Sunday, 26 December 2010

What a Buddhist does for Christmas

As a Buddhist I'm sometimes asked what I do for Christmas. Well, the simple answer is much the same as everybody else in the U.K. I enjoy all the traditional stuff, we have so much of it here. Legends, stories, myths, food and traditions borrowed and assimilated from other cultures, countries, creeds and other times.

So I enjoy listening to carols, banned in the past by the puritans during the commonwealth and at other times by church authorities for being too "folksy".

I enjoy Christmas pudding the association with Christmas of which goes back to medieval England with the Roman Catholic church's decree that the "pudding should be made on the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity, that it be prepared with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ and the twelve apostles, and that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi and their supposed journey in that direction", we got ours from Sainsburys.

We have a Christmas tree (very small and alive) following the tradition brought from Germany by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III (not prince Albert, although he and Victoria popularised it).

We have holly, ivy and mistletoe courtesy of our Druid forebears. We have a celebration of the Winter solstice, the turning of the year which in our Northern climes here must go way back into pre-history.

We missed the village pantomime this year, these come from the continental tradition of Commedia dell'arte, originally from Italy. The pantomime horse is thought to be related to the Grey Mare of the British cult of the goddess Epona.

And then we have the festival of Sol Invictus on the 25th, yet another thing that the Romans did do for us.

Oh, and we had snow this year, although most of it had melted by yesterday.

(The picture is of a festive Victorian scene staged at Osborne House, Victoria and Albert's house here on the Island).

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