The Christmas Compromise: It All Began With a Tree and a Snake — Enacting Out an Ancient Tradition of Tree Worship

From: krampus.xanga.com

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Look at the garland
Look at the Tree
Imagine a snake
and what do you see ?

The snake drapes and slithers
and slips round the bend
Like garland that decorates
the tree in your den

Coiled around
in a slight curvy way
Like the garland on Fir Trees
that you see Christmas day

Oh but he’s clever
in camouflage wear
he’ll wrap round your tree
but you won’t see him there

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One thought on “The Christmas Compromise: It All Began With a Tree and a Snake — Enacting Out an Ancient Tradition of Tree Worship

  1. Come to think of it–here in Scandinavia we’ve never stopped calling the midwinter feast Yule. We just replaced the human sacrifices with the St. Luke nativity story some 1,000 years ago. Santa doesn’t play such a prominent role here; mainly he draws families with kids into stores. When our kids were little, my wife always dressed me up as Santa, and the kids loved it, knowing full well that it was me. See, here Santa comes in the afternoon of Christmas Eve if he comes, and he comes in the front door with a jute bag full of presents, not down the chimney (that would be impossible with our efficient fireplaces, anyway).
    My mother still put out food for the elves on Christmas Eve when I was a kid in the ’40s; she grew up, in the early 20th century, with the firm belief that bad fortune would follow if you slighted them. They belonged with the home, which typically was a smallhold, and would protect people and animals as long as you respected them. You never really saw them, apart from a glimpse of something moving just out of your field of vision, around the outbuildings, but they were a firm fixture of life then. And although they were much sung about in the local Christmas carols, neither they nor the carols had any connection with Santa; all that came later with Anglo-Saxon imports.
    Somehow I’m more comfortable with our version of Yule–there’s less deception in it than what you describe here. Depending on who you are, it takes different forms. The broad public simply gets drunk, something that hasn’t changed in a thousand years. The same broad public also follows the marketers’ urgings to overspend, but that, of course, is new: we haven’t had that kind of extra money for more than a generation. Then you have the few who go to church on Christmas; probably not the same people who get drunk. There’s also a minority among the childless that don’t do much of anything, apart from hanging a few decorations on a scraggly tree.
    Like one of my friends always says: Follow the money. The merging of endless numbers of old cults and superstitions into Christmas serves to get the people to spend money, and those who stand to profit from this spending will be happy to provide myths to keep it going. Mammon does the job for Old Nick: sometimes I think that nowadays, Mammon is so good at it that perhaps the devil has taken the opportunity for early retirement.
    Best,
    Robert

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