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December 16, 2011


The Christians in Ethiopia ostensibly already knew that it was Christmastime, and the Muslims probably didn't care.

All in all, a song with fairly senseless lyrics. Whose idea was And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time? Did anyone really expect Ethiopia to get snow?

sing-shouting out of tune.

I think I see your problem right here:

He also had vocals recorded by both Sting and Simon Le Bon of the song which he had acquired from the artists early in order to provide a guide for the other singers.

Bolds mine.

What do you want your kids to know about Christmas?

That is what we used to call a poser.

That sort of gets to the heart of it, Slarti. Of the things that I want my kids to know about Christmas, how many of them are senseless points and how many of them are necessary for understanding the holiday? The answer could be none or all or anywhere in between.

My youngest daughter has really gotten the Christmas bug, (she's always been a bit of a negotiator) and she found Charlie Brown's Christmas on YouTube (and then found a billion other Peanuts specials that I had no idea existed, such as 'It's a mystery, Charlie Brown', 'It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown' and my fave, 'It's the Cultural Revolution, Charlie Brown'). A friend of mine suggested this online Advent Calendar, which has been fun because they know a bit about London from Mary Poppins and I can pull out old pictures of their grandmother at various London sites.

Still, we don't go to a Church service and our Christmas dinner is a heroic, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at trying to instill a desire for something that isn't really there ('no really, the stuffing is the best part') Of course, this is the way it is with any kind of knowledge you pass down to your children, in that you only impart bits and pieces to make a cloth that vaguely resembles what yours is, just as you got a vague copy of what your parents got, though I think that This be the verse puts it in a bit too harsh a light. But I feel a lot more conscious of it being here rather than there.

You've basically got two choices:
- you can treat Christmas as a religious holiday, and use it to instill in your daughters the values at the core of Christianity. Or
- you can treat Christmas as something that they need to be aware of (and understand at least superficially) in order to relate to American culture.

The latter is pretty much the way that non-Christians in the United States approach the whole thing. Of course, it's impossible for their children to avoid Christmas all around them. But in my experience they really try to get past the commercialism to explain where the holiday came from and what it means in a religion not their own.

I thought the Japanese had already found a way to absorb Christmas into their culture. Just let them enjoy the Japanese version and then, when you move to the US, let them enjoy the entire cultural overload. I'm not sure how you will be able to prepare them for the potlatch that starts on Black Friday.

http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Ras-Dashen> Did anyone really expect Ethiopia to get snow?

Expectations are a terrible thing to lose. Ask any grown-up.

It's still a better song than "We are the World", though.

pace wj, I think most Americans (excluding the smash-you-over-the-head-with-a-Bible kind) view Christmas as a time to celebrate family and friends. My brother's a Christian, I'm an atheist, but he's the one who has a viewing of Mr. Hanky's Christmas special every year, and we both tend to regard Christmas in the same way, except that I skip the Christmas eve church service; my father's an atheist, my stepmother's Jewish, but they celebrate Christmas also. The gift-giving is just a token of affection, as I imagine it was originally.

You've basically got two choices:

It's that 'basically' that covers a lot of ground. It would be impossible to recreate the ability to be exposed to Christianity in the way I was with my children. To go to a church here in Japan entails much more of a commitment, not just in terms of time and effort, but social capital.

And the thing is, I'm not planning on moving back to the US. It's here unless circumstances change in a way so drastic as to necessitate uprooting. So this is pretty small potatoes, so it seemed open thread-y.

Things I knew because it was around me, but my kids won't include
-the fun of singing Christmas music with lots of other people
-understanding what a nativity scene is
-understanding why Christmas Story is one of the funniest movies ever
-knowing what phrases like 'there was no room at the inn' or 'I bring you good tidings of great joy'
-Understanding who Scrooge and the Grinch are

Like I said, no biggie, but it does make me a little sad.

It snows in Ethiopia, but not very much, and usually not at Christmas, permitting Ethiopians to celebrate Christmas in their traditional way -- by playing field hockey. And by the way, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

How do I know? Several of my children are from Ethiopia, and they told me. They were delighted to find that it snows more here than it did where they came from. "More" isn't much, but like all kids, they loved snow.

What to teach the kids:

* Much of what we call "Christmas" traditions have nothing to do with Christianity. Non-Christians should feel free to put up a Yule tree, make egg nog, &c.

* For that matter, Jesus does not belong exclusively to Christians. Anyone should feel free to celebrate the birth and life of a child born under very unprepossessing circumstances, ignored by the rich and powerful, his birth noted only by certain extremely ordinary working class people, and some scholars from a foreign university town.

"Did anyone really expect Ethiopia to get snow?

Expectations are a terrible thing to lose. Ask any grown-up.
Posted by: bobbyp | December 16, 2011 at 05:33 PM"

Interesting. It appears that maybe an entire village worth of people get to experience snow in Ethiopia. Thanks for the refutation!

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