Merry Christmas Folks,
I trust the opening quote will give you an idea what I have in store for you with this issue. This is actually Part 1 of my Christmas Card to you.
Part 2 is in the form of a website with some music. I've uploaded some RealPlayer versions of my songs, 'Christmas in Australia' and '12 Days of Christmas - Italian Style' from my out-of-print opus minimus, Christmas Album, a 'live' fragment of 'Lower Jesus', by my cooking little band, The Peace Creepz, (with special guest Kavisha Mazzella on accordion and harmony), a 'live' version of ' A Girl Is Born In Bethlehem,' an a capella hymn performed by The Melbourne Chamber Singers, and the extremely rare Italian language version of Shaddap You Face, called 'Ali Ali Ale', recorded by Italian comic legends, Franchi and Ingrassia.
(For Part 2, go to the following site - Santa Joseph's Christmas Card -PART 2
For The Skeptics
I know quite a few readers are probably against the whole idea of celebrating Christmas. Some of you think there is really no difference between Christmas and a day at the office: you do all the work and the fat guy in the suit gets all the credit. (Boom boom!) I hope that these people, who I would call 'Claustrophobic,' (Boom boom!) will find something of value herein. Others are too selfish to give and prefer to marginalize the whole practice of gift giving as indulgent. To you bloodsucking vampires of society, I remind you of what you get when you cross the snowman with the vampire - frostbite. (Boom boom!)
For people planning to give the gift of music, make out your Chopin Liszt early before Debussy season, when you have time to check out Verdi good bargains and can still get gifts Faure good price, not have to Handel large crowds and have time to give Bach things you decide you don't want. (Boom boom!)
History of Christmas
The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals (parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.
Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their chief god - Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year's festival that lasted for 12 days.
The Mesopotamian king would return to the temple of Marduk and swear his faithfulness to the god. The traditions called for the king to die at the end of the year and to return with Marduk to battle at his side.
To spare their king, the Mesopotamians used the idea of a "mock" king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given all the respect and privileges of a real king. At the end of the celebration the "mock" king was stripped of the royal clothes and slain, sparing the life of the real king.
The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places, the slaves would become the masters and the masters were to obey.
Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.
In Scandinavia during the winter months the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the scouts would return with the good news. A great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.
The ancient Greeks held a festival similar to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea festivals to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and his Titans.
The Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!" the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).
The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles. Again the masters and slaves would exchange places.
"Jo Saturnalia!" was a fun and festive time for the Romans, but the Christians though it an abomination to honor the pagan god. The early Christians wanted to keep the birthday of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment as was the pagan Saturnalia.
But as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.
Some legends claim that the Christian "Christmas" celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at that time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.
The exact day of the Christ child's birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas. The Coptic Christmas follows the old calendar, and takes place on the 6th January. The Coptic Church is Catholic and was founded by St Mark who spent much time in Egypt, and it is said that he wrote his Gospel there.
According to the recent research the word "Christmas" is apparently of an ancient Egyptian origin, consisting of two parts: Christ & Mas; Christ is the Lord, but what is Mas? Mas is an ancient Egyptian word means: to be born or Birth. The celebration of the ancient Egyptian king, Thoth , was called "Thothmas," meaning: the Birth of Thoth - god of wisdom.
The Tenth Reindeer
I include some feminist background and history, as well, for we all know the names of Santa's nine famous reindeer, Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen - but there originally used to be tenth, a female reindeer named Olive. She was kicked out of the team for objecting to the male-dominated workplace and periodically headbutting Rudolph. All that remains of her memory now, erased by the Patriarchal Claus and his followers, is a scarce mention in one of the older songs: "Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names . . ." (Boom boom!)
Reindeer Herding Tops List of Sweden's Most Dangerous Jobs
TOMMY GRANDELL, Associated Press Writer
2003 Associated Press
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Forget poor Rudolph. It's the guy who has to herd him who has it tough.
Reindeer herders have the most dangerous line of work in Sweden, according to a new study that analyzed the causes of deaths among all jobs in the country of 9 million people.
Among the herders, who are mostly indigenous Sami in the country's far north, there were 150 deaths on the job between 1961 and 2000, said Per Sjoelander, one of the authors of "Fatal Accidents and Suicide Among Reindeer Herding Samis in Sweden." (article)
Here's a Happy
Reindeer Musical Christmas Card for
This year we have decided to hang our small Christmas Tree upside down underneath the stairs like a beautiful chandelier. I thought at first it seemed a little sacrilegious (like an unside down Cross) but I recently discovered the practice originated in the 7th century. A monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, (an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry!) Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity. The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night.
How the Little Angel Ended up at the Top of the Christmas Tree
On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus was getting ready for his annual trip. As he pulled his favorite pair of red pants on, they ripped. So, he had to take them off and put on another pair, which was a bit too tight. He then went to check on the rest of the preparations. The elves were on strike. The reindeer had shin-splints. At this point, Santa was BUMMED. He went into the kitchen to take a calming drink, and the bottle was EMPTY. Now he was really mad. All of sudden, there was a knock at the door. Santa, in his angry state, ignored it. There was another knock. Santa was in no mood for all of this. When the knock came again, Santa--filled with rage--threw open the door. Standing there was a little angel who said, "Hi Santa! What do you want me to do with this Christmas Tree?" (Boom boom!)
