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Over Easy: Saturnalia!

8:05 am in Uncategorized by Margaret


Happy Saturnalia! Okay, you’re right, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the planet Saturn but what a picture from NASA, eh? This is one reason I love the space program.

Saturnalia, in this context, is the ancient Roman holiday that, though it was removed from the official calender by the Catholics, continued to be celebrated between the 17th and 23rd of December throughout the old Roman empire. We get a lot of our Christmas traditions from Saturnalia, most importantly feasting, merry making and gift giving. The custom of the Christmas tree has different origins and the singing around a fire, still others. Some celebrations have traditional foods like turkey or ham, some have traditional drinks like cider or eggnog but most traditions are a time to gather with family or friends to celebrate.

Since I have no family to speak of and most of my friends are gathering in Lubbock this year, I got elected to carry on the new Firedoglake tradition of Over Easy. Not that I mind, I was never able to spend much time at The Diner, due to having to leave for work so early each day. Kuroneko and I will no doubt make as merry as a cat and a person can together.

White Christmas. It looks like great swaths of the country are going to have a White Christmas this year and in some cases it’s supposed to be very hazardous so please be careful as you go over the river and through the woods.

Working through Christmas.

“We’re going to stay here until Christmas Eve and even the time between and before the new year.”

Yeah, so much for the value of a promise from a teabag Republican.

A little too much Christmas cheer, Senator? Guess those Christmas bowls were spiked!

How science makes Santa possible.
At least from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s point of view. He voted to demote Pluto though. I think they should have instead promoted Ceres and Eris but nobody asked me!

Recipe for a White Christmas. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s really a drink.

Recipe for eggnog. Don’t be silly! Go to the grocery store and buy some!

Happy Saturnalia, Merry Christmas, Yule Greetings, and any other holiday you may celebrate. Remember, nothing is as simple as it seems so when people talk about Christmas celebrating the birth of Christ, there’s a lot more going on than just that. So cheer up fellow atheists! We can greet Christians with a hearty Merry Christmas and not be giant hypocrites because this holiday is one rooted in western civilization and not just one tiny, little corner of it.

Pull Up a Chair

7:55 am in Uncategorized by Margaret

Good morning pups of fire and welcome to Thanksmas, or is it Christmasgiving? Either way, it’s officially that month or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas where people really don’t want to be at work, while the poor retail workers absolutely dread being at work, and where there are an average of 7,532,816 things that we need to get done between the beginning and the end of the holiday season. There are gifts to buy and wrap, cards to send, meals to prepare, trees to decorate… At this time of year, children look ever forward with anticipation to all the loot they are going to receive from tired parents and doting grandparents, none of whom get any credit for their efforts, thanking a fictional old man in a red suit instead.

Santa Claus Vector Image

Image via

It is also the time of year when the holiday movies appear on television and in theaters. Some of them are traditional holiday movies, about the holidays, while there is also a somewhat more recent holiday tradition of releasing big budget films in December. For example I’m going to see The Hobbit and though I’m dreading what Peter Jackson has done to that story, that’s a subject for another post. In this case, I want to focus on the more holiday oriented ones.

There are the seemingly endless iterations of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that I quite enjoy. I guess the classicalist of them is the Reginald Owen version from 1938. Though there is some license taken, it’s an enjoyable film that stays fairly true to the story. My favorite though has to be the 1984 film starring George C Scott as Scrooge. What a convincing miser he makes! I also very much enjoy the 1999 movie with Patrick Stewart, though can you believe I’ve never seen it all the way through? I always come in after it’s started! Of the more contemporary takes, I like Bill Murray’s Scrooged the best I think, mainly for Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Then there are the traditionally drawn cartoons like A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the myriad of stop motion animations like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and my favorite, The Year Without a Santa Claus, featuring Heat Miser and Cold Miser.

There are also the live action comedies like A Christmas Story with Peter Billingsly and Melinda Dillon, a movie which, though it came out in 1983, I didn’t see until fully twenty years later. A tidbit I find interesting about that one is that Darrin McGavin’s character was listed in the credits as “The Old Man”, which seems appropriate as he was fully 17 years older than his screen wife, Melinda Dillon. I also quite enjoy While You Were Sleeping with the always wonderful Sandra Bullock. Normally I’m not much into chick flicks, and this one definitely fits that category, but this is one of the few exceptions I make. Apart from Bullock, Peter Boyle is in it, who I have liked since Young Frankenstein. I guess the real reason I enjoy that movie so much is that they remind me strongly of my own family of Midwestern Catholics. I can watch that movie and put myself into that situation and the responses would be identical. There are a few non-traditional movies I like, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, for example, isn’t exactly a Christmas movie, but how can we be immersed in this season without at least one…less than reverent…take on the person it’s dedicated to? A lot of people find that one objectionable but if my own deeply religious mother enjoyed it, then they need to grow a sense of humor. Besides, it’s educational.

I like watching them all. Some I have on DVD, like the last two that I mentioned, but only pull them out during Thanksmas, and some I wait to see on television during this time of year; and though I know the stories, I never really get sick of them. They make me laugh and cry and generally put me in a spirit which doesn’t come easily for me.

What about you? Which movies or television programs do you enjoy this time of year? Do you put on holiday music, walk around singing carols, or do you just plug you ears, put your head down, and wait for it all to go away. This is PUAC and there are no wrong answers, so jump right in!