Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry December 27th!

I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy a happy holiday season.

Me? I'm doing better now that Christmas is over.

I can only wonder how much better the season could be if it didn't have Christmas holding it back.

It's not that I hate Christmas, exactly. It's more a case of my having little use for any of the four pillars that it rests on (religion, tradition, materialism, and family). Until people stop sending cards celebrating virgin births and men in red suits and start sending cards encouraging others to read books while sitting quietly in their rooms, this is not likely to change.

Today, though - today is a very different story. It's Louis Pasteur's birthday! WOOO-HOOO!

Despite the fact that it's extremely doubtful that he was born of a virgin, he seems to have done far more for mankind than some "saviors" I could mention.

Here's how Wikipedia sums things up:

Louis Pasteur (December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist born in Dole. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases. His discoveries reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and he created the first vaccine for rabies and anthrax. His experiments supported the germ theory of disease. He was best known to the general public for inventing a method to stop milk and wine from causing sickness, a process that came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of microbiology....

To celebrate the birth of this remarkable man, this morning I did what I do every December 27th: I got up early, rushed into my kitchen, poured pasteurized milk on my cereal, and proceeded to eat a breakfast that didn't kill me. Tales of a mythic demigod who allegedly came to earth to save me from a mythic hell just can't begin to compare to that.

And as luck would have it, today is also the day that I first learned about Joanna Southcott. I look forward to the day that her story is known at least as well as that of Mary, Joseph, and the Three So-Called Wise Men.

Here it as (as briefly recounted in Elizabeth and Gerald Donaldson's Book of Days):

Joanna Southcott was a self-appointed prophetress who declared herself to be the foretold woman to whom, by miraculous birth, the Messiah would be born. When she was well over the age of sixty she suddenly appeared to be pregnant, and the numbers and faith of her followers increased dramatically. An elaborate cradle was constructed and over 100,000 converts around London awaited the birth. Instead of bearing the Messiah the poor woman died on December 27, 1814. Her swollen abdomen was caused by a tumor found at an autopsy. Still, numbers of her followers refused to believe she was dead, and took vows not to cut their hair or beards until the child was born.

Now, really, which do you think is a better preparation for life: Stories about flying reindeer and magic stars or stories about the crazy claims of deluded people and the extreme gullibility of those who believe them?

*Suddenly wishing I'd whipped up a batch of hairy cookies to go with my fresh morning milk*


  1. Germs don't make people sick, God does. You'd know that if you weren't such a heretic.

  2. Did you see this?

  3. Well, I'll admit that I have no use for the religious "pillar". And tradition and materialism CAN be taken too far. And while, for most of MY family, I love 'em dearly, I realize some folks would rather be caged with a family of grizzlies than be stuck with their relatives... But if you nailed the four pillars of Xmas, you forgot the most important tentpole of CANDY! So, if we're to celebrate Pasteuralia, can we expect to find, oh, say some little squiggle candy canes, representing bacterium that we vanquish by eating? Would that