Re: virus: xmas

Sean Morgan (
Fri, 29 Dec 1995 14:41:50 -0700

Don Rivers <> wrote:

>The Spring celebrations were hijacked by the Christians. Oddly enough,
>it still carries the name of a pagan goddess Easter. Pagan traditions,
>such as coloring eggs, carried on. Eggs symbolize fertility, I imagine.

Easter's root was Oestrus I believe, which seems related to estrus. And
don't forget the Easter Rabbit, lots of fertility connotations there.
Spring, flowers blooming, rebirth -- doesn't seem to have anything to do
with nailing some guy to a cross.

Speaking of prophets, David wrote:

>I think it is very interesting that Christian missionaries felt it was
>to assimilate pagan yuletide rituals in order to convert the Britons [...] I'd
>hate to lose the parties and holidays that happen this time of year.

Without a good calendar, it's hard to tell just when the winter solstice is,
because the location of the sun at subsequent (apparent) sun rises/sets is
at a flattish part of the sinusoid. So it takes another day or two to be
sure that the shortening of the days has been reversed. Allow another
couple of days to prepare the feast, and the pagans were having their
biggest party of the year on December 25. Just like David, they wouldn't
have been keen on giving it up, so those intuitive memetic engineers called
Early Christians just passed the word that what the pagans were really
celebrating was something called Christmas.

One my favorite postings to Virus (a while back) was about high and low
traditions in religion. This list was said to have (too?) heavy a reliance
on the high tradition (like the Jesuits) and not enough of the low, which
would be needed to draw in the masses.

There is no denying the importance of ritual. I liked the way Neal
Stephenson used it in "The Diamond Age": a distributed group of people were
giving a sense of community by ritual. Member would put their lives at
risk, relying on another member to put the pin back in the grenade (as it
were, he used different examples). Really visceral stuff: gets the
adrenalin flowing, while you think good thoughts about the community, to
make the point sink in.

Maybe that's what makes Xmas so successful a ritual. Lots of endorphins
flowing around, good times with family, lot of alcohol and gorging,
presents, time off from work -- lots of positive reinforcement. (John E.Mayer) wrote:

>The thread that unites all traditional holidays for this time of year is the
>triumph of light over darkness Channukah is the "Festival of Lights" [...]
>northern barbarians stationed a man to >watch for the first point of light
>above the mountains [...] the great yule log was ignited

Does anyone know if the new yule-tride tradition for Afro-Americans (the
name escapes me) has a "light" theme?

How can Virus use the theme of "light" in a yuletide ritual?

Or maybe we can invent a summer solstice ritual (and then petition to get
the day off work).


Uninitiated: Merry Christmas!

One Virion's response: Keep that Christian memetic clap-trap to yourself!


Q: Why do programmers get confused between Hallowe'en and Xmas?

A: Because OCT 31 = DEC 25
Sean Morgan ( |
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