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280 Dog Years


The Holy Grail Press is dedicated to promoting work that standard publishers... you know, those with standards, might be reluctant to publish, which pretty much leaves poetry.  And let's face it:  No one publishes poetry.  So in the end, we’re left with a lot of free time.



Word of the Every So Often  

May 27, 2022

wonk:  (noun)  often used derogatorily, a person who takes a particularly specialized interest in the minute details of a field of study, especially with politics.  You want to know about the influence of Russian immigrants on the passage of the infrastructure bill?  Then just ask Bill, he's our resident wonk.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2020


Merry Xmas from the Holy Grail Press! 

9:28 am pst 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Let's Put the "X" Back in "Xmas"

There are many who fervently believe that the "X" in "Xmas" is crossing out Christ's name.  And, according to them, that makes it a really bad thing to do, much like shortening "God be with you" to "Good-bye."  But what do they know? 

First, understand that the Bible was not written in English... not originally.  Lots of things weren't.  English is not that old.  The origin of the English language traditionally dates back to 1066 with the Battle of Hastings, easily a thousand years after Christ.  (English Language)  Even at that, what they were speaking isn't even close to what we now call English.  If you went back in time and expected people to be able to understand you, first, go somewhere they actually spoke English.  Second, don't go before, say, 1500.  If you were to go back to the early days of when the New Testament was being written, around 50 AD, (History of the Bible) they were speaking Greek.  Indeed, the word "Bible" is of Greek origin. (Language of the New Testament)

The Greek word for Christ (in Greek) is


If you could find an original copy of the New Testament, that's the word you're going to see. (Ambrosino) 

Using "X" as an abbreviation for Christ goes back a long ways, too, all the way back to Constantine the Great (not to be confused with his son, Constantine the OK).  On October 28, 312 AD, Constantine fought the superior forces of his nemesis Maxentius at the battle of Milivan Bridge.  (The Battle of Milvian Bridge)  The night before Constantine had a vision, and in that vision God himself told Constantine to create a war banner with the first two letters of Christ's name, which, in Greek, are chi and rho, "chi" being an X, and "rho" being a P... like this:


 If the above symbol doesn't look familiar to you, then you've probably never been in a Christian church.  By the way, Constantine won that battle, which is pretty much a forgone conclusion if you have God on your side. (Ambrosino)  Anybody who's seen the Indiana Jones movies knows that.

Another familiar symbol for many Christians is


This is actually an acronym (in Greek), meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour."  Yup.  The "X" is short for "Christ." (Ambrosino)

"Christmas" is a combination of the words "Christ" and "Mass."  Christ being... well... Jesus.  And Mass means... well... mass – a church service.  In this case, it's a church service for Christ.  At one time, especially in the Catholic church, every saint had a day, and on that day a special mass was said for that particular saint. (Clark)  For instance, Michaelmas, honoring the Angel Michael (one of my favourites), and all the other Angels as well (after all, there are over 10,000 saints recognized by the Catholic church), is celebrated by those who celebrate such things on September 29. (Johnson)

The first recorded instance of "Xmas" being used for "Christmas" is in 1021, when a thrifty scribe shortened it to "XPmas."  And who can blame him?  After all, parchment paper was expensive, and not to be wasted.  And he was probably copying the entire Bible by hand.  Anything that could be abbreviated was.  Soon after the abbreviation was shortened even more, to "Xmas." (Ambrosino)  And, as they say, the rest is history.

So if you're tired of the way Xmas has changed over the years, of how people have taken a once sacred holiday and made it into a farce... if you want to get back to the real meaning of Xmas, then it's time to put the "X" back in Xmas.



Work Cited


Ambrosino, Brandon.  "The X in Xmas Literally Means Christ.  Here's the History Behind It."  Vox.  Voxmedia (14 Dec. 2014):  n. pag.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019 https://www.vox.com/2014/12/14/7374401/jesus-xmas-christmas

"The Battle of Milvian Bridge and the History of the Book."  Library News.  University of Missouri (2019): n. pag.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019  http://library.missouri.edu/news/special-collections/the-battle-of-milvian-bridge-and-the-history-of-the-book

Clark, Wayne.  "What is the Meaning of 'Mas' in the Word Christmas?"  Quora.  Quora:  n. pag.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019  https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-meaning-of-mas-in-the-word-Christmas

