Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

07-27-2017 The Extremist Fad!   Leave a comment

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How does one become an extremist.  First they need to find their alleged passion and then the real problems can begin.  It may just be me but I feel that in the last fifty years extremism has become the newest and most dangerous fad ever created by man.

Of course it all started with the ever so popular and murderous religions that exist on this planet. How many millions of hapless souls have been sacrificed for their supposed God. It’s not good enough that you believe in God but it must be done only THEIR way. The crusades should have taught everyone a valuable lesson but they didn’t. Cities were burned, whole populations murdered, and for what? Both sides were responsible for that horrendous slaughter and we learned nothing.  March and die for Jesus or Mohammed, cut off a few heads, murder some children, what’s the real difference? There is none.

Religion has turned us against each other time and time again. Now extremism has slowly worked it’s way into the fabric of our society.  Everyone insists that everything they do or believe is the absolute right way. Anyone that disagrees the least little bit becomes an enemy and must be dealt with.  I’m sure many of you would disagree but let’s look a little deeper to prove my point.

This example is a minor bit of extremism called Veganism. Vegans are militant about how their life style is the only and best way to live. Tell a Vegan you don’t agree with them and your looked at suspiciously and become a non-believer. It’s a mild extremism that is a little annoying but no one will kill me over it (YET).

Next in line are the environmentalists who believe that the earth is their newly found god or goddess. It has morphed into a pseudo-religion that has produced a small band of terrorists who’ve murdered for their cause for years and continue to do so. Who hasn’t heard about ecoterrorism?

Of course we always have those fun loving extremist crazies at PETA to listen to. They’ve successfully made themselves into a laughingstock with their lame antics of blood throwing and other nonsense. All terrorists consider themselves complete failures if they can’t get a five minute mention on the nightly news.

What’s next?  Just take a moment and think of the dumbest thing you can imagine.  I’m sure that at some point two assholes will put their heads together and have some sort of an epiphany, maybe talk with their God, and begin a movement to convince the rest of the world to change and believe and think as they do. If you don’t believe you could become ostracized or maybe your life could become forfeit.

Unfortunately for civilization and society most of the really over-the-top extremists cannot be convinced of anything. It makes dealing with them next to impossible as we’ve all come to find out over the last few decades.

It appears that the human race in it’s infinite wisdom can’t find common ground with anyone about anything. Scientists are constantly talking about the coming “Singularity”. That’s supposedly the tipping point when machines become so intelligent they’re able to get rid of the human race entirely.  Honestly I don’t think we really need their help.  We’ll eventually destroy ourselves by arguing over all of the so-called important differences we have rather that celebrating our many similarities.

It’s a side state of affairs and I see no why of fixing any of it. Maybe I should pray to God for help.  Shit, which one should I talk to, there are so many choices.

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09-08-2016 Journal – The Big Easy-5   Leave a comment

Our fourth day in NO took us to one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been.  I’ve always been a big fan of graveyards but this one was the ultimate. It’s called St. Louis #1, the oldest cemetery in the city. Some residents have been there since the late 1700’s.  The temperature was 95 degrees but once we got inside the cemetery it rose to just over 100 degrees.

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Since all bodies are buried above ground in NO the cemetery is just concrete walkways and white tombs.  The heat actually accelerates the decomposition which is important I suppose.  The cemetery isn’t open to the public any longer but I’m sure the Catholic Church is getting their taste from all of the tour groups visiting every day.

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To add to the solemnness of the visit we happened upon what has become a common occurrence these days. A Hollywood celebrity showing up to spend 60,000 dollars to build an eight foot tall white pyramid right in the middle of all this history. Who else would it be but that way-out-there celebrity . .  Nicolas Cage.  Only one word comes to mind and that is A-Hole.

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I think I lost five pounds of water weight in the hour and a half we spent roaming around the place. Our tour guide was an encyclopedia of history of New Orleans and the people resting in that cemetery.  It was a highlight of our trip.

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The vacation continues with Pat O’Brien’s Bar scheduled for dinner and drinks tonight. We both need a dip in the hotel pool and a few cold ones to rehydrate before visiting there.  I’ll cover O’Brien’s in the next post.

