Hark, how the bells, sweet silver bells,
All seem to say, throw cares away.
Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold.
Ding dong ding dong, that is their song,
With joyful ring, all caroling. - Peter Wilhousky, “Carol of the Bells”
Today is Christmas, the most widely-celebrated festival in the world; though a Christian rationalization was attached to the holiday in late Roman times, its origin (as explained in my column of one year ago today) was completely pagan and many Church fathers of the first millennium (and later, Protestant leaders after the Reformation) tried to suppress its celebration for exactly that reason. It thus became a completely secular celebration, and though Christians in the 19th century finally embraced it and some of the late 20th century started a campaign to hog it for themselves, it remains a holiday beloved by hundreds of millions and has become popular even in countries where the Christian minority is relatively small such as Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and South Korea.
As I explained on Yule, I set up all my columns this season to post automatically so if you’re a subscriber (and if you aren’t, why not sign up?) you received the notification for this one just after we’ve finished breakfast, and soon we’ll be opening presents and looking to see what Santa Claus brought us. I’ll be cooking most of the day and my husband will be enjoying a well-earned respite from his many travels (and probably watching one of the videos that a little elf told me will be in his stocking). I wish all of my readers a very, very Merry Christmas, and the opportunity to spend this most joyous season free from care and in the company of those you love.