December brings the longest night and promise for a better year. I’m still here. My eyes have returned to their normal color. Both are hazel, and I see perfectly well. However, my ability to concentrate has lost ground. It started declining when I developed chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. That is a very long time ago.
The word for Magpie, une pie, is not flattering, but Monet had yet to see this landscape. I’m working, but time passes so quickly.
I heard rumors that Canada’s Province of Alberta wants to renegotiate its relationship with Ottawa. Quebec has language laws, but separatism is no longer seen as the best option.
Alberta is a rich province, and the Rocky Mountains begin in Alberta. However, the Rocky Mountains have several ranges.
May the new season bring peace and chase away viruses.
This image is delightful. The animals resemble speaking animals. One is seeking the attention of a shepherd in the same way a domestic cat or dog tries to attract the attention of its humans. It is not an anthropomorphic animal or a human in disguise. As for the angels, they look like human beings, but they have wings. They are zoomorphic. Zoomorphic beings combine the features of a human being with the features of an animal. In fact, they may combine the features of many animals. Zoomorphic creatures may be anthropomorphic, or humans in disguise, but I have yet to find a proper classification for Angels, except zoomorphism. They may be zootheistic, but they are not gods.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Christmas is a commemoration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus Christ. Jesus never founded a religion, but the Christian religion was founded in his name at the first council of Nicaea, by the Roman EmperorConstantine I in AD 325/CE 325. The Christian Church is the second Abrahamic religion. The first is Judaism and the third, Islam. The three Abrahamic religions overlap. The story begins with the fall of Man. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Forbidden Tree (the Tree of Knowledge) in Paradise. They were led out of Paradise. Christ is the Redeemer in the Christian Church. He was transubstantiated, or made into flesh, and died on the Cross redeeming Mankind. Islam chose Arab leader Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632 CE) as its prophet, but Islam reveres Jesus. Jesus was a Galilean Jew. (See Jesus, Wikipedia.)
The Winter Solstice
Christmas is also the feast celebrating the winter solstice, the day of the longest night. In this regard, Paganism entered Christianity very discreetly. In Ancient Rome, the longest night was celebrated by upending reality. During Saturnalia, the master was a slave. The world was upside down.
Ancient Greece had a god of festivity, named Comus or Komus. The Winter Solstice, the longest night, authorised drunken and disorderly festivities. In earlier times, an old King was killed and a young King, crowned. Comedy is associated with the Comus. The young couple overcomes the heavy father opposing their marriage, which is the basic plot of all comedies. In order to rehabilitate society, a pharmākos (scapegoat) was ousted. (See 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Comus). I wrote my PhD thesis on the pharmākos in Molière’s theatre. In Tartuffe, Tartuffe, a character, is a pharmākos, he is “neither innocent nor guilty” (See Northrop Frye‘s Anatomy of Criticism). His relationship with Orgon, the father, is nearly symbiotic, but as the curtain falls on a comedy, it should include a family in its entirety.
Attached to Christmas is a wealth of information. The above is brief. More information can be found on a page entitled Feasts and Liturgy. My illness has turned into episodes of intense pain. My heart feels as though it will fail me (psasms and convulsions). Doctors suspect a musculoskeletal illness that could be related to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I will undergo a test on 6 January.
 I am in Magog, where my friend John is looking after me. My copy of Anatomy of Criticism is in Sherbrooke. I cannot indicate the page containing this quotation. If I recover from my current illness and obtain some financial support, I will update and publish my thesis. I may write a summary in English.
My post disappeared. It was my second post on L’Impromptu de Versailles. I cannot explain what happened. Inserting the original French quotations is somewhat difficult because I have to use a PDF version. It is not the copy you see. The PDF version of Molière’s play can be copied easily. However, copying Henri van Laun’s is a challenge. So, a post on Molière can take a full week to build. Building is the correct word.
No I cannot rebuild it today. I copied the text in Word, but something happened. The copy lacks final paragraphs.
It is not as rich a text as the Critique de l’École de femmes, but it is both a théâtre dans le théâtre (a play within a play, in the broadest acceptation of the word) and a mise en abyme. The Russian dolls nestled one inside another is a form of mise en abyme. But if there are two mirrors, one on each side of an object, the result is an eternal abyss, a kaleidoscope. We are about to read La Princesse de Clèves. It contains stories that could be considered mises en abyme.
I’m thinking of Christmas. The Premier wanted to wait until 11 December before allowing or cancelling Christmas, but it has already been cancelled for all red areas of the province. It’s much too dangerous.
I miss my Nova Scotia home. Life is humbler now, and I left friends behind.
Missionaries to New France had to adapt Christianity so their converts could understand it. Amerindian languages were simple languages that did not provide “black robes” with ways of expressing abstract notions. To befriend Amerindians they, therefore, chose to sing with their congregation.
