Krampus on a Camel, Three Magi on a Sleigh and Santa Leaving Myrrh in My Shoe

Eclecticism is a wonderful thing.

I’ve always believed that, and will probably continue to do so for as long as my brain-housing-group is alive and functioning. Studying, experiencing, welcoming different things into our lives and making the best of them into our own is a great pleasure—and by “our,” I mean “my.”

In her reply to Something Gorey for the Solstice, Ms Misantropia, the hostess of How do YOU celebrate? said, “If you put out the Krampus gift 2 weeks after the solstice, wouldn’t that be a whole month too late…?”

I loved her question so much that I emailed her to ask if it would be okay to get eclectically creative with her party button, in order to answer her question with this post. She said, “…feel free to do whatever you want with the button for my party! Just please could you explain somewhere in your post to people that’s what you’ve done? So they don’t get confused if they visit my party :)” In a way, with these words Ms Misantropia answered half of my question. Let me answer her original inquiry, so you can see…

My native island, the Dominican Republic, has been “discovered,” enslaved, colonized, “educated,” Christianized and many other things ending on “ed” just by about anyone you can think of. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. The truth is that we were discovered raped and butchered by Cristopher Columbus and Spain in 1492. The sweat and blood of my native people wasn’t enough, so the Spaniards brought African slaves—to work the sugar cane plantations, a few decades later. Then the French thought a little encroachment was in order, and they crept in, too. Soon Haiti had us under the whip. When things got way ugly, France (no longer a creep), Germany, Italy and the Netherlands came to our aid. The United States did its part, too, of course; as well as other countries…

These nations brought in pain, tears, death… and their cultures. You see, my Wicked Luvs, the Dominican National Anthem says it well, “the brave and indomitable Quisqueya (Dominican Republic) will always hold its head high.” We will party under the most outrageous conditions. If our nation was “a thousand times enslaved, it would a thousand times regain freedom.” How? You may ask. Well, we gained our physical freedom with fire, blade, teeth and sweat.

Our cultural freedom is a bit more complicated: we took all the good bits from whoever was around, play with it a bit, and made it our own. Some brought in Christianity? Sure! “Ave María purísima, sin pecado concebida.” The Three Megi sound fun, so we welcomed them. Oh, who is this Santa Claus you speak of? We like candy, gifts and red stuff! So… “Ho ho ho.” Krampus was love at first sneer. Bring him in, too! Lovely horns, by the way. What do you mean you celebrate and exchange gifts on December 25th? But we’ve been celebrating on January 6th for ages. We like January 6th. Okay, guess we’ll do it on January 6th then. Party!

See? It’s not that complicated. Perhaps a tad shambolic, but in the end the celebration of the Winter Holidays is about fun… regardless of the calendar day. By the way, if you happen to celebrate a winter holiday tradition that isn’t well-known (and you don’t mind sharing), tell me about it. If I love it, I will celebrate it, too; with respect, joy and all the love in my witchy heart.

It even works with Ms Misantropia’s blog party button ;-)
  
How do you celebrate, my Wicked Luvs?

Other Sources:
- My middle school and high school teachers
- My ready-to-party-until-I-drop Dominican witchy soul

27 comments:

  1. *clears throat* Brom. I love Brom's images and he can do the cover for my book as soon as I can afford him. He can tattoo my shiny white bottom, too, if need be. Love his stuff!

    I think all Christmases are shambolic. There's not a culturally pure version to be had. And much of the UK and the USA's Christmas owes its origins to the popularity of A Christmas Carol.(Upset people when they're told that. Doesn't stop it being true) Before that, it was a very disreputable holiday, all Lord of Misrule and fornication. :) Now we just get the drunken office party and the naughty stuff has moved sideways to New Year's Eve. Pass the smoking bishop, would you?

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    1. BROM rocks in all kinds of ways. I might be willing to offer some tanned-living-parchment for his glorious tattooing--after he is done with you, of course *cough, cough*

      I'm always amazed by the roots of our myths and traditions. We are such a creative lot, aren't we? And yes, people get rather jumpy when someone mentions the fact that modern Christmas celebration owe a lot to A Christmas Carol; they get straight up lethal when someone suggest that the red of Santa's suit might have to do with Coca-Cola.