Politics and Governance
I mentioned last week that, in the event I decided to run against John Howard and George W Bush, I would be looking for some good Ministers to assist me in running the two countries. Some of the applications I have received have been encouraging. While I cannot mention names at this early stage, I can let you read some of the papers that were submitted to me. As a test case, I asked for some suggestions on the smooth running of the upcoming holiday -
From the Treasurer
12 Days of Christmas Re-Examined in Light of Competition
Global challenges require the North Pole to continue to take more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary.
The Partridge will be retained, but the Pear Tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic plant, providing savings in maintenance costs.
The Two Turtle Doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during the working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated.
The Three French Hens will remain intact, (with change of name, however, to Freedom Hens) and we may actually expand the number of hens used. A recent time-motion-profitability study proved that using illegal migratory fowl is extremely profitable as it eliminates the company's need to provide employee benefits because the hens do not meet federal residency requirements.
The Four Calling Birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked. Once this information is determined, the Accounting Department will deduct the costs of any inappropriate non-business calls from their final paycheck.
The Five Golden Rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order.
The Six Geese-a-Laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of their decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by the Personnel Department will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one.
The Seven Swans-a-Swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes to better enhance their outplacement.
As you know, the Eight Maids-a-Milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the work force is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-motoring.
Nine Ladies Dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps. Let me hasten to add that the company policy prohibits age discrimination. Should these individuals be asked to leave prior to their voluntary retirement, rest assured our Law Department will ensure an ironclad defense against an employee lawsuit.
Ten Lords-a-Leaping is just plain overkill. The high costs of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, significant savings should result due to the number of congressmen left unemployed by the election.
Eleven Pipers piping and Twelve Drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music and no uniforms will produce savings to the bottom line.
Though incomplete, studies by our latest consultant indicate that stretching deliveries over Twelve Days is inefficient. If we can drop-ship in one day, service levels will be improved and we can expect a substantial reduction in the use of part-time personnel.
From the Legal Department
The Night Before Christmas, (Legally Speaking
. . )
Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse. A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter.
The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams. Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as "I"), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the second part (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g., kerchief and cap.)
Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance. At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter "the Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be, and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.
Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter "the Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co-conspirator named "Rudolph" may have been involved.)
The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.
Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.
Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.) Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as "lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.
However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" Or words to that effect.
From the Office of Science and Technology
There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.
Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.
This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.
Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.
This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second--3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.
Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them... Santa would need 360,000 of them.
This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch). 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.
The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,500 g's. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now."
Some Good Pick-Up Lines From Santa's Elves
1. "You'd look good in a Raggedy Ann wig."
2. "I'm a magical being. Take off your bra."
3. "Even Santa doesn't make candy as sweet as you."
4. "I've got the keys to the sleigh tonight."
5. "I get a thimbleful of tequila in me and I turn into a wild man."
6. "I can get you off the Naughty List."
7. "I'm down here."
8. " I was once a lawn ornament for 'NSynch. Want to meet them?"
9. "I have certain needs that can't be satisfied by working on toys."
10. "I can eat my weight in cocktail wieners!"
Santa's Replies to Letters (If Santa Answered
I wud like a kool toy space ranjur fer Xmas. Iv ben a gud boy all
Nice spelling. You're on your way to a career in lawn care. How
about I send you a f**king book so you can learn to read and
I don't know if you can do this, but for Christmas, I'd like for
my mommy and daddy to get back together. Please see what you can
Look, your dad's banging the babysitter like a screen door in a
hurricane. Do you think he's gonna give that up to come back to
your b*tchin' mother, who rides his ass constantly? It's time to give
up that dream, Teddy boy. Let me get you some nice LEGOs instead.
I left milk and cookies for you under the tree, and I left carrots
for your reindeer outside the back door.
Milk gives me the runs and carrots make the deer fart. Leave me
a bottle of scotch.
Little Johnny's Letter To Santa
You must be surprised that I'm writing you today, the 26th of December. Well, I would very much like to clear up certain things that have occurred since the beginning of the month. I asked for a bicycle, an electric train set, a pair of roller blades and a football uniform. I destroyed my brain studying the whole year, not only was I the first in my class but I had the best grades in the whole school. I'm not going to lie to you Santa, there were no kid in the
neighborhood that behaved better than me, with my parents, my brothers, my friends and with my neighbors, I would go on errands and even help the elderly cross the street. There was virtually nothing I wouldn't do for humanity!
What balls you have leaving me a fucking yo-yo, a lame ass whistle and a pair of socks! What the fuck were you thinking, you fat son of a bitch, that you'd taken me for a sucker the whole fucking year to come out with some shit like this under the damn tree.
As if you hadn't fucked me enough, you gave that little shithead across the street so many fucking toys, that he can't even walk into his damn house! Please don't let me see you trying to fit your huge ass down my chimney next year! I'll fuck you up! I'll throw rocks at those corny ass reindeers of yours and scare them the fuck away, so you'll have to WALK your big fat ass back to the North Pole, just like I have to do now since you didn't get me that fucking bike, you punk bastard!! You know what Santa, Fuck You!! Next year you'll find out how bad I can really fucking be!
Little Jimmy in the Choir
Little Jimmy was a very smart boy, and he enjoyed
church very much, but when the choir began singing "Gladly
the Cross I'd Bear," he didn't concentrate on singing the
song as he should have; instead, he wondered why Gladly didn't
go to an ophthalmologist and why they were singing a song in church
about a large woodland animal with an eye problem anyway. (Boom boom!)
(You may have seen this recipe before but it still is a good one to know.)