The New Year begins with some resolutions

Posted On January 1, 2007

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January first.  The beginning of a new year.  As far back in history as we can tell, people have celebrated the start of a new year. The people of ancient Egypt began their new year in summer.  That is when the Nile River flooded its banks, bringing water and fertility to the land.

Today, most people celebrate New Year’s Day on January first.  People observe the New Year’s holiday in many different ways.

The ancient Babylonians celebrated by forcing their king to give up his crown and royal clothing.  They made him get down on his knees and admit all the mistakes he had made during the past year.

The idea of admitting mistakes and finishing the business of the old year is found in many cultures at New Year’s. 

So is the idea of making New Year’s resolutions.  A resolution is a promise to change or do something different in the coming year. 

Making New Year’s resolutions is a common American tradition.  Today, popular resolutions might include the promise to lose weight, stop smoking, or be more productive at work.  

Some of our Special English writers and announcers offered New Year’s resolutions of their own.  One person decided to get a new cat to replace a beloved one that recently died.  Another promised to stop telling stories about other people.  And another staff member promised to spend more time with his family.

Other people use New Year’s resolutions to make major changes in their lives.  One such resolution might be to “stop and smell the flowers.”  This means to take time to enjoy simple pleasures instead of always being too busy and in a hurry.

Another resolution might be “don’t sweat the small stuff.”  This means not to worry or get angry about unimportant things.  Another resolution might be to be happy now and to forget about bad things that happened in the past.  Or, to be thankful for the most important things in life, like family and friends. 

Our resolution is to wish all of our readers a happy, healthy and productive New Year! 

The New Year is here > Time for resolutions

Posted On January 1, 2007

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What is the motivation to embark on something new on an ordinary day? Why do something today that you can just as easily do tomorrow?

People need special occasions that force them to remember other people, God or even themselves. Birthdays, anniversaries and festivals are opportunities for celebration.

New Year’s Day is just such a day, which stops the clock and makes one take stock of oneself.

This day has gained its cultural and emotional significance over hundreds of years. The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the God of beginnings.

He was always depicted as having two faces, one at the front of his head and one at the back, for he was simultaneously looking forward to the future and backward at the past.

Over the years, cultures have evolved their own customs to mark the beginning of a new calendar year. The Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight as representative of the 12 months to come.

The Chinese use cymbals and fireworks to drive away ghosts of the past. Even the American tradition of kissing at the stroke of midnight is derived from masked balls where a kiss purged the evil spirit of the past year inherent in the mask.

New Year’s Day is an acknowledgment of time passing by. The daily grind leaves little scope for deviation from routine, which is what is required for a new resolution.

You may vow to quit smoking every Monday of the year but regularly push it off to next week until your spouse demands it as a birthday present.

You may mean to call your mother every day to enquire after her health but finally do so only on Mother’s Day. Certain days force you to recognise certain people or relationships.

New Year’s Day is a day kept aside for new beginnings, so a resolution made on that day will always hold special meaning.

Happy New Year, World!

Posted On January 1, 2007

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007, WORLD!

May all your wishes and dreams come true

May all your days be full of health, wealth and happiness

May all your days be full of peace and love

May all your days be full of peace

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007, WORLD!

End of the year > some statistics

Posted On December 31, 2006

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According to Technorati these are our blogs >
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http://www.technorati.com/profile/grhomeboy

Christmas Spirit Rank: 43,575 (101 links from 75 blogs)
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το τετράδιο μου Rank: 1,145,029 (4 links from 3 blogs)
http://moncahier.wordpress.com

a web (not paper) magazine Rank: 130,458 (41 links from 27 blogs)
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HomeboyMediaNews Rank: 45,370 (126 links from 72 blogs)
http://grhomeboy.wordpress.com

Thank you to all our valued readers for making us their friends-in-knowledge! Happy New Year 2007 to everyone!

Why I love Christmas

Posted On December 28, 2006

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I love Christmas. It’s as simple as that. It’s better than birthdays or any other holiday for that matter.

