Monday, December 21, 2015

non-christmas holiday songs: Middle Eastern

First off .. let's agree that what we celebrate as Christmas is a melange, to say the least. It is a mix of traditions that include northern European forest/druidic rites and Middle Eastern Judaic acceptances. Further, as a result of dialog/agreement among church elders thousands of years ago (for example, the Nicene Creed), certain adjustments were made to established dogma: "we agree that [the birth of Jesus] happened this way..."

So, the first Christmas ...babe in the manger, wise men from the East (or did they come from the West? How well do you know your geography and astronomy?)The choice of December 25th was established at a time before the Gregorian calendar that most of the world accepts today. You do know that the year is currently not 2015, but 1437 for Islam? And that the Gregorian calendar that most Westerners accept was only adopted about 400 years ago?

I was lucky to grow up the child of missionaries in the Middle East. My parents daily faced deportation (or worse) for the crime of proselytization. That is the crime of trying to convince someone that your religion is better than theirs. Understand: I inherited none of that mind set. It had quite the opposite effect on me: I consider myself an agnostic with a strong moral sense of right and wrong. But it means I have an fairly informed background related to things of this sort. And it means I was born into a more-than-most "universal" environment.

So ... over here, where I live, Christmas is not particularly part of the daily cultural/religious framework. Except that it is. All the stores are decorated with spray snow, tree-hung lights everywhere ... it is likely a mixed-effect of commercialization and the fact that - damn it - this time of year calls for blinking red and green lights.

But, when it comes to music ... well, the only Christmas music I have heard since last December is what I choose to play for myself. More or less. A few mall stores play Xmas jazz over their local sound systems -most likely careful to stay away from anything overtly Xtian, and TV ads include "winter" scenes that may or may not include a Santa (Coke?).

However, if you closely follow Middle Eastern events, you may be aware that one of the "groups" most prosecuted by the sad political events over here are the Middle Eastern Christians: be they in Syria, Israel or wherever (and again, I claim no affiliation whatsoever - just a sense that "this ain't right".)

Seems to me that - if anyone can - they lay claim to the Nativity, the star that guided the Wise Men, - the entire Christmas scene, since Jesus was " one of them" (and I would not limit this to the Christians).

Enough political rant. Middle Eastern (not your usual) Christmas music in the link above.

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