CHRISTMAS is all about tradition and after bumping into a sign the other day that said “six weeks to go” I experienced the first one: panic.
Driving to the gym later that night, I experienced a second – Christmas lights.
Which brings us to the third: wacky columns about Christmas.
Anything to take the mind off looming crowded shopping centres, last-minute impulse buying and general ham-related anxiety.
Take for example, Santa Claus and Christmas trees – where did they come from and why?
Romans, Norse Gods, Medieval monks and Druids have all figured in the debate. Fir, hawthorn, and mistletoe have added to the intrigue.
Mistletoe, translated, literally means “dung twig” because it is seeded on branches from the digestive tracts of birds.
Whether this is a sensible thing to kiss under or not, no one knows.
But everyone agrees, some time during the 20th century everything’s gone plastic.
And not just the Christmas trees.
The founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, is said to have been the first person ever to decorate a Christmas tree. Walking in the woods one night in 15-something or other, he looked at the stars and apparently thought he saw “tree branches”.
Does this suggests he was under the influence of something besides religion? It certainly would explain what he did next – drag something home.
Not his future wife, but in this case a tree, which he had chopped down. Thus linking Christmas forever more to the concept of wanton deforestation.
Many Eastern Europeans believe a spider wove a blanket for baby Jesus. That’s why they hang tinsel on their Christmas trees ...
Just kidding. He actually went home and fired up a candle under the tree to approximate that twinkle thing with the stars. Thus linking Christmas forever more with the need to install smoke detectors.
For the record, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 67-metre douglas fir displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Centre in Seattle, Washington. Talk about over the top.
Which brings us back to Christmas lights.
Invented in 1882 by one-hit wonder Edward Hibberd Johnson, notable for two things in history.
One, employing Thomas Edison. And two, sparking a Christmas lights arms race across suburbia each December.
Ironically, Johnson died in an electrical accident. Not surprising if you’ve ever had to untangle Christmas light cords.
Many things are not what they seem when it comes to Christmas, not just the notion it’s supposed to be a relaxing time.
Take Jingle Bells for instance. Familiar the world over as the theme to Christmas. Often referred to in retail as Ka-Chingle Bells.
It was actually cooked up as a tune for Thanksgiving Day and went by the name One Horse Open Sleigh.
That horse was Sleipnir, eight-legged steed of Odin. Odin was the Norse god of long white beards and a big spear, who historians argue may well have been the early prototype of Santa.
I don’t know about that, but judging by the spelling of Sleipnir, I’d say Pagans used to slur a lot. Wise men too if “myrrh” is any guide. Maybe this explains why the story of Christmas is so ‘‘out there’’.
Luther, Odin, eight-legged horses. Why not add Wham, Bing Crosby and Elvis to the mix; they’ve all registered best-selling Yuletide hits and clearly understood the traditional colours of Christmas.
Green, symbol of life and rebirth; red, the blood of Christ; and gold, what record producers sniff this time of year.
The first song ever composed and performed in space was about Christmas.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield let rip aboard the international space station on Christmas Eve 2012 with his Leonard Cohen-esque ditty Jewel in the Night, penned for family, friends and anyone else feeling a little low. Which is pretty much everyone when you’re orbiting Earth. I certainly was after one listen.
It’s since been viewed five times on YouTube. If aliens ever attack us, Hadfield may have a case to answer.
One of the great modern adaptations of Christmas has been to break up with partners on Facebook in the two weeks leading up. No one is sure why – death, rebirth, stress from Christmas shopping. It certainly eliminates having to buy at least one present. And it really opens up your options for new years.
Nothing really adds up but that hasn’t stopped people from trying.
The gifts from the 12 days of Christmas, when combined, come to 364.
Santa’s elves are supposed to represent evil spirits. Rudolph is theorised to have had a red nose due to an immunity disorder.
Many Bolivians believe a rooster was the first animal to announce JC’s arrival and attend a Christmas Eve mass called “Misa de Gallo’’ (Mass of the rooster).
Often with a rooster.
Many Eastern Europeans believe a spider wove a blanket for baby Jesus.
And that’s why they hang tinsel on their Christmas trees, as symbols of goodness, prosperity and dare I say, too much vodka.
A redback on the toilet seat is hardly the gift most Aussies look for this time of year.
But it’s a fact of life Down Under. And a little more likely than six white boomers.
Meanwhile, it’s now five weeks till Christmas and another tradition beckons.
Gotta order that ham.