My youngest daughter, after gossiping with her biggest sister, came downstairs to tell us that she never believed in Santa. Not even when she was a little girl.
“How comes?” Asked I, a bit offended — the defensive way I find myself too often when talking to the kids.
“So, mommy, you had us watch Jingle All the Way with Schwarzenegger (the Turboman movie), then National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase (our preferred Christmas movie), then all the other Christmas movies that I can’t remember.”
“There’s no more innocence left in this world,” I sigh.
“Don’t worry, mommy,” continues she on a higher and happier note, “I believe in Christkind, I know that He — as a grown up — guides you and daddy to buy us presents and place them under the tree, to love us, to raise us and to keep us in school.”
I give her a hug. “You knew that it was I ringing the bell on Christmas Eves, when you were little, right after your dad finished to cram the presents.”
“When I began to realize, you stopped ringing the bell. But I can remember one Christmas Eve when the bell startled my heart. At that moment I thought that Christkind Himself was ringing the bell.” She giggles.
Our local version of Santa is Mikulás – not a myth but the legend developed after a real person.
Although the role of gift-giver on Christmas Day itself is assigned to the Christ Child, on the eve of Saint Nicholas’ feast day of 6 December Hungarian children traditionally place a boot on their windowsill  waiting for Mikulás to come by and fill it with treats.
There is no Mrs. Mikulas in Hungary. In the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia, Mikulas/Miklavž often comes with two assistants: a good Angel who gives out presents to good children and a “Krampusz”, a mean elf, in some version a Devil, who punishes bad children.
Remember Krampusz? It’s more than a legend. The archetype of evil. The ‘engine’ with the power to scare the bad boys, because some will refuse to grow up if there’s no threat forcing them into adulthood.
Opposite to the collective unconscious, Christkind is only content to ring the bell and leave the presents, unseen. On His own birthday. Or, wait a minute, Jesus was born at the end of September, not December.
Our Consumerist Christmas used to be a Catholic Conversion manoeuvre before the industrial age, and a Roman freedom festival before that.
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”. It was the Roman equivalent to the earlier Greek holiday of Kronia, which was celebrated during the Attic month of Hekatombaion in late midsummer.
Back to my daughter’s busted myths. Until some crazy geneticist will clone talking/flying reindeers with red noses, until commercial grade zero point modules will power the anti-gravity sleigh, and before sugar candy will be banned as a dangerous carcinogen, little girls will waste their innocence at an ever earlier age. And will most likely cease to believe in poetry.
Still, Christ (an adult now) keeps ringing the bell and placing a present under your every morning’s tree. The spirit of Christmas is yet another example of mankind’s artful talents of blending heavens and hells. What an interesting, Dostoyevskian feature we humans have.
Remembering this line
thou — thou dost believe that God is one; thou dost well, and the demons believe, and they shudder! –James 2:19
it makes you think: at what exactly shudder the demons?
They believe as they know about God’s game. Either as former angels or modern processes, daemons understand at least their part of the game. Nothing to quiver about.
What if daemons shudder at our chaotic minds, at our blasé attitude when contemplating depths and heights?
What if kids are the ones silently torturing the Krampusz?
On the same note, considering how religion has mixed the cult of Saturn with Christmas and the cult of Venus with Easter (well, Easter is just another name for Venus), or said in simple words: how humans slapped God’s birth on Saturnalia and added God’s Resurrection to Astarte’s spring fertility festival, one may sniff where from the demons have acquired their shudder.
Who would do something like that to the Creator?
Look at us through daemons’ eyes and you might begin to guess: what if shame, humility, horror and exasperation had a grip on Kronos and Astarte? With every Saturn-shaped Eucharist handed to children, that daemon raises a new prayer to The One Whose substance the humans had shaped in his planet’s image. With each prayer to Mary, to intercede on behalf of humans, Astarte must feel a chill on her backbone.
Do you think that these guys are a myth? See what I have to deal with?!
There are good guys and bad guys, as on earth so in heavens.