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PostCivilization? The State of... (Ronald Hilton, USA, 01/05/99 2:24 am)
gross commercialization of the Christmas-New York season is erasing the
signification of festivals like Christmas which call attention to the
great mysteries of life. The Epiphany (January 6), forgotten in our
society, is still celebrated in countries like Spain. Whereas Christmas
celebrates birth, Epiphany stresses the unity of mankind in the face of
the total life-span, the three gifts symbolizing birth, worldly
achievements and death. Birth comes first, and it is the day of
children. In Spain the Three Wise Men visit all the towns and villages.
Alas! They are being jazzed up to look like the Rose Bowl Parade. King
Juan Carlos made a sensitive speech about children's rights, and the
children in orphanages and hospitals were remembered. However, the Santa
Claus curse has infected the Wisdom of the day. Children are prodded
to ask for toys. Worse still, the name El Nino has been degraded. In the
world generally it now designates the storms which hit about Epiphany
time, but in Spain it means the big lottery which comes on the heels of
the even bigger Christmas one. In a public ceremony children selected
the winning numbers, and TV featured scenes of joyous swilling by those
who had won. This was the big news, not the Wise Men and the children.
There was no mention of the millions who had lost and were dejected.
Mexican TV was more honest. It showed the long lines of people lined up
outside the National Pawn Shop on Mexico's main square, sadly pawning
prize possessions because the festivities had left them broke.
Our world has been through weeks of idiotic partying, shouting and senseless vandalism. That this is hollow is evident from a very long article in The Economist (19/12/98-1/1/99) entitled "Spirit of the Age. Malignant sadness is the world's great hidden burden." It says "As a cancer is a malignant growth, so depression is a malignant sadness." All the youthful shouting and partying is a sad defense mechanism which does not work.
As I survey the world, my impression is that Austria is the country where these festivities best conserve their ancient meaning. The beautiful carol "Silent Night, Holy Night" was written in the Austrian village of Oberndorf in 1818. From thoughtful silence to senseless noise. Progress??? Austria, here it comes!!