Notwithstanding the Republican trumpeting of a mythical threat to Christmas, I frankly think there is no immediate concern. Once again this year to my utter surprise the so-called holiday spirit is alive with its infectious allure. On the public screen certainly the priority is boldly commercial; and then descending to every sub-category thereof starting with food then booze, apparel, accessories, even automobiles or perhaps a space mission for the well-to-do. And Christmas music affords endless tranquillity and remorse. Recall for a moment the doleful lyrics of “I’ll be home for Christmas!” The more festive chant is in the sharing of Christmas cards predominantly now by email and often through the agency of Jacqui Lawson who has succeeded to ornament “Christmas/Winter” with an entirely new level of banality.
The magic might inspire making a spiced wine deserving of those who go a-wassailing in the winter cold.
The tradition of wassailing (alt sp wasselling) falls into two distinct categories: the house-visiting wassail and the orchard-visiting wassail. The house-visiting wassail is the practice of people going door-to-door, singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts; this practice still exists, but has largely been displaced by carolling. The orchard-visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.
Christmas is naturally a term which promotes a variety of association and retrospection. The religious vernacular survives I think for two reasons. One, is its magnificent pageantry; and, the other is that people still think about going to church on Christmas Eve whether as an important part of the holiday celebration or as though it were the ultimate clemency for the year.
As for the religious angle to Christmas, I am obliged on a strict reading to declare my partiality and withdraw from any emanation. This does not however mean I haven’t a sweet tooth for this stuff as much as any other. Somehow I have yet to assemble in my mind the same picture of Christmas I have here when we’re in Florida or the Caribbean. It is admittedly a sometimes saccharin view but it most certainly captures my youthful experience with my family (as coloured as is the reality).