Sunday, December 15, 2013

Megyn Kelly was white--I mean right

Before everybody forgets about Kelly and her angry rejection of the idea of Santa Claus as penguin, which is somehow racist, and some of the responses which alleged that the historical St. Nicholas might have been sort of Turkish—
Father Christmas outsources to China!
"OK, elves, we need to hustle!!! Three million more VHS players and two million Barbies by Monday morning! Let's make those quotas!!" "Hao!!" (Via)
Just for the record, St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, was so not Turkish. Though his home province of Lycia was in the southwestern corner of what is now Turkey, it was culturally and ethnically Greek and had been for a very long time. The worship of Artemis of the [jump]
Eleutherians passed seamlessly into that of another virgin goddess, the Mother of God. There weren't any Turks there in the 4th century; the Turks, or rather their ancestors, were still off to the east of the Caspian Sea in Inner Asia, not arriving on the Anatolian peninsula until some seven centuries later.

And when they did, piratical Italians took advantage of the chaos and spirited the saint's relics away past Crete and up the Ionian and Adriatic Seas to Bari, where they gifted the Latin church with a new saint, Nicola di Bari.

Wikipedia notes that the Northern European St. Nicholas, Dutch Sinterklaas, has attributes parallel to those of the Norse god of wisdom and magic, Odin: flying rooftop to rooftop through the winter night on his white horse like Odin on the eight-legged Greipnir Sleipnir; carrying his crozier, accompanied by his Moorish assistants, the Zwarte Pieten, as Odin wields his rune-engraved spear followed by black ravens; and making children presents of candy in the shape of letters of the alphabet, echoing the runes with which Odin gifted humanity. As Odin's ravens tell him everything that is going on in the world of men, the Zwarte Pieten tell Nicholas what's going on in the world of children: who's been good enough to receive the traditional cadeautjes and who's been naughty enough to get whacked with a stick or even, in the case of extreme wickedness, get popped in the saint's sack and whisked away to Spain.

From SoSlow Cuisine.
St. Nicholas's night ride in Europe was not on the night before Christmas but on the eve of his own feast day, December 6, which continued to be celebrated in the north after the Reformation otherwise put an end to the veneration of the saints. It seems to have been our first notable fiction writer, Washington Irving, who gave him his rosy, specifically Dutch, face and clay pipe, and pictured him delivering gifts specifically by chimney, in his 1809 Knickerbocker's History of New York, which proposed St. Nick as the Knickerbockers' patron saint. The switch of his annual trip to the night of December 24 was first proposed, along with the sleigh and a single reindeer, in 1821, in the anonymous lithographed Children's Friend published by William B. Gilley; and ratified forever two years later with eight "tiny" reindeer (matching Sleipnir's eight legs) and Nicholas himself as a "right jolly old elf" in Clement Clark Moore's great poem. In that moment he had, in a manner of speaking, displaced Jesus as the presiding deity of the feast.

It's a well-known mythopoeic fact that there are considerably fewer gods than there are gods' names; not only that Allah is YHWH and Zeus is Jove/Juppiter and so on but also that Jove, as a thunder god, corresponds to the Norse Thor, where he doesn't get to rule but is subordinate to Odin, who in turn corresponds to the lowly Greek Hermes, the patron of thieves. Each seems to be telling the story of his own supremacy in terms of denying the glory of the other, and I have recently come to wonder whether the Bearer of Light Lucifer isn't, in the same way, the counterpart of Apollo, only tossed out in the Hebrew story by the jealous YHWH and made into a devil. Do you suppose YHWH is himself the war god, Ares/Týr, the Lord of Hosts (Týr's name, etymologically cognate with deus, simply means "the god")?

Anyway it's pretty clear that St. Nicholas-Hermes-Odin, the patron incidentally of Catholic thieves, is the god of America, who explicitly overwhelms Jesus by making his worldwide territorial progress at the moment Jesus is being born, taking all the attention to himself. That's why he's so important to Megyn Kelly; unbeknownst to herself, she's a Santaist. And he's very white, with a whiteness earned during all those transformations; as an Orthodox Greek being abstracted away from the invading Muslim hordes, as a Norse god flanked for contrast by those black attendants, as a Dutch elf breaking into your house for the glass of milk and plate of koekjes, much whiter than the Jewish baby in question.
The 1821 Children's Friend, via St. Nicholas Center.

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