MAN WAS IT EVER HOT

07-11-2016 Journal – Religious Trivia!   Leave a comment

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I am not now or ever have been considered a religious person. I’ve read as much information as I could find on almost every major religion over the years. It was my vain attempt to convince myself one way or the other that such a thing was necessary in my life.  I accomplished my goal but it left me with volumes of information on religions both interesting and some not so much.  Today I’ll post some strange but true religious trivia and you can do with it what you will.

  • The temple of all faiths: Birla Temple in New Delhi, India, includes separate areas for worship for every known religion.
  • It was not until the fourth century that the church (Christianity) began to celebrate the feast of Christmas.
  • The first Bible printed in America in 1663 was a translation into the Algonkian language.

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  • The word “and” appears 46,277 times in the King James version of the Bible.
  • Hijmar, a holy man of Benares, India, held his left arm in the same position for 12 years.
  • The first book digest: Dubash Meghji, of Zanzibar., ate one page of the Koran each day for thirty years.
  • Each year Shia Muslims in Ahmadabad, India, mourn the death of Imam Husain, a descendant of the prophet Mohammad, by whipping themselves with knife-tipped chains.
  • In 1993, Israel’s telephone company offered a service for people to fax messages to God, to be placed in the Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall.
  • Forty nuns at a convent in Stetyl, the Netherlands, have maintained a continuous prayer in their chapel for ninety-eight years.

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  • The people who worship a nail: The Maria Gonds of  Chandra, India, pray only to a 12 inch spike.
  • In 1685 a church bell from a Protestant chapel in France was whipped and burned after being charged with “inflaming the hearts of heretics”.
  • Prayer stones addressed to Egyptian god Ra and sold to worshippers in Ancient Egypt had large ears engraved on them – so Ra would be sure to hear their messages.
  • In 1992 a historic church in Melle, France, installed a juke box that plays Gregorian chants, Tibetan mantras, and Jewish liturgical music.

And last but not least:

  • Ancient Egyptian priests in 450 b.c. trained baboons to sweep out their temples.

CAN I GET AN AMEN?

03-27-2016 Journal – Easter?   Leave a comment

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‘Religious & Silly?’

Well with another  Easter finally here we should be that much closer to warmer temperatures. Having a bright sunny day just isn’t enough when the temperatures remain at or below freezing. That’s just another of Mother Nature’s teases but there’s only one way I like to be teased and this isn’t it.

It’s 10:30 am and I’ve yet to move from my bed.  The better-half and I have been playing a vicious game of "Words With  Friends" which I hate to admit I just lost by one effing point. Starting my day without kicking her butt may be a bad omen for the rest of my Easter Sunday. I know I’ll be hearing about this win all day.

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‘Religious & Badass??’

It’s another chilling and gray day that’ll keep me from getting anything done outside. I refuse to be cold and miserable while doing all of those boring little chores  that need to be completed.  When the sun finally decides to come out then so will I.  I was forbidden by my better-half from saying that “When the sun has risen . . then so will I”. She felt that would be rude to all of you religious folks out there.  I disagree somewhat because almost all of the religious people I know are permitted a sense-of-humor.  Hers has yet to be fully developed but “I pray” it will someday. 

We celebrated Easter yesterday along with the one year birthday of our grandson.  It was a fun party with lots of cake and presents but it also allowed us to have a quiet day today. We’re looking forward to a couple of steaks cooked on the grill tonight along with a bottle of blueberry Mead I’ve been saving for a special occasion. 

Easter for me has no religious connotation but I know it does for my better-half. As with most things having a good stiff drink always helps me feel a little more religious (she won’t think that’s too funny either).

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‘Religious & Intergalactic’

I’ll get this posted in the next few minutes and then spend the remainder of the day working on a pencil sketch that’s captured my interest this week. I hope all of you are enjoying your holiday with your families. Religious or not. 

SORRY I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING RELIGIOUS ABOUT AN EASTER BUNNY

JUST SAYING LOVEY!

12-10-2015 Journal– A Korean Christmas Story!   1 comment

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I’ve talked a great deal over the years about my experiences while serving in the Army. As with any young man or woman serving outside of this country, being away from home and family during the Christmas season for the first time is difficult.  In my case I was not only away from family, I was in a non-Christian county that seemed to be more than a little primitive to me.

