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December 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm #143412YoshioModerator
I have a question for all you Jedi parents and fellow Jedi out their!
Yesterday I got in a discussion with my wife about “Christmas” or maybe better said Santa Claus and presents for children.
As you might know since this August my wife and I do have a little daughter and as Christmas is now around the corner, at least I guess that is what has caused my wife to ask me and start this discussion, all the childhood memories came up in my with and how she had been writing letters to Santa and waiting for that he will bring the wished things on the 25th of December.
To make my situation a bit better understandable, I had been raised as a Protestant and therefore Christmas does have for me a strong link to Christianity as it is one if not the most important holy day in Christianity as on that day, according to what is told to us, Jesus had been born. This is actually what we, my family, and Christians celebrate on that day, at least that is what they should. You see, for me this has absolutely nothing to do with giving presents to someone.
With that said, I don’t want to say that I do have a problem to give a present to our little one once she is old enough to “understand” it. But for giving her a present on that “special” day, I feel like I do need a reason, a background story but, because of my background and my feeling about it, for me it cannot be the “Christkindl” – which would normally be translated as “Christ Child” but on Christmas has the image of a small girl angel who is brining the presents to the ‘nice’ children – nor can it be Santa Claus as he is an invention from the Coca Cola company and therefore has nothing to do with the idea of Christmas, at least not for me.
When I asked my wife how they “celebrated” Christmas, she told me that they actually didn’t “celebrate” it. In Japan it is really all about giving presents to ‘nice’ children and using Santa as the one who is bringing, giving those presents to them.
So, now I’m in a sort of dilemma as it feels to me that for my wife, because of her childhood memories, this is a big thing and, as said above, I don’t want to not give something to our little one. I just don’t know how to do it so that it would make “sense” if you fellow Jedi can understand what I mean.
Any help or just telling me how you handle this would be much appreciated as I don’t want this to build up and become a real problem in my family.December 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm #192972Brandel ValicoParticipant
Hmm maybe go get the KFC and say the gift is from Hotei/Ho Tei/SantaDecember 9, 2016 at 12:35 am #192974Kol DrakeModerator
You could go ‘full historical’ — starting in the 13th Century
The name Santa Claus has his roots in the informal Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas (an abbreviation of Sint Nikolaas). St. Nicholas was a historic 4th-century Greek saint (from an area now in modern day Turkey) who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes left out for him. He was also famous for presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes
Being the patron saint of children St. Nicholas has long been associated with giving gifts to children. The parallels to the modern day Santa Claus don’t end there. In his Dutch form of Sinterklaas he was imagined to carry a staff, ride above the rooftops (on a huge white horse) and have mischievous helpers who listened at chimneys to find out whether children were being bad or good. These features all also link him to the legend of Odin, a god who was worshipped among the Germanic peoples in North and Western Europe prior to Christianization.
Although in Europe the feast of St. Nicholas, typically on the 6th December, was very popular throughout the middle ages, after the reformation in the 16th century the celebration died out in most Protestant countries, apart from Holland where the celebration of Sinterklaas lived on.
* * * * *
I am certain it is no real shock to folks here at the IJRS to learn that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25, and that the holiday of Christmas as we know it today was pretty much stolen from many different pagan traditions. However, there might be some puritanical Christians lurking about who may be shocked to learn that the Christmas wreath was originally a pagan symbol for fertility, and that the Bible actually warns Christians against erecting evergreen trees in the home (Jeremiah 10). Let’s face it — much of Christianity was ‘borrowed’ from earlier religions to which there were exposed to as they wandered (or were enslaved) in the BCE times.
Christmas was stolen from winter solstice and Saturnalia celebrations, but why did people celebrate those holidays?
Both the alleged birth of Jesus and the winter solstice were (and are) merely excuses to celebrate. Winter is cold, it gets dark earlier, and trees have lost their leaves and appear dead. This is a depressing time of year, and that can mean only one thing: It is time to party!
The true meaning of Christmas is to cheer people up during a cold and depressing time of year. That means lots of food, getting together with family and friends, giving each other gifts, being kind to others, and helping those in need.
