The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: December 8, 2018
Another week of Advent, another week closer to Christmas, and here we are. Welcome to our weekly Brunch, where things are beginning to take a decidedly holiday tone. There’s egg nog on the buffet (Michael Spencer’s favorite), greens, poinsettias, and candles on the tables. Come, sit, and let’s enjoy Brunch together!
• • •
It’s Christkindlmarkt time!…
Something happens at this time of year all across Northern Europe, especially in Germany.
Pretty little stalls huddle together, filled with glistening decorations, handmade figurines, and local produce. The sounds of children’s laughter, sleigh bells, and choir singers fill the night air. Mouth-watering aromas of sizzling bratwurst, gingerbread, and toasted almonds waft through the stalls.
The Christmas markets are here, signaling the beginning of Advent.
For centuries, Christmas markets brought cheer to weary villagers and added a touch of light and color to the long winter nights.
Our story begins in the late Middle Ages in parts of the former Holy Roman Empire.
The precursor to Christmas markets is thought to be Vienna’s Dezembermarkt (December Market), dating back to around 1296. Emperor Albrecht I granted shopkeepers the rights to hold a market for a day or two in early winter so that townspeople could stock up on supplies to last through the cold months.
Wintermärkte (winter markets) began to spring up all over Europe.
Over time, local families started setting up stalls to sell baskets, toys, and woodcarvings alongside others selling almonds, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread. These were often bought as gifts to give away at Christmas.
It was the winter markets that eventually became known as Christmas Markets—the earliest of which are claimed to be in Germany: Munich in around 1310, Bautzen in 1384, and Frankfurt in 1393.
• • •
The invention of Christmas in America…
There’s a good read at RNS about the history of celebrating Christmas in the U.S. —
Technology, tradition and the invention of Christmas in 19th-century New York.
Charles Haynes Haswell, who grew up in the 1820s in New York City, remembered in his memoirs that in his youth, “Christmas was very slightly observed as a general holiday.” A few years later, when Haswell was at boarding school on Long Island, Christmas was altogether ignored.
It wouldn’t be until 1849, by which time Haswell was on his way to a long career in the city’s Tammany Hall political machine, that Christmas became a legally recognized holiday in the state of New York, following Alabama and other Southern states a decade earlier. But by then New York City had already given birth to the winter festival that is celebrated today across the United States and beyond.
The article documents how Washington Irving, New York seminary professor Clement Clarke Moore, political cartoonist Thomas Nast, the Edison Electric Light Co., New York retailers F.W. Woolworth, F.A.O. Schwartz, and Macy, along with others brought much of what we know as “Christmas” to the rest of the country.
Christmas must be seen as part of the larger innovation hub that was New York City in the 19th century. But it is also a testament to the way tradition survives only as it morphs and adapts to its environments. It’s this pastiche of traditions, begged, borrowed and stolen from various cultures — saints old and new, electric technologies and spirited poetry, cartoons and consumer culture — that merges into a unique package that seems at once fresh each winter, and yet somehow timeless.
• • •
Here comes Satanism, here comes Satanism…
In 2008, a Springfield man got permission to install a Festivus pole at the statehouse, inspired by Frank Constanza’s family holiday.
Now, this year, in the Illinois Capitol rotunda this month, Festivus is not represented, but several other traditions are being celebrated. There’s a Nativity scene for Christmas, a menorah for Hanukkah, and then this: an arm holding an apple, with a snake coiled around it. It’s a gift from the Chicago branch of The Satanic Temple. Called “Snaketivity,” the work also has a sign that reads “Knowledge Is The Greatest Gift.”
This is from The Satanic Temple website:
The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Politically aware, Civic-minded Satanists and allies in The Satanic Temple have publicly opposed The Westboro Baptist Church, advocated on behalf of children in public school to abolish corporal punishment, applied for equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women’s reproductive autonomy, exposed fraudulent harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners and claims in mental health care, and applied to hold clubs along side other religious after school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations.
• • •
Washington holiday traditions…
Here’s a nice, brief illustrated history of some of the holiday traditions celebrated in Washington D.C. over the years.
Booted out of the Bible Museum…
RNS reports on a conference that was scheduled to be held at D.C.’s Museum of the Bible, but was moved because of criticism.
After encountering a barrage of criticism for agreeing to rent space to a charismatic Christian group that claims the Trump presidency is part of God’s plan, the Museum of the Bible abandoned plans to host the group and moved its meeting to the Trump International Hotel.