Their religion was primarily Buddhist and the Christmas holiday meant very little to them. They at times pretended to understand but that was motivated entirely by their desire to make money from visiting Americans.

At the time I was stationed in an area that was primarily populated by rice farmers living in small villages that dotted the northern countryside. There were no paved roads and most villages only had electric power for a few hours a day.  For those of us from the United States it was like traveling back in time a hundred years.

I was living almost full time in a local village and actually had my laundry taken to a local river where it was beaten on the rocks with wooded paddles and soap.  That certainly took some getting used to for me.  My Korean friends seemed totally befuddled by the entire Christmas holiday bro-ha-ha and sat silently as I tried to explain it to them. They were interested in my stories of Christ and the Magi, but the virgin birth story had them all silently giggling a little.

Regardless I was determined to have a Christmas celebration so I asked a few of my them for their help in putting up a Christmas tree.  They agreed to help but weren’t exactly sure what I was up to. As that project was progressing I had a little old mama-san ask me through an interpreter why would any sane person put a tree inside their home. I was hard pressed to answer her because I didn’t know the reason either. They continued to humor me as I explained other peculiarities that they couldn’t quite grasp.

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A week or so later with two Korean friends I hiked up a nearby mountain near a small Buddhist temple to find a tree. We ended up dragging back the sorriest looking bush you could ever imagine, set it up in my hooch, and started to decorate it as best we could. There was a hand-made star on top of the tree (my doing) and a number of pieces of charcoal tied to the branches with twine (their doing). I never had that fully explained to me but it was what they wanted to do. It had something to do with good luck or good pregnancy or something. Since we had no electricity they suggested placing candles in and around the tree but I nixed that immediately. The last thing we needed was to burn down my hooch and a portion of the village when a little, dry, and nasty looking tree, bust  into flames.

I had some GI decorations I made from C-rations that looked stupid as hell but they loved it. Later we ate most of the decorations and drank a bottle of really cheap brandy that I’d brought along for the occasion. I presented them each with a small gift of candy and got a little kiss on the cheek from everyone.

I was still a little homesick but that weird little celebration came to mean a lot to me over the years. It was cozy, friendly, and more than a little strange but it was also genuine. They forever became part of my extended family because they’d made an effort to help get me through a very difficult time. Christmas, the holiday, had very little meaning to them but they realized how important it was to me. 

I still wonder to this day if any of them have fond memories of that night and think about it occasionally. I also hope that all of my comrades-in-arms who are away from home this Christmas are lucky enough to find some friends like I did.

Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

14 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT TIL THIS ONE

08-22-2015 Journal – Religion from a Infidel’s Perspective!   Leave a comment

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Every so often I read or hear something that sets my teeth on edge. In recent years it’s been this constant drumbeat of hatred between the global religions. If you’re one of those people who can’t abide religious criticism, I suggest you stop reading now. It’s not that I mind offending you because I don’t . . . it’s just a courtesy and fair warning.  I’m sick to death of hearing about Islam, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and the numerous Christian sects. How long can the human race on this planet continue to sit back and allow themselves to be manipulated as they’re convinced by organized religions to commit the most heinous crimes you can imagine?  

I’d hate to guess how many people have died over the centuries in the defense of religion and their ingrained  hatred of everyone else’s.  From the Crusades, to Northern Ireland, to the Middle East, and beyond. The total number of deaths is almost unimaginable. Every religion that has ever existed has their own set of commandments to live by and all of them seem to agree that murder is a big no-no until it involves another religion. Then they get some special dispensation from some insane religious leader, grab their weapons, and off they go to murder and butcher anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Yeah, that really makes me want to become religious.

If being stupid and brainwashed is a requirement for me to be considered a religious person you can just forget it! So a big hats-off to all those devoted Christians who can’t even agree amongst themselves, to the Muslim religion who suffers from the same affliction, and the Jews who aren’t much better. Even the Buddhists piss me off when they claim to want calm and peace in the world, then set themselves on fire in protest of some stupid thing or another.  I’m not quite ready to sign up for that anytime soon either. Suicide is nuts regardless of the circumstances.

