Allow Me To Change Your Mind: Winter’s Holiday Havoc


John Huber, Reporter

The end of the year (and the semester) is fast approaching and that means tis’ the season for good feelings, sentimental thoughts and extravagant deals on things you don’t need or even want. Yes, the holiday season can make people forget what is wrong with the world and enjoy a time of bliss.

However, Christmas wasn’t always the traditional festive celebration it is today as it hides a dark and sinister past.

The earliest known ancestors of Christmas have been traced back to the Roman Empire with Saturnalia which involved food, drinks, gambling, music, and even cross-dressing (believe it or not). In Scandinavia, a similar festival called Yule celebrated the return of the sun by having people burn burn large logs and feasting until the fire died out.

Contrary to the fact that many believe Jesus was born on December 25, no one knows for certain when he was born. Some theorize he was born in the spring and the Dec. 25 date was chosen by Pope Julius I to subjugate Saturnalia and gradually transform it into a party about Jesus in the 5th century when Christianity took hold on Europe as a compromise to celebrate while respecting the church’s wishes.

This came to a terrifying turn in the Middle Ages as, on Christmas Day, a beggar or a student would be crowned the “Lord of Misrule” and led mobs into rich people’s houses where they demanded the best food and drink or be threatened with violence.

In the 17th century, religious reform took hold of Europe when Christmas was temporarily canceled in 1645 and not restored to its glory until Charles II took back the English throne. Even then it wasn’t the end, as in America from 1659 to 1681 the holiday was outright ILLEGAL (Yes, you read that right) in Boston and anyone sharing its spirit was fined five shillings.

It wasn’t until 1819 when Christmas started to become the family-friendly holiday we know today. In a book called “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent” by Washington Irving, stories describe a tale of a squire being invited to the peasants’ home for the holiday, mingling effortlessly as in Irving’s mind Christmas should be a peaceful celebration, bringing groups together despite wealth or social status. To reinforce this ideology was the migration of immigrants coming into the states alongside the Catholic and Episcopalian churches and families becoming sensitive to a child’s wants and needs to slowly conform Christmas into a mish-mash of other cultures. Thus Christmas was created as a celebration all its own, becoming an official federal holiday on June 26, 1870.

So, allow me to change your mind …

Let me get this out of the way first. I like the modern version of the holiday; it’s a wonderful time to get together with family and help celebrate the end of the year. However, it doesn’t mean I have no gripes about this holiday.

Let’s start with the big white elephants in the room – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Both are a good idea so you can get presents you need for your loved ones while looking forward to their reaction when they see the one thing they asked for.

But that’s where my positives end as the lengths people go to get their Christmas shopping done and over with is too chaotic for its good (which, then again, calls back to the Lord of Misrule Traditions – just replace food and drink with a flat-screen TV). I have seen reports of people getting trampled and even killed while trying to score that hot item that little Jimmy or Sally wants (Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle-me Elmos are two notable examples.)

Most challenging about the holidays is the emotional stress you feel when you react in a way that doesn’t seem like the Christmas spirit to others (not helping the fact that Christmas comes right after Thanksgiving). You are suddenly viewed as a Grinch or a Scrooge to everyone you know. This is especially insulting to introverts, who prefer to spend time alone during the season as a way to recharge and refresh before the next big Christmas party or gathering.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, we have extroverts who thrive during this time and are energized when they are invited to a Christmas party. They are the ones making fun of the introverts for being Scrooges in the first place. Speaking as someone who identifies as an introvert, there are plenty of reasons why we don’t feel the Christmas spirit like extroverts do. Maybe some students have school work to finish up and don’t feel like celebrating right away. Maybe we still need to decide what to get other people for Christmas and can’t rest until it’s wrapped and under the tree, or maybe it’s various other reasons that can’t be listed here. So, be respectful of people who want some time to themselves and don’t think they hate the holiday because they decline one invitation.

Happy holidays to you all my readers. Thank you for making this a popular article of The Highlander. Rest assured this isn’t the end of “Change your Mind.” I’ll see you next semester.