The best-known piece composed for Amerindians is the Huron carol entitled: “Jesous Ahatonhia.” It was composed in 1643 for the Hurons at Ste Marie, in all likelihood, by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary, who was tortured to death by Iroquois Amerindians and has become a mythic figure. The Huron Noël belongs to Canada‘s répertoire of Christmas carols. The melody was borrowed from a French song entitled: Une jeune pucelle (A Young Maiden).
Jesous was translated into French by Paul Picard, an Amerindian notary at Quebec City and, into English, by Jesse Edgar Middleton. It was then adapted for voice and piano by Healey Willan (ca 1927), an Anglo-Canadian organist and composer (12 October 1880 in Balham, London – 16 February 1968, in Toronto, Ontario).
I have written down two stanzas of the Huron carol and two stanzas of its French translation, and a full English translation. To access the French lyrics, please click on Jesous Ahatonhia.
Chrétiens, prenez courage, / Jésus Sauveur est né! / Du malin les ouvrages / À jamais sont ruinés. / Quand il chante merveille, / À ces troublants appas / Ne prêtez plus l’oreille: / Jésus est né: In excelsis gloria!
Oyez cette nouvelle, /Dont un ange est porteur! /Oyez! âmes fidèles, / Et dilatez vos cœurs. / La Vierge dans l’étable / Entoure de ses bras / L’Enfant-Dieu adorable. / Jésus est né: In excelsis gloria!
Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found; A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there. The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt. Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you. Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy. Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
I attempted to copy this post, written six years ago, but couldn’t. I rewrote it.
Working Title/Artist: Stefano Veneziano: Madonna Enthroned (Correr) Department: Islamic Art Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: photography supplied by Islamic department – Filename – 018.tif film and media (jnc) 2_26_07
Aleppo was one of the jewels of the Middle East and it is now rubble. However, although it seems impossible, the few Christians left in Aleppo celebrated Christmas in a bombed church. We cannot resurrect those who have perished, but these courageous Syrians gave life to ruins. They celebrated the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
Human institutions are abominably fallible, but would that people remembered that Jesus of Nazareth taught unconditional love. Theologians I have spoken with assure me that love unconditional was Jesus’ only teaching. Yet, an ignorant and cruel world crucified him as it crucified young Armenian women and destroyed Aleppo. However, Aleppo will rise again, like the phœnix.
Although many Christians born in Asia Minor have been killed, some fled their native land several years ago. There is, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, a Syriac Orthodox Church. It is named St. Ephrem’s Syriac Orthodox Church, but it is changing its name to St. Ephrem’s Syrian Church. You may remember that Céline Dion‘s deceased husband, René Angélil, was born to a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother, and raised in Montreal. Members of his family attended the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Céline married René at Notre-Dame Basilica, in Montreal, but there was a second wedding ceremony. (See René Angélil, Wikipedia.)
When I prepared my posts on the Armenian genocide and my Christmas post, I realized that there had been many Christians in the Near East and Middle East. Saint Nicholas was the bishop of Myra, in Anatolia. He saved people who were about to be beheaded. (See Saint Nicholas, Wikipedia.) We have long beheaded people and the practice has intensified in the Middle East. Before the rise of Islamism, beginning in c. 1980, women in the Middle East were not wrapped in clothes and hidden behind a veil. It seems we are returning to the past. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is not a descendant of the last Sultan, Mehmed VI, as though he were. Strange things are happening everywhere, especially in the United States.
Christmas Eve was not as fine as Christmas Day. I remembered my home and work in Antigonish. Why did a woman, a case manager at an Insurance Company, let me sell my house, knowing I would have to return? She had me see an Independent Medical Examiner who asked her to tell me not to sell my house or make serious decisions. I was very sick, but he was convinced I would be able to re-enter the classroom. But my doctor’s note was not taken seriously so I was not replaced. After a very short rest, I returned to work so my students would have a teacher. She thought I was an imaginary invalid. Not relaying her IME’s message was malice on her part, unadulterated malice.
I suffer from ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), better known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which it isn’t. It hasn’t taken away my intelligence nor has it dimmed all the knowledge I acquired. But, once I had sold my house, my university did not want me to re-enter the classroom. A friend warned me that returning was dangerous, but it may have been less dangerous than not returning.
The episode that began in 2002 was triggered by exertion. I had to prepare two new courses, including Animals in Literature, during a sabbatical (2000-2001) I was devoting to writing my book on Molière. It was my worst ever episode of ME. I fell ill in February 2002.
Alexandria by the Bellini brothers
San Marco, Venice
Back to Aleppo
At any rate, Christians at Aleppo celebrated Christmas in a bombed church. They are courageous individuals. The siege of Aleppo was a calamity. One wonders what happened to unconditional love?