My own history with religion leaves much to be desired.  I apparently wasn’t a good Catholic boy when I was thrown out of catechism classes for reading a dirty magazine. I think it was an issue of Giant Boobs or something like that. My late mother and I fought for fifty years as she tried to coerce me back to that same church teaching the same old nonsense. Oh yeah, don’t forget to donate that 10% every year too, God really needs the money.  Still not gonna happen Mom!

Recently I took to wearing this T-shirt.  Everyone seems to be in such a big hurry these days to label others. He’s Jewish, she’s Catholic, he’s Protestant, and she’s an atheist.  In order to make life easier for those people I decided to wear my label proudly.  I’ve been called so many things over the years I just felt the need to clear up any confusion.

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Many years ago I heard this quote on religion by Charles Caleb Cotton (1780–1832), an English cleric, and it stuck with me. Every time I find myself in a heated religious discussion with some fanatic I’d bring it out to enhance the discussion.

"Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it, anything but live for it."

01-02-2015 Journal – Welcome to 2015!   Leave a comment

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Well we’ve all survived another year.  I guess we should be congratulated but maybe not.  Over the New Years holiday I made the mistake of catching up on some TV watching. I should have known better but as always I thought there might be something interesting on. How stupid am I?

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I was working on a project and had the TV playing in the background. I was excited about the project since I’ve been working on it for more years than I care to think about.  I was working intently but my subconscious was inundated with three hours of religious doom and gloom. The "End of Days" and "Armageddon" we’re just some of the topics I was hearing and it depressed me enough that I turned the channel. I then found myself in the midst of a mini-marathon of the Walking Dead program which for me was even worse than the religious nonsense. 

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The bottom line was that I disconnected the damn TV and fell back on the good old reliable music that I love.  I recently created a new playlist which is killer. It’s a collection of three of my all time favorite female blues singers, Anita Baker, Billie Holiday, and Amy Winehouse.  It was absolutely wonderful with Billie singing Loverman,  followed closely by Amy singing Back to Black, and then Anita bringing it home with Sweet Love. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

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Back to this crazy project of mine.  Over a ten year period back in the nineties I created a collection of collages containing articles and things from my life. Some were four feet square with an variety of other sizes as well. I called them my life panels.  I always intended to have them framed and then put together to create a wall.  Here I am twenty-five years later and even though they’ve been in storage for all of that time they still look pretty good. They’ve never been displayed at all but have moved from place to place with with me awaiting enough wall space to put them up. 

This current man-cave of mine has slowly turned into someplace special but I still don’t have enough wall space.  I solved that problem this week by turning my life panels into the ceiling above my computer desk. The picture that follows was taken as I was lying on my back on the floor looking up.

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What better way to start 2015 than to resurrect my life panels and to display them proudly.  I can now lean back in my chair and see more than twenty years of my life displayed for my enjoyment. Happy New Year to me. . . .

AND TO YOU!

04-19-2014 Journal Entry – Easter Memories!   Leave a comment

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I never celebrate Easter.  Since it’s supposed to be a religious holiday and I’m not in anyway religious, I choose not to celebrate. As a kid my Mother celebrated anything and everything remotely religious due to her strict Catholic upbringing and education. I had no choice in those days so I went along as best I could but only as far as partaking of the more secular side of things . . . chocolate.  My Easter memories as a child are all about candy and eggs but not much religion.

My  Father was a living and breathing agnostic who side stepped religious matters religiously but even he couldn’t side step all of the holidays.  Another of my fondest memories of Easter was the year my parents bought my sister and I white rabbits.  They were all cute and fluffy and I clearly remember trying to get one of those little buggers from beneath our old refrigerator on Easter morning.  They eventually grew up to be rather large adult bunnies forcing my Dad to build a large hutch in the backyard to house them. There was always a stream of complaints from him about feeding the damn rabbits or cleaning out the damn cage etc. etc. etc.  Who knew it would all end in murder.

