I tried to research Christmas history a few years ago, I read some books as part of A Literary Christmas. I basically held a vague understanding that early Christian married pagan elements (some Roman, some “barbarian”) to Christian concepts. But modern Christmas is modern Christmas with significant points (the tree, Santa Claus) brought from Germany in the Victorian period to America (Christmas wasn’t that significant until recently as a huge day unto itself although perhaps Advent season was in some traditions, early, strictly Protestant Americans didn’t celebrate it). I think that my slapdash research then rather matches both the actual history of Christmas and the way it is put together, a patchwork of various traditions put together in various ways over its history.
And yes, I’m going to be one of those, “but ackshully” people, but I hope I don’t follow the spirit of them. I don’t intend to follow the killjoy spirit, just generally being a history, humanities, and myth nerd.
I don’t think we are ever going to have a very clear history of Christmas. I’ve come across misinformation and confusion on Christmas history. Be wary of anything that speaks too definitively, actually be wary, there is a weird resurgence in ancient paganism generally that I think wants to rewrite things or blur the truth, particularly about the darkness of these religions and about the accuracy of our knowledge, these are ancient, ancient things, our knowledge is at best vague. I’m going to be sticking to Britannica mainly with some dictionary definitions.
Advent. This seems to be the earliest Christian conception of Christmas, but it is far more religious and with less of an emphasis on one day.December 25th. Per Britannica: this is the date of a Roman holiday (dies solis invicti nati) about the rebirth of the sun which, in one view Christians then connected with the rebirth of the Son. Another view ties the conception of Christmas with the Spring Equinox which timeline puts Jesus birth at Christmas.Modern Holiday. Britannica again confirms the German origin of some significant modern Christmas concepts as well as the fact that the Puritans didn’t like Christmas.Saturnalia. This is the Roman holiday of the Winter solstice that I think most people with any conception of an understanding of Christmas use to point out the pagan origins of Christmas, that all we did was Christianize it. I think that is too simplistic, especially since Christmas wasn’t that big of a conception really until fairly recently. Clearly the dates are what we did directly take. However, it certainly seems to be a far more like Saturnalia now, at least New Years is. Such days as the first of the year are always going to have an ancient pagan emphasis.Yule is the Germanic celebration of the Winter solstice. Britannic didn’t have a separate entry for Yule while googling it brings up tons of articles. I think this is a subject where modern imagination takes a very little source or historical knowledge and runs wild.St. Nicholas is the origin of Santa Claus (North-Western Europe and American via the same) and Father Christmas (UK, I think I prefer Father Christmas, maybe because it is less familiar, I just don’t care for Santa or at least how we have him) and Père Noël in France. He is an actual early Christian saint, I’m not sure I knew that or I’d forgotten, we don’t have documentation, just Christian canon tradition, but it seems like it is fairly believable tradition? Obviously, tons of mythic traditions have been added on and then those myths were revived more recently to morph into Father Christmas and Santa Claus.Christmas Tree. While trees did have significance in Yule in Germany, apparently that is not the source for the modern Christmas tree, which yes, did come from Germany. It originated in an Advent play.Mistletoe. I don’t know how this transforms from having to do with Druid sacrifice (potentially human! although this isn’t mentioned in the Britannica article, I think it was in the Celtic book I just read, but again, tread carefully this is ancient) to kissing at Christmas.Wassail. Basically originally an Old Norse toast that turned into an English drink.Christmas carols and songs deserve a whole post. We shall see if I get to that in this 12 Days of Christmas or not. I read a book about some of the carols and songs, but I know that the story told for the 12 Days of Christmas song is inaccurate, so I will have to spend more time carefully researching songs. I am more interested in getting to a post about the different tunes between the UK and US for different carols.Failure in research: “Happy Christmas” for the Brits vs “Merry Christmas” US. In U.S. there is a sort of, I don’t know, phony debate over “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas.” Why not both, its a huge extended holiday season anyway? I’m not going to get into that.* What I wanted to know was why the Brits say “Happy Christmas” while we say “Merry Christmas.” I first learned of this, I think in, wait for it, Harry Potter. I thought I remembered reading something about Queen Victoria and snobs preferring “happy” because “merry” was plebian or something, but I can’t find any source I’m happy with (and the stupid debate above mentioned drowns everything out). What I could gather is that the word “merry” had different connotations, like, um drunkenness, and that possibly snobs preferred “happy.” I found a blog post, but I would prefer a more creditable source. I’ve given up sorting through the absurdity, maybe I will tackle this next year better. Anyway “happy” nowadays is about as specific and useful as “nice” in my opinion while “merry” feels specific, jolly and a bit mischievous.To sum up. First of all, wow, this took longer than I meant. Anyway, I don’t like fossilizing things the “well, ackshully” way, nothing new gets created plus I have no personal connotation of the pagan (no one does!) or Advent aspects anyway. I like the patchwork history. Pick the traditions or “traditions” you like, make up new ones, take pagan, Christian, whatever you like, change what you like, just don’t create a false history!Sources:*Actually (ackshully) I am, if you take offense at “Merry Christmas” would you like to go to Hell? Hades? Sheol? Gehenna? Jahannam?. . . I, at least, find myself funny. I got a little tired of sorting through those stupid articles.
