Sunday, June 22, 2008

Christmas Rituals Part 1

Yuletide Rituals Part 1

So the Yuletide time is upon us. So what, you might ask yourself, how does this affect me? For all I know, it's a huge conspiracy started by the first retail stores and Wal-Mart to drain the American citizens of all their finances by forcing them to buy gifts for one another for Christmas. Well, you're right about it being a conspiracy and forcing people to buy gifts for one another, but that only applies to people who actually observe Hannukah which is in fact, not a religious holiday at all. Christmas is a religious holiday, but you probably know nothing about it. Here, let me explain to you the meaning of the rituals of Christmas and their history:
The Tree: The Christmas tree is usually an evergreen of some sort and that's placed in the largest room. It is always customary to get a tree that's two feet too big so that the top of the tree bumps up against the ceiling. The origin of this ritual started when Old Man Ebenezer Crenshaw needed firewood in the early 1800's. Unfortunately, all he could find were huge spruce and firs, so he cut one down and propped it up against a wall in his house. His wife, Old Lady Crenshaw, told Old Man Crenshaw that he needed to trim it down to firewood sized pieces. "Woman!" he cried, "I can't see! Bring me those candles and I'll light this tree up so that I can cut it to size!" Old Man Crenshaw's neigbors spied the lit up tree and became immediately jealous and proceeded to copy his creation with different evergreens. Old Man Crenshaw later commented on his neighbors as being "Dang cussed fools for putting a tree up in their house! Trees are meant to be outside!"

The Yuletide Log: The Yuletide Log used to not be some sickly sweet confectionary treat. It used to be some actual log. And don't believe the hog swill about people actually burning it with the holly leaves on it and all that jazz. They used to eat it because they desperately needed the fiber and protein that only wood could provide. Historians believe this practice went out of vogue around the 1890's.

Santa Claus: Santa Claus actually used to be named Black Richard (Please no jokes about the name) who carried switches and a coal shuttle, and he had a black curly beard and horns. He wouldn't give switches and coal to the bad boys and girls because, hey, they could use the switches to torment people and pelt their brothers and sisters with the coal. Black Richard actually used to capture the bad boys and girls and pop them into gunny sacks. Then, later that night, he'd hitch them up to his sleigh and make them pull him where ever he wished using the switches to make them go faster, and pelting them with coal to let them know to stop. It's been said that this was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as the bad boys and girls were soon coal covered and dripping with sweat, similar to working in a factory.

The Mistletoe: Silas Goforth was a young man who was very proud of his stockings. During the Christmas time he would go to all the fancy dinner parties and show off his stockings to the ladies who would immediately swoon. The idea of kissing underneath the mistletoe actually originated at one of these fancy dinner parties. The cook's daughter had swooned and been kissed by Silas Goforth the night before, so the cook was going to have his revenge. He made a special meal for young Silas of mistletoe and told him that it was fine to eat. Silas ate the entire branch of mistletoe, and then proceeded to go insane. He jumped around the room and started kissing everyone, male and female, and whapping them upside the head with the branch of mistletoe. Hence, the gentle idea of kissing underneath the mistletoe.

Milk and cookies for Santa: Leaving milk and cookies out for Santa is a seriously misconstrued idea. It originally started out as leaving out money for Black Richard to try and prevent him from kidnapping any children. Then the bad boys and girls wised up and put out a sweet note and cookies and milk with just a tiny pinch of arsenic in them. This is why Black Richard is six feet under and bad boys and girls are still around.

The Pudding: The flaming pudding is always impressive at Christmas time and really screams nostalgia and authenticity. How foolish it is to think that the flaming pudding started with a cook running out of wood for his oven, and just dousing the pudding with brandy and lighting it in order to cook it. The flaming pudding actually started with two hooligans named Fat Tom and Clootie. Fat Tom and Clootie were very hungry, very mean, and very dumb. They wanted to break into a bakery to get to the pastries, puddings, and pies, but they had no way to break the door down. So they lit the entire building on fire in the hopes that the door would burn down first allowing them to enter and steal all the goodies. It failed miserably, and people gathered around the conflagration and started looting the burning bakery, rushing out with cakes and puddings that were still on fire. This would be a great story to tell at the next dinner party you go to.

The Nutcracker: The Nutcracker was never intended to be used for cracking nuts. Nope, not at all. In reality, it was a medieval torture device that was used to put the "squeeze" on male heretics who would not confess to crimes that they committed. I'm still researching the sick perv who reintroduced this to society.

Eggnog: Eggnog sure is a great drink for the holidays. It has a distinct taste that screams of Christmas: the cinnamon, the egg whites, and the cream all converge into a delicious concoction. However, it was not always made out of cinnamon, egg whites, and cream. It actually started out as something of a dare for three young, rather inebriated, bachelors, Tom, Dick, and Harry. In the 1700's, they all tried to see who could drink the vilest drink known to man. Tom got some solid cream and plopped it in a bowl for Harry, and Dick got wood shavings and hot oil in place of the cinnamon and egg whites. Harry took one sip and said "I say, m'lads! With a slight change of ingredients, we could make a fine drink!" The change he made? The addition of whiskey.

Gingerbread houses: Gingerbread houses can be beautiful to behold and delicious to eat. But, as you may have suspected, they weren't always meant to be eaten. Actually, it was to house the tiny elves that used to live in Germans' houses and fix shoes. However, when an elf family was checking to see if they had enough space in one of the rooms that was being built, the person making the gingerbread forgot about them, and popped the gingerbread house into the oven. As you can imagine, the rest of the elf community heard about this egregious lack of respect for them and moved out of all the gingerbread houses. People came up with the idea of gingerbread men so as to make the houses seem lived in.

And there you have it, tune in next time where I tackle more difficult rituals such as the Christmas Goose and Carolling!
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