cut above the rest

Saturday, December 30, 2006

christmas bells

Bells announce the start of an event, activity or occasion. They toll to signify good or even bad times.

Ringing of bells can be traced a long time back, to pagan winter celebrations. Noisemakers were used to scare away evil spirits in the night.
Among those were the bells. They could be easily obtained or made and everyone had the know-how. It was believed that with the outset of winter, evil spirits would move around to bring harm. So during the dark days after the harvest or the hunt, people would engage in ceremonies to keep bad things from happening to them, while they waited for spring and warmer days. It can be safely presumed that people had such fun ringing the bells and making noise that it was incorporated into other events and activities.

From these ancient roots, the ringing of bells was carried over into the Christian Christmas season. The soft, cheerful tones blended well and enhanced the sounds of the season. Bells are also used to announce the union of a man and a woman. They are rung in churches to call people to gather, as warnings and to bring people together to make announcements. They also herald in the New Year. For centuries now, the bells of churches in every land have rung the glad news of the birth of Jesus. These bells would ring for an hour before midnight on Christmas Eve as if to warn the powers of darkness of the approaching birth of the Saviour. Then, right at midnight, they would change to a joyous pealing, ringing out the announcement, ‘Christ is born’.

The movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ made popular the quote ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings’. But over a hundred years ago, this was a very common saying amongst kids.Back in those days, kids believed that making noise was just as much a part of Christmas as anything else. And bells came in handy. The bright and cheery sound of the bells was also acceptable to parents as proper tools to celebrate and make noise at Christmas. Bells were inexpensive musical instruments and so people could easily carry them while caroling or wassailing and almost every family had one or more.

And bells have always had a place in Christmas songs. The famous Christmas hymn ‘Christmas Carol’ comes from the poem, ‘I Heard the Bells of Christmas’ written by H.W.Longfellow on December 25, 1864. The poem is actually about the tragedy of the Civil War and my favourite stanza of the poem is
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men!”

Christmas bells also feature in classic holiday songs such as ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Silver Bells’ and ‘Christmas Bells are ringing’.
This thus is the significance and beauty of Christmas Bells.

So keep ringing bells through Christmas into the New Year, for a joyful and fun filled year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

christmas or christomas

Christmas or christomas, an annual holiday marks the traditional birth date of Jesus the Christ who is also known as Jesus of Nazareth.
Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus’s birth with various other traditions and customs, many of which were influenced by ancient winter festivals such as Saturnalia and Yule.

Saturnalia was the best-known winter festival of the Roman Period and was popular throughout Italy. Saturnalia was a time of general relaxation, feasting, merry-making and a cessation of formal rules. It included the making and giving of small presents including small dolls for children and candles for adults.
Saturnalia honoured the god Saturn and began on December 17. The festival gradually lengthened until the late Republican period when it was seven days (December 17-24). In Imperial times, Saturnalia was shortened to 5 days.

Yule. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, between late December and early January. Yule logs were lit to honour Thor, the god of thunder with the belief that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born the coming year. Feasting continued till the log burned out, and which would take even 12 days.

As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan celebrations had a major influence on Christmas.

Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the Germanic word Yule is synonymous with Christmas.
In Anglo-Saxon times, Christmas was referred to as geol from which the current English word ‘Yule’ is derived.

It is unknown exactly when or why December 25 became associated with Jesus’s birth. The New Testament does not give a specific date.

Sextus Julius Africanus popularized the idea that Jesus was born on December 25 in his Chronographiai, a reference book for Christians written in AD 221. This date is nine months after the traditional date of the Incarnation i.e., the day on which Jesus was conceived (March 25) now celebrated as the Feast of the Annunciation. Early Christians believed that March 25 was the date on which Jesus was crucified. March 25 was also considered to be the date of the vernal equinox and December 25 the winter solstice (when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 BC, December 25 was approximately the date of the solstice. In modern times, the solstice falls on December 21 or 22.)

The word ‘Christmas’ is a contraction meaning ‘Christ’s Mass’. It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes Moess, a phrase first recorded in 1038.
The earliest reference to the celebration of Christmas is in the Calendar of Filocalus, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome in 354.
Some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7, which corresponds to December 25 on the Julian calendar.

December 25 as a birth date for Jesus is merely traditional and is not though to be his actual date of birth.

Thanks Bhaiyya for inspiring me to research and write - though went unpublished in The Hindu as it is a supposedly negative article.
Not to forget that THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS BITTER and doesn't come in sugar coated pills.

Monday, December 18, 2006

time pleaeeaaase

Time please for me to write the next post.
Am very busy these days. My salwar kameez business :) -- have to write an article for the Christmas feature -- MIL's 60th bday celebrations and regular household work as well.

Patience for Sabar ka phal meetha hota hai ;)

Remember my 83 yr old boyfriend with whom i wanted to spend a day in FRIENDS
--- well went and spent a day with him. Had a very nice time.
Spoke to him that night as well as the morning of the next day.
Then as per my habit called him a week later. His servant spoke to me and informed that he had had an accident and that he was critical. The accident had taken place right on the afternoon of the day that i had spoken to him last.
He improved a bit but then only to become critical again.
I know that i am going to miss this dear friend if he goes to be with the Lord, but i also know that there wld be a saint praying for me.

I am but awed at the happenings.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

height of customer service

The height of customer service --- My Vegetable vendor (remember-Orange!) was plucking the leaves off the Keerai [Greens] stems.
The reason -- sell the keerai kutt [ bunch of greens] to my neighbour.
Else my neighbour wld not buy the Keerai.

Amazing, isn't it?
Competition brings the nuances of Services Marketing to the grassroots of rural Sathuvachari even!

Which management course has my Neighbour done? Home-making.

And which customer relationship management training programme has my vegetable vendor enrolled in?.... Ofcourse other than Life itself !
Hunger, the responsibility of managing her family of 2 kids & the Economics of buying and selling teach her everything.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

love beyond the known and the comprehensible

Am doing business on a very small scale. I deal in cotton salwar suits. Buy it from a place in Andhra and sell it to my friends, neighbours and relatives.
Today i had an enquiry from my street Garbage Picker.
The woman works, perhaps for the municipality. She collects the garbage cans from the houses; transfers to an open cart and throws them in another area.
The woman wanted to know whether i wld give credit. I asked at what pace? ( If u know what i mean?)
She said at the rate of 20- 30 rs even after getting to know that my salwars cost between 200 to 325 rupees. I agreed. She and another of her co- workers came into my house to see the stuff. They liked but exclaimed that they wld not choose.

The reason being that their children wld reprimand them for their poor selection and the lack of discernment of the quality of goods :(
They said that they wld come with their kids and select as per their choice and satisfaction.

I felt so sorry for them. They sweat out their lives and bear the stench only to be treated as the wasted, illiterate and the dumb ones.
One of them came with her daughter. The daughter chose the costliest one of Rs. 325. The mother did not bat an eyelid. Asked for a discount. Paid 50rs and agreed to pay the balance in part payments of Rs.30 a week.

I was stunned and the effect is this post.

I say that i was stunned for yet another reason. When i purchased the salwar suits, i was wondering whether the 325 ones wld be too expensive for the vellore crowd.
Now u can understand my SHOCK.

Wild blind Love in action too.

A Tamil saying describes this scene very vividly.
"Pettha manas pitth ; Pillai manas kall"
Translated as
The parental heart is mad whereas the child's heart is a stone.