"English Language."  Wikipedia.  Wikipedia Foundation (7 Dec. 2019):  n. pag.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language

"History of the Bible:  New Testament."  History World.  History World:  n. page.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019  http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=adb1

Johnson, Ben.  "Michaelmas."  Historic UK.  Historic UK Ltd.:  n. pag.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019  https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Michaelmas/

"Language of the New Testament."  Wikipedia.  Wikipedia Foundation (5 Nov. 2019):  n. pag.  Web.  11 Dec. 2019  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_the_New_Testament



10:30 am pst 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

8:20 am pst 

Monday, December 14, 2020

An Old Fashioned Christmas

The next time you get invited to an Old Fashioned Christmas, be sure they specify how old.


The biggest problem with trying to be exact about Christmas is that nobody really knows when Jesus was born.  The strongest biblical clue is that it was in the Spring, maybe, during the lambing season, when the shepherds “...were out in the fields, keeping watch through the night over their flock....” (Luke 2:8)  If it had been in the middle of the night in the dead of winter, like most sensible people and their sheep, they would’ve been inside where it was warm.  But, really, that’s not strong evidence.  (McGowan)


As well, there are no records of Christmas celebrations from early Christian writers.  There was even one Christian writer, Origen of Alexander, who, around 250, wrote that celebrating anybody’s birth was a pagan practice to be avoided.  (McGowan)  I bet he never got any Christmas presents.  It was less than 100 years after Origen of Alexander, however, in 336AD, that we have the earliest record of Christmas being celebrated.  And it was only 14 years after that, in 350 AD, that Pope Julius I  “officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December.”  (Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?)  Changes came quickly in the Roman Empire after Constantine I signed the Edict of Milan in 313, “which finally ensured religious tolerance for Christians.”  (Constantine the Great Rules)


One of the theories as to why Christmas is on the 25th is that, supposedly, Mary was told by an angel on March 25th that she was going to have Jesus, which is still celebrated as the Annunciation.  You simply go nine months forward from there, and that’s December 25th.  (Luke 1:26-38:  The Message)  Once again, though, there is no specific reference to that date in the Bible, even if you squint.


The most logical reason is probably because the Catholic church was trying to horn in on everybody else’s fun.  The 25th of December falls really close to the Winter Solstice, and nearly everybody on the planet recognizes the darkest day of the year.  The Romans, Jews, Mesopotamians, Persians, Greek, Norse, Celts, and assorted Pagans, as well as certainly many others living in the Northern Hemisphere, all whooped it up on or around the Winter Solstice.  And many of these celebrations were... well... let’s just say that drunken orgies didn’t resonate too well with the Pope.  But those Popes weren’t stupid.  As Gregory the Great wrote, in 597, “...the pagan rituals [should] not be removed ‘upon the sudden,’ but rather be adapted ‘to the praise of God.’”  (The Celebration of Christmas)


Of course, with over 38,000 different Christian sects, not all of them, even today, recognize December 25 as Christmas.  Some, like the Coptics, who never got the word that the calendar had been changed, celebrate Christmas on January 7,  (Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?) and some, like the Armenian church, thumbed their noses at Pope Julius I and went on doing things as they had always done, and still do.  (The Celebration of Christmas)  And then there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who, aside from the whole Pagan thing, believe that in Luke 22:19-20 Jesus commanded us to celebrate his death, not his birth.  (Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?)


For those of us wanting to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, even with Pope Julius I’s proclamation, it still took 400 years for Christmas to “...become common throughout the European continent.”  (Conversation Starters)  The Feast of the Nativity, as it was originally called, spread first to Egypt by 432. It reached England by the end of the 6th Century, and finally to Scandinavia by the 8th Century. (History of Christmas)  And even then, it wouldn’t be anything we’d recognize today.  The problem was, Christians were told to celebrate Christmas, but they were never told how.  So, almost predictably, it often turned into “a drunken street party,” (Conversation Starters) but now after Church, of course. (History of Christmas)


Then came the Puritans, bless them, who came into power in England in 1645.  Recognizing Christmas for what it had become, they canceled the debauchery altogether.  The Puritans, in turn, brought their version of religious intolerance to America when England finally had enough and booted them out.  (Conversation Starters)


Increase Mathers, one of the Mathers Boys, stated in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  Still, there were many who celebrated Christmas in one way or another, though it was illegal to do so in Massachusetts from 1659 to 1681.  (Keleman)  Even after the Puritans were marginalized in America, Christmas didn’t catch on because it was essentially seen as a British holiday.  In fact, December 25th, 1789, was a regular work day for Congress,  (Conversation Starters) which seems really crazy, not because Congress was working on Christmas, but because they were working at all.


