Posted in Life & Happiness

Happy Holidays

Every culture has holidays – a day that celebrates an aspect of the people’s history, faith, traditions or just a certain time of the year. Holidays are days set aside for having fun and sharing a good time with your friends, family and community.

The degree of festivity ranges from low-key days such as a city’s anniversary day, to important annual celebrations that have an entire month of build-up such as Christmas, or even absurd ones such as International Talk Like A Pirate Day. But the bottom line is, holidays bring joy and happiness for many people around the world.

Throughout history, holidays have been a great way to boost morale in people. Even though it is just another day of the Earth circling the Sun, specific days excite us and make us giddy, letting us forget the dreariness and pains of life. Take for example the famous Christmas Truce of 1914, where British and German soldiers called a truce on Christmas Day despite World War I raging on, so that they could all celebrate the day by sharing food and gifts, while playing some spirited games of soccer.

The holidays offer a great excuse for us to be happy. There are plenty of reasons in life why we aren’t happy. Work can be stressful and boring. Relationships are full of dramas and misunderstandings. There are days where it just feels like the universe is hating on you. Sometimes, life just sucks.

But holidays bring a perfect remedy for misery: connection. Whatever the holiday may be, there are many other people celebrating the same holiday as you. This means that on that specific day, everyone feels more connected to each other as they celebrate together. From singing carols together, to looking forward to the New Year and sharing our reflections and resolutions, we are bonded as we live in the moment. Through these connections and feeling present, we feel happier.

Perhaps that is the true reason we have holidays. In a world so full of sadness and madness, isn’t it nice to have any excuse to be happy? Even if it’s just for a day, we are reminded that happiness exists, in the form of our memories and nostalgia of the past, our excitement for the future, and in the present moment that we share with each other.

Happy holidays.

Posted in History & Literature

Christmas Spirit

World War One, also called The Great War, is notorious for the horrors endured by soldiers and civilians during the four-year period. One of the horrors was trench warfare – a new type of battle where two armies would dig into trenches stand-off across a No Man’s Land. It was a particularly terrible experience due to constant PTSD-inducing artillery barrages, extremely unsanitary living conditions and the looming shadow of death that clouded the skies.

But even within these terrible times, the light of humanity shone through. In December 1914, the German army was facing off the French and British army along the Western Front. In the week leading up to Christmas, there were increasing reports of strange behaviour among troops from both sides: fraternisation.

It began with music and light. Many British soldiers reported seeing bright coloured lights from the German lines on Christmas Eve. They heard choruses of Germans singing carols, with not a gunshot to hear. The British and French forces joined in quickly and suddenly, the soldiers were all enjoying Christmas Eve. They were in an informal ceasefire.

Little by little, the two sides made contact on Christmas Day. Not with shots, but with greetings. They would compliment each other’s singing and make jokes across the ditch. Then, some fearless soldiers would cross No Man’s Land to meet their new friends face-to-face. It took a bit of time, but trust developed and soldiers would pop out of their holes without fear of being killed. The language barrier could not stop the fraternisation. Soldiers would make gestures at each other, exchange gifts such as smokes and chocolates and even challenged each other to a football match.
On Christmas Day, 1914, man’s love for each other won over the horrors of war, bringing the first period of peace since the Great War began. It was a Christmas miracle.

Of course, fraternisation with the enemy is far from desirable to a military commander. What man would want to shoot someone they just had a great game of soccer with? Killing only becomes possible when the victim has been dehumanised. This was the last Christmas Truce of the war, as commanders of both sides outlawed any fraternisation with the enemy.

Despite this, there are countless stories from the war where soldiers would show mercy to their enemies, reminding us how even during the darkest times of history, kindness and love exist.

Posted in History & Literature


Christmas (also called X-mas), on the 25th of December, is the religious celebration day of Jesus Christ’s birth. It is a beloved holiday that is usually the biggest in the year for many countries. Every year on Christmas Eve (24th), children put out cookies and milk, and with a resolution that they will not sleep they await Christmas’ undying star, Santa Claus.
But as soon as they fall asleep, Santa arrives in a sleigh pulled by reindeers, comes down the chimney and unloads many presents (only to “nice” kids) under an already-decorated tree. When the 25th comes around, children run to open their presents and celebrate. On this day, most stores close to go into a festive mood. In the evening, the whole family gathers for a feast and celebrates this joyous day.

As with most holidays, Christmas has many interesting stories tied to it.

Firstly, is the 25th of December really Jesus’ birthday? This question has plagued scholars since the 18th century, as the Bible has no record of this. In fact, historic records (old texts, the Bible etc.), scientific data (astronomy etc.) and logic all show that there is a lack of evidence for Christmas actually being the day Jesus was born. Instead, it is suggested that Jesus was born in spring, more specifically the 25th of March. Interestingly, this is celebrated as Annunciation in Christianity, the day when Jesus was allegedly conceived by the Virgin Mary. So which story is correct? This may be linked to the next story.

Secondly, the 25th of December is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Because of this, many Pagan holidays coincide around this time. For example, ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia between the 17th and 23rd, to honour the god of agriculture, Saturn (a fun fact is that there is a tradition where they brought a tree inside the house for this day, which is the roots of the modern Christmas tree). Also, later in Rome’s history, the official sun god, Sol Invictus, was honoured on the 25th of December. Many historians hypothesise that when Christianity first developed, it absorbed many of its preceding religions’ holidays, thus giving birth to Christmas.

Lastly, a story about Santa Claus. Santa Claus is based on the Dutch Saint Nicholas, but is also influenced by many other traditional holiday figures, such as Odin from Norse mythologies (who gave gifts to children who put out treats for his eight-legged horse on Christmas day). What is peculiar is the reason Santa wears red. Many people believe that the “red and white outfit” was a product of Coca-Cola’s advertising in the early 20th century, making Santa wear the company colours. However, this theory has some errors. Most importantly, there are many illustrations from before 1925 (when Santa first featured in Coke advertisements) where Santa is portrayed in his plump, bearded form clad in red clothes with a large belt, exactly like the modern Santa. But as there were many other portrayals of Santa back then (e.g. green clothes, skinny etc.), it can be safely said that Coca-Cola’s aggressive advertising and explosive popularity played a vital role in cementing the image of the Santa that we know and love now.

Santa is also known as children’s last innocence. This is because it is something that can only be found in the hearts of children who pray every Christmas to this mythical man to receive a present. Unfortunately, as they grow and learn science and facts (about their parents being the provider) their innocent beliefs turn to ashes. Because of this, some parents like to dress up as Santa to deepen the children’s faith in him, while some never allow the faith to be born in the first place. What is amusing is that in some European countries such as Poland, the idea of Santa Claus is taken quite seriously. Every adult (especially adults and teachers) take strict care not to crush this dream until the age of 4 or 5, almost religiously.

As a final note, some people note that there are some strange connections between Santa and communism: red, large beard, providing only to “nice children”, working the elves in a factory… may whoever reads this decide that fact for themselves.