why do we have the same songs for X-MAS?

Adam   Monday, November 22, 2004, 00:23 GMT
Steve K.,

You are right, I do not agree with you. That we can agree on. We can also agree that we are both entitled to our own views. Your views embarass me, however, I recognize your right to express your them. I am Canadian also, therefore I know that your way of thinking, thankfully, is on the fringes in Canadian society. I do see your views becoming more prevelent in some ways, and that scares me.

How I choose to express my feelings, i.e. psychopathic moron, only says that I have some very strong feelings on the subject. I'm not one of those people who is against Americans because it is fashionable, I feel that the present American 'course' is very dangerous for everyone and that the world will be much better off when Bush is out of power. Maybe then the American people will 'snap out of it'. This is probably not the place to be airing my political views, though. So, let's just agree to disagree and end it there on this particular subject.
Steve K   Monday, November 22, 2004, 00:51 GMT
Of course you are Canadian. I had you pegged for a typical product of our politically correct environment where there is no need to justify any position. People with differing views are simply castigated as racist, morons, "on the fringe" or whatever epithet is handy. No freedom of thought or discussion is tolerated, and no thinking for yourself is required.
Jim   Monday, November 22, 2004, 02:14 GMT
I hate to interupt this lovely little chat but ...


You're right: my mistake. "Christmas is about the birth of Jesus!" writes not Easterner but Ed who is a different person. Should you consult a psychiatrist? I don't know. See a GP first. Perhaps we could go together and (s)he could help me with my problem of mistaking everyone with names starting with the same letter for all being one and the same person.


Certainly anyone who writes anything at all about "the neo-pagan roots of Christmas" needs a good dose of chronology. The Christian festival of Christmas, having been celebrated for centuries before the advent of neo-paganism and any of this "new-age garbage", could hardly have had its roots in this very same neo-paganism. Causes come before effects in this Universe.

It was never a question of the early Christian church's pegging the timing of Christmas "to pre-empt several local festivals". Those festivals were there first. I only wish to point out that there are a few different questions here:

1) What is Christmas a celebration of?
2) How is Christmas celebrated?
3) When is Christmas celebrated?

Certainly, the answer to the first question is easy. Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. However, when we come to the other two questions the answer is not so simple. It would seem that the early Christian Church imposed a new meaning on an old festival. This then leads us to the next question.

4) Why did the early Christian Church do this?

Here's the reason as I see it. The Emperor Constantine wanted a strong state religion to support the empire. The strength of a religion depends on the number of followers it has. It's easier to work with what you've got than it is to reinvent the wheel as it were. People are going to be more accepting of the new if it's not that different from the old.

Naturally the winter solstice was a festive time in the ancient world. Constantine's plan would have been to oust (rather than to pre-empt) these local festivals ... but not completely. The people could still keep doing what they'd done in the past only now the festival was given a new meaning. The meaning of the old festival was ousted but traditions were allowed to continue.

Therefore much of what people associate with Christmas actually is based on non-Christian traditions an dbeliefs. I care not a whit for neo-paganism and the new-age but if those people want to give the season their own meaning, let 'em: they're only following things done in ancient times.


You're right there: it should have been "a universal" not "an universal". I guess Easterner was tricked by the look of the word. I don't intend to poke fun at Eastener: it's an easy mistake to make. Judging by spelling it might seem that "universal" begins with a vowel (unless you look past the first two letters).

However, the word begins with a consonant (phonologically speaking). This is no exception to the rule: although its first letter is "u" the word begins with the consonant /j/. The rule is about pronunciation not spelling, cf. "an hour", "an honour", etc.
Adam   Monday, November 22, 2004, 03:01 GMT
By the way, Merry Christmas.
Joanne   Monday, November 22, 2004, 03:42 GMT
It's not Christmas YET, goddammit! I don't care what the barage of TV commercials and mountains of holiday sale catalogs in my mailbox say! *grumble* Holiday decorations went up WAY too early this year... four damn days after Halloween, I was listening to "Jingle Bell Rock" and in the shopping mall. HALLOWEEN! As if we weren't stressed out enough with the election! :-(

How is it in other parts of the world?
Joanne   Monday, November 22, 2004, 03:46 GMT
<<and in the shopping mall>>

strike out the "and"
Adam   Monday, November 22, 2004, 04:05 GMT
Well now, bah humbug to you too.