I think I’ve taken the old one and passed, but apparently there is an updated one. I think that this should be given to high schoolers at the beginning and end of high school to make sure they learned American History and government decently. Don’t misunderstand me, Americans who are born citizens shouldn’t HAVE to take the test to remain a citizen or anything like that. What I do think it is completely irresponsible not to be able to pass it. And pass it well, I mean (I think I’m rather more informed than the average person as I am a nerd and genuinely like things many people think are boring, but I didn’t meet my standard).
I took this portion and got 7 out of 9 of the NYT version. So, I got about 77% which isn’t great. I’m not sure why they didn’t have 10 or 20 to get an easier comparable result. 12 out of 20 is now the requirement where previously it was 6 out of 10, both 60% which is an extremely low pass. Which just means the test is longer, that is NOT a long test. I do think nuance is important.
I took this version and got 16 out of 20. I chose some dumb answers. Oh, well. The NYT version is harder.
Oh, and I did these off the top of my head. No studying.
The actual test is not multiple choice. I wonder how that would affect my score, but then so would studying. I took American government in high school, oh, 12 years ago, and I don’t think I did so hot there were just some details that were so you know boring and detailed, I feel that understood econ better. Yes, you read that right. I was struggling generally then which didn’t help either.
I’m thinking of adding a subject a day to study, since I’m rather erratically pursuing or not pursuing all my random interests and topics I think I should know, a little structure would help.
I read 1 book. Yes, 1 book. Or rather, I should say, I finished 1 book because I’d started this book in September or October. I am however, pleased to say that it was both new to me and nonfiction.
The Ancient Celts by Barry Cunliffe. I feel like it was written to British or European peers who also studied the Iron age, etc. Because I didn’t get as much out of it as the size would indicate. I also felt like there needed to be more maps, the maps needed to be labelled in more detail, and they needed to be in the book near the sections referencing them. I did appreciate the addressing of the Celtic myth and romanticism, something I know I’ve fallen into thanks to Sutcliff novels and my ignorance (she, I don’t believe ever referenced anything as being Celtic, good for her).
There seem to be two main things. One is a broadly European language family that existed in ancient times then died out in continental Europe in ancient times and maintained a hold increasingly smaller and weaker in the British Isles and Ireland up into the present). Someone in the 18th century decided to name this group Celtic.
The 2nd is the group of peoples in broadly central and lower Western Europe whom the Greeks and Romans termed Celts. Archaeology studies this group with reference to (obviously) biased Classical literature.
Where I understand some of the error falls is when people presume that because the Insular peoples spoke the same language family as the people the Romans called Celts, they were also Celts. But I don’t think anyone called them Celts. I think I thought as did many that Celtic peoples from mainland Europe took over the Isles and that is how the language and some aspects of the culture spread, but I think that what he was saying is that there isn’t evidence that there was such an invasion. That it was people already there who adopted the language and culture (to a certain extent) from mainland Europe and then held onto it longer.
