Thursday, 22 December 2011

You Missed It

On Sunday, the western world will be celebrating the Winter Solstice and the Birth of Jesus. Some gullible types in the Eastern world have adopted the practice as well. Fair enough, any excuse for a knees-up I suppose. The problem is though, you've missed it. As eny fule kno, yer man Jesus wasn't born on 25 December. The shepherds were watching their flocks by night up in the hills so it probably occurred in late spring or early autumn. At the end of December any self-respecting shepherd would have his sheep (and himself) in a big shed below the snow line where it's warmer, not below zero and not snowing. As for the Winter Solstice, well that was this morning at 5.30 am - a bit later than usual because it's a leap year next year.  In case you were wondering, the Winter Solstice is when the North Pole is furthest from the sun as a result of the earth tilting on its axis i.e. 23.5 degrees from t'vertical.
Australians, typically, are a bit mixed up. They've got lots of sheep but being in the antipodes today is their Summer Solstice which is when you are supposed be dancing round Stonehenge with a load of smelly new-age hippy twits. No doubt Bruce, Sheila and Kylie be cooking raw prawns and the like on the barbecue instead, a quaint custom which the descendants of yer original Winter Solstice celebrators reserve for rainy days in August resulting in half-cooked re-formed offal of various sorts. Whereas in Cyprus, every day is a day for a barbecue and pork is the preferred option, followed by lamb, chicken and octopus. The Cypriots, however, confuse themselves by using the wrong calendar and celebrating the birth of yer man a week or so later. But they do know about snow in the mountains in winter so the sheep are tucked up in a warm shed somewhere.
The Romans, of course, celebrated Saturnalia at this time. This festival will be taking place as usual at the Vatican and the Pope will be taking up a collection in between sacrificing the oxen and flaying the unrepentant virgins.

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