Friday, January 7, 2011

Traditional traditions not so traditional

The hamster in my brain began running at top speed recently when the idea of timeless traditions entered my cranium.
I know traditions get mutated over the years as new ideas are added to age-old activities. The evolution of traditions is inevitable.
Christmas and Easter are prime examples.
Christmas is based on the birth of Christ and the Three Wise Men travelling for who knows how long to reach Bethlehem and present baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Apparently that was a good score back then, but aside from the gold, I have never seen any of those items on a current gift list.
I guess kids were easier to please back then. Besides, Apple Corp. would not flood the world with its electronic wonders for another 20 centuries or so.
Still, people took the idea of giving gifts on Dec. 25 and ran with it. At the original Christmas the gifts were financial and medicinal to benefit the future of the child and the parents.
Over the centuries, the gifts have morphed into the ridiculous and the greedy. I could not picture a Magi, who scholars believe the wise men to be, hoisting a 50-inch flat screen onto the back of a camel to give to the little one.
That original act of giving has become a massive marketing and sales tool to get people to part with their money in the name of holiday tradition.
"In honour of the birth of the saviour, everything in the store will be 30 per cent off. Hurry, don't get caught before the second coming or you just may wind up in shoppers purgatory."
But that well-recorded act of giving is the basis for the modern-day Christmas that so many of us enjoy, even if corporate greed has turned it into a commercial tool to suck money from the masses.
Christmas commercials start pretty much as soon as the Halloween masks are put away and increase in intensity through the Yule tide season until every child in North America is brainwashed into 'needing' an electric gizmo or gadget.
Shameless corporations use every trick in the book to get the consumer - that would be us - to break out the credit card and charge the happiness into Christmas.
But on a personal level, the basic idea is the same as it has always been: to give out of love.
That's a good thing and is one of the few Christmas traditions that have survived this modern world. Another tradition I cannot figure out is Easter.
I know the biblical version said Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday and rose from the dead three days later.
What I don't understand is how that story wound up involving rabbits that lay chocolate eggs. Who was smoking what when they came up with that doozy of a tradition?
Even the laying of the eggs part is ridiculous because the only thing rabbits produce is those little brown marbles and more rabbits. Maybe someone mistook the little brown marbles for tiny eggs and tradition was set.
We are also supposed to hide the eggs. Where the heck did that come from?
I know the Bible is open to interpretation, but I must have missed the part that said the disciples ran around hiding chocolate eggs all over the place.
Perhaps that particular command was lost from the original translations or something.
"And on the third day thou art to hideth all sorts of chocolate-laden treats so thateth the little ones may squealeth with joy when they find the converted cocoa beaneths."
Or, maybe those corporate money mongers got their hooks onto an idea to make even more money and ran with it.
I think perhaps the latter is the most logical explanation.

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