Merry Mongrel Holiday

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It's exactly one week until Christmas Day, a good time to savor the glory, complexity, sweetness, oddity and just plain hodgepodge-ness, if that's a word, of the Western world's biggest holiday. As usual, the ignoramuses of the right are complaining that we all need to return to the pure, unadulterated roots of Christmas — like anybody is stopping them from doing exactly that. Christmas for the rest of us, though, whether you're a "believer" or not, is a fascinating cultural mongrel, a mix of traditions, some of which go back to beyond the Middle Ages, while others came along as recently as the 20th century. Read a great column by Laura Miller in today's New York Times about why Christmas' hybrid nature makes it so great. The essay is called "It's a Narnia Christmas," which should make more than a few members of the religious right grind their teeth — bonus!

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