That conflict must end. But I have difficulty making sense of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin‘s involvement. They seem to be both friends and foes.
We will be celebrating the New Year as we celebrated Christmas. The same friends will join me. It will be the beginning of a new and, hopefully, better year. There is a fine Pâtisserie liégeoise nearby. I will purchase a cake. I am thankful for these small pleasures.
“The Announcement to the Shepherds” is classified as a Bestiaire by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) which houses the original Livre d’images. But Le Livre d’images de Madame Marie Hainault is also, and perhaps mainly, a martyrology and it contains a picture of Saint Nicholas given alms.
When I was a child growing up in a cold Quebec, my mother kept traditions alive. We celebrated la Saint-Nicolas, food and decorations.
La Saint-Nicolas is celebrated on 6 December. One eats mandarines and drinks hot chocolate. One also eats mannalas (small figures) and schnakalas (escargots). Mandarines and hot chocolate quite satisfied us.
Saint Nicolas came to North America when New York was New Amsterdam. He was called Sinterklaas (Dutch) which became Santa Claus, the English for lepère Noël. (See Saint Nicholas, Wikipedia)
Pictures of St Nicolas
please follow this link and to see more pictures of Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicolas et les trois enfants tués par le charcutier. Psautier cistercien. XIIIe
« La Légende de Saint Nicolas »
Associated with Saint Nicholas is the legend of Saint Nicholas, the story of three children cut into pieces by a butcher (le charcutier), but resurrected seven years later by Saint Nicolas. It appears the legend originates in Alsace-Lorraine. Benjamin Britten composed a cantata entitled Saint Nicholas.
Refrain: Ils étaient trois petits enfants There we three little children Qui s’en allaient glaner aux champs. Who were gathering food [gleaning] in the fields.
1. Tant sont allés, tant sont venus They so went here, they so went there Que vers le soir se sont perdus. That come evening, they were lost. S’en sont allés chez un boucher : So they went to a butcher: Boucher, voudrais-tu nous loger ? Butcher, would you give us lodging?
2. Ils n’étaient pas sitôt entrés But no sooner did they enter Que le boucher les a tués, Then the butcher killed them, Les a coupés en p’tits morceaux Cut them up into tiny pieces Mis au saloir comme un pourceau. Put them in his salting box, like pork.
3. Saint Nicolas au bout d’sept ans Seven years had passed when Saint Nicholas Vint à passer auprès du champ, Happened to go near that field, Alla frapper chez le boucher : He went and knocned at the butcher’s: Boucher, voudrais-tu me loger ? Butcher, would you give me lodging?
4. Entrez, entrez, Saint Nicolas, Come in, come in, Saint Nicholas, Y’a de la place, n’en manque pas. There’s room, there’s no want of it. Il n’était pas sitôt entré, No sooner did he enter, Qu’il a demandé à souper. Then he asked for supper
5. Voulez-vous un morceau d’gâteau ? Do you want a piece of cake? Je n’en veux pas, il n’est point beau. I don’t want any, it isn’t good. Voulez-vous un morceau de veau ? Do you want a piece of veal? Je n’en veux pas, il n’est point beau ! I don’t want any, it doesn’t look nice!
6. Du p’tit salé je veux avoir, I want something from the saloir, Qu’il y a sept ans qu’est au saloir. That has been there for seven years. Quand le boucher entendit cela, When the butcher heard that, Hors de sa porte il s’enfuya. Out of his door he fled.
7. Petits enfants qui dormez là, Little children who sleep there, Je suis le grand saint Nicolas. I am the great Saint Nicholas. Sur le saloir posa trois doigts, On the saltoir he put three fingers, Les p’tits soldats n’entendaient pas. The little sodiers couldn’t hear.
8. Le premier dit: « J’ai bien dormi ! » The first [child] said: “I slept well!’ Le second dit: « Et moi aussi ! » The second said: “Me too!” Et le troisième, le plus petitt : And the third answered: « Je croyais être en paradis ! » “I thought I was in paradise!”
(Except for the last stanza, I omitted quotation marks.)
« Ils étaient trois petits enfants. » is believed to date back to the 16th century but the legend is older. There are several versions of the song. Mine is based on the recording and it is translated accordingly.
One version is by Gérard de Nerval, a celebrated 19th-century French poet, essayist and translator. Nerval is a tragic figure. He suffered two mental breakdowns and committed suicide.
_______________  I found a version of La Légende de Saint Nicolas [click], with a translation and a recording. It contains familiar lines: Saint Nicolas tells the butcher not to flee but to repent as Good will forgive him. The words salting-tub and salter are used. I borrowed the better: “give us/me lodging.”
In Saint Nicolas festivities (he visits schools, etc.), the butcher is called Père Fouettard [click].