Also, he was talking about the uncertainty of what exactly differentiated Germanic speaking peoples from Celtic speaking peoples. Just the language and some culture? Or ethnicity.
I read for the Ancient Britains, but I learned about Ancient Europe. Now, I wonder about the other, later barbarian invasions, the ones who sacked Rome and turned Gaul to France. Do we know for certain they came from somewhere else or did we assume they did?
I love history. And you do have to love history and be prepared to research further to read this book. The author also wrote some more recent books for A Very Short Introduction which I also have on my shelves, and I’ve looked up some notable Celtic scholars to read as well.
Another polished up draft.
I loved the categories of Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies. It’s not at all profound and not as helpful as I wanted beyond the original categories (at least for Rebels, and I already knew myself before her explanation, I knew I rebelled against others and myself), but the scheme is very useful without being absurdly and unscientifically and unrealistically limiting like personality typing. I found the other explanations, for other people and to see that I lean Questioner helpful, I do think they weren’t super deep and were stereotyped, but the Rebel section just seemed complete stereotype.
I’m starting to think that most of the stereotype of rebels comes from Obliger-rebellion. Maybe she mentions this? But then she put so much stereotyping on Rebels. Anyway. If you feel the need to rebel, if you make a production of rebellion, that seems to belie the actual inner Rebel/contrarian. We don’t actually do anything we don’t want to do, we are in a constant stasis of rebellion/resistance/contrariness, it’s our norm. I think that’s is part of why I neither stand out nor conform. I just am. It is normal to me to have low-level pervasive contrariness as an undercurrent, not any “reason” for it.
In my tiny church bubble almost every teen professed faith (Upholders and Obligers) or radically “went off the deep end” (more stereotypical Rebels?) except me and a sparse other few. Of those who originally professed, those who left the faith also went beserk, rejecting everything they had known, not merely the faith but the morals, the worldviews, everything pell-mell without analyzing any of it (Obliger rebellion).
And then there was me, not a believer but not making a public pronouncement of not being a Christian (I was afraid until I was older and then I was afraid of lying, so compulsively started pointing it out) and throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I think there might have been a few other quiet intellectual dissenters (I didn’t fit this either, I had a side that leaned this way, but my emotional and mental issues were louder although I didn’t want them seen), probably Questioner types, but the norm was the Obliger/Upholder group plus the forthrightly, go against everything immediately people, more stereotypical Rebels although not 100% sure they were Rebels, maybe they leaned Rebel/Obliger while I was Rebel/Questioner and that made the difference.
Another post from the past. I bounce back and forth to interest and aggravation in personality tests and boredom. Here is a period of interest and aggravation.
Charity and Katie have been posting explanations about personality tests, and I wanted to post my results and I found this draft in my archives
So, what types get hung up on stuff? Because I just can’t let this Myers Briggs thing go. I know its absolute hogwash, but seeing all these people make funny videos or talk about their type, I keep wanting to find a type. I get ISTP from like every test I take, but I don’t “relate.” I’ve also gotten ISTJ (I can be ISTJ towards people, “follow rules, fit in a box, leave me alone.” (well actually, now, I’m leaning towards avoider) But oh, honey, don’t try that on me! I’ve also gotten INTP. But none of them “fit.” And the functions, what the heck? Looking at the function, I’m like three introverted ones which you “can’t have.” Yeah, okay. I wanted to know what a function based test would look like.
This test used a couple frameworks. I didn’t put any types on the questions at the bottom because #1 I wanted to know/didn’t relate and #2 I didn’t want it to affect the test. Guess what I got ISTP (also, INTP on two).
I’ve also done this cognitive function test as few times. I think I usually got the same results.
Adobe Creative Types. I took this in April and October and both times I got the Thinker.
I took the 4 Temperament Test tonight. This framework was the first personality tests I took or I had tests based on it. The closest to the original I took put me as mostly choleric with I think melancholic, the plegmatic, then sanguine, for a while I kept the results, but I don’t know if I still have those, this had to be over a decade ago. Before I took the test this time, reading over the explanations here, I thought I’d been choleric and melancholic, guess what I got 51% choleric and 49% melancholic. I personally don’t think the definitions match me very well, this test looks to focus too much on the positives maybe. I don’t see much of my low-energy-ness. I don’t have the temper I used to either.