I’m one of those annoying people who start saying “it’s nearly Christmas” at the end of October, beginning of November. By mid November, I’ve started preparing my Christmas cakes and by the beginning of December I’ve practically bought all my gifts. By mid December, I’ve written and posted almost 40 Christmas cards, wrapped and put all my presents under the tree, booked my hair appointment and manicure, and started a crash diet to fit into that suit I want to wear on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day I go around with a constant smile on my face, feeling an inner warmth and excitement as I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and look forward to my calorie-packed traditional Christmas lunch with family.

Some will tell you that Christmas is very stressful because of all the pressure to have a good time and that it’s a holiday when families often get together and argue. I say that may be true, but it doesn’t make it any less special. I know that I’ll probably fight with my family this year. We usually do, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that we’re all now adults, and dynamic, volatile ones at that so that when we get together it’s natural that there will be clashes. At the end of the day though we get through those arguments, and by spending time together and talking things through we become even closer. I also can’t help hoping every year that perhaps this time we won’t fight.

But, believe it or not, although I’m into the giving and receiving of gifts, spending time with family, and having a social calendar reminiscent of an ‘it’ boy, the real reason I love Christmas is because it’s a celebration of the birth of Christ.

A lot of people nowadays look at me like I’ve grown two heads when I say that and I think that’s a shame. It frustrates me that it’s considered old fashioned or political incorrect to be a practicing believer. Don’t get me wrong, I too struggle with my faith and go through phases of completely denying God in my life, but this time of year fills me with hope and reminds me that there’s more to life than money, socialising, career progression and sex.

I think Christmas is a time when we should try to remember being more patient, more giving of ourselves, and more loving. Old fashioned or not, it’s a time a time to welcome God back into our lives. I’m not saying don’t go out and have a great time. You could very well run into me dancing on the tables half cut, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this Christmas I’ll be at Mass thanking God for everything he’s ever given me and always being there.

And if you now think I’ve got two heads, that’s okay, I’m used to it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Happy Chrishanukhajj

Posted On December 28, 2006

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Everywhere you look these days there’s a war on, not only a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a war on terror, but a war on poverty, a war on crime, a war on illiteracy, a war on obesity, a war on drugs and a war on AIDS.

The newest emerging war, believe it or not, is the War on Christmas.

A War on Christmas may sound like something ridiculously funny, even if it does exist, but as another symptom of the politically sensitive minefield of growing multiculturalism, its implications should not be understated.

All it takes is one offended person of another faith to claim their religion has been excluded from Christmas and the political correctness Gestapo jump into action. The result is usually that the other, in this case Christians, ends up offended instead, which then leads to a backlash against people of other faiths in general.

Christians will rightly argue that Christmas belongs to Christianity. It is celebrated as the birth of Christ, and has been for the past 2,000 years by two billion Christians worldwide.

But it’s not really that simple. A good number of Christmas traditions were adopted from pagan festivals or are commercial inventions. The combination has made Christmas a victim of its own success and turned the entire month of December into a run-up of parties, shopping and consumption.

Herein lies part of the problem.

Nearly all of the main religions have holy days in December. The Jews have Hanukkah from December 16-24, the Hindus have Pancha Ganapati from December 21-25, the Muslims have the Hajj on December 30 and Eid al-Ad on the 31 and the Pagans and Wiccans have Winter Solstice/Saturnalia/Yule on December 21.

The other part of the problem is that some members of these faiths object when everywhere they look during the ‘festive season’, the entire holiday appears to be devoted to just one faith… Christianity.

The politically correct often make matters worse by taking actions to pre-empt incidents where the ‘other’ may become offended. Unfortunately, their actions only make Christians feel their religion is under attack.

Instead of including other faiths in the spirit of Christmas, which would be the Christian thing to do, they attempt to remove Christianity from the equation altogether, or as the slogan goes: “Taking Christ out of Christmas”.