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One lovely summer day we returned home from playing with some of the neighborhood kids just in time for supper.  We were seated at the table ready to dig in when I found out just how much my Dad really didn’t like those rabbits.  He had dispatched the little darlings earlier in the day and they were placed on the table as the entree.  Needless to say my Mother, Sister, and I fled the scene with my Father left sitting there with a puzzled look on his face. He just didn’t get it at all.

I still don’t celebrate Easter and I never eat rabbits under any circumstances.  It’s  creeps me out to this day. 

Have you ever had a really long term close personal friend?  They’re a rare gift and in most cases are never really appreciated until their gone.  My best friend was named Dick and he passed away approximately 15 years ago.  He is partially responsible for another of my crazier Easter memories from our childhood. I’ve written in the past about the 1955 Birdville Elementary School Easter Egg Hunt fire.  It’s a really funny story that I may repost again in it’s entirety on another day.  Let it be said that Dick and I traumatized the Easter memories of a entire elementary school that year.  A small lit cigarette turned into a raging inferno that burnt down a two acre field next to the school where the teachers and parents had hidden all of the Easter eggs.  The field was burned, the eggs were cooked, and so were we.  We paid a really heavy price for just a few minutes of stupid.

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So now you understand my hesitation to celebrate even the silly secular side of this holiday.  I hope you all enjoy your Eater celebration with your family and friends in whatever manner you choose to celebrate it.  For me it’s just another fun day here in paradise.  Pass the chocolate please.

12-15-2013 Christmas Food Traditions   Leave a comment

I’m what you might consider a “foodie”.  I love to cook and above all I love to eat.  It might explain why I’m in the middle of a six month weight loss program.  As a kid I always looked forward to the holiday season primarily due to my grandmothers Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners.  Every country and ethnic group has their own list of traditions for the holidays and compared to the United States they can be  just a bit strange and a few are a little disgusting.  Some are fun but they all accomplish the same basic things as ours.  Time with family, friends, and memories of past holidays and family members.

Here are a few I discovered while surfing which are very interesting.  I can guarantee one thing after reading them, I’ll never be attending Christmas dinners anywhere in Scandinavia.  I love  seafood but OMFG.

Japan

In Japan it’s customary to go out and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner from a nearby KFC of course. Thousands of people flock to KFC’s to enjoy some finger licking chicken and the Christmas rush has become so huge that some branches take table bookings.

Peru

In Peru, the big day is Noche Buena or “Good Night”, on December 24. On this night, after mass, everybody goes home to open gifts and feast on an elaborately prepared Christmas meal of traditional roasted turkey. At midnight, the adults toast with champagne and children raise their glasses of hot chocolate as fireworks shine in the night sky.

Bulgaria

In Bulgaria they cook 12 dishes to represent the 12 months of the year but they eat no meat. A typical feast consists of nuts, dried plums, cakes and banitza (a pastry). Walnuts are a necessary component of the meal as each family member cracks one in order to determine their fate for the next year.

France

Traditionally the French dine on a starter of fresh oysters served with rye bread and butter and lemon juice or shallot vinegar. Some households may also eat smoked salmon or escargots (snails). This dish is then followed by a second starter of Coquilles St Jacques (Scallops with mushrooms and white wine).

Italy

After the meatless day before Christmas, Italians often enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner that includes other meats. From lamb to roast beef, turkey or pork, Italians often include foods other than fish on their tables on Christmas day. Salads and antipasto are often the first course. Broccoli, eggplant, peppers and other vegetables are featured in side dishes. Pasta’s, a staple of Italian cooking, are also included on the big day, in baked dishes or as homemade vermicelli. Crostini, a dry toasted bread, is often included in the meal.  Fruits and nuts may also make an appearance as well as desserts and sweets. Try your hand at making belfanini an anise flavored cookie.

Puerto Rico

Popular dishes include roast pig, rice and pea dishes, coquito or eggnog made with rum and coconut milk, coconut custard, fried plantains, and nuts. Many families also celebrate with unique dishes only made during the holiday season.

Sweden

Swedish Julafton (Christmas Eve dinner) typically consists of a smorgasbord with julskinka (a type of Christmas ham), lutefisk (pickled pigs feet), dried codfish, sliced gravlax (raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill), pickled herring and an assortment of sweets.

