This month there were twenty attendees at our monthly round table, chaired by SEA executive member Clayton Walden. Clayton reviewed Christian and Jewish holidays. As usual, the discussion devolved into a healthy and lively exchange of ideas.
Of interest was the method by which Christians did away with many of the dietary and civil laws, primarily by way of the efforts of Paul.
Passover traditions were summarized. Jewish tradition requires separate plates for dairy and meat dishes. In fact, some modern Jewish kitchens have separate preparing and serving areas for these two meals!
The confusion of leavened and unleavened bread went unresolved… confusion about definitions of Jews, Hebres and Israelites was finally left behind as we considered Valentine’s Day, just passed by a few weeks ago. It is widely celebrated under different names, interestingly. The history of Valentine himself is of interest, as there appear to be at least three different guys who bore that name, today all treated as the same person. There are a variety of relics of his in various spots (maybe because there are three sets of body parts to go around). The whole sentimental love and Hallmark traditions we follow today came along much later, through a poem by Chaucer in 1382. Several strange pagan rituals in antiquity happened around 14 February, so these may have been part of the origins, but we’ll never know…
Harvest festivals existed in ancient times as well, including Greek mythology, and these rituals continue today as Thanksgiving ceremonies. Various Greek myths have made their way into our modern cultures and literary references. Christmas, and certainly the selection of 24 December for its celebration, has long been thought to be based on Greek and other myths and their festivals of winter solstice. The Sol Invictus, or celebration of lights, is especially linked to our modern Christmas celebration. Not just the Christ story but also gift giving and candles can be linked to older traditions.
Clayton concluded by noting that knowing what to trust and how our holidays came to be are difficult for anyone to know for sure.
After the two hours of witty and hearty exchange, the meeting broke and several went over to Elephant & Castle for libations and further banter.