strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
OK, so my Christmas experience this year may have been pretty miserable, but I answered 23 out of 25 questions on this meme before family dramas intervened, and now I am damned well going to finish it.

I've given some indication of my answer to this question in the post for Day 15, where I explained the religious element which Christmas has for me, through the syncretism between Santa Claus and Saturn. It feels important to have a midwinter festival to cheer up the dark days of winter.

Christmas is also important to me because it is important to so many other people around me. I like it for the same reasons as I like the monarchy, and in fact looking for past LJ posts in which I have explained my reasons for liking the monarchy, I find that I have actually drawn the comparison between it and Christmas before. Whether we like either or not, and however we choose to relate to them, all of us in the UK (and many of us beyond) have those things in common. I don't think that means we need to treat them as sacred cows, but I do think it is valuable and useful - for example by giving us all a central point around which to position ourselves in relation to the institution itself and the other people who also feel some sense of a relationship with it.

Finally, Christmas is important to me because it is something we do every year, in more or less the same way. That makes it comforting and familiar, and helps me to maintain a sense of connection with my own past. The last few Christmases may have been pretty grim, but they haven't all been like that, and I want to remember the ones which were good by continuing to celebrate the festival. Also, the unchanging and cyclical nature of a festival like Christmas helps to set off the gradual changes which take place between one iteration of it and the next. Sadly for me, what it has shown this year is a sharp reflection of how much and how badly things have changed in the life of my family since Mum became ill - but while that has been painful, I think it is something I needed to see.

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V-day

Thursday, 14 February 2008 11:32
strange_complex: (Tease me)
Here's wishing a happy St. Valentine's day (or, as I personally prefer to think of it, festival of Venus) to one and all of you.

It's apparently become fashionable these days to be cynical about Valentine's day, and talk about commercialisation, and the packaging of complex emotions, and sexism, and the compartmentalisation of something which should be celebrated every day, and so forth, and I do see the merit in a lot of those arguments. But as with any of these things, your own Valentine's day is as good or as bad as you choose to make it, and fundamentally I think it's a good thing for humanity at large if we have a day set aside in our calendar to communally remind ourselves of the value of loving others.

This morning, from a warm seat on the bus, I watched a fresh-faced boy battling through drizzle on his bicycle, with a bunch of flowers clutched against the handle-bars - and that's nice. In the sandwich shop, they'd drawn little hearts on strips of paper, and stuck them along the chiller cabinet shelves - and that's nice. A girl walked along chatting to her friends, holding a lilac heart-shaped balloon - and that's nice. It would be even nicer to see it every day I guess, but the function of festivals is to remind us to foreground things which might otherwise slip our minds in the daily rush of life, and I think it's helpful for us to have Valentine's day for that purpose.

I can't actually participate actively, since I'm a cold-hearted beeyatch, and frankly the idea of being in a real relationship with another actual human being still gives me The Fear. But I see that many of you are bolder and brighter and braver than me, and to all of you who manage to do it successfully, I say hooray, and good for you. So if you have a boy or a girl to kiss today, give 'em a kiss from me. I may not play much myself, but it's fun to cheer from the sidelines.

May morning

Monday, 1 May 2006 07:58
strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
We totally made it through the night: me and Spiky Neil playing Worms and Puzzle Bobble, and then [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl joining us for the ritual viewing of The Wicker Man, and by then it was 4am and time to start phoning people like [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23 and [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots to chivvy them up and out for meeting at the tower.

It rained, but the freshness was perfect, and we walked in clutching sprigs of cherry blossom, me feeling more alive and alert than I think I've ever felt on May morning before, despite having been in such a state of extreme tiredness on Saturday that I was seriously afraid I was about to suffer internal organ failure or something.

And we had the best spot ever, right at the base, and when the Hymnus Eucharisticus rang out, I gazed up through the rain at the impossibly looming tower, held my blossom aloft and felt the hush and the still and the awakening summer all around me, and remembered all the previous times and the powerful magic of the morning and cried softly to think I might never be there again.

And then it was a damp picnic and dancers in the Radcliffe Camera Square, and some guy taking pictures of me and [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl laughing and waving our blossoms, and a physical manifestation of Apollo, and champagne and free hot chocolate and giggling at the extreme spaced-outness of [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots, [livejournal.com profile] edling and Cat WINOLJ.

And then it was home, and crash and burn, and my fingers feel like putty now on the keyboard. I think I may possibly need to sleep for a very long time, very, very soon.

But I'm so glad I did it, because I LOVE OXFORD. And it tears my heart to think I must leave it all behind. :(

This post brought to you by sleep deprivation and Piper Heidseick champagne.

Syncretism

Sunday, 25 December 2005 23:21
strange_complex: (Lord S not unenlightened)
Yesterday evening, I went with my family to a carol-singing gathering on Bournville Village Green, led by a local church called St. Francis'. (Full write-up of last year's equivalent event here). We met up with Fleur WINOLJ and her mum, and the six of us stood together in the crowd, giggling as we attempted to sing along to the accompaniment of a carillon which we could only just hear, and which sometimes played faster than we were expecting, and sometimes slower.

Then Silent Night came up. Somehow, no-one was singing out of time any more. The melody was slow and simple, and the singing was suffused with a kind of reverent hush. For the second verse, the carol-sheet instructed us all to raise the lanterns we had brought. And so we did. Everything from candles in jam-jars to battery-powered camping lamps appeared above warmly-hatted heads. And we sang:

"Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light:
Radiance beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace..."
Etc., etc.

Afterwards, we lowered our lanterns back down into the crowd. "See?" I said to Fleur. "The sun will come again."

"Change the spelling a bit," she said, "and the Christians would agree with you."

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

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