19 Dec December 25: Not Just Jolly

The fact that December 25 is Christmas shouldn’t come as a shock (if it does: Surprise!) As with any other day of the year, a lot happens on the 25th of December: births, deaths, marriages, intrigue, revelations…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! So this year as you gather with your family, keep in mind that on this day there is quite a bit more happening than gift giving and cookies. 5) 1776 – Washington defeats 1,400 Hessian soldiers The best part about Washington’s victorious crossing of the Delaware River was that it worked BECAUSE it was Christmas. America’s first president was well aware that the British-employed German troops would be drinking themselves silly and used their festivities against them, sneaking into town at night and beating them while they were too hungover to care. How’s that for Christmas cheer? 4) 1642 - Isaac Newton was born Being born on Christmas comes with its own unique set of angsty issues (never having a bday-only party, gifts meant to “take care of both”, Christmas-themed bday cake, etc.), but luckily Newton never let it get him down. Gravity on the other hand… 3) 1932 – King George V’s chair collapses Though there were hundreds of staff and supporters thoroughly committed to keeping the British Monarch safe from harm, no one correctly predicted the true threat: his chair. During the middle of a holiday dinner speech, George V’s seat gave way, depositing the thoroughly startled king onto the very posh...

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07 Dec Christmas in China

[caption id="attachment_2333" align="alignnone" width="576"] Maybe it's time to rethink the Christmas tree.[/caption] China has been red, politically, since 1949. And over the past decade in December urban centers in China literally become red. Walk down a busy Beijing street in December and it’s like you’re in the US: wreaths adorn storefronts, tinsel hangs from doorways, and red ribbons perch atop oversized present displays, promising holiday cheer. In shops, buyers purchase Holy Apples for their children and paper lanterns to decorate the home. With the Communist party in power, China has no official state religion and the majority of Chinese people are atheist. Christmas isn’t recognized as a “government” or “religious” holiday, and only in a few places is it technically a “public holiday.” As a result, Christmas celebrations in China have been stripped of their religious underpinnings. This directly opposes the sentiment behind Christmas, which Christians celebrate as “the day [that the] Christ was born.” In Hong Kong, a former colony of Western powers, Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday despite the general public not being Christian. It seems historical development plays a role. But on the whole, China’s political history defies this idea. After the Communist party took control, China’s government attempted to shelter the country from foreign influence. For decades, Christians in China (~2%) weren’t permitted to openly celebrate Christmas for fear of government intervention. Especially during the 20th century, Christmas began representing a very capitalist, Christian holiday – wholly non-Chinese,...

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