I’ve seen a lot of videos some humor, some not about the strictness of immigrant parents or brown vs white parents or middle class vs lower class. Plus there is always the generational difference of the “I had to walk to school up a hill both ways in snow barefoot” which is how we’ve started to respond every time an older person starts “in MY day we had too . . .”
Things that were normal back in the day are considered criminal now. Like my grandmother and her sister were all socked in the face for sassing their mom, and switched/tanned whatever, but they held no hard feelings. I mean there is a whole lot more discipline or “discipline” of that sort going on around here now because country people still are like that. There are so many things about middle class America that don’t apply very well around here, because most people here haven’t been middle class enough generations or are working class middle class.
Even though my background doesn’t really fit the normal middle class narrative (conservative homeschooler stereotype is notoriously harsh/strict), I do feel like more people my age around here were spanked while seemingly there are a lot of people my age in the Western world at large who were treated more like little princesses and princelings, at least per internet stereotypes. I wish there were stats on that sort of thing, it would be really interesting
So, despite being upper middle class millennial, at least me and the next sister after me seemed to be parented by country/immigrant/lower class parents of a generation or so back. At least if you are going by the stereotypes.
I mean there is a limited amount of strictness that public school parents can be, they can’t watch you in school. You are under constant surveillance at home. Lots of people said strictness made sneaky kids, I don’t think so, I didn’t DARE be sneaky, although I think my siblings did a bit (but nothing truly bad). Also, I was terrified of everything anyway.
We decided to rewatch National Treasure again last week (for the first time in awhile, I’ve lost track of the rewatches). This movie is one of the good ones.
Feel good cheesy Patriotism and history. It’s very goofiness makes it awesome, I don’t care how some snobby critics rate it. The premise, the awesome music, the sarcasm, Cage’s terrible “acting” that really works in this situation, Riley is precious, Abigail whose history nerdiness and curiosity wins out over her “professionalism,” Sean Bean’s dramatic British bad guy trope. And I watched this in a fun period in my early twenties, this was one of the first modern movies we watched and it just has that added layer of nostalgia.
And this extra bit.
Years I ago I realized that the character’s names had more meaning than the obvious one of Ben’s. I think it was because I’d been reading about the Revolutionary War.
Ian Howe = General William Howe
Abigail Chase = obviously Abigail Adams, but I was sure Chase had to feature somehow, I found a Samuel Chase on the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Benjamin Franklin Gates = Obviously Benjamin Franklin but also General Horatio Gates. Patrick Henry and John Adams were his dad and grandfather, again obvious.
I feel like there might have been more, but I didn’t write it down or post it when I thought of it.
Strangely, no one in my family found this information as riveting as me . . . I wonder why?
(I swear there is a particular gene for loving history. I mean, I even find some boring books interesting, so while I lament the unutterably bad historical program or lack thereof just about everywhere, I’m not the best person to make it interesting, since I find textbooks interesting.)
- The Minimalist podcast and their secret podcast (esp. the latter), they dive deep so deep, so many layers on so many things, they don’t only or mainly deal with minimalism but how to live well and thoughtfully. I only thought I’d heard deep thinking until I started listening to their podcasts. Also, I’d been judging them based on younger, simplified regurgitation of selected parts of their philosophy (and what I’d seen of their documentary, which I still don’t want to bother with, it irritated me a few seconds in still, I think for one thing, documentaries are often very faux intellectual), and how I’ve missed out! Oh, my. I want to read and relisten and research so many of the books and people they feature.They feature and display truly diverse views held deeply with Christians and non. I think this is the 3rd instance of such an intellectual respectful exchange of differing but sincerely held beliefs (not merely cultural), I’ve come across, and its SO inspiring, refreshing. I so appreciate the respectful treatment and acknowledgement of true believers in Christianity especially when they come from (or Ryan at least) a traumatic or twisted religious background and are not religious themselves. Usually such people who reject Christianity follow a very stereotypical path of throwing everything out revengefully, illogically, un-intellectually in its entirety which is both boring and disturbing (and makes me feel like an alien, since I’m not a Christian but didn’t do that).I’ve been in the mood to streamline my stuff and this is really helping me to think through things more carefully, I don’t think I’ve really dealt with my shopaholic/hoarding tendencies despite purging (it’s a bit cyclical). I don’t want to me truly minimalist, and I don’t have the same tastes continually, and I get bored of things or go through phases, but there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to do that.
