In more ways than one. For instance, I’m not at work. Woot!
By the time you read this, it’ll be Boxing Day, so Happy Boxing Day! That holiday always confused me as a kid. I had no idea why there would be a special holiday for beating people up. Then I found out it was an extra holiday lucky people in Britain and other such countries celebrated that had nothing to do with boxing, and I think this is where my anglophile tendencies began, because who wouldn’t want an extra holiday right after Christmas? Even if it did have a funny name.
In fact, it seems no one’s quite sure why it’s actually called Boxing Day. Who cares? There’s sales on – reason enough to celebrate!
We have rather more luck with Christmas, where the name is obvious and the seasonal celebrations easily traceable. Hudson Valley Geologist Steve Schimmrich has a good primer up on all that. And Doctor Science points out that no, in fact, Christ is not the “reason for the season,” as so many fundies like to pretend (h/t). And it wasn’t a foundational holiday for early Americans, either. Our own national hero George Washington saw it as a prime time to launch a sneak attack, as the colonists who would become Americans didn’t celebrate Christmas but Germans did. Isn’t there something in Sun Tzu about taking advantage of enemies’ hangovers? I’m sure there must be.
Retailers would have us believe it’s all about buying shit, and giving and receiving gifties is awesome, but Doctor Science has some of the other reasons us secular types enjoy a good midwinter celebration:
To have a green tree in the house, filled with light, in the darkest and coldest time of year, as we feel the year turn from old to new — how can that not be numinous? When we decorate with green branches and red berries, this isn’t from Christian iconography —
“I remember hearing,” said Susan distantly, “that the idea of the Hogfather wearing a red and white outfit was invented quite recently.” NO. IT WAS REMEMBERED.(from Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett). The rising of the sun and the running of the deer, seeing our families and having enough to eat: all of these things are worth celebrating. Such celebrations don’t have to be either secular or religious, in the usual sense: they are pagan in the sense of “rustic, countrified, what the common people do”. Human, in other words.
Good reasons all. And I’m not fussed about what our midwinter celebrations are called. “Christmas” is a decent enough shorthand for all those midwinter celebrations. But next year, I might start popping off with “Happy Boxing Day!” just to see how many Americans have no idea what I’m talking about.
But all of that’s just a long lead-up to what we’re really here for: the presents! And thanks to our geobloggers, Christmas this year rocks!
Follow me after the jump for ye delights.
Let’s start with a sing-song, shall we? Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous was kind enough not to actually sing the 12 Geological Days of Christmas, but he’s got the lyrics and we can carry the tune:
The words below are sung to the obvious tune, and (mostly) just about scans – although my festive gift to you is not to post anything resembling audio of me trying to sing it myself.
On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
2 concordant zircons
…and an APWP.
Enjoy all twelve!
And here’s another traditional carol, courtesy of Lockwood: “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie:”
Silver Fox sends us Xmas Greetings from Nevada:
Garry Hayes sends us a postcard from the edge! The Christmas Gift: Storm Passes in the Grand Canyon.
Erik Klemetti gave us his gift early. Dr. Adam Kent answers your questions about Mt. Hood (and more):Afters months of waiting, I have finally been able to get my act together enough to post the answers to questions you posed to Dr. Adam Kent. If you remember back to the beginning of the fall, Dr. Kent and his colleagues published a paper in Nature Geosciences about the nature of magma mixing and eruptions at Mt. Hood in Oregon. You sent in questions and now you get some answers. Enjoy!
Suvrat Kher has Recommended Holiday Reading:
A passage from Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa, The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 –
(And yes, I’m gonna be mean and make you go to the link for your giftie! Those of you who haven’t read the book yet may want to reconsider after reading it – I had no idea Krakatoa had so much to offer, and I’ve been eyeballing it for years now! Might be getting meself a little Boxing Day giftie, in fact…)
Finally, we come to the huge package that’s been looming under the tree. You know, the one that screams ZOMG OPEN MEEE!!! but everybody’s made you save for last because it’s that freakin’ awesome. Callan Bentley went out and got us a fantastic Serpentite and Melange!
That is an AMAZING thing to see — tectonically-rounded blocks of serpentinite, surrounded by a sheared-out, foliated paste of crushed serpentinite. That is a serpentinite mélange. Look at the way the foliation wraps around these lone survivors, like native prairie grasses swishing around the last two bison in South Dakota:
And thank all of you: my wonderful geobloggers, my science and political and melange bloggers, my Tweeps, my friends, family, and cat, and you, my dear, my cherished, my raison d’etre readers! I love you all to pieces. Happy hollydaze to you!