December 24th, 2003


Missiles on your feet

Here I am again at 4:30 getting ready to go to work in a little while. I could sleep in an extra hour but there's the possibility I could see one of my dear friends online and that's always worth it. Plus, I need at least an hour before I have to leave for work in order to wake up and make sure I'm conscious enough to drive. I clock in at six A.M and it is now four thirty five. Whee.

Hmm. I've been trying to load a couple other pages in the next windows and they're suddenly turning up "can't be found." I've been having connection problems since my Internet provider added to their access numbers. This always happens when they do that and it's especially annoying because when I have to do that or when it keeps disconnecting whilst trying to sign in it wastes another telephone call which shows up on my bill if I use too many. I'm gonna log off and try again.

There, it worked. I was trying to access hotmail to delete my junk folder. Surprisingly it's barely full. Not only that, I've hardly been getting any unwanted mail to my primary account. It looks like the anti-spam legislation has already taken effect. Admittedly, I appreciated the effort but doubted the government could do much to stop the flood to nearly every consumer online. It seemed fruitless but by golly! since Monday the most mail I've received is from you kind people who have been commenting on my journal. Now if only we can get them to do something about all that illegal file sharing running rampant that's (in part) been holding back the release of Dead Last's debut album.

I'm putting in a lot of overtime this week, more than my regularly scheduled hours, actually. It's been fun adding up my next paycheck. When I put together all the hours from time-and-a-half, double-time and double-time-and-a-half I'm looking at something like 88 paid hours! I'll work every holiday for that! Granted, it's more of an incentive with a mortgage and bills to pay but it'll be nice being a month ahead on some of them.

I think I actually have some time for a holiday Fakt™ this morning. Whaddyou say to mistletoe?

"The custom of embracing under a sprig of mistletoe, if not actually kissing under it, originated in ancient Britian around the second century B.C., among the Druids, the learned class of the Celts.

"Two hundred years be for Christ's birth, the Druids celebrated the start of winter by gathering mistletoe and burning it as a sacrifice to their gods. Sprigs of the yellow-green plant with waxy white berries were also hung in homes to ensure a year's good fortune and familial harmony. Guests to a house embraced under the auspicial sprig. Twigs of the evergreen outside a house welcomed weary travelers. And if enemies chanced to meet under a tree that bore mistletoe (a parasite on deciduous and evergreen trees), they were required to lay down their arms and forget their differences for a day.

"The Druids named the parasitic plant omnia sanitatem, meaning, 'all heal,' and prescribed it for female infertility and as an antidote for poison. Gathering mistletoe was an occasion for great ceremony, and only sprigs that grew on sacred oak trees were collected -- by the highest-ranking priest, and with a gold knife.

"Mistletoe was a plant of hope, peace and harmony not only for the Celts but also for the Scandinavians, who called it mistilteinn. Its name derived from mista, meaning (are you ready for this?) 'dung,' since evergreen is propagated by seeds in birds' excrement. For the Scandinavians, mistletoe belonged to Frigga, goddess of love, and the kissing custom is thought to be rooted in this romantic association." (Personally, I prefer not to associate excrement with love, hat just doesn't sound right. But, these were the ancients and you know how nutty people were before Television.)

"In the ancient world, mistletoe was also a decorative green. During the Roman feasts of Natalis Solis Invicti and Saturnalia, patricians and plebeians bound sprigs into boughs and festively draped the garlands throughout the house. With the official recognition of Christmas on December 25th in the fourth century, the church forbade the use of mistletoe in any form, mindful of its idolatrous associations. As a substitute, it suggested holly. The sharply pointed leaves were to symbolize the thorns in Christ's crown (I would have gone with velvet) and the red berries drops of his blood. Holly became a nativity tradition.

"The Christian ban on mistletoe was in effect throughout the Middle Ages. And surprisingly, as late as the [20th] century, there were churches in England that forbade the wearing of mistletoe sprigs and corsages during services.

"Pointsettia. The adoption of the poinsettia as the Christmas flower is relatively recent, dating from 1828.

"Native to Mexico, the plant, a member of the spurge family, has small yellow flowers surrounded high up by large, tapering red leaves, which resemble petals and are often mistaken for then. At least as early as the eighteenth century, Mexicans called the plant 'flower of the blessed night,' because of its resemblance to the star of Bethlehem. This is the first association between the plant and Christmas.

"In 1828, Dr. Joel Roberts Pointsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico, brought the plant into the States, where it was renamed in his honor. By the time of his death in 1851, the poinsettia's flaming red color had already established its Christmas association." *

* (This post contains excerpts from Panati's book, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, page 69.)
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