(Or, the prototype for "Marilyn Manson's War on Christmas Special")
Gather round children, gather round... Now that the Natalis Domini festival is over it is time to learn the dark secret of Christmas. The secret is this: It's not Jesus' birthday. No one knows when, or even if, Jesus was born. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice was celebrated long, long before there was a Jesus, or Christianity. Various cultural mythologies and traditions had arisen long before our culture's religion claimed this day as their own.
Outside the sun has been on a decreasing arc across the Southern sky. On winter solstice the sun ceases to decline in the sky and the length of daylight reaches its minimum for three days. Then, on the night of winter solstice, as seen from a northern sky, the three stars in Orion's Belt align with the brightest star in the eastern sky Sirius to show where the Sun will rise on the morning after.
This was noted long before our religion existed. Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of Saturn, a large and important public festival that involved animal sacrifices. The concepts of birth or rebirth of sun gods was common. In seventh century Japan they celebrated the reemergence of Amaterasu or Amateras, the sun goddess of Japanese mythology. Requiems for the dead were held and rituals performed throughout the night as they awaited the sunrise. Aspects of this tradition have continued to this day. The indigenous people of Finland, Sweden and Norway, worshiped Beiwe, the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity. She traveled through the sky in a structure made of reindeer bones with her daughter, Beiwe-Neia, to herald back the greenery on which the reindeer fed. On the winter solstice, her worshipers sacrificed white female animals and covered their doorposts with butter so Beiwe could eat it and begin her flying journey once again.
So, huddle up shivering in your blanket near the crackling fire with a warm cup of Cocoa as the world outside is blanketed in this season's cadaverous snows, crystal and cold and deadly, for tonight you shall have a gift given in the true spirit of the long lost holidays of the ancients, the gift of Heavy Metal Delirium to help you through this the longest, and the darkest, night of the year.
Sweet dreams are made of this:
If you're confused by the comments here it's because I dropped some requests on other blogs for help looking for more music. I seem to have come down with a strange case of heavy metal musicophilia and you'll note that a lot of the linked music here is decades old. I'm wondering how out of touch I am with what's going on today in heavy metal. It once dominated my life in high school, but then sometime during college I stopped looking for new music. So, I am just getting started to again look for the music like I once did and your help would be appreciated. If you like the music I've got linked on this post and there's some band you think I might like to hear, drop a link into the comments section and share.
And if you're looking for new music yourself, here's a heavy metal critic's site you might find useful: Chad Bowar's Heavy Metal Guide.
My next metal post will probably be called "The Devils Music" and will feature "Hail Satan," Black Sabbath's N.I.B. and the Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil." I'll also be looking for preachers railing against rock and roll.