Spent more time than I expected with the folks so I didn't get much done at home like fold laundry and tidy up a bit. I still have tomorrow for that if I'm up to it. Invited myself over for lunch to clean up some of their leftovers, then headed up to the city to pick up my paycheck. I had a lot of time before the checks would be ready so I made a relatively painless trip to the mall to find that yes! my motorcycle jacket can be repaired through the store that sold it to me. The lining has been ripping out of the left sleeve for a long time now. After that... Wait. Was it after or just before?
Just before hitting the mall I went elsewhere and acquired the second volume of Najica Blitz Tactics which I intend to have all of before A-Club meets next semester. I may not watch it until then but I'll need all the volumes. Let's seee... after the mall I dropped by a book store and found a comfortable chair to read the first volume of the Hellsing manga. Good stuff. I've already seen the anime series but the manga is just now being released in English. If I ever have money again I'll be buying those. That's one thing I like about Borders, it's more of a library atmosphere and I don't feel guilty about hanging around to read and not buy. Uhh... Then to Menards for some sanding sealer for my dad but that was boring, except for the fact that I was starting to feel woozy from the cold or whatever it is and began doubting my capabilities to drive home. I was fine tho', despite the &*(#ing snow that decided to start just then.
I mentioned spending more time at my parent's than I expected. When I got back to town I had to transcribe the newsletter for my dad's motorcycle club. This will be the last one we have to do since they recently held club elections and he is no longer the club secretary. This is fine by me either way; I didn't mind going over to type his handwritten notes and print them out. We wanted to include a crude comic about Santa but for some reason I couldn't get it to print. It would be appropriately placed on the screen preview in MS Word but would not be included on the printout. This got very aggravating and I spent more time on trying to resolve that then typing and editing the actual newsletter. In the end we just went with the comic-less version and I made good use of the space without it. Still, this really bugs me and I'm not going to give up until I figure it out. Even more aggravating is that I actually did last month. Grr. After that we all ate out at a restaurant because no one felt like cooking and I stayed a while longer to teach mom (again) how to scan images into the computer. By then I'd been sick long enough to readily abandon human companionship for a while.
Ah well, big day, huh? Anyway, I said I was gonna include a Christmas fact each day this week so let's start with the day itself which was first officially recognized on or about 337 A.D. in Rome. Ever wonder why it's on December 25th? No? Ok, why then? Well you're wrong. No one really knows when exactly he was born. The idea to celebrate the nativity on that day was first suggested early in the fourth century, the clever conceit of church fathers wishing to eclipse the festivities of a rival religion that threatened the very existence of Christianity, Mithraism.
On December 25th, pagan Romans, still in the majority, celebrated Natalis Solis Invicti, "Birthday of the Invincible Sun God," Mithras. The cult originated in Persia and rooted itself in the Roman world in the first century B.C. By A.D. 274, Mithraism was so popular with the masses that Emperor Aurelian proclaimed it the official state religion. In the early 300s, the cult seriously jeopardized Christianity, and for a time it was unclear which faith would emerge victorious. (Funny, how my sources cite Mithriasm as a "cult" when it was the official state religion and at the time, Christianity was the cult.)
It's a well known fact that the ancients liked to party as much as anyone else. Not only the Roman observance of Natalis Sois Invicti occasioned December feasts and parades; so, too, did the celebration of Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn, the god of Agriculture. (That's a great name, isn't it? Saturnalia!) The Christian church needed a Decmeber celebration.
So, to offer converts an occasion in which to be pridefully celebratory, the church officially recognized Christ's birth. And to offer head-on competition to the sun-worshipers feast, the church located the nativity on December 25th. (Like me saying my birthday is July 4th to make it seem more important, and to pretend that all the fireworks are actually for me.) The mode of observance would be characteristically prayerful: a mass; in fact, Christ's Mass. Tho' centuries later social scientists would write of the psychological power of group celebrations -- the unification of objectives -- the principal had been intuitively obvious.
My friends in the real world already know some of this from my annual rantings on the subject, but here it is again with a bit more accuracy. They also know that I consider myself a Mithrist for December so, among other reasons, there can be at least one person observing the proper celebration on that day.
Ok, so why, you're probably not asking, is Natalis Solis Invicti on December 25th? I haven't found this in any book but evidence points to the obvious. Look at a calendar. You know, that paper with all the little squares on it? No, that's graph paper, look in the kitchen. Yes, that's it. See down toward the bottom where it says "first day of Winter?" December 22nd this year, yup. That's also the longest night of the year. So little daylight... where has Mithras gone?? Now, a few days later, say... by the 25th, you may begin to notice just a little more light during the day. What? He... he's coming back! It's Mithras once again! He's been reborn!!!
(* Today's entry contains information from the book Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati, pgs. 67-68)