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Saturday, December 23, 2017
Racist Christmas traditions in Europe
It's Christmas again? Where did the twelve months in between go? I need somebody to slow the clock down. As a very young child the time between Christmas took forever to pass. Now that I can be the Santa it seems that if I blink a year will pass.
This Christmas I made history in Spain by dressing as Santa, or Papa Noel as he is called here to attend at a Christmas Fair. Spanish adults told me beforehand that I couldn't do that as I did not fit the image of Santa as I am a black man. I agued that around the world can be found Santa's of every ethnic group that celebrates this tradition and Spain could do with a little opening of the mind on this subject. Anyway, I was prepared to try it on to get a reaction.
I made my Grand Arrival by walking down the stairs which I had to feel because I was wearing my reading glasses. I had to be very careful not to trip and fall and kill myself at that moment. The tiny ones who are the true believers saw nothing out of the ordinary and came and sat wiht Papa Noel to have a chat. All went tremendously well at the Fair, but after that I went into the town still in character because I had an errand, and I ran into families on the street,
Parents and children alike were delighted. I could hardly get from one end of the street to the other for my popularity. This is the same Spain which accepts a very racist practise of engaging Black Pages to deliver the presents in place of Santa. In one particular town of Alcoy white men cover themselves from head to toe in black with painted excessively large red lips. I presume they are depicting themselves as black men, although I have never met a black man who looks like that.
In Holland they have a tradition which is similar in that Black Pete acts as Santa's helpers. Again, they are white men who dress themselves in the manner of Spain's Black Pages and these traditions have carried on for over a hundred years.
Such traditions are defended and justified by many people as being harmless and great fun. They satisfy themselves that they mean no harm, nor are they mean spirited, and that they are tradition.
That's the problem with racism and bigotry. The practioneers cannot see anything wrong in what they are doing. However, whenever we trod on another race or gender to big up ourselves we do not succeed in achieving that. The opposite is attained as what a reasonable world sees is a group of imbeciles trying to make themselves believe that they are something special when they are consigning themselves to what I believe is called a circle of Bigots.
This is a problem in all ethnic groups, and when it happens within the group it is particularly irritating. Within the group of people of colour it happens that those of lighter skins might look down on their darker skinned cousins. That is taking things too far!
A couple of strange Christmas traditions in other European countries:
In Sweden a giant reindeer is built out of straw to be burnt on New Year's eve. It so often becomes the target of pranksters or pyromaniacs and is damaged or destroyed before the scheduled event. One time thieves with an helicopter tried to steal it.
In Germany there is Knecht Ruprecht who is a hellish looking character that would frighten me, much less a child who had been bad. This awful image is intended to castigate the child in the hope that he will be good in the future.
In Romania there is the slaughter of pigs around Christmas, which is done to provide food. However, the idea seems to be to get as drunk as you can, catch a pig and stab it to death, then using a flame thrower/blow torch the pig is burnt while its guts remain in place. Good luck to that!
The origins of Christmas are controversial and only apply to the Christian world. However short a period a child can be convinced to believe that if they do their best to behave themselves Santa will reward them will be worth it. As a true believer I remember one Christmas Eve Santa could be heard on our rooftop, Ho-Ho-Hoeing while yelling at Rudolph to stand still. My father had told us children that if this happened while we were awake we were not to open our eyes as Santa would know and he wouldn't leave us anything. we kept our eyes firmly shut.
Our son was a skeptic from the very beginning. As young as he was he decided to be a real rebel in spite of our warnings he would not get anything. On Christmas morning he came down holding his teddy and sucking his thumb. He looked at the Christmas tree and it was bare. The look of disappointment and amazement was so strong on his face, but he did not cry; although we did.
We said if he would be good during breakfast perhaps Santa would stop in while he had a nap. That worked. Whew!
So, to all, from my family to you and yours, Happy Holidays and may 2018 bring you the things you hope for. I wish the very best of Health for you, as when you have that everything else falls into place.
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