This is probably totally boring to most people, but I think it’s fun, especially trying to tie back to my favorite Rosemary Sutcliff Britain before the Anglo-Saxon invasion. I want to be related to those fictional characters! Yes, I’m nuts.
I was so sad I lost Scotland/Ireland. I know I don’t have Irish really, that is a very distinctive pattern of movement and culture in American history that would have shown up in genealogy, geography, names, and religion which doesn’t in our family. Whereas what I’ve figured out from genealogy is that Scottish makes sense, but probably Scottish before anyone came over here.
Good, I got my Celtic/Rosemary Sutcliff/Scotland back! Although per Ancestry, England would still included ancient Brits not just Anglo-Saxon (and Norman too), they didn’t take out everyone, I guess like most people assumed.
I’ve heard lots of people throwing around the term “toxic masculinity.” I don’t think that is helpful, because the discussions seems to often contain, the if some, then all fallacy both in terms of men and masculinity. All masculinity is not toxic. There is this idea that all manly men are awful, that is inherit to their manliness to be a brute. Some of these people are the feminists and the others are the neanderthal men, they have totally opposite viewpoints on this subject, but they espouse the same fallacy.
Manly men can be sweet. Mild men can be awful. Being brash and swaggering doesn’t equal being a manly man, but it does mean you are a lout! Not being brash doesn’t mean you are a good person! Guys can pride themselves on not being the loud sporty ones assuming they have some sort of virtue when they are exhibiting the lack thereof in their spitefulness. Sweetness doesn’t make you less manly, that comes from other traits. Lack of a certain trait doesn’t mean having a positive virtue.
I thought first of this in terms of Lord of the Rings movies, when a male mentioned how manly Gimli was (ugh) in contrast to the rather effeminate elves (we will leave off discussions of the books and accuracy for this discussion and focus on the movies). As if those were the only options, neanderthal or dainty princeling (I’m exaggerating, the actions of the elves weren’t effeminate their looks and styling were). I think this is what the discussion often is, this false dichotomy. In this dichotomy, the men, Aragorn (or my favorite) Eomer are ignored. Masculine in physical appearance, in action yet courteous. Real manly men.
We were talking about my Mom’s extended family (and this applies to my brother also), no one would look at them and think of them as anything other than manly men, yet they are very sweet, much sweeter than the women of the family often (some of us are a domineering group!).
Back to LotR, I came across this on (I’m embarrased to admit) twitter the other day, Are You an An Aragorn Girl or a Legolas Girl. I’m an Eomer woman thank-you very much!
I tend to relate to a lot of them tomboys in books like Jo and her counterpart Skye Penderwick in terms of temperament. But I’m not a tomboy, I relate to the Megs in terms of domesticity and to the Amys and Annes in terms of taste. It gets kind of irritating to read about all the sweet domestic and/or traditional girls. Sorry, I wasn’t born sweet and mild, the best you will get is somewhat toned down. I’ve been told to tone down, be quiet, stop expressing so much frequently by family members. I think I scare people outside my family.
Another similar stereotype is that of the loud (often tomboy) women being brave and courageous. Brassy, sassy, rebellious, and loud doesn’t equal strong or brave. Some of us are just programmed to be brassy, sassy, rebellious, and loud. And I’m not programmed brave, like at. all. K, maybe if you are usually a meek, people-pleaser, it IS brave to stand up and firmly say, “please, respect me.” But um, I have have to tone down, calm down to say that. And loudness can come from fear as well as just innate personality.
Often either explicit or implicitly, these characters and/or their authors state that domesticity equals a level of anti-intellectualism or lack of intelligence. Again, NO. I can love both and do, thank-you-very-much. How one earth does liking homemaking have anything to do with the intelligence and interests I was born with?