I live in China. They don't celebrate christmas here, but in Hong Kong all the decorations are up and the christmas commercials are on tv. We just decorated our apartment and put up our christmas tree. I know it's early, but we wont be here for christmas so we are going to celebrate early.
Damian   Monday, November 22, 2004, 08:14 GMT

Good morning...thanks for the suggestion we have a convivial pint together one day....that would be really pleasant, and we can actually have a literal face to face tussle over our divergent points of view. We have some good local ales here in Edinburgh, and many Scots like to have a wee chaser to go with the pint. I know my limit though, and adhere to it...except, perhaps, on Hogmanay, which isn't too far away now, is it? ;-)

I'm hoping to become a journalist and confrontations are the staff of life.....the use of words and language in all moods and shades of opinion are exhilarating to me. I see no reason at all why humour should not enter into any argument...maybe that is a British characteristic. Troubled waters need a little oil at any crucial time. The Scots are often accused by our beloved Sassenach neighbours to the south of being a wee bit dour, but that is a wicked lie, except when they beat us at Murrayfield.

Sheep herding is not so much of an activity up here...more like deer up in the Cairngorms. The sheep stuff is left to the Welsh mostly. I assume it's herding they do down there, and not sheep shagging as they are often accused of indulging in...but there again, that wicked rumour is yet another English fib! Probably as a result of them being beaten by Wales at Twickenham! ;-)

Easterner   Monday, November 22, 2004, 11:30 GMT

I hope you saw the touch of irony in my remark about the identity of Ed and myself. Sometimes irony is the best way to prompt a person for self-correction, also in matters more weighty than this. :-)


It's not that bad over here in Hungary, but Christmas sales begin popping at every corner at the end of November. I will buy a couple of presents for my family, but fortunately I will spend the holidays in my home town in Serbia, where it is not an "official" holiday (just the Eastern Orthodox one, which is after New Year, due to the adherence to the Julian calendar with regard to Eastern Orthodox church holidays). So it has preserved its more familial character there, and Christmas time is not all about shopping.
Easterner   Monday, November 22, 2004, 11:35 GMT
By the way, I am still confused sometimes which form of the indefinite article to use before words like "universal". The spelling has a vowel as the first letter, while the pronunciation has a consonant. Which one should prevail in this case? I think the use is not even uniform among native speakers. If I take an "hour" as an example, then it seems the rule is to follow the pronunciation.
nic   Monday, November 22, 2004, 13:17 GMT
Steve K,

I don't all the people would like to go to USA

What do you have against Scottish people?
nic   Monday, November 22, 2004, 13:26 GMT

I don't "think"
Mi5 Mick   Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 05:17 GMT
>>By the way, I am still confused sometimes which form of the indefinite article to use before words like "universal". <<

"A [y]universal": I've never heard "an universal"; but there could be an obscure accent out there that breaks this rule.

"An hour": because the noun "hour" starts with a vowel; the 'h' is silent. I've never heard "a hour".
Joanne   Wednesday, November 24, 2004, 04:28 GMT
Mi5 Mick~
What about "historical"? I've seen "an historical reference" and "a historical reference" both used in British and American publications.

Adam and Easterner~
Sorry about my attitude that day! I'm not usually that grumpy. Happy Holidays, everyone!
lims   Wednesday, November 24, 2004, 04:55 GMT
Jim, out of the habit of placing an 'a' before 'universal' and an 'an' before 'hour' etc., did these combinations sound correct to me. Let the truth be told that I once again ignored my teachers in elementary school when they taught everyone (I think) that this rule was in place because of 'phonologically speaking' reasons. Thanks for the grammar brush up. :)