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  2. How do I celebrate? Beer. No really. My Father and Sister and I go out the three of us and buy something to share. And most of the Holiday is spent avoiding the crowds. The usual present exchanges and getting together is surrounded by cold weather and just being available more than I am the rest of the year. I like to decorate family gatherings with my uselessness and do a little more conversation and philosophizing. And I try to be nicer. Less cursing other drivers. Hold open a few doors. Forgive people who cut in line. And I always get something written. Something small that will die on my shelf a silent, happy little death until I use part of it in something bigger later. Not really traditions so much as habits, but I am a creature of habit. Excellent post, Magaly. Love the collage of images for the button and will head right to Miss Mis' blog to check it out. Happy Holidays!

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    1. You must visit one day; conversation and philosophizing are the BEST!

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  3. The Winter holidays are kind of something the missus and I are still feeling out. We don't have many family traditions from family that doesn't involve mass amounts of greed and excess, so we're working on cooking up some of our own.

    The only traditions I can think of from my family were going to pick out and cut our tree and helping my mom set up her ceramic "Christmas village", which I did help her do when I went for a visit this past November. ^-^

    I've been researching traditions from both our heritages, and snagging things from here and there that particularly suit us or just make me happy. Yay, eclecticism indeed!

    Starting this year, we're going to make Banketstaaf (pastry filled with almond paste... so. tasty.)
    And that's as far as I've gotten for now. ^-^

    So happy Winter Holidays to everyone, no matter what you do to celebrate. ^____^

    XOXO

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    1. I hope you share the recipe. I love almond-filled anything. Which reminds me... I have some almond-stuffed olives calling my name ;-D

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  4. When my 3 were little, it was my husband who put the cookies and milk out and took a bite out of the cookie... My oldest and I discussed whether my son and his friend spilled the beans about 'santa' to another child... that was when my oldest said ' I saw the thrown away cookies in the trash, mom'.... that was when 'santa' was killed for her... I will say we told the kids that the gifts in the stockings were from 'santa' and the presents under the tree were from us/relatives... and I have to agree w/the first commenter that the movie does/did play a big part w/folks..

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    1. You know what? I can't remember ever not knowing that the presents weren't from my family and friends... At one point in my life, I thought that those who gave me presents paid the Magi, so that they would bring the gift--it was the only way I could rationalized the fact that wealthier kids got more expensive presents than those of us who had little money. It made sense to me lol

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  5. Can I make a slight correction, then you can delete this comment? I think it was 1492, not 1942.

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    1. Got to LOVE dyslexia. No need to delete this comment, my slight imperfections make the rest of my perfection the more awesome ;-D

      Off to edit. Thank you!!!

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    2. Oh, and my modesty is pretty amazing, too ;-D

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  6. Bloody history aside, I love this post. It is the very embodiment of 'Celebrating MY way'! It sounds like Dominicans take the "Hinduism approach" to the holiday traditions :) Can't wait to see more pictures from your celebrations.

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    1. History has that effect on the best of us--at least I hope it does! I almost didn't add the ugly bits, then I told myself that the good came with the bad, and my people are better for having dealt with both. We are very proud of having survived *cough, cough*

      Do we really? "take the 'Hinduism approach' to the holiday traditions." How so?

      I'm LOVING this party! I've read so many wonderful things. The best of them show just how similar we are, even when we live miles and miles away.



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  7. Those of us who grew up in a place where nothing much changed, the government was "stable," we had the same pastor at church for decades, so no new ideas there, it was even rare that any family moved from the neighborhood, and "travel" was limited to several hundred miles; for us traditions were accepted because we did not know better. We had no idea there were other views. Catholics had the "unusual" ideas- like no meat Fridays or confirmation at a much younger age. But we did not ostracize them. My parents never told me what I had to think. I just was not exposed to other ideas.

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    1. I think your parents did a wonderful job at raising you with an open heart. You might not have been exposed to diverse traditions while growing up, but your heart shows proof that it was open to the possibilities. I think that is the best we can teach our children; not how to think about the world, but to think for themselves.

