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Bewildering Stories

Special Challenge 508

Meeting the Magi on the Moon

  1. In James Graham’s “Christmas 2012: Original and New Formula”:

    1. How does the public observance of Christmas in northern Europe and North America differ from the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia?
    2. What did early and medieval Christendom do with traditional pagan festivals and sacred sites?
    3. If Christmas carols were not played in department stores or on radio or TV, where else would people hear them?
    4. The author objects to Christmas’ being commercialized. Has anything not been commercialized?
    5. What were the original “Christmas presents”? Why might it not be possible to top them?
    6. How would you characterize the author’s opinion about Christmas: Scientific? Quaint? Enlightened? Missing the point?
  2. In Carmen Ruggero’s “Shoes on the Windowsill”:

    1. What tension — or “cognitive dissonance” — did the author experience as she grew up and learned more about Christmas?

    2. In the author’s tradition, the Magi — or Wise Men or Three Kings — were said to reside on the Moon. Why might that be?

    3. The author wonders fancifully if Neil Armstrong met the Christmas Magi on the Moon. In light of the late astronaut’s career after the Apollo 11 mission, why might one conclude, in a manner of speaking, that he did?

Responses welcome!

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