December 26th, 2008


Of Kwanzaa and Kings

Here in the States, Christmas is pretty much totally over with by now. In the British Commonwealth, on the other hand, the holidays continue with Boxing Day. Traditionally, this was a day when lords and the like gave gifts to their inferiors, as in the song "Good King Wenceslas." The song makes reference to "the Feast of Stephen," which is also today (well, to Catholics, anyway; the Eastern Orthodox Church actually celebrates St. Stephen's Day tomorrow). Wenceslas was actually only a duke, but Emperor Otto I made him a king posthumously. This presumably didn't do him any personal good, as I don't think dead men can exercise any royal privileges, but hey, "Good Duke Wenceslas" doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.

Today is also slfcllednowhere's birthday, the fifth night of Hanukkah, and the first day of Kwanzaa.

Good question, Futurama screen capture! Basically, it's a celebration of African heritage, started in 1966 by Ron Karenga. That's all well and good, but why have it at a time of year that's already saturated with holidays? Apparently Karenga's original plan was to make it a possible substitute to the other holidays, but he later dropped that idea. Since a good many African-Americans already celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, couldn't they have just placed Kwanzaa in some other month? I'd also say that the candle-lighting is ripping off Hanukkah, but really, the winter holidays are built on plagiarism. Christmas trees predate Christianity, for instance. And all joking about nobody knowing what Kwanzaa is aside, it must be pretty successful, as it's typically considered the third major festival around this time of year, while modern American calendars tend not to mention, say, Yule or Tet. Since Kwanzaa gifts are typically hand-made, though, you don't generally see Kwanzaa displays in department stores.

Speaking of stores and other holidays around this time of year, if Christianity had never become the dominant religion in Europe, would we be seeing light-up plastic Mithras and Odins that do the Twist to "Jingle Bell Rock"? Because I'd like to see those things.