duminică, 30 decembrie 2007

marți, 27 noiembrie 2007

The traditional date for the appearance of Santa Claus, obviously from the birthdate of Jesus ( the word Christmas is from old English, meaning Christ's mass ).

This date is near the shortest day of the year, from old times an important agricultural and solar feasting period in Europe.

The actual birthday of Jesus is not known and thus the early Church Fathers the 4th century fixed the day as was most convenient.

The best fit seemed to be around the old Roman Saturnalia festival ( 17-21 December ), a traditional pagan festivity with tumultuous and unruly celebrations.

Moreover, in 273 Emperor Aurelianus had invented a new pagan religion, the cult of Sol Invictus ( invincible sun, the same as the Iranian god Mithra ), the birthday of this god being 25th December.

The first mention of the birthday of Jesus is from the year 354.

On Christmas as well as New Year's Eve, in all Romanian regions, teenagers form groups of singers and start singing carols before their neighbours' houses. One can hear such refrains as: "White Flowers", "Day Break", "Veler, Greacious God". Starting with the night of 23rd towards 24th of December, from midnight to dawn village lanes echo to the sound of carol singers. In towns and cities carol singers do the same, from dusk to midnight. Bag across shoulders, stick in hand, fur cap sunk to the ears, carol singers walk from door to door and sing before the well-lit windows. On this occasion, the hostess gives them cookies, nuts, apples, freshly backed ring-cakes.

The Bible gives us the direction, East and the legend states that the wise men were from Persia (Iran) - Balthasar, Melchior, Caspar - thus being priests of Zarathustra religion, the mages. Obviously the pilgrimage had some religious significance for these men, otherwise they would not have taken the trouble and risk of travelling so far. But what was it? An astrological phenomenon, the Star? This is just about all we know about it.

The practice of sending Christmas greeting cards to friends was initiated by Sir Henry Cole in England. The year was 1843 and the first card was designed by J.C. Horsley. It was commercial - 1000 copies were sold in London. An English artist, William Egley, produced a popular card in 1849. From the beginning the themes have been as varied as the Christmas customs worldwide.

The astrological/astronomical phenomenon which triggered the travel of the Mages to give presents to child Jesus. Variously described as a supernova or a conjunction of planets it supposedly happened around the year 7 BC - the most probable true birth year of Christ. Star is often put to the top of the Christmas tree.

Christmas Symbolics
Candles fires: Summer, warmth, paradise, end of darkness, Jewish Hanukkah.
Tree: Eternal life, Paradise tree, pagan symbol.
Apples: Apple of Paradise.
Reindeer: A prop.
Santa Claus: St. Nicholas, pagan deity.
Gifts: Customary (Romans, pagans everywhere), Mages.
Mistletoe: Peace, kisses.
Holly: Christ's crown of thorns.
Gnomes: Pagan entirely.
Straw: Stable and crib, pagan, handy material for deco.
Sock: A prop ( as chimney, etc. ).

If we have to talk about how Christmas can be spent in Mioveni town, we should begin with the big attraction: the huge fireworks in front of the Town Hall. Those who decide to rest in town go there to admire them. But most people prefer to go to the villages in the neighbourhood which are in fact their native places. Some of them go to mountain resorts, mainly in Poiana Brasov, without being afraid of the ghost of Count Dracula. On Christmas Day his ghost stays hidden in Bran Castle in order to not disturb such a special day for people. The tables are full of foods and drinks but the most important thing is the fact that all the members of a family are together.