Friday, November 26, 2004

‘Holiday’ musings
Advent/the St Philip’s fast (in the Roman and Russian Byzantine rites respectively) are fast a-coming and, of course, for secular people that means ‘Christmas shopping season’ is here in full force.

A few thoughts:

• Haven’t got a prob per se with generic songs about snow, etc. They have their place for Jews and others not to feel left out but only alongside real Christian carols. (As the rabbis point out, Hanukkah is not ‘Jewish Christmas’ and never was, and I understand many Jews love and celebrate the non-religious aspects of Christmas. The actual religious aspect of Hanukkah is only as involved as, to give an equivalent example, my lighting the votive lamp at home, only saying a prayer while lighting the menorah candles, full stop.)
• Adam Sandler’s ‘Hanukkah Song’ celebrating the many, many Jews in show business is cute and funny.
• Pet peeve the past couple of years: the secular folk who write TV ads and schedule radio music who think Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘These Are a Few of My Favourite Things’ is a Christmas song!
• Also, ‘happy holidays’, Soviet in its ubiquity.
• Best TV ads in the States so far: Target, bar none. Always cool.
• Most annoying: Old Navy, with those attractive but smug carollers, the secular world’s notion of hip.
• Best songs: ‘Veni, veni, Emmanuel’ (an Advent hymn that’s chant), ‘O Holy Night’, ‘We Three Kings’, ‘In dulce jubilo’, ‘The Coventry Carol’, ‘Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming’, ‘Небо и земля’ (Russian)* and ‘Добрий вечiр тобi’ (Ukrainian). Also, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Metallica’s medley of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and the Ukrainian folk song (nothing to do with Christmas really) ‘The Carol of the Bells’.
• Worst: ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’, Dan Fogelberg’s ‘Same Auld Lang Syne’ (want some clinical depression in your Christmas cracker?) and one I saw years ago with spliced video of meowing cats ‘singing’ the tune of ‘Greensleeves’. (I actually like the dogs barking ‘Jingle Bells’.)

*The late actor Robert Urich, who was half-Ruthenian (his last name was not German but really Юрик) and half-Czech, sang it on a TV Christmas special in the States back in the 1970s.

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