So, did you wake up this morning to a gift of four colly birds from your true love? Probably not, but if you did, my advice is to liberate them if they're still alive. If the birds are at room temperature, try to discreetly dispose of the evidence. The possession of colly birds is illegal.
And you thought Christmas was over four days ago. The fact is, today you're only a third of the way through the Christian season of Christmastide. That's why the carol exhorts you to deck your halls with boughs of holly to commemorate a jolly season. Christian Christmas starts of Dec. 25 and concludes on Twelfth Night, the evening of Jan. 5.
Christian Christmas? Well, we now have two Christmases. Christian Christmas is a sacred celebration of the mystery that the One, Creator God of the universes became human in the baby in Bethlehem. Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians all refer to that Nativity mystery as the doctrine of the Incarnation, God became flesh. For Christians the Incarnation is an event that merits a festival.
Then there's the other Christmas, the annual materialistic orgy characterized by tinsel and trees, reindeer and wrapping paper, carols and candy, and the annual spike in credit card debt.
Both Christmases are jolly, at least until you have to pay for the latter.
What's not jolly are the annual "Christmas wars." There's always the tedious annual nattering of bigoted atheists. But they are topped by the fulminations of touchy and uniformed religious types.
In their ignorance thepious zealots don't know that the "X" in "Xmas" is the Greek letter "chi" and a legitimate abbreviation for "Christ." They take offense at the jolly but secular-sounding valediction "Happy Holiday," because they haven't figured out that "holiday" is "holy-day."
And I haven't yet met a staunch defender of the true Christmas who was aware that Christmas is a season, not a day.
There's always a few skirmishes about when Jesus was born. I don't think anyone seriously considers Dec. 25 as the correct date. It was just a convenient and symbolic time of year. After all, what better time of year to celebrate the coming of the Light of the World than after the winter solstice when the days start to get longer?
Besides, among the probable correct dates for Jesus' birth was already taken with the celebration of Michaelmas (late September). Christmas isn't the only "mas" on the Christian calendar.
For my own part the least jolly degradation of Christmas is the loss of the true meaning of the carol. It's the Protestant's fault.
Among the unfortunate innovations of the Protestant movement was the introduction of the pew, seating in worship areas. The purpose of the seating was to give church-goers relief during the long-winded sermons that used to be standard Sunday morning fare. You have to remember that they didn't have television. By contrast, many Orthodox Christian churches to this day don't provide general seating, just a few benches for the elderly or infirm.
But the pew also meant you couldn't dance in church.
You see, a carol is technically dance music, specifically for circle dances accompanied by vocalists. That's why even most religious carols are frisky compared to other selections in your hymnal. If you check religious carols you will find a concentration of 3/4 and 6/8 metrical rhythms with tempos brisk enough for holy cavorting.
I've attended a particularly festive church (Saint Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco) where they relocate the worshipers from pews to the open space around their altar with congregational line dancing accompanied by carols. One line of dancers is led by a priest beating a conga and another dance line by a priest swinging a censor with bells on the chains. They dance every Sunday to non-Christmas carols until they form up a circle around their altar. It's very jolly indeed.
The point being, the religious fanatics who huff and puff about the true meaning of Christmas also don't know that they're supposed to dance to "In Dulce Jubilo" -- "Good Christian Men, Rejoice." Alas, they may not dance at all.
At any rate, get rid of the colly birds before you're caught, but tomorrow you can keep the five gold rings.