Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Slow and the Furious

Only a few days ago I felt very brave for having suffered the Hell of Heathrow; now, however, it looks like I‘m one of the lucky few. After all, I got a hotel and was flown out twenty hours later. All in all not bad, given the fact that tens of thousands were stranded at Heathrow, Schiphol or Charles de Gaulle for days. In fact, some still are. And people who tried to travel before Christmas within Germany by train or car got stuck for hours in the snow. Some trains didn't make it at all.

The travel difficulties are also bad for the German tourism industry, especially Berlin, that has surpassed Rome in the annual number of tourists and is now at place 3 after London and Paris. That's because quite a few Americans are usually flying to Berlin, Nuremberg, and Munich to visit Christmas markets. I myself missed the wonderful Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg because I did not want to leave the house. Maybe I can make it tomorrow to Gendarmenmarkt.

I have not really paid any more attention to the War on Christmas, but just before I left, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann told me (or rather, his whole audience) that St. Niklas, the saint Santa Claus is based on, is really an old Germanic God, Baldur. The theory is somewhat shaky. But it tells you that in any case Christmas was invented in Germany where Christmas trees go as far back as 1400-something.

Speaking of urban rumors, while Christmas does in fact go back to the Germanic Solstice, you often hear that Christians "stole" the feast from the Pagans. That is really not the case. Pagans became Christians and remodeled their holiday to their new liking. It's not like there are still droves of cave-dwelling, sheepskin-wearing Pagans around in Germany (or Scandinavia) who want to have their holiday back.

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