Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

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12/25/2004: Thought for the Day:

'Most Christmas traditions have 'nothing to do with Christianity'

Having read Frank Rich's column concerning the perceived assault against Christianity, which fundamentalists believe is taking place in this country, I was surprised to learn that they see some anti-Christian agenda in calling a Christmas tree a "Holiday tree."

Yule is the feast of the Winter Solstice when German tribes celebrated the shortest day of the year with bonfires and feasts. It was a two-week holiday presided over by a big, burly, bearded fellow in a red suit--Thor. The totem of Thor was the fir tree. This family shrine was traditionally decorated during this season in his honor. On the eve of the Solstice, Thor would visit in the night.... He would leave small gifts for the children, who, in return, would leave a snack of sweet bread and milk for him.

I celebrate Yule, as do most of us in this country. I also celebrate Christmas in a very different, private way. But I never confuse the two.

Most of what we do at Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity or religion. It is totally appropriate for the mayor of a cosmopolitan city to refer to a Holiday Tree. It would be inappropriate for him to call it anything else.

As a side note, our Pilgrim forefathers forbad, absolutely, any celebration or even mention of Christmas. They saw it as a purely pagan holiday, unworthy of Christian remembrance.



From the Letters to the Editor, Louisville Courier-Journal, Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Len on 12.25.04 @ 12:00 PM CST


Replies: 1 comment

on Saturday, December 25th, 2004 at 4:40 PM CST, Bryan said

The tannenbaum became the Christmas tree when Victoria of England married Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gothe and brought the custom with him from Germany.

In England the tree topper is always called a fairy, not an angel.

The "decorations" of the Solstice tree often attracted ravens, messengers of the gods.

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