Slowly, what we now recognize as Christmas came into being in the early 1800s.  The traditions we most closely associate with Christmas, namely that it is a holiday that emphasizes peace on earth and good will to all more than a drunken orgy, can be attributed to two authors, Washington Irving and Charles Dickens.  Irving, in particular, doesn’t appear to have created his version of Christmas from any actual customs.  In short, he made it all up, in particular, how everybody suddenly gets along, regardless of social class, just because it’s Christmas.  (History of Christmas)  It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas because a Federal holiday.  And by the mid-1920s, pieced together from the various customs of its immigrants, Christmas in America pretty much looked like what we’ve come to think it’s always been – the tree, lights, gifts, and Santa Claus. (Conversation Starters) 




Work Cited


“The Celebration of Christmas.”  2000.  MotherBedford.com.  11 June 2014.  http://www.motherbedford.com/Christmas.htm


“Constantine the Great Rules.”  1996.  National Geographic.  11 June 2014.  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/timeline_10.html


“Conversation Starters:  When did Christian begin to celebrate Christmas?”  2005.  The Rock Christian Church.  11 June 2014.  http://www.hcna.us/columns/history-of-christmas.htm

“History of Christmas.”  2014.  History.  11 June 2014.  http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas


Keleman, Lawrence. “The Origins of Christmas.”  SimpleToRemember.com:  Judaism Online.  11 June 2014.  http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm


“Luke 1:26-38:  The Message.”  2002.  Bible Gateway.  11 June 2014.  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=NIV


McGowan, Andrew.  “How December 25th became Christmas.”  07 Dec. 2012.  Bible History Daily.  11 June 2014.  http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/


“Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?”  2014.  JW.org.  12 June 2014.  http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/why-not-celebrate-christmas/


“Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?”  2013.  WhyChristmas.com.  11 June 2014.  http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/25th.shtml


9:20 am pst 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Happy Birthday Johnny!

John Milton, the blind Puritanical poet who wrote Paradise Lost, which is consider to be the greatest epic poem in the English language (though incredibly dull), was born on December 9, 1608.  He went to check out Paradise for himself on November 8, 1674.

10:37 am pst 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem, PA

Oh, little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie.
No workers' feet
fill empty streets;
no smoke stacks cloud the skies.

Through foreign competition
and greedy corporate gains,
a few jobs lost,
well that's the cost.
We'll lock the gates with chains.

Oh, little town of Bethlehem,
no presents under trees.
No Christmas feast,
you've lost your lease.
You're left outside to freeze.

Please think us not uncaring
when of your plight we hear.
We just get annoyed
with the unemployed;
it ruins our holiday cheer.

8:44 am pst 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

I've Been a Naughty Boy

I thought he was a prowler...
How was I to know?
Creeping down my hallway
all covered up with snow...

Oh, he shouldn't've been a creepin'
through my house so late at night.
He should've known I'd exercise
my God given Constitutional right.

There'll be no Christmas morning,
so much for Christmas day,
‘cause I've been a naughty boy,
I blew Santa Claus away.

Oh, I've been a naughty boy,
and I know I'll have to pay.
There'll be coal in my stocking
‘cause I blew Santa Claus away.

There were eight tiny reindeer
out there on my lawn.
What was I to do with them
now that Santa was gone?

Don't be too darn critical
until you're in my shoes,
and don't tell me what's right or wrong
while you're eating my barbecue.

Oh, I've been a naughty boy
and I know I'll have to pay.
My Christmas tree will be bare,
‘cause I blew Santa Claus away.

I guess what's done is done,
and there's not much more to say,
but I can make you one helluva deal
if you need a second hand sleigh.

Oh, I've been a naughty boy
and I know I'll have to pay.
I'll only have switches for presents,
‘cause I blew Santa Claus away.

8:48 am pst 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

11:32 am pst 

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