By an unusual, unanimous vote, the Officers and the entire Board of Directors, of plinyblog.com, after a period of controlled, but somewhat contentious, debate, has, now resolved, to put the erstwhile, popularly used phrase, “cultural borrowing,” in moth balls, to be immediately replaced and permanently superseded, by the more accurate, and empirically descriptive term, “cultural replication.” The prime movants of this change, correctly asserted, that “loans,” as we know them, have to be repaid, usually with interest. Moreover, should A “loan,” his lawnmower to B, for the period of time that the equipment is in B’s possession and use, A is deprived of the lawnmower. These observations, it is submitted, clearly, illustrate the patent inapplicability, to this specific topic, of the all- too commonly used noun, “loan.”
Accordingly, notwithstanding the word’s regular use, by recognized experts in such fields as, cultural anthropology, sociologists, and, as well, historians of note, we have resolved, respectfully, not to refer to the inter-cultural exchange, emulation or transmission of cultural practices or folkways, as “loans.”
The singular evergreen tree, eternally, revered by the ancient peoples, which remained, continuously, thriving and verdant, despite the fact, that in certain periods, of the year, (Winter) the Earth seemed to suffer in the throes of death. Religious-cultural observances, for example, the Roman “Feast of Saturnalia,” (4th Century), had rituals, principally involving the evergreen, performed in honor of the ailing Sun God. This practice, consistently, proved to be the curative, annually, restoring the Divinity and the Earth, to active health (as evidenced by the melting and running of brooks and streams, bunny rabbits and new greenery.) The history of Saturnalia, itself, has been traced to the very early days of man, to mark the end of the agricultural season. The, earlier, Feast of Dies Natali’s Solis, (3rd Century), celebrating the rebirth of the Sun God, is understood to have been celebrated with branches of this magically, green tree.
The word, “Yuletide”, or “Yule”, was a festival, historically observed by the Germanic peoples (ex., Norse and Gothic), eleven days after the date the Winter Solstice. The Norse Goddess,” Farigga,” was caused, by such ritual, to give birth, unfailingly, to a new, young, sun, each and very Springtime.
It may be observed that, the common, celebrations of the Winter Solstice, reiterated universally, by successive ages of man, were intended to promote the successfully, anticipated lightness and rebirth of the planet. The modern aphorism is, “If it seems to be working, keep doing it.” The Ancients, it seems, noted, the prior, consistent, successes of the observances, and emulated or replicated (not “borrowed”) them for use, with amendments, fitted to their own cultural context.
In the contemporaneous context, we do, miraculously see, a rebirth and resurrection of the planet in Springtime, verdant plants, hopping bunny rabbits, and awakened deciduous trees. Our Holidays of Christmas (death) and Easter (rebirth) are, indeed, identical to the celebrations of the ancients, and with the same perceived results. It does, logically, and rationally, seem to be a republication of the same mind- set and rituals. There is a strong rational temptation to see, in these beliefs and observances, replication as an emulation of the ancient rites, tailored to a contemporary mold. This, after all, may be true; but we have another (perhaps, original) idea.
We have learned from the study of history, and the reading of great literature, that the basic existential problems and issues, are not only universal, but timeless. This blogspace has eternally recommended the reading of great literature, for many good reasons. Perhaps the best reason is the realization, by the discerning reader, that the essential, lifetime issues, are eternally identical, albeit in different settings and contexts. Such reading, as we have constantly maintained, accordingly, furnishes the thoughtful reader, with a mature and objective, understanding and perspective, relative to his own life.
The analogous holiday celebrations referred to, are lucid examples of the universality of man, in every age, demonstrated, among other ways, by his specific, and revelatory, holidays. The price homo sapiens pays, for the generous gift, by evolution, of an advanced brain, is the (repressed) knowledge (fear) of his mortality. The franchise of life, is, inarguably treasured and celebrated; the eventual, certain, occurrence of death is of course, feared, but for practical reasons, rationalized and kept under the surface.
Holiday beliefs or fantasies, concerning, the possibility of rebirth, or resurrection, after death, would seem to be an understandable reaction, and attempt at the amelioration, of the recognized (and feared) inevitability of life’s termination. Our personal conjecture, is that such identically, motivated and analogous, holiday celebrations, have always served the same, universal, psychological, purpose. They may not merely, be interesting examples of cultural replication, but rather, the demonstration of mankind’s universal, contemporaneous fears and, his private, existential fantasies. [as was also, of course true, in ancient times].
* Wm. Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”: Marc Anthony,: “ Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears…”