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Christmas (Part 1)

I’m not Christian. My family isn’t Christian. Nevertheless, we seem to belong to what feels to be the majority of Australians who celebrate the “Christian” holiday known as Christmas. Similarly, we’ve celebrated Easters, and Halloween, all holidays that are highly celebrated throughout the West thanks to Christianity’s pervasiveness.

It’s hilarious when you realise that these Christian holidays weren’t Christian at all to begin with, but instead so called “Pagan”. So called Pagan because that’s the term Christian’s used to categorise anyone who wasn’t Christian.

I could talk about the ridiculousness of Easter, based on Ostara, which worships a fertility Goddess, and how all the symbols we commonly think of as defining Easter, such as eggs, are actually symbols of fertility. What do eggs have to do with reincarnation? What does a bunny have to do with the son of God? Meanwhile, eggs are the unborn, waiting to be fertilised to come into the world. Rabbits, or bunnies, are creatures commonly known for their fertility, having many kittens in a litter, and breeding quite rapidly.

I could discuss Samhain, the day when the Wiccans believed the veil between this world and the next was thinnest. When the dead would walk amongst the living freely, an idea on its own which stands fundamentally against what Christians try to believe in.

But, it’s December. It’s the time of year Christians, Agnostics, and any number of other people, all celebrate Christmas.

Supposedly, according to Christians, somewhat over 2000 years ago, on the 25th of December, the son of God was born. I won’t argue the existence of Jesus. I don’t need people screaming at me for insensitivity, or anti-Christian messages. One thing I will state however, is that Jesus wasn’t born in December. I doubt anyone today knows the exact date. Or would be able to discover it. Not without some insane technology that we haven’t invented yet, at least. Or some evidence we haven’t found yet.

No one knows when Jesus was born, but we do know why Christians opted for claiming sometime in December. This is because it was this time of year when ancient Romans would celebrate the festival of Saturnalia, dedicated to the God Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, and attributed to the Titan Cronus in ancient Greek mythology. In Rome, Saturnalia was the liveliest festival of the year, the date connected with the winter sowing season.

Saturnalia isn’t the only non-Christian holiday which influenced what we now know as Christmas today. While Saturnalia was about joy, festivity, and merriment, there was also Yule, a Germanic tradition which celebrated the shortest day of the year. Traditionally, evergreens were cut and brought indoors, a symbol of life, rebirth, and renewal. Holly decorated doors, windows, and fireplaces, a protection against evil spirits. Mistletoe represented fertility, and provided protection against thunder, lightning, and other evils.

There are many other activities and symbols associated with Yule which Christians began to use for their own holiday. After all, what does a tree have to do with the birth of the son of God? What do candles, or bells, wreathes, elves, or gingerbread have to do with Christianity, and the celebration of a birthday?

It almost seems common knowledge to me now, yet I know there are still many other there who don’t know the origins of what is now called Christmas. That people believe Christianity to be the origin of these traditions and festivities, when they merely borrowed from other beliefs and cultures.

The most Christian thing belonging to Christmas is Santa Claus, who was derived from Saint Nicholas, a kind bishop in the fourth century. His story is the origin of Stockings hung by the fireplace, and of giving. It wasn’t until later, when Saint Nicholas became unpopular, that his idea was replaced with Santa Claus, and the idea of giving gifts became more pervasive.

Currently, Christmas is something often only really celebrated by children. By those who believe in the man in his bright red coat with his friendly face and rather rotund belly. It’s those children, who go to sleep on Christmas Eve, eagerly awaiting when they wake, to look under the tree and see all those presents addressed to them. While gift exchanging is hardly something reserved for the young, it’s the young who certainly enjoy it most. Much as it is they who enjoy decorating trees, or carolling.

I believe there are a great many reasons why people become less enthusiastic about Christmas as they grow older. Very little of it actually has to do with the disillusionment around the myth of Santa Claus. Instead, it’s more closely associated with probability, and the general disenfranchisement people my age have towards holidays, caused mostly by a combination of low employment rates, low wages, and high prices.

Let’s face it, on a holiday about giving, you can feel rather horrible when you aren’t able to afford things to give to those who mean something to you in your life. I know I for one feel rather guilty this time of year, when my friends usually have something to give to me, and I’m lucky if I have anything to be able to give them in return.

As for how probability leads to people being unhappy around this time of year, I shall continue with that conversation next week.

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Happy Halloween

There’s a cauldron with a cat’s face near my feet which is filled with many delicious sugary treats, and while I am happy to give it away to trick-or-treaters, I imagine that come tomorrow the only subtractions made from its insides will be when I crave something sweet.

I talked about Halloween in my first blog post on this site, and now it’s time to revisit the subject. Today I plan to talk about how things compare now to then, as well as give a brief overview of my October.

Unsurprisingly, given I only just started this whole thing up, I haven’t exactly had an influx of people demanding my editing services. Although even one little email might have been encouraging. I’ll get there one day, I’m sure. At least I have had the chance to further practise my editing skill with one of my assignments at uni. So far I’ve edited eight short manuscripts, with two left to do by Friday. Definitely getting there. Similarly, I have only a few edits left of my manuscript, and once that and my peer reviews have been handed in, I am officially done for the year.