An article in last week’s L’Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican publication, said some shops had stopped selling Nativity figurines. “A misunderstood sense of modernity has trampled on sentiments and values” the article stated. It said that “the old and loved wishes for a ‘Merry Christmas’ … are being dissolved into a generic ‘Happy Holidays’.”

It cited a War on Christmas in the UK. “Some people say this ‘war’ is justified because of the need not to offend the sensitivity of believers or followers of other religions, as if non-believers and followers of other religions appeared suddenly only this Christmas” said L’Osservatore Romano.

Across the pond in Christian America, George Bush, who claims to be a born-again Christian, came under fire last year for sending out a generic card with a photo of his family and no reference to “Christmas”.

This year, Wal-Mart shops brought back “Merry Christmas” when Christians boycotted the stores in 2005 for its “Happy Holiday” policy. This is the main dilemma for those who profit more from Christmas than anyone else – big business. But our hearts should not bleed for them.

More recently at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a rabbi asked to place a menorah next to some plastic Christmas trees and threatened legal action if he was refused. The trees were removed but put back without the added menorah when he withdrew his threat.

Washington State has now instituted menorahs alongside its ‘”Holiday Trees” but has banned nativity scenes, in a move that is sure to tick off Christians as the menorah is an exclusively Jewish religious symbol, while Christians are prohibited from having a nativity scene and being unable to refer to the trees as “Christmas Trees”. In other places the trees are now called “Friendship Trees”.

Many people blame the ultra secularist American Civil Liberties Union and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which annually issue guidelines on how schools and state authorities should handle Christmas symbolism, mainly by secularising it.

It has reached the point that some Christian groups in the US now talk exaggeratedly about the persecution of Christians, as foretold in the Bible for the end times. Preacher Pat Buchanan wrote: “What we are witnessing here are hate crimes against Christianity.”

Other writers say the War on Christmas is a phoney war dreamt up by religious bigots such as Fox News vitriolic commentator Bill O Reilly. For anyone not familiar with O Reilly, a fanatical supporter of the War on Terror, the fact that he appears to be leading the charge on the War on Christmas is actually sufficient to question its authenticity.

There are isolated incidents of people making demands when their sensitivities are offended, but whether it amounts to a War on Christmas or Christianity is still debatable.

Maybe it’s time to start a “War on Perceived Offences” or better still move Christmas to another month, since scholars widely accept that December 25, was not Jesus’ real birthday anyway.

In essence, the importance of Christmas lies not in the date but in the message that is supposed to surround the birth of Christ. That is: “Peace and good will to all men”. In this context, a little perspective would not go amiss.

Millions of Iraqis are suffering and hundreds of thousands dying. Afghanistan is a shambles, Lebanon is on the brink and Iran is a war target as a result of the policies of an overtly Christian nation or two.

And let’s not forget the birth place of Jesus on his birthday, and the Palestinians that are under daily siege. The Israeli-built wall is “a sign of all that is wrong in the human heart”, the Archbishop of Canterbury aptly said in Bethlehem on Friday as he surveyed its devastating effects on the city.

Yes indeed. The world is falling apart while one Christian country spends $350 billion on a war in only three years. Defence spending globally accounts for $135 a year for every man woman and child on the planet while the UN has only $3 to spend per head. This year, UN member states’ arrears topped $1 billion, of which the US alone owed $675 million, or 67 per cent.

That’s a lot of peace and good will being squandered on killing Muslims in the Middle East, while some “good Christians” are worrying about whether a shop assistant says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

To quote Woody Allen: “If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he wouldn’t be able to stop throwing up.”

Season’s Greetings

Posted On December 23, 2006

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Dear Readers,

Currently Christmas Spirit’s editor is enjoying his Christmas Holidays out of Athens, along with family. So, this is just to let you all know that we shall resume our usual posting after Boxing Day, December 26th.

In the meantime let me wish you all a Merry Christmas! Enjoy this festive season and cherish it with much Love, Happiness and Peace! May the Christmas Spirit be with you all the time!

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