Sunday, December 26, 2004

Nectar of the Gods loses popularity

In Mexico, the "nectar of the gods" is in danger of extinction.

The popularity of the pre-Hispanic alcoholic drink, pulque, is fading in favour of more conventional beverages. Legend has it that pulque was being drunk in Mexico 10 centuries ago. It was certainly the preferred tipple of the Aztec elite and, being of divine origin, was used by priests in rituals. Commoners only stole a sip on pain of death!

Pulque is the sap of the maguey cactus, which grows in dry desert plains. It's extracted by workers who put a fat wooden tube in to the heart of the plant, and suck the liquid out. One litre of the milky liquid costs less than half a dollar.

But the so-called "nectar of the gods" is in danger of dying out as beer, rum and the ubiquitious tequila are taken up by young people.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Santa Free Zone ?

A group of Germans are fighting to get rid of Santa saying he has become a symbol of the commercialisation of Christmas.

Thousands of stickers have been printed declaring whole areas in Germany and Austria "Santa Free Zones" and pamphlets have been handed out on street corners reminding people that the traditional bringer of presents is St Nicholas and not the red-suited, white-bearded immigrant from the Americas.

Bettina Schade from the Frankfurter Nicholas Initiative said: "We object to the material things, the hectic rush to buy gifts, and the ubiquity of the bearded man in the red suit that are taking away from the core meaning of Christmas."

Santa Claus is not a typical Christmas tradition in Germany or Austria - the overweight red-suited man only turning up in the last decade or so.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Winter Solstice Concepts -- Beli Mawr

The Celtic commemoration of the rebirth of the sun is the Birth of the Divine Child, He who is known as Beli Mawr, The Shining One, Great Lord of Divine Fire.

On the longest night of the year, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun Child and hope for new light is reborn. The Birth is celebrated with games, merry-making and feasting which usually includes pork, the flesh of the sacred sow, and apples, the fruit of the tree of Avalon, the Blessed Isle of Death and Rebirth.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Christmas Spider

A charming old German story tells us that a long time ago, a mother was busily cleaning for Christmas. The spiders in the house fled upstairs to the attic to escape the broom. When the house became quiet again, the little spiders sneaked out and slowly crept downstairs for a peek. Oh! What a beautiful tree!

In their excitement, they scurried up the trunk and out among the branches. They were filled with happiness and glee as they climbed amonst the glittering beauty that surrounded them. But alas! By the time they were through with their explorations, the tree was completely shrouded in their dusty grey spider webs.

When Santa came with the gifts for the children and noticed the tree covered with spider webs, he smiled to see how happy the spiders were. But he also knew how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw her tree all dusty and grey. And so he magically transformed the webs to silver and gold thread. The tree now sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before.

And now that's why we have tinsel on our trees and also why every tree should have a Christmas spider hiding happily in its branches.