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  8. Now this post shows exactly why I love you so much!...wouldn't it be lovely if everyone just mingled and messed up all that "celebration love" and shared it out? Just like you do. Every year I bite my tongue when people start spouting about the "true meaning of Christmas". It isn't about a baby or lowly birth, but about celebrating life and survival....that's what I give thanks for....with an open door...and food to welcome visitors in from the winter cold, regardless of their personal beliefs or practices. It is a wonderfully magical time for sitting in groups sharing stories and sweet treats, and holding each other close to keep warm.....smiling as we sleep :D

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    1. The idea of "everyone just mingling and messing up all that 'celebration love' and sharing it out" makes me smile. Just imagine the fun, and the delicious chaos, and the non-killings due to the fact that "your stuff is not as good as mine" mentality.

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  9. That is quite the history - but who were the original people, Magaly? Were they part of the migration of tribes from Asia who crossed the Bering Strait and moved south?? I really love it when you share your history and childhood stories - but that's sort of where my head is at, as we used to say in the 60s. Hope it isn't too cold there. We're cold but not like out west. Take care (and warm)!

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    1. The Dominican natives were the Taíno of the Arawak of South America. If the effects of the conquistadors, um... discoverers, had not been as deathly, we might have looked a lot like certain South American tribes that still exist (brown skin, straight and thick nearly black hair...). Now, as you can see in me, we are a very interesting mix of many different cultures ;-)

      Oh, NYC woke a bit cold with a very thin sheet of snow.

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  10. In 6th grade my most wonderful teacher in the whole world introduced our class to a multitude of celebrations for winter from different cultures. It was the most fascinating thing I learned in all that year. I was mesmerized by different peoples thoughts, views and customs. That has never changed. Every year I try to bring something new into our celebrations and enlighten the Cuckoos. Krampus, the Menorah lighting, St. Nicholas day, the star boys of Denmark, farolitos to light the way for the Magi and Black Pete all have a place at our table at this time of year. It is important to celebrate the way I cook, add some of this, some that and maybe next time something new. Never boring, always learning. I love your post. Oma Linda

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    1. I love diversity. It makes things so much fun and so much brighter. I wonder why we just don't celebrate everything. It makes perfect sense to me.

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  11. This is like our Ukrainian Christmas, which is on January 7th, for Orthodox Christians. Our New Year's and Easter are on different dates too. I think its great when you can celebrate and honor the season in different ways ;o) Makes things even more magical ;o) I have to look up Krampus ;o)

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    1. I didn't know the Ukrainian Christmas was on January 7th (must investigate!) It would mean that we could celebrate for another day. Not that we need an excuse, but having one is such fun ;-D

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  12. Another enjoyable read!

    I'm sure some Brits believe the tree is simply somewhere to place all their gifts on Christmas eve!
    Most would be surprised to learn that their beloved 'traditionally British' Christmas tree was an idea stolen from Germany, which in turn was taken from Egypt, where they used evergreen trees to symbolise eternal life.

    You already know from my last blog post how I celebrate :)

    I love that you take other people's customs and celebrations on board.

    My mother's Italian, and in some small towns in Italy, on December 6th, they celebrate La Festa di San Nicola (sorry you missed this one, but as it involves a cauldron, I thought it may interest you) The festival is in honor of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus/Father Christmas/Kris Kringle), is celebrated in some small towns with the lighting of fires under enormous cauldrons, in which fave (broad beans) are cooked, then eaten ceremoniously. Probably with liver and a nice Chianti!

    Have a lovely day Magaly (lovely to find you on Facebook) :D

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    1. You are right, I didn't know about the fave and enormous cauldrons tradition. Must investigate!

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  13. That is my favorite picture of Krampus. I love the look on his face. Never seen the Santa one before. It's funny, how people change over the course of time. Adaptation. I used to glare at eclecticism. You know that. Yet, after some really deep soul work, I've come to the conclusion that eclecticism is really just how everyone is. Everyone. We all take things and make them our own with our own spins.

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    1. These last four years (almost 5! Can you believe it?) have been really interesting. I've been thinking about doing a few months of looking back. I want to reread all my stuff, slowly. I've changed, too, and I think it will be nice to see just how much.

      Brom's Krampus is a riot!

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