January 5th, 2020

christmas-tinseltangle

TWELFTH NIGHT

I could have sworn that I already wrote a post in 2020 and here it is the 5th of January and apparently I only wrote it in my head. That happens a lot. Whole conversations take place in my head. Whole posts written and discarded into the spaces between the folds of my brain. If all that is still in there, on top of the actual conversations and writing that I've done, imagine how crowded a place my brain must be!

The sun is peeping out, though there is a lot of cloud cover higher up. It peeped a few times yesterday, too, inbetween spitting rain and hail. It's quite cold, only 3.3C at the moment. It's lighting up the birches that stick up behind our neighbor's garage and casting shadows. I should try and go for a walk while it's out, instead of sitting here writing things with my brain and my fingers.

Today is Sunday, the day I water plants, and not the day before a work week since tomorrow is a holiday: Trettondedag jul. Today is also a holiday here, because Swedes always celebrate the Eves of holy days, but since it's a weekend that doesn't matter so much. But this particular eve is Twelfth Night.

Trettondedag jul is not a holiday that means all that much here either unless you are religious, in which case it's Epiphany, which is a Christian feast day celebrating the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus. That's literally what "epiphany" means: manifestation or appearance. It's the night that the Magi reached the manger and found the baby in it and gave him all those gifts. It's twelve days after Christmas, and imagine if the Christ child had received the following instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh:

twelve drummers drumming
eleven pipers piping
ten lords a leaping
nine ladies dancing
eight maids a milking
seven swans a swimming
six geese a laying
five gold rings
four calling birds
three French hens
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree (x all the repetitions for each verse, bringing it to a total of 364 items)

That would have been a very crowded stable, indeed! There is actually a website that has been calculating the cost of the carol's gifts every year since 1986, a total of 36 years: pncchristmaspriceindex.com/. In 2019, the entire shebang would have cost you $38,993.59 and it's pretty much only gone up every year. Check out the details on the website, it's hilarious, and entertainingly informative.

But that's just pocket money compared to the cost of the gifts the Magi brought. According to one study, over 300 kings came bearing gifts for Jesus with a calculated wealth of over $4 million by today’s standards. So, he wasn't a poor child by any means. Interesting to read about, for sure.

Anyway, for those of us in Sweden it all boils down to a 3-day weekend the week after the long Christmas and New Year holidays. The holidays in Sweden tend to bunch up around the end of the year and in the late spring. I could wish they were spread out a little better, but I wasn't in charge of deciding which religious holidays would still be a day off work 2020 years later.

Karin is in Austria, on a ski trip, though she wasn't able to ski until just now because her bag never left Copenhagen yesterday, and didn't arrive to her hotel until after lunchtime today, but she's now on the slopes, happy as a clam. We are going to visit Anders' mom this afternoon and tonight we'll call Martin to catch up. If it was up to me I'd be putting Christmas away this weekend, since a 3-day weekend seems to be perfectly made for that task, but here in Sweden it's traditional to wait until January 13 (St. Knut's Day), so I get one more week of enjoying the Christmas decorations and watching the tree slowly droop.
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    Stevie Wonder—I Wish
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