I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely terrified to be leaving university. Of course, there’s still a part of me that’s worried that I might fail or otherwise not do as good as I might want to. Overall, however, I’m far more scared of what’s to come. I’m sure I mentioned before that I plan to move down to Melbourne eventually, where the publishing houses are… well, more. It’s not going to be an easy thing though. Which definitely sucks, because I’m actually really looking forward to being down there.

Moving is going to be hard. My whole life is up here, for starters. Not to mention, due to a certain four legged being covered in fur, and a bit of a hoarding mindset, I’m going to have to drive down. (The license is something I’m in the middle of working on. It will get there.) The move itself is going to be hard, but before that I’m going to need a job.

It is so hard to get a job today. It’s ridiculous. And getting a job that you can hold down? Don’t get me started. Recently, a friend of mine moved up from Sydney. Her area of work was in hospitals, but she didn’t really have an “in” up in Brisbane. Thankfully, I had that in for her. All I could really do was send through expressions of interest, passed on from someone who works in a hospital. But it was enough. She got an interview, and she got the job. That’s not exactly the end of her worries, however. She, and the vast majority of people she works with, are on 3 month contracts. Sooner or later, there’s a chance that her job might not be her job anymore, if she doesn’t get a permanent contract. Those aren’t exactly easy to get.

My friend was lucky that she had me. Sure, I have some friends down in Melbourne, but none of them are exactly in the position where they could help by sending me expressions of interest for jobs in my field. Or even any job, really. Which means that I’m going to be relying on Seek. Which is fine, I’m sure many people manage to get jobs through job sites. Or else the sites would no longer be active. Right? My biggest problem is that I might not get many places willing to do Skype interviews.

I’ve also recently had some fun determining how I’m going to continue getting Centrelink payments after uni is finished. To cut a long story short (perhaps I’ll get into the longer story one day) the Centrelink app was telling me to do something which it wouldn’t let me do, which apparently I didn’t need to do. Instead of sorting out to switch my payment over from Austudy to Newstart now, I simply have to wait until my Austudy expires, then make a claim for Newstart. At least hopefully that person was right, and I’m not going to have several weeks or months waiting for Centrelink to give me a payment.

So yeah, I’m not particularly confident about my future right now. But, for now, enough about me, and the void of uncertainty that I’m currently looking at. It’s my favourite holiday!

Not that I’m doing much for it. I have the aforementioned cauldron of sweets, should anyone appear at my door and utter the correct password. Otherwise, it has been and will continue to be, a relatively chill day for me. I have, however, seen some wonderful costumes today. There was an absolutely stunning Emily from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride when I went to buy my sugary treats earlier. Worm coming out of her eye and everything. There was also a lovely zombie there. I even saw a witch at the News Agent when I topped up on sugary liquid (vanilla coke) to get me through the day. Okay, so not that many, but all the ones I’ve seen were absolutely wonderful. Not to mention, I saw a Ravenclaw, and any Harry Potter costume will always manage to bring a smile to my face.

Now, costumes and trick or treating aren’t the only things that I have been excited for this spooky season, as those of you who read my first blog will no doubt know. Halloween events have abounded. I definitely enjoyed the Overwatch event while it was up. (Okay, so it’s still up for now. Technically. It will be down sometime tonight though, I believe).

The Mystery at Hogwarts app event, however, hasn’t really been inspiring me. I was right when I thought there would be one. Of course there would be one. The problem, in my mind, however, is that there were so many of them. I feel as though I can barely continue with the story line itself, lately, due to how many events they have had. Instead, I spend all of my time on the game just in lessons, earning whatever I need to at the time in a desperate attempt to obtain all of the limited edition pets and skins that they have on offer.

This isn’t necessarily possible for someone who sleeps, goes to university, (I can only imagine how a job would intervene) and isn’t willing to shell out money for the in-game premium currency which refills energy. At the moment, I am also particularly annoyed at the app developers who put a bunch of people against a bunch of other people for a single limited edition item. I can certainly understand the idea behind it, don’t get me wrong. However, the annoying thing is that some people who particularly care are bound to be grouped up with people who don’t, or even people who are no longer playing the game.

Okay, so maybe I’m just salty that I’ve been screwed over twice. I even did end up using gems to refill my energy a couple of times to try to get the exclusive spider pet. I didn’t bother with the cool goth skin, however, not when there was one person in my group of Slytherins who hadn’t earned a single house pride point. I’m rather disappointed in some of my fellow Slytherins right now, not going to lie. Most of my disappointment, however, is reserved for the developers who seem to just be happy with the money they’re getting from people desperate to get all of the exclusive items.

There have been some other games I play which have had Halloween events. Sadly, however, I haven’t been playing many of those games. Mostly due to a combination of university assignments, and my determination to collect all of the event exclusives in Overwatch. (Achievement successfully unlocked, by the way.)

So, this has been an update on October from your friendly neighbourhood book addict. Coming up next is November. The lovely month of NaNo. I would imagine anyone who is likely to read my blogs in this coming month should expect a lot of exhausted posts about writing. Or perhaps a continuation of the random blogs of whatever passes my mind at the time. Hope everyone who reads this (and, well, everyone who doesn’t as well, I’m not going to discriminate) has a happy Halloween. A truly wonderful Samhain for those of you who celebrate it in the Northern Hemisphere. And for those who celebrate such things in the Southern Hemisphere, happy Beltane.