The Revolution 2018 event, a three-day conference run by Jon and Jolene Hamill of Lamplighter Ministries, begins in the nation’s capital Thursday (Dec. 6). It is intended, its website said, to “focus on real-time prophetic revelation with governmental authority.”
The group, which held a similar conference at the Museum of the Bible last year, boasted in promotional material for the event that the museum “represents an ‘Ark of the Covenant’ for our nation.”
It also emblazoned the word “Hanukkah” on its poster and alluded to the Jewish holiday as being providential.
“Something is about to change,” wrote the Hamills on the website. “I feel a visitation is at hand. And He is summoning us together for a very important moment which will redefine our future. Not a coincidence we are gathering over Hanukkah.”
But a group of biblical scholars, including some members of the museum’s own advisory board, objected strongly to the gathering, saying it betrayed the values the museum says it wants to uphold, including being open to people of all religious faiths.
• • •
The grace of being able to laugh at oneself…
• • •
50 years ago this week…
Singer sewing machines sponsored a television special that put Elvis back on the throne as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
• • •
Here are a few samples from Petri’s funny and poignant list:
100.“Little Drummer Boy.” My hatred for this song is well-documented. I think it is because the song takes approximately 18 years to sing and does not rhyme. The concept of the song is bad. The execution of the song is bad. There is not even an actual drum in the dang song, there is just someone saying PA-RUM-PA-PUM-PUM, which, frankly, is not a good onomatopoeia and probably is an insult to those fluent in Drum. I cannot stand it. Nothing will fix it, even the application of David Bowie to it. Every year I say, “I hate this song,” and every year people say, “Have you heard David Bowie’s version?” Yes. Yes, I have. It is still an abomination.
87. “Frosty the Snowman.” This snowman is trying to lure children into the street! This snowman has no regard for public safety! He’s going to melt; he doesn’t care whether the children stop for the traffic! Also, this song includes onomatopoeia where no onomatopoeia is necessary. THUMPITY-THUMP-THUMP? WHAT IS FROSTY’S MEANS OF LOCOMOTION THAT CAUSES THIS TO BE THE SOUND HE MAKES? NO SINGING THE NOISES THINGS MAKE. THIS IS FINAL.
83. “Mary, Did You Know?” This song sounds as though we’re badgering the witness. “Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know? NOTHING FURTHER, YOUR HONOR!”
67. “Up on the Housetop.” When did we arrive at the consensus that reindeer make the sound CLICK? Did some guy have a big cockroach on his roof and everyone in his life decided to tell him it was reindeer until it went away because he had a weak heart and they didn’t want to alarm him? Admittedly, I have not spent much time around reindeer, but from what I can glean, they seem hardy, weather-resistant beasts who make noises such as GUMPH and SNORT and at most go THUMPITY-THUMP when they land. Oh, no, here I am doing onomatopoeia. I have become the very monster I set out to defeat.
51. “Holly Jolly Christmas.” This song is trying too hard. “Oh, by golly, have a holly, jolly Christmas”? Who are you, James B. Comey? Also, I am not sure I want to have a holly, jolly Christmas! It sounds like something you say to warn your coworkers at the office party not to go near Bob, who is a little holly-jolly tonight.
39. “O Tannenbaum!” Love a tannenbaum.
25. That Other Song From The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This is the one I really like! But I always get the titles confused. This one is good and kind of metal with guitars, and it gets used a lot when people build elaborate outdoor lighting displays to anger and impress their neighbors.
• • •
My December playlist 2018…
In addition to all the Advent and Christmas music I listen to at this time of year, I also have one playlist of wintry music for December, marking the change of seasons and another step along the journey. Here are the 20 songs on this year’s playlist:
Winter, Bill Staines
Sister Winter, Sufjan Stevens
Winter, Claudia Schmidt
First Snow, Ola Gjeilo
Song for a Winter’s Night, Gordon Lightfoot
Winter Song, Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
I Am a Rock, Simon & Garfunkel
A Long December, Counting Crows
Get Me through December, Alison Krauss
Winter’s Crossing, James Galway
Bells of New York City, Josh Groban
Cold in December, Josie Dunne
Like a Snowman, Tracey Thorn
A Winter’s Tale, The Moody Blues
The Heartache Can Wait, Brandi Carlisle
Simple Gifts, Liz Story
12/17/12, The Decemberists
To Be With You, Sara Groves
December Song, Peter Hollens
Every December Sky, Beth Nielson Chapman