if in willful defiance of winter’s steely austerity. Soon everything orbits around this outlandish and yet compellingly magnificent celebration….

“So where did all this glorious madness come from? Why do we do what we do at Christmas?”


      1. It sure is. However, I’m reading “Powers and Thrones,” a book about the Middle Ages, starting with the fall of the Roman Empire. Let’s just say that things were pretty brutal back then and we have, in fact, made some progress. Maybe not peace, but progress. Holy cats, what a bloody, murderous history.

        1. Dale

          A juicy tidbit about the Middle Ages and Christmas, from the book by Andy Jones I quoted above:

          “Soon after the central Roman Empire collapsed (around the fifth century), the power of the Roman Catholic Church effectively replaced it, and it is here that the observance of Christmas as we know it really began. Winter celebrations were nothing new under Roman rule, but under the authority of the Church, Christmas, which had begun as one of the more minor festivals of the ecclesiastical calendar, began to take hold as a key event.

          “By the Early Middle Ages … the extended Christmastide period was rapidly returning to the season’s pre-Christian roots — which meant a fantastic excuse for two weeks of merriment and feasting. Full religious elements were maintained, but bawdy remnants of Saturnalia and other solstice celebrations remained alive and well, and were perhaps even growing, to the disapproval of the devout.”

          So I guess they put down their weapons a couple weeks a year to give us Christmas!!


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