Merry Christmas

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These little Santa’s are carted to school in cycle rickshaws to celebrate Christmas in Northern India. Christmas is widely celebrated across the nation cutting across religion and culture. The festival also marks the beginning of the annual winter vacation, particularly in the freezing North, which lasts until the middle of January.



Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?

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Because it remains green year round, this parasitic plant has long been associated with fertility.

European mistletoe and berries in the Wye Valley, UK (public domain).

To the best of my knowledge, I never saw live mistletoe until after relocating to Europe. But the leafless trees in Germany make it plain that mistletoe is everywhere here.

European mistletoe, Viscum album, is native to Europe and Great Britain. It is a parasitic plant that obtains water and minerals from trees and shrubs. Its waxy white berries are toxic to humans, but several bird species certainly enjoy eating them and do so with impunity. The berries are coated with a sticky substance containing mucopolysaccharides and strands of cellulose. This adhesive, known as viscin, sticks the seed to a new host plant after a bird has wiped it from its beak or eaten it.

So why do we have a tradition of kissing under mistletoe?

Since mistletoe remains green throughout the year, many ancient peoples have ascribed these plants with magical healing powers and with fertility, and some cultures viewed it as an aphrodisiac due to the suggestive arrangement of its berries. Apparently, the association between mistletoe and fertility made it a traditional addition ancient Greek myths, where the custom of kissing under mistletoe may have started. This practice was later extended to wedding ceremonies.

Victorian England seems to have adopted this tradition, too. For example, if a girl refused a kiss whilst standing under mistletoe, it was said that she wouldn’t receive any marriage proposals during the following year. Worse, it seems that many people would avoid her since they believed she would probably end up an old maid — as if this was such a bad thing!

Interestingly, there is a proper etiquette for kissing under the mistletoe: first, the man can only kiss a woman or girl on the cheek and second, when he does so, he removes one berry from the mistletoe sprig. After all the berries are gone, the kissing ends, too.

Here’s Fred Rumsey, the Botany Enquiries Officer at the Natural History Museum, musing upon the charms of mistletoe:



The Truth in a Christmas Carol


Found via: Jill of All Trades…Expert of None!



Pope Berates Christmas ‘Glitter’


LOL, that’s rich coming from the blingiest religious leader in the world.

War on Christmas: Is the festival under attack?


Dozens of US congressmen have pledged to protect Christmas from attempts to undermine it. So is the West’s foremost public holiday really under attack?

One of the most famous family scenes in history, the nativity, appears to be facing threats from all sides.

A tug of war is going on over a nativity setting on a courthouse lawn in Texas, with the Freedom from Religion Foundation urging it be removed or an atheistic solstice banner put up nearby. In South Carolina, a state hospital has banned a nativity scene from its premises.

It’s part of a wider assault on the Christmas tradition, say some Christian groups, who also point to a rule barring congressmen from sending Christmas cards through the official congressional post.

Theirs is a very modern crusade over the place of religion in public life that has been taken up on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, rumours the very name “Christmas” had been replaced in some places by “Winterval” provoked outrage.

Now the US Congress has joined the fight. A non-binding resolution sponsored by 67 Republicans and Democrats expresses “the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas”.

The resolution “strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas” and “expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas”.

It was never brought up for a vote, in part because Congress has been consumed with fights over taxes and the budget. But it has sparked debate.

Source: BBC News Read more

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