December 25, 2012 - Christmas Day (and Coronation Day)

Christmas is so many things: a religious holiday and a secular holiday...

a time to meditate on the highest goals and aspirations, such as peace and charity, and a time to wallow in consumerism and ostentatious display...

a time of giving and a time of getting...

a special treat for kids and a great excuse for adults to party. 

Its origins are not just from the early Christian religion, but also from the Roman holiday Saturnalia and other pagan traditions.

Santa Claus may appear in a cozy, furry outfit with a sleigh and arctic reindeer, in some places, but he may appear in a red-and-white striped swimsuit, astride a surfboard, in others because Christmas occurs in the summer in the Southern Hemisphere!

For more about Christmas, check out earlier posts here, here and also here

Anniversary of important coronations

Charlemagne was King of France in the 700s, and for decades he went about Europe conquering countries and tribes and “converting” people by force to Catholicism. He also helped Pope Leo II regain power in Rome. To show his gratitude, the pope crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans during Christmas Day mass in 800 C.E. This coronation was symbolic and did not add to new powers, but it did give a sort of legitimacy to Charlemagne's rule over the lands he had conquered in northern Italy.

Flash forward 266 years and blip over to England, where William the Conquerer was crowned king at Westminster Abbey, also on Christmas Day. William had been the Duke of Normandy, in what is now northern France, and he had invaded England and challenged its King Harold. When William and his army defeated Harold's army at the Battle of Hastings (and Harold was killed by an arrow), William became king and Norman French became the language of nobility in England...for a while.

Also on this date:

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