Norway

They enjoy pinnekjøtt which is salted lamb ribs for the main course. To compliment the meat they tend to eat mashed rutabaga (also known as swede) which is kind of like our turnips.  Another favorite meat at Christmas is the lambs head to go along with the lamb ribs. This is boiled and salted (minus the brains) and the head is eaten from front to back with the tongue and eye muscles being particularly yummy cuts.

Czech Republic

Christmas is a very religious and peaceful time in the Czech Republic and everyone fasts for one day in the run up to the Christmas meal. They then start with a fish soup which is followed by the tradition of carp. This is often accompanied by a potato salad including onions, cooked carrots, pickled gherkins, cooked eggs and mayonnaise. This is prepared on Christmas Eve and allowed to ‘mellow’ for a day before eating. YUM?????

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You see what I mean about Scandinavia.  Truly some acquired tastes there.  I hope you’re finished with your shopping and are preparing to relax and enjoy the holiday.  I know, I know, who am I kidding.  You’re probable a bunch of Christmas Eve shoppers who get off on the big crowds and incidental body contact.  Another unusual Christmas tradition that started in NYC on the subways. LOL

12-11-2013 More Christmas & Kwanza Factoids   Leave a comment

I wonder about Christmas sometimes.  We know it wasn’t the actual day that Christ was born and we’re pretty sure the entire story was made up well after the fact by people who weren’t even there.  Yet it remains the ultimate religious observance except maybe for Easter where religion has slowly faded into the background.  As always I have a lot of questions and felt  the need to search out some answers.  Unfortunately there are as many answers as there are versions of the original story.  Here’s a few that I found.

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Why are there Twelve Days of Christmas?

Traditionally, it took the ‘Three Kings’ this number of days to find the baby Jesus. Their arrival on the twelfth day was celebrated in the form of the Feast of Epiphany in medieval France, and later in other countries.

Where did the Candy Cane come from?

In a small Indiana town, there was a candy maker who wanted to spread the name of Jesus around the world. He invented the Christmas Candy Cane, incorporating symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy to symbolize the Virgin Birth. The candy maker formed the stick into a “J” to represent the name of Jesus or it can also represent the staff of the “Good Shepherd.” He thought the candy was too plain so he stained it with a red stripe to symbolize the blood shed by Christ on the cross.

Weird Christmas Games

Shoe the Wild Mare

Shoeing the Wild Mare is a traditional Christmas game that goes back to at least the early 17th century. Get a narrow(a few inches wide),strong wooden beam and suspend it from the roof with two even length ropes. The beam is the ‘mare’ of the title and should be level yet high enough above the floor so that a player’s feet are off-ground. A player ‘the farrier’ then sits on the ‘mare’ in the center, a leg on either side. This player has a hammer and has to give the underside of the beam “four time eight blows” at a designated spot. If he falls off, it is someone else’s turn. Much hilarity, and the odd broken shoulder ensues.

Snapdragons

Apparently this is the best game ever to play on Christmas Eve. Make sure you have the fire department on speed dial though. Very popular from the 16th to the 19th centuries, Snapdragons  has explicably declined in popularity.

Gather everyone around the dining room table, place a large flat dish in the center. In the dish scatter a good handful of raisins then pour on top a layer of brandy or cognac. Set fire to the brandy and dim the lights. Players take turns  plucking a raisin out of the burning liquid and eating it quickly. For a more competitive edge to the game use larger dried fruit such as apricots, one of which has a lucky coin stuffed inside.

Equipment needed: plate, matches, raisins, brandy, and the address of nearest fire department.

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I could easily have added another fifty items even more stupid than these but life’s too short.  I’ve decided that every story  about Christmas and every weird tradition that’s been adopted any where on the planet is nothing more than a large steaming pile.  I give up.  When it comes right down to it Christmas is no more legitimate than Kwanza.  I’d love to be around in a hundred years or so to see what Kwansa morphs into.  They’ll always be a herd of idiots who’ll believe almost anything they’re told by just about anyone.  I wonder if this country will ever be invaded by Kwanza believers with bombs strapped to their chests, angry that their religion is being disrespected.  It could happen.  I’m also glad I won’t be here to see it.

MERRY EFFING KWANZA