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Happy Yuletide Season from Cardio Trek

Happy Yuletide Season!

Okay, so fun fact - the 12 Days of Christmas is actually originally the 12 Days of Yuletide, a tradition that dates back to the Vikings, Scandinavian and Germanic peoples of northern Europe.

Old Norse Calendar
"Yule" (or Ylir) is the Old Norse word for the month of December.

During the Yuletide Season, the great god Odin would visit the homes of the people while riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, and bring them presents. He would sneak into their homes via their chimney. Historically it was celebrated in Scandinavian, Germanic, and regions conquered by Vikings / Anglo-Saxons.

Later the Christians in Denmark would co-opt the tradition and changed the names. The modern "Santa Claus" myth actually originates from Danish Christians living in New York... and if you are interested in all this you can research it, I am not going to go into the details.

Santa Claus = Odin
Eight Reindeer = Eight-legged horse Sleipnir
Elves... well, that one is easy. It is based on Norse myths of elves.

Yada yada yada.

Odin riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir
Merry Christmas and the So-Called "War on Christmas"

So I have never liked the phrase Merry Christmas. Not even when I was a kid. I like having more variety. I sometimes say it, but I mix it up by saying other things like:

Happy Yuletide!
Happy Holidays!
Happy Winter Solstice! (December 21st)
Happy Hanukkah (which this year started on December 12th and ended December 20th)!
Happy Kwanzaa! (December 26th to January 1st)
Mele Kalikimaka! (* I will come back to this later at the bottom. *)

I might even jokingly say "Humbug!" to people in my best impersonation of Ebenezer Scrooge. That always gets a laugh.

Okay, so Hanukkah is tricky because unless you are familiar with the Hebrew Calendar you might not know WHEN exactly it is. It starts in the evening on 25th of Kislev and lasts for 8 days, but since the corresponding Roman calendar doesn't line up, the dates end up being different every year.

2018:   December 2-10
2019:   December 22-30
2020:   December 10-18

Kwanzaa is also tricky because technically you're not supposed to say "Happy Kwanzaa!", but there is nothing stopping you. What you are supposed to say is "Habari gani?" and the other person is supposed to respond with a different answer depending on which day of the Seven Days of Kwanzaa it is. So for people who don't celebrate Kwanzaa, easier to just say Happy Kwanzaa to those people who also say it to you.

Okay...

So why are these greetings even an issue?

Well, because the Holiday Season (which includes Christmas) is now being used as a political boxing glove to hit opponents. Certain people (including the more recent American president) have been arguing that people should be forced to say Merry Christmas, even if they do not celebrate Christmas, or if they have chosen to go with a less politically charged way of saying it.

Saying Merry Christmas these days actually is seen as trying to force one's religious beliefs unto the other person. The big fuss that politicians have made about the phrase "Merry Christmas" is actually making it worse too. It is those kinds of people who have "declared war on Christmas". They are the ones making it worse by using Merry Christmas as a political boxing glove.

So where does that leave companies and corporations, including small time companies like Cardio Trek?

Well, I have to ask myself what phrases do I want to use when conducting official correspondence to my audience of potential clients.

Do I use Merry Christmas? Sometimes. Especially if it is actually Christmas Day.

But other times I use Happy Holidays, Happy Yuletide, etc.

If someone says Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa to me, I will say it back to them. Not because I am being forced to, but because I feel it is more polite.

I do the same thing when I speak other languages. If I want to make it clear I am thankful I tend to gravitate to the more formal ways of saying thank you. eg. In Korean there are many ways to say thank you, but if I want to make it clear that I am really thankful - I use the formal polite traditional way of saying it, which would be 구맙 습니 다.

Why??? Because I prefer to be polite when speaking to people and to me, the formal polite traditional way of something is ultimately more polite.

So Merry Christmas is a traditional way of speaking.

But honestly so is Happy Holidays... which dates back to the 1860s and earlier.

And if we want to get technical, the Yuletide is even older and more traditional. It predates modern Christmas celebrations.

Coupled with this is that the Moffat family is from Scotland and we can trace their line back to Vikings who settled in Scotland. So to me, anything to do with Vikings is basically a matter of familial ancestry.

My mother's side of the family is from what would have been the north coast of Prussia, south-east of Denmark. So it is not a stretch to say there is probably some connections to Viking ancestry there too.

So I am at least doubly inclined towards "Happy Yuletide".

As someone who is not a Christian but still uses Merry Christmas once in awhile I find the whole "War on Christmas" idea to be idiotic. It really only matters to the people who worry about such things.

I don't care about such triviality. I greet people in a manner which is polite, that is what is more important to me.

Which is more important to you?

People who say Merry Christmas, but are jerks about it.
People who behave politely and use whatever greetings they feel work in that situation.

Honestly, I would rather go with the polite way of doing it.

This all reminds of the Hawaiian way... Mele Kalikimaka!

Now that is a fun way to greet people during the Holiday Season. For those who don't know, here are the lyrics.

(Stanza x 1)
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you

(Chorus x 3)
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway

(Repeat Stanza x 1)

So it is kind of like you are saying Merry Christmas, but you are not.

And if people ask what is Mele Kalikimaka, then it is your chance to spring into song. ;)

And if people get the reference to the film National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation... then so be it. It works.

Happy Yuletide!
Charles Moffat and Family
CardioTrek.ca

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