Christmas Fullervision Style 2010

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Friday, December 25, 2009
There are exactly shopping days until Christmas.

The Story of Christmas: The Birth of Jesus Christ

(NOTE: This is a new revision separate from the 2004 version I wrote. I've gained a lot of insight reading some sources. Thank you, Wikipedia-- and the actual gospels, of course!)
Two accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ are present, one in the Gospel of Matthew and another in the Gospel of Luke. Luke's account is more elaborate in the details, while Matthew makes an extensive effort to fit the story to prophecy, including some unusual stretches. The two, in some cases, contradict. (On a personal note, I have a tendency to put more faith in Luke's account, due to Matthew, other than the nativity account, being mostly a plagiarism of Mark. The real Gospel of Matthew, the first Gospel to be written and one that was originally in Hebrew as opposed to the current Matthew's origins in Greek, is lost.)

Luke places the birth of Jesus at the time of the Census of Quirinius, an event in 6 AD that led to the deposition of the Jewish ruling class and the institution of Roman rule, according to Jewish historian Josephus. Joseph of Nazareth, said to have been descended roughly 78 generations from Adam through the biblical King David and possibly through the Maccabees that ruled Jerusalem in the 2nd century B.C., was engaged to a virgin named Mary. [Matthew's less plausible account adds up to only 58 generations, with several notable omissions and obvious divergences after David; Matthew follows the kings of Jerusalem, who were frequently cursed, instead of an alternate line preferred by Luke.] However, the angel Gabriel informed her that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit and was to give birth to a child, that is, Jesus. (An older cousin of Mary's, Elizabeth, also had miraculously conceived six months prior; that child would become John the Baptist.) Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and sought shelter in a local "inn," which unfortunately was full, requiring them to take shelter with the animals. It was here that Jesus was born. Shepherds were first to be informed of His birth, and came to visit the stables.

Matthew includes an account of King Herod the Great having heard of his birth. Herod, who according to Josephus was suffering from psychosis in his old age, sent Magi (astrologers, or "wise men," occasionally referred to as "kings of the Orient") as informants to the stable where Jesus was born; these magi bore gifts to give him. Having heard of the prophecies regarding Jesus, the insane Herod ordered every male child under two to be killed, an order that, fortunately, appears never to have been followed, though it was enough to force Mary, Joseph and the young Jesus to find a detour to avoid Herod's henchmen. The problem with this is that Josephus places Herod the Great's death in 4 BC, ten years before the census of Quirinius, meaning Matthew's account and Luke's are not compatible.

Spread to pagan culures: From debauchery to holiness

As Christianity spread throughout Europe, it ran into many pagan cultures. Many of these cultures had celebrations that marked the winter and spring seasons. Christians, willing to negotiate on the issues in an effort to win over the pagans, converted the winter celebration into Christmas and the spring celebration into Easter, to mark the birth and resurrection of Christ, respectively. At first, the "Christmas" celebrations were examples of sex, drunkenness, and general debauchery until Christian purists demanded that the holiday be taken more seriously.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is a legend based upon a philanthropist from circa AD 200 known as St. Nicholas of Turkey, a noted clergyman, philanthropist and (somewhat ironically) anti-paganism activist. For those of you going on Jeopardy! any time soon, he had a feast named in his honor that was originally designated on December 6; the proximity to the Christmas holiday is what caused "Santa Claus" to be lumped into the Christmas season.

However, the legend has since grown into a full-blown industry. So here's the general consensus on the legend.
Santa Claus's physical description: he is of unknown height, notably overweight, he has a long white beard and is bald. His wardrobe is almost universally red. The story of Santa Claus's origin is disputed; however, we do know that he is married to a woman known only as Mrs. Claus and that he lives in a workshop on the North Pole. (Note: Geologists may note that there are two North Poles, a geographic [covered in water and ice] and a magnetic [under an island]. Fullervision, for the sake of realistic possiblility, will argue that the workshop is on the magnetic North Pole on Bathurst Island, Nunavut, Canada. Other organizations have argued that Santa lives in northern Scandinavia.) The workshop on the North Pole is manned by elves, who are responsible for producing all of the toys in the world. (This despite most claims that they are made by other diminuted people-- the Chinese.)
The apex of activity at the North Pole workshop comes on Christmas Eve (December 24 for those of you in Rio Linda), when all of the elves gather the toys and place them into a large sack for Santa Claus to carry around the world. The sack is carried out to a large sleigh, which is powered by nine reindeer (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph, the last with a bright red nose to guide the sleigh during inclement weather). Santa also compiles a list, from various sources, of all of the children to be considered "naughty" and undeserving of gifts. The rest of the Christian children are labeled "nice" and are rewarded with gifts from the sack. The sleigh navigates in a fashion so that it arrives at the children's houses at about midnight local time.

Chanukkah (December 11-19)

Chanukkah, also spelled Chanukah or Hanukkah, is celebrated December 11-19 this year, which marks an average start. The relatively minor Jewish holiday is noted so often because it lands in roughly the same time frame as Christmas, one of the most major Christian holidays, and due to the fact that many famous media personalities are Jewish (see Adam Sandler's line of "Hanukkah Songs") The story of this holiday involves a belief that divine intervention allowed one day's worth of temple oil to last for eight days. The custom is symbolized by lighting a menorah of nine candles, one master candle to light the other eight, one for each day. Also involved is a game of dreidel-spinning (the dreidel being a top with four sides, each with Hebrew lettering) and feasts including deep-fried potato latkes (pancake-like creations).

Kwanzaa: It's fake, it's racist, I don't even consider it a holiday.

Media Guide

Radio: Holiday Music Watch

The following outlets are expected to carry Christmas music this year.  Expect most American stations to change some time on Friday, November 19, 2010.
Quite a few, even more than usual, changed right on November 1 this year.
So far, no surprises, except for a mild one in Albany, where two stations, WBZZ and WTRY, both changed to Christmas music with the early adopters the first week of November. Traditional early adopters WZUN and WUMX did so again November 1. Still waiting on Rochester where they change a little later than the others (WVOR is particularly hardwired to the Friday night before Thanksgiving). In Buffalo, a typical change, WJYE changed the week before Thanksgiving and WTSS pulled their typical lowbrow move, did some opposition research, and changed 15 minutes before WJYE did. A brief pleasantry on the AM dial as WHLD played a week of Christmas standards on November 8.
Programming and playlists being watched with help from Yes.com, Scott Fybush and CNYRadio.com

Television

Please note that all times listed are subject to change. As the holiday approaches, I will update dates and times as well as remove any dropped specials.
Most notable television specials, by network (NOTE: This list is missing some dates. I apologize.)
Television Sports (Christmas Eve/Christmas Day)


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Dedicated to the memory of Andrea C. Morton (1988-2009)

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