Tag Archives | holidays

Myths of the Holidays: Who Makes Krampus Look Jovial By Comparison?

Nyssa Part 1: Loves Notes To A Stranger

Krampus by Alexey Andreev for Nyssa Part 1: Loves Notes To A Stranger

Have you noticed you can’t go far this Christmas season without seeing the krampus, a devil-like consort to Saint Nicholas? All of the sudden, the devilish fellow seems to be everywhere.

But it is far less likely that you have encountered another Christmas-time mythic character, that of Frau Perchta. She makes the Krampus seem amiable to boot.

Perchta asks,”have you been weaving your flax little girl? Have you been good? Are you eating the awful gruel and fish that are to be consumed on my holiday?” If the answer is no, the poor children are disemboweled, and their insides are stuffed with straw and stones. So, you know. Don’t mess up. By comparison to the two of them, Saint Nicholas’ ‘present’ of coal seems benign.

We may wonder what the sense is in these dark figures, during a time that we mistakenly assume should be lighthearted and merry.… Read the rest

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The Inventor Of Mothers’ Day Later Tried To Have It Abolished Due To Its Commercialization

founder of mothers' dayMental Floss on Anna Jarvis, founder of Mothers’ Day, who later tried have the holiday destroyed:

Jarvis soon soured on the commercial interests associated with the day. She wanted Mother’s Day “to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” Beginning around 1920, she urged people to stop buying flowers and other gifts for their mothers, and she turned against her former commercial supporters. She referred to the florists, greeting card manufacturers and the confectionery industry as “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.”

She attempted to stop the floral industry by threatening to file lawsuits and by applying to trademark the carnation together with the words “Mother’s Day,” though she was denied the trademark.

Jarvis’s ideal observance of Mother’s Day would be a visit home or writing a long letter to your mother. She couldn’t stand those who sold and used greeting cards: “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.”

In one of her last appearances in public, Jarvis was seen going door-to-door in Philadelphia, asking for signatures on a petition to rescind Mother’s Day.

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Back When Valentines Cards Were Brutally Cruel

Slate writes that vindictive Valentine’s cards, mailed anonymously, were once as popular as romantic ones. Is it time to bring back the tradition?

These “vinegar valentines” were produced between the middle of the 19th century and middle of the 20th. The tradition was quite popular. Some historians argue that comic valentines—of which vinegar valentines were one type—made up half of all U.S. valentine sales in the middle of the 19th century.

Vinegar valentines were a socially sanctioned chance to criticize, reject, and insult. They were often sent without a signature, enabling the sender to speak without fear. These cards were sent not just to significant others, friends, and family but to a larger social circle. People might post a vinegar card to a store clerk, a teacher, or a neighbor.

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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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Good Tidings

Krampus

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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A Radical History Of Mothers’ Day

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe

Here’s wishing all the disinfomoms in America (it’s not Mothers’ Day in most other countries) a happy day, but of course you’ll want to know the alternative scoop, provided by Laura Kacere for Nations of Change:

There’s a good number of us who question holidays like Mother’s Day in which you spend more time feeding money into a system that exploits our love for our mothers than actually celebrating them. It’s not unlike any other holiday in America in that its complete commercialization has stripped away so much of its genuine meaning, as well its history. Mother’s Day is unique in its completely radical and totally feminist history, as much as it has been forgotten.

Mother’s Day began in America in 1870 when Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation. Written in response to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, her proclamation called on women to use their position as mothers to influence society in fighting for an end to all wars.

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Krampus March In Austria

It’s nice to remember that people around the world celebrate Christmas in different ways. Check out last year’s edition of the annual Christmas parade (“Krampuslauf”) in Graz, Austria, filled with local color as Krampuses (German Santa Clauses) go on parade:

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