Tag Archives | Christmas

‘Peace on Earth’ (1939)

I watch this every year at Christmas time. It frightened the holy hell out of me as a child, but now it just make me think. We're not any closer to this "peace" we talk about at this time of year, are we? Maybe 2013 will be different. WAR IS OVER! (if you want it.)
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Swiss Santa Claus’s Terrifying Alter-Ego Schmutzli

The harsh Germanic Santa Claus equivalent known as Krampus has seen his celebrity rise in recent years, but he’s not Northern Europe’s only the only psychologically scarring Christmas figure. Switzerland’s black-cloaked Schmutzli, also known as “the Whipping Father,” arrives each December 25th to beat and abduct children. Swissinfo says:

Known as Schmutzli in the German part of the country and Père Fouettard (from “whip”) in French, Samichlaus’s alter ego usually carries a broom of twigs for administering punishment to children.

Kurt Lussi, curator at Lucerne’s History Museum, says that the St. Nicholas custom in Switzerland became interwoven with a festival of masks dating back to pre-Christian times. Schmutzli, he says, was a symbol of the evil spirits which these ancient festivals sought to drive out with a combination of noise and light.

He gives the example of an illustration from 1486 that depicts a demon who abducts children. “This child-stealing motif returns again in Schmutzli,” he said.

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On The Hidden Pagan Meaning Of Santa Claus

Via Verso Books, McKenzie Wark defends Christmas in fantastic fashion:

Xmas is pagan, and this is what places it outside of Jewish and Christian understandings, of gifts, of aesthetics, of time. Christians understood its power and tried to coopt it. But the Christian version distorts it by tying it to the birth of their sacrificial savior. The pagan way is about understanding excess in and of itself, not as compensation for sacrifice.

What is essential to Xmas: there is a tree, and a gift for a child under a tree, that is “from Santa.” For the child, Xmas has nothing to do with ‘consumerism’. The gift just appears. Its a bit of what the surrealists called the marvelous. For the adult, it is a way to give to the child without expecting the child to be grateful to the parent. Rather, it is so the child can know that world itself could be generous.

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The War Against Too Much of Everything

The “Buy Nothing Christmas” campaign from Adbusters’Kalle Lasn has attracted the attention of the New York Times:

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, don’t bother.

Skip the mall and the neighborhood store, resist the urge to shop online and, by all means, don’t buy anything you don’t truly need.

So says Kalle Lasn, 70, maestro of the proudly radical magazine Adbusters, published in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mr. Lasn takes gleeful pleasure in lobbing provocations at global corporations — and his latest salvo is “Buy Nothing Christmas.”

“As our planet gets warmer, as animals go extinct, as the humans get sicker, as our economies bail and our politicians grow ever more twisted,” Americans just go shopping, Adbusters says on its Web site. Overconsumption is destroying us, yet shopping is “our solace, our sedative: consumerism is the opiate of the masses.”

“We’ve got to break the habit,” Mr.

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The Slaughter of the Innocents

ChristbaumkugelThe late December holidays in America used to be known as “the season to be jolly,” with our streets festooned with bright lights, groups caroling, shopping galore, gift giving and cheer.

This year, there’s a pall over all the light heartedness because of the horrific violence that claimed the lives of 20 young school children and their teachers in a still unexplained shooting incident in Connecticut, the latest of a string of similar events involving widely available deadly weapons often in the hands of mentally ill people.

At the same time, there’s fear and trepidation among those who believe there may be truth in ancient Mayan prophecies that predict the world will end this month. Perhaps that’s why music critics are reminding us of a country classic by singer Merle Haggard, “If We Make It Through December.”

This fear has spread worldwide with 100 arrests in China for people promoting apocalyptic scenarios. … Read the rest

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How Narcissists Shop for Christmas Gifts

Via ScienceDaily:

Christmas is around the corner and many of us will be thinking of what to buy our loved ones (or ourselves) this festive holiday

But what is the psychology behind gift-giving?

Early results from research led by Dr Aiden Gregg from the University of Southampton, have shown that people with narcissistic tendencies want to purchase products, both for others and for themselves, that positively distinguish them — that is, that make them stand out from the crowd.

The study — conducted in collaboration with McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and Hanyang University in South Korea — investigated why narcissistic consumers chose certain products and how those products made them feel. Volunteers from both the universities in South Korea or Canada took part in one of four studies.

The first study, using online questionnaires, asked participants about their consumer buying behaviour — for example, why they bought certain products and how doing so made them feel.

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Good Tidings


Picture: Flickr user dullhunk (CC)

One of my favorite sites, io9, had some great recommendations for whatever geeky holiday you may celebrate (Saturnalia, FestivusWookie Life Day) for just about every variety of nerd there is. They left out the Lovecraftian Horror fanatics, but had covered this on my own blog not too long ago, for you arcane and mad romantics out there. I also feel obliged to mention the variety of Big Lebowski what-have-yous from LebowskiFest. And ThinkGeek is always good for this sort of thing.

More importantly, however, are the suggestions io9 had for charitable donations this winter season for the science or sci-fi enthusiast in your clade. A fine (excerpted) list via Annalee Newitz at io9:

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