To go further —
The Christmas tree, which became a part of English and American tradition through German influence is a recent tradition. The English took on the German tradition of the Christmas Tree during the Victorian era under the influence of Prince Albert.
Americans, on the other hand, were likely influenced by the Prussians during the American Revolution as well as the many German immigrants who came to the fledgling nation. But evergreens have been part of human celebrations at least as far back as the Egyptians as a symbol of the triumph of life over death. In pre-Christian Britain, the druids placed evergreens outside their door to symbolize the coming of spring. Christians adopted the symbolism so readily that they use palm leaves to celebrate the ‘triumph’ of Christ’s rise from the tomb at Easter, and then use those same palms as ashes to mark the cross on the forehead of Catholics throughout the world to signify the beginning of Lent the following year.
Feasts have been part of human culture since long before we worshipped a monotheistic god. It is a deep-seated part of our social nature, and humans are arguably the most social animals on the planet. Eating together, breaking bread whilst telling stories about ancestors, about hunting, battles, and travels, were part of everyday life for successful tribes throughout human history.
Music too has its role in the universal human experience: singing, drumming, and dancing were part of the celebration – whatever particular gods or goddesses the people worshipped. Long dark winter nights would have lost their gloom with the warmth of a fire and voices raised in song. Worship has nothing to do with our love of music; it is in our genetic heritage – it is an intimate part of our social mind that induces bonding and fellowship.
Celebration is not owned by any one culture and especially not by any one religion. It is part of our humanity.
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All the above said…
Celebrate family. Celebrate Love. Make this time your own with any reason you decide on… be it for the axial tilt of the Earth or a mishmash of historical stories or because… it’s good to eat, drink, and be merry for a whole day (or weekend or week)…
The even ‘larger, Jedi goal’ ? To be like this every day, all year long. The being kind and helping bits — not certain we need 365/24/7 party time. Though, if we did it properly, every day of living SHOULD be ‘like a party’, yes?December 9, 2016 at 7:38 am #192975BaruParticipant
and then there is Black Pete, and the flying reindeer from Russia. And the Roman Saturnalia. The Celtic/Irish Yule. The red/white colors and costumes come from mushrooms. And coke made Santa fat.
Christmas is a smashing together of many holidays. It seems that every culture celebrated the “end of days” and the “rebirth” of the sun, world, god and so on.
List to CK lous comedy routine about this. Do you want to be the “jerk” that tells your kids the truth about the holidays and tells all of their friends about it?
If the culture does it, celebrate it until the children don’t want to any more.
I loved my family traditions around this holiday. I actually looked out the window!December 9, 2016 at 1:03 pm #192979YoshioModerator
Many thanks for all your inputs.
Especially on Kol Drake post, those things You come up with, are the things which do make it difficult for me to “accept” a celebration of Santa Claus only for the reason of having something to justify the reason of why giving something to loved ones, especially children.Quote:The true meaning of Christmas is to cheer people up during a cold and depressing time of year. That means lots of food, getting together with family and friends, giving each other gifts, being kind to others, and helping those in need.
You see, this is exactly what we do now in our family. It is a time for coming together, enjoy each other’s present, having a nice meal and drinks and good talks and laughter. For me there is nothing wrong with that and giving some presents to the little one only makes it even more fun and enjoyable. It is just that it feels to me that my wife seems to need a sort of story or reason of why she would give something.
Unfortunately this all doesn’t help my wife or I as we, as adults, can perfectly live with this situation but for our little one my wife wants something which is increasing the enjoyment, the feeling of a special day. At least that is what I do feel or felt when talking with here about this.
For what Kol Drake wrote, that the celebration of St. Nicholas died out in a way, I have to say that this is not true, at least not for Austria and the South of Germany where I’m currently living. It is just that the 6th of December or St. Nicholas Day doesn’t have that big of importance as does Christmas and because of that fact that we actually celebrate or better said in my family celebrated St. Nicholas Day, it only adds to the “problem” of what to celebrate on Christmas Day.
