On 3rd December I shall be joining the lovely folks at Cognitive Media to discuss animation and learning at the RSA in London.  Details here.

I am a big fan of Christmas lights, and it doesn’t get any better than this….


  1. “Christmas” lights are about 4000 years old, being candles in ancient Scandinavia in celebration of the birth of the god Thor by a very young girl (“virgin”) and was carried to Italy by Danish youth (whom the pope was amazed to see their blonde hair and called them “Angels” when they told him they were “Angles” from the country of Anglia, west of Saxony (the Saxons). They were not permitted in the Roman Catholic Church until after 1970 and they transmogrified into “Stars” for the Egyptian magi (magicians) and the pagan festival transformed itself from the celebration of Dionysius into a far more sterile custom about a baby born into alleged poverty. I no longer put up any lights in honor of any deity as it is a waste of energy (mine and my utilities).

    1. I agree 100%, but I do like some lights as a way to lift my spirits during the dark months of winter. Admittedly I don’t put any up now that I have no kids at home. I think I will find the energy if and when I have grandchildren!

    2. Thanks for that, Arthur and Karen and, yep, I agree, too; and it’s always fascinating to see how festivals, religions, folklore and beliefs evolve over the generations, and how many different traditions are absorbed in various ways. The Church was quite open, in the early days, about incorporating existing festivals (such as Christmas and Easter) into their festivals, as it was a good way of encouraging the people to adopt their own beliefs, whilst still enjoying most of their existing celebrations, so, yep, many existing traditions, at least in their roots, do go back a long way.

      Bede recounts the “Angles as angels” anecdote with, if I remember rightly, some more punning there as well.

      And yep, I agree there, too, Karen: whatever the origins, whatever one’s beliefs, simply as a way of brightening up the winter months and an opportunity for family and good friends to get together and share a season of love and celebration (it’ll be a good thing when such love and kindness can flow throughout every season for everyone), that’s well worthwhile and long may those lights of love and celebration shine 🙂

      Whether it be for Christmas, New Year, simply enjoying good times in the winter months (or in an antipodean summer) have a wonderful time and enjoy every moment 😀

    3. Why do people (@Dr. Ide) always get angry at something other people aren’t even doing? That Christian saying, “the truth will set you free,” is sometimes insightful. People can only honour a deity if they are doing so, not by being construed to be doing so. That said, I respect your position on not wasting energy, this is a good thing.

    4. I am neither angry nor do I cast aspersions on those who put up such lights. They are a colorful and bright addition to long dark nights. My comments were made to put them into historical perspective as they have no Christian antecedents any more than the Yule Log and the Tree of Life are either Christian or Jewish but come from ancient past rituals in worship of ancient deities who existed as an explanation of natural phenomenon. The light, first found in the far north were in an attempt to reflect the great Northern Lights, and is fine. I do not use lights as they are a waste of energy an money (I did use them before when I worked and could afford that luxury) but it was rather a waste of time in a burrough of 400 people and no one lived near my street). Today I do not use them for economic and environmental concerns. Other people are certainly entitled to display any lights at any time (I even see Halloween lights all over the house) which is truly reflective of Saxon theology and the multitude of deities the Saxons invented to explain thunder (Thor), etc.

    5. Must respectfully disagree with one thing only–I was taught that human sacrificed deity ressurrected -dionysius which was replaced by Jesus was in spring. Roman Saturnalia closer in time & present giving custom to later Christmas. If I’m wrong ,forgive please, but I don’t think I am. Want to thank you for fascinating history of lights. Agree about some wasting too much electricity but a little brighten the solstice.

    6. Having written every year on the subject of the nativity, the Jesus of the New Testament is a composite of numerous ancient pagan sacrficed saviours. Ladymac is correct that the life is similar to that of Dionysius, but his alleged birth follows the ontological theological arguments of Mithras (favored by the Roman soldiers) who was born in a cave (which is the real word for the “barn”), and laid in a manger (that was hewn rock); the magi (magicians in Egypt who were astrologers looking for a star that would enlighten them–but not with a child as the holy Trinity of Egypt (Osiris, Isis, Horus) was the recipient of the gifts for a “king”, while the life is patterned after Saturnilia especially the feet washing, while the death scene is more in keeping with the vitae of Cesar (Julius), etc. It is a cute myth, but the lights apply to Dionysius and his love of gaity and represent the union of Zeus and Ganymede (the youth who so beguiled the king of the gods who was known as “Lord of Lords” that Zeus commanded that Ganymede’s eyes “shine forever to chase away the darkness”, and “bring peace in the time” as foretold by the three deities: IS[is, the creatrix of the world]-RA [the god of the sun or Son of God]-EL (the ultimate god of the people). From this we derive other sons such as Gabri-El, Rafa-El, Uri-El, Micha-El, and then in Babylonian days we find the Great Advocae who commanded all to come and learn (Satan means Advocate and is noun: a title, as read in Job 2:1). It is a delightful ful myth, and one that is enduring, but the lights are the joys in Ganymede’s eyes when he caried “the full goblet” (had sex with Zeus) to “our Father in Heven”–which is also found in Akkadian lore (these are detailed in my articles on Christmas and Saturnalia, etc).

    7. What a load of Rubbish – I suggest you do proper Research and not write Anti Christian Gobbly Gook – Taking pagan segments and warping them to fit a biased jigsaw is an insult to intelligence Christian and Non Christian

    8. Scholarship does not require religious affiliation nor the lack of the same. It requires working knowledge of the tools of the conduct of inquiry: language skills, interpretation and translation prowess and the absence of any preconceived concepts or faith. Faith is not science nor does it have any place in scholarly pursuits and analysis.

      I do have a doctorate in Biblical studies, but I also have doctorates in languages and history. There is nothing Christian about lights nor about the manger nor wisemen (there is no cave in either Matthew or Luke) for all of these are fantasies. Scholarship requires the weeding out of fabrications, fairy-tales and outright lies, as scholars can be Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists and all other forms of believers and lack of belief. I have written and published numerous books on Christmas and the misconceptions and deceits that have no Biblical foundation (try, for example: http://arthuride.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/christmas-the-hidden-story/)

  2. We could so do this.

    Our next door neighbor doesn’t put up a lot of lights, but he’s definitely in the running for largest collection of balloony frontyard inflatables in San Bruno. And he starts inflating them on the day after TG.

    (Except on a rainy day like today, when they all lie sad & deflated across the yard in pathetic melted blobs.)

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