What in Heaven’s name has Shakespeare anything to do with Christmas?
Unless you have realized that I just replaced the original quote from Romeo and Juliet with the hideous festivity’s name, there is absolutely nothing that Shakespeare would have said about Christmas.
The immortal bard mentions Christmas only three times in his whole oeuvre, of which the most haunting one can be found in Hamlet, when Maercellus tells Horatio and Bernardo, after seeing the ghost (Act 1, Scene 1 if my memory does not fail me):
“Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time”.
Well, this is most gracious of good old William, since in his time was Christmas not a very celebrated festivity at all.
In his time, midwinter was just a period of the year during which nature renewed itself by dying out and remaining dormant until next spring.
It was a time when ghosts and wraiths swarmed around during the cold and dark winter hours… and none of them was playfully chuckling endless “ho-ho-ho’s” without any apparent reason.
In the 17th Century the ho-ho-ho sound was connected to the mysterious laugh of Puck, the demon and nature sprite out of ‘Midsummer night’s dream’:
…that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?
What a better world must that have been… no Christmas (at least, not like we know it nowadays), no stupid race to buy lots of junk that will end up by the trash within the month (if not sooner), or people stuffing their faces with the most hideous meals made to impress and the endless parade of futile and empty “best wishes” left and right…
Oh yeah, I almost forgot the “peace on earth” part.
As if mankind was capable of living peacefully on this planet! It sounds like the worst one-liner ever leaving the mouth of an empty-headed Miss Universe during her speech (please have a look at the part of the aforementioned empty-headed Miss Universe splendidly played by Sandra Bullock, who is in real life anything but empty-headed).
Well, it’s almost time for me to retire into my personal cave for Christmas.
I have exactly everything I need to survive the holidays:
- A beautiful and loving wife who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Christmas, either.
- At least 8 books I absolutely want to read before January 1st, all of them about hideous and almost-perfect murders (of which a couple are committed during Christmas… surprise, surprise).
- A beautiful tan acquired by spending the last two weeks with my lovely wife under the delightful sun of the Canary Islands (which was our Christmas present to each other).
- A good 10-15 movies on my entertainment system, none of which is even remotely connected to Christmas.
- A good stock of Martini Bianco, which is the least Christmassy drink I can think of and does not sparkle even if you force CO2 into it with a nuke-powered seltzer machine.
And now a final thought for the motor bikers among us:
If Santa rode a motorcycle, what kind would it be?
uospᴉʌɐp ʎlloH ∀