Finally, also a special thanks to Baru for your post, after giving it now some time to set, I feel that this actually is the best what I can do as I don’t feel myself in the position of starting a sort of new or maybe better said tradition of my own family, especially as we already have two different cultural backgrounds and it is difficult enough to always perfectly understand each other and where we are coming from.
Right now I do feel that I will make this special day of the year a day of love and giving and enjoying it with those dear to me.
So, once again, many thanks for all your inputs. :meditateDecember 9, 2016 at 9:31 pm #192980Kol DrakeModerator
I barely know anything about the history and customs of Japan (or Central Europe!) — other than the anime I have watched and what few books I’ve read.
Seems like you could combine the ‘traditions’ of St. Nick (your area of the world) with the shinto custom of sacred trees and hanging prayer chains during matsuri(her area of the world)? I was imagining invoking the kami ‘down’ to a celebratory Christmas tree / shintai? and then having paper prayer chains draped about the branches… and perhaps to keep in ‘good’ with the sun goddess Amaterasu, have a small shrine with the mirror, etc.
Those little rituals passed down from generation to generation that help shape your family by creating a sense of unity, warmth and closeness. They create memories that fill your mind with peace, love, happiness, and security. They make ‘traditions’… But what do you do if your family doesn’t have many traditions? Well, you create them. It is YOUR family — you can create/maintain the customs or traditions you wish — you ARE creating your Path after all.
The key is to develop customs that fit your family. Though it’s hard to let go of long-cherished practices from our families of origin, if it’s not working for your family, it’s defeating the purpose. Compromise and flexibility are paramount, and a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either. As you work to create family traditions that are distinctly yours, there may be some false starts… but getting there can be half the fun!December 12, 2016 at 11:15 am #192986YoshioModerator
Once again many thanks Kol Drake, that is exactly what I’m going for, to create our own family traditions. :meditateDecember 13, 2016 at 5:14 am #186055JaxKeymaster
Perhaps this is helpful? I love this idea for older kids and gets to the true spirit of Christmas. To me, I hear a lack of Christmas Spirit in you Yoshio (no judgement though ). So this might give you another perspective.
“In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.
When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
I take them out “for coffee” at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE. Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!”
Make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.
We then have the child choose someone they know–a neighbor, usually. The child’s mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it–and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving.
My oldest chose the “witch lady” on the corner. She really was horrible–had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She’d yell at them to play quieter, etc–a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers.
So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were. He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it “merry Christmas from Santa.” After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate.
The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper–wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn’t be a Santa.
Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend’s daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son’s face.
When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to–because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.”
~ anonymousDecember 13, 2016 at 11:58 am #192987YoshioModerator
Many thanks Jax! That is much more along the line of what I was searching for than what I could come up with myself. For me it is not so much a lack of Christmas Spirit than it is the unwillingness of giving in into all that commerce and sorry to say the American Santa Claus way. For me, due to my upbringing, Christmas is closely linked to Christianity and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. But for me, as Kol Drake mentioned it as well, I know that Jesus wasn’t born on that day and as I do have somewhat a problem with the direction the church and in general religions are developing, this “background story” has nothing to do with what I feel the spirit of Christmas should be. To me, Christmas should be a time at which family and friends do come together to enjoy each others present and spend a joyful time together. The gifting for me as an adult is not important at all although I can understand why it is nice for children and I also can understand that it is close to impossible to “explain” to a child that giving a gift is not the main purpose of Christmas, the Holiday season, when all their friends and other children to get something.
My idea right now is to not speak of Santa or any other figure but to speak of the Spirit of Christmas and here the shared story does fit in very well. The final result is the same in the way that I would have a story and a reason for our young baby girl to why she is getting something but still doesn’t feel like a lie. In this way I should be able to create our own tradition in celebrating the Spirit of Christmas which to me is, as nicely described in the share story, the freely giving without the expectation to get something in return for it.December 15, 2016 at 5:13 am #192993JaxKeymaster
Glad it helped. Just remember to tell her not to break the secret for other kids.
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