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Helpful Guide To Non-Christian Decorations

If you are looking to celebrate the solstice or yuletide and don’t want to get involved with the Christian holiday here are a few things you can use: a Yule log, The Tannenbaum or Fir Tree, Mistletoe, Holly, Ham, and Wreathes. There is no need to get into what happens to wrens, or the role of the European robin. Also, the local authorities would probably get upset if you tried to have a bonfire.

These are all part of the Nordic/Teutonic solstice celebration long before the missionaries arrived with Christianity.

The only real Christian symbol is the Crèche, so if you don’t put up that scene and you avoid stars and angels in the tree, you are celebrating an ancient northern European winter festival.

This is why the Puritans banned the celebration of Christmas: they could smell a dodge to justify enjoying yourself.

As for the chubby elf in red – pure commercial propaganda. Come on, the standard outfit is based on Coca-Cola ads, which is why it is red and white.

19 comments

1 Anya { 12.12.06 at 5:42 am }

Hey! I have stars all over my Solstice Shrub… er, Tree. And, planets, comets, spiders and a pickle, too.

I refuse, however, to hang adorable, little glass hams among my decorations. Wrong color.

2 Mustang Bobby { 12.12.06 at 7:07 am }

I have a wreath on the front door. That’s it. It was a gift from my mom and it adds color and scent to the house.

3 Steve Bates { 12.12.06 at 8:41 am }

I have miniature snow-woman and snow-man decorations, labeled “Stella” (actually it bears her real-world name) and “Steve,” sitting on the music desk of one of the harpsichords. Doesn’t everyone? That, and a gift from Stella, a soft red eight-inch pillow made to look like a classic ball ornament and bearing the caption, “HO HO HO,” which of course reminds me of a certain character in Pratchett’s “Hogfather.” At the moment, that’s it. (Sings…) It’s beginning to look a lot like Hogswatch…

4 Bryan { 12.12.06 at 10:12 am }

Anya, if you dip far enough south to encounter a Cracker Barrel restaurant you will find ham ornaments in many of the gift stores. They are usually near the NASCAR ornaments, because there’s nothing like a race car to say Merry Christmas.

Bobby, I switch from vanilla to pine in the air fresheners for that effect. There isn’t enough room for a wreath between the main door and the screen door [when I re-hang the screen door].

Pratchett covers all of the traditions, including the wren/robin thing, in Hogfather, Steve. It is a little disconcerting when you first read it, by my Great grandmother Dumka was always threatening people with liver in their stocking, and no, she wasn’t known for a sense of humor.

5 Anya { 12.12.06 at 1:51 pm }

Hmm. I was just trolling the local tchotchky shop for holiday ornaments, and came across a package of glass race cars. There were also motorcycles. I came home with a package of multicolored cats wearing 50’s style sunglasses. (Wot a hoot!)

But, no hams. Either HomeGoods doesn’t do holiday hams, or they were already all sold out. Regardless, hams are pink (I should hope), and all my decorations are blue/white/silver/gold.

However, if you want to send me one, I could probably find a spot for it… 😀

6 Bryan { 12.12.06 at 2:02 pm }

It would require going up to I-10 inland for a Cracker Barrel – they aren’t allowed near the coast because they scare the tourists.

7 andante { 12.12.06 at 2:30 pm }

I have GOT to get a pickle ornament for my tree.

Other than the angel on top, all the other ornaments seem to be either things involving pictures of Andantette when she was a baby, or little glass orbs of various sizes and colors that fascinate the cats. No tinsel….it mucks up their innards.

The wreath on the door is the same one I hung up last year, and…uh…forgot to take down after last Christmas. But hey, I’m right once a year!

8 Bryan { 12.12.06 at 7:20 pm }

The wreath is a symbol of the circle of life and is always appropriate. It works for Hindus and Buddhists too.

The pickle is a symbol of a cucumber soaked in brine. There is no German tradition of a pickle ornament being hidden in the tree, ditto for the Swiss, and the Prussians.

9 Anya { 12.12.06 at 8:06 pm }

Yeah, Bryan, but they’re cute.

And, they’d go with ham…

10 Bryan { 12.12.06 at 9:39 pm }

That’s why I had one for years, the thin glass one from Germany. It may be sitting in a box in my brother’s basement. The one reason I brought it up is because I’ve been asked about it before.

11 Steve Bates { 12.13.06 at 12:23 am }

I have GOT to get a pickle ornament for my tree. – andante

“I… don’t want… a pickle;
I just wanna ride [Anya’s] motor-cycle…”

Hey, nothing says Christmas, um, I mean, Solstice, like Arlo Guthrie!

12 Anya { 12.13.06 at 5:19 am }

“Alice’s Restaurant” is a Thanksgiving tune, Steve. Back in the day, I could recite the entire 22 minutes of it. These days, nobody gets it when I hold forth with the “Twenty-seven 8×10 color glossy photographs with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us” (in one breath) and the “Typical Case of American Blind Justice.”

(Jebus. It’s been ages. I need a new copy of that album.)

Regarding the pickle myth, it would seem that, like pizza and chop suey, it has an American origin. Since I’m an Amuricen, I see no reason why I can’t put a pickle on my Solstice Tree if I want to. Might need a new myth, though.

13 Bryan { 12.13.06 at 9:41 am }

Make it an ancient Slovene custom. The the Slovenes are working hard to re-build their culture and they could use a few customs.

It’s sad when people don’t understand a reference to the “group W bench”, it’s such a natural.

14 Anya { 12.15.06 at 8:42 pm }

News Flash!

There’s a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Londonderry, NH — less than an hour away.

Well, New Hamster has its share of rednecks, so I suppose it was inevitable….

15 Bryan { 12.15.06 at 8:54 pm }

I hope it’s not associated, think of the children – chicken fried steak with cream gravy…reading the menu is enough to clog your arteries.

16 Anya { 12.16.06 at 7:32 am }

A friend of mine who has also lived in Florida says that, yes, it is part of the chain, complete with tacky gift shop. She hasn’t been there recently enough to verify the existence of ham ornaments, though.

17 Bryan { 12.16.06 at 12:32 pm }

This is what happens when you get labeled as conservatives. Next you’ll get Waffle Houses.

18 Anya { 12.16.06 at 3:50 pm }

We already have IHOP’s. What’s wrong with waffles? I love waffles — and no one has every accused me of being a conservative anything. I could eat “breakfast” all day long.

19 Bryan { 12.16.06 at 5:04 pm }

The waffles are great and you can get used to the fact that they use margarine instead of butter, but the lack of maple syrup and the constant questions about whether you want grits or hashbrowns will get a little wearing.

IHOP is fine by me, a Belgian waffle is always suitable.