John Holbo is determined — nay, obsessesed — to add a new holiday to the pantheon of midwinter festivals: it’s Haeckelmas. I can actually understand this, since the artwork Ernst Haeckel masterminded is worthy of obsession, a beautiful celebration of life in a Victorian vein.


If you’re tired of the traditional Currier & Ives, Holbo has put together a whole collection of Haeckeliana with a holiday theme.


  1. DuckPhup says

    Considering the folderol associated with atheist bus signs… atheist plaque at the Washington state capital building… Cincinnati Zoo flap… the ‘War on Christmas… perhaps ‘Hecklemas’ might be better. Set it up for December 1, and mark it as the kick-off date for atheists to start setting-up signs to counter creches on public property… filing law suits, etc.

    Dec. 1 is right about when I start heckling christian Letters to the Editor about christmas, in the area newspapers. It would nice to have a holiday to commemorate and legitimize my hobby.

    Hecklemas. Yeah.

  2. Viergacht says

    I only celebrate Crispinmas, the birthday of my favorite actor/director/writer (Crispin Glover, April 20th), but this makes conversion awfully tempting.

  3. says

    Christmas Trees
    by Robert Frost

    “The city had withdrawn into itself
    And left at last the country to the country;
    When between whirls of snow not come to lie
    And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
    A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
    Yet did in country fashion in that there
    He sat and waited till he drew us out
    A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
    He proved to be the city come again
    To look for something it had left behind
    And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
    He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
    My woods–the young fir balsams like a place
    Where houses all are churches and have spires.
    I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
    I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
    To sell them off their feet to go in cars
    And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
    Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
    I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
    Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
    As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
    Beyond the time of profitable growth,
    The trial by market everything must come to.
    I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
    Then whether from mistaken courtesy
    And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
    From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
    “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
    “I could soon tell how many they would cut,
    You let me look them over.”

    “You could look.
    But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
    Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
    That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
    Quite solitary and having equal boughs
    All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
    Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
    With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
    I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
    We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
    And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

    “A thousand Christmas trees!–at what apiece?”

    He felt some need of softening that to me:
    “A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

    Then I was certain I had never meant
    To let him have them. Never show surprise!
    But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
    The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
    (For that was all they figured out apiece),
    Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
    I should be writing to within the hour
    Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
    Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
    Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
    A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
    Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
    As may be shown by a simple calculation.
    Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
    I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
    In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

  4. J. D. Mack says

    On a related note, I sent out my Christmas cards today. The artwork on the card was the Jefferson Memorial in the midst of a snowfall. Most people will presume that I chose this card because I live near Washington, DC. Some will correctly surmise that I specifically chose a card that honors one of the architects of the “separation of church and state” in the U.S.

  5. says

    I win! All the talk about Squidmas and cephalopodmas last year inspired me to pick out a Haeckel image for it. I have all 100 illustrations shuffling as my screensaver now.

    It occurred to me a few months ago that if anyone really looked at Haeckel’s images they would see that his “clarifying” of embryonic forms wasn’t a desire to mislead as to make everything tidy and symmetrical.

  6. Rowan says

    i find it interesting to see the use of the term x-mas at the turn of the 20th century. the way commentators rail on about it i thought it was a recent construct.

  7. DuckPhup says

    i find it interesting to see the use of the term x-mas at the turn of the 20th century. the way commentators rail on about it i thought it was a recent construct.

    ‘X’ is the Greek letter ‘chi’… first letter of ‘christos’ (Christ) in early Greek bibles. Apparently the ‘Xmas’ abbreviation has been in use since around the middle of the 16th century.

  8. Brownian, OM says

    OT, but I really need a post in which to share this (I’ve emailed PZ, and maybe he’ll post it when he’s done proctoring exams.)

    One of our local dailies, the Edmonton Journal, has started a column called “The Evolutionist.”

    Here is the intro for the very first column, which appeared on December 7:

    Today, nearly 150 years after Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution, the Edmonton Journal is pleased to introduce The Evolutionist. Every Sunday, local writer Ryan Smith will try to explain how life on Earth evidently evolved out of the primordial ooze, through a painstaking process over billions of years, and came to produce, say, Hugh Hef-ner.

    Of course, Darwin’s idea encompasses more than the rise of reptilian, soft-porn publishers. In fact, according to Edward O. Wilson, the famed Harvard entomologist who gave a talk in Edmonton last month, the hand of evolution shapes all aspects of life.

    The evidence for evolution is enormous and growing every day, and the theory itself is evolving. More and more researchers, from neuroscientists to literary critics, are finding reasons to believe humanity’s greatest achievement is our evolved predisposition to compassion and co-operation. We hope you enjoy The Evolutionist.

    So far there’ve only been two columns (here is yesterday’s.) They’re short and written for the layperson, but could the appearance of such a column be the bellwether of a sea change in people’s attitude to science?