Vail Daily column: Holiday musings
It’s the day after Christmas and many of us are taking a collective sigh of relief from frenetic shopping, kids’ sugar highs, one too many Christmas parties and sleep deprivation. Just days ago most of us experienced those wonderful feelings of anticipation and excitement reaching its crescendo on that night of peace and serenity — Christmas Eve.
Today many awake to unwrapped gifts under the tree just waiting to be tried out or tried on, pine tree needles that need to be swept or vacuumed, an afternoon bereft of football (NFL style anyway) and our primary bill of fare will consist of leftovers from yesterday’s Christmas dinner.
Many of us will go back to work before launching into the indulgence, excess and debauchery that will occur just five days from now. But the lucky ones will experience plentiful snow (hopefully) for schussing down the mountain, lift lines they wish were shorter, crowded mountain restaurants but a very festive spirit.
Vail being Vail, during the holiday season, tidat marks the beginning of the busiest time of the year for local workers. Shop, hotel and restaurant employees, bus drivers and hundreds of lift operators, ski patrollers, instructors and on mountain maintenance workers won’t be playing much this week because they’ll be busy attending to the needs of the visitors to the valley.
Meanwhile, for folks who live in Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, the day after Christmas is a state holiday. And in those places where it’s not a public holiday, many will use a vacation day or two or three while their kids are in the middle of their, choose one: Christmas Vacation, Holiday Recess or Winter Break.
Today follows the day when most Christians in the U.S. celebrate the birth of Jesus. As a sidebar and from a purely historical perspective, we really don’t know the precise date Jesus was born (some believe it was in 4 B.C.) making it unclear how, when or why Dec. 25 became associated with the Christ child’s birth.
Some will argue that Dec. 25 was chosen as the date to celebrate Christ’s birth because Christmas has been combined with an amalgam of pre-Christian and pagan winter celebrations from around the world, and that’s as good a theory as any.
This is also the time of year when many Jewish communities in the United States observe Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish observance dating back to 162 B.C. (more on that later) an observance that honors the Jewish people’s struggle for religious freedom.
And in case you missed it, this year Hanukkah began at sunset on Dec. 24 and will continue for eight days until Jan. 1. It should be noted that in Hebrew, the language from which the Jewish festival originates, the word for Hanukkah is not easily translated into English. This accounts for why there are so many spelling variants. But Hanukkah and Chanukah are the two versions that are most widely used and accepted today.
Additionally, today marks the first day of Kwanzaa a weeklong holiday honoring African culture and traditions. Kwanzaa too ends on New Year’s Day, and in case you didn’t know, the holiday was first proposed and celebrated just fifty years ago. So while it doesn’t have the historical cache of Christmas or Hanukkah and isn’t steeped in tradition like the aforementioned, it is important in certain precincts.
But now back to 162 B.C. and the origins of Hanukkah. While researching the proper spelling for Hanukkah, I found that some descriptions of the event use the conventional B.C., i.e., “Before Christ”, but others referred to B.C.E, “before the common era,” which begs the question “Which is correct, A.D. (Year of the Lord) and B.C. (Before Christ) or C.E. (common era) and B.C.E. (before the common era)?
As with most things these days political correctness enters the picture and in some circles, the years we know of as A.D. are now to be known as C.E., “Common Era”, and the years we know of as B.C. are to be known as B.C.E., “Before Common Era”.
Academia appears split about which terminology to use citing that A.D. (Year of the Lord) and B.C. (Before Christ or Before the Messiah) have religious significance since both refer to Jesus of Nazareth.
So perhaps the usage of C.E. and B.C.E. is more appropriate because those terms reflect the thinking of and are therefore more attractive to secularists, non-Christians, liberal Christians and of course the politically correct.
But regardless of what calendar or dating system you use — enjoy this most festive time of the year, stay safe and be thankful for our many blessings.
Quote of the day: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift — that’s why it’s called the present.” —Unknown
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.