I was raised in a homeschooling sphere that emphasized domesticity, crafts, etc. for girls. I never understood why so many rebelled against them, I took it personally, until I found more people with different backgrounds who like creating things. I learned of them term “maker.” These people like me just LOVE handicrafts, historical fashion, fiber, making things, its part of our DNA.
Another fallacy involves being girly and sporty or interested in physical activity (climbing trees, fencing, hunting, you name it). You can love to get completely dolled up and also love to play sports and get sweaty. I think this one is older and maybe it has mostly been killed by now? Or maybe it is because I’m more in the volleyball world because of my sisters and volleyball girls don’t follow this stereotype.
I think in books this is still in force with the heroine who disdains all “frivolous” dress and fuss and goes gallivanting off with her horse and sword. She can like both. Disliking or like frills doesn’t mean you are physically weak or strong.
Here is to the loud, brassy, girly, domestic shrews. Oh, wait, what?!
So, I have some stereotype opinions sort of series I want to do. I’m not going to dive super deep, just have some commentary on things that grind my gears. Starting with some false dichotomies, a lot involving gender stereotypes.
Have you heard any comments or conversations about this.
“I don’t like sports, I’m intellectual.”
“I read books, I’m a special/smart/fill in the blank.”
“I don’t cook, I’m a career woman.”
“I’m not a jock, so I’m a good person.”
People making it seem like you have two either or choices, you can be sporty or intellectual but not both.
There are all fallacies, actually possibly combinations of fallacies. A person’s interests in neutral subjects do not dictate their morality. A person’s interests also do not dictate their skill either for said interest or another interest. A person’s interest does not dictate all of their other interests
Believe or not, some people can be more than one thing and interested in more than one thing, those are INTERESTING people.
In addition to being extremely lazy fallacious comments, they are (ironically) snobby.
Some I’m going to start with sports. I think that this particular false dichotomy of sporty vs. intelligent is usually for guys, for girls its more combined with the tomboy vs. traditional or girly girl false dichotomy. There is also a sports vs. diligence (i.e. sports are a waste of time).
I’m from a sports oriented family (I’m one of the least interested, but it’s still in my blood) even with 5 girls and only one boy. We are in a college-sports dominated area for basketball and football, we have our university team. I grew watching major league baseball with my family on tv. Dad often had golf playing. All the college games playing and March Madness. All of us play or played pick up sports in the back yard or at picnics. Both parents played sports in highschool and after highschool in rec leagues. I played one sport in a rec league for one season, but most of my siblings played multiple sports for multiple seasons, most of them had one or two sports a year for much of their lives in middle school and up.
I feel like there has been a stereotype of the cool, stupid, mean kid jock (or mean girl v-ball player, although like I said I don’t feel like stupid is usually as emphasized with the girl stereotype, more of shallowness is). Sure there are some people like that.
Sometimes the jocks are smart, sometimes the jocks are both better at sports AND smarter than geeky or nerdier people, sometimes a jock is a geek. My dad was a stereotypically geeky looking (and acting) person, but he loved and played sports. My brother didn’t look or act so geeky, but he was/is a sports guy and a chemical engineer, and a genuinely good person.
Sometimes the volleyball girls are the nice girls. My sisters played volleyball in highschool and rec leagues. They don’t fit the mean, shallow, “cool” girl type.
People can play sports and keep up with their ap and/or college level courses, my siblings and parents did. They can like sports and video games and sports and reading, etc. One interest doesn’t exclude another. One ability doesn’t exclude another, believe or not a person can have both brawn and brains. We do (that sounds like all of us sisters are built like men, we aren’t were are built like sporty women, well, when we are fit, I’m more of a whale woman at the moment).
As far as the waste of time. There are people who ONLY watch and don’t play sports. I can get how hours and hours of watching televised sports can be. But some fun entertainment is allowed. What hours and hours of things do you do? Moderation. Look closer at your own time wasters.
Playing sports is always great exercise and can be great inter-personally as well depending on the person and circumstances.
It just often seems that those who criticize sports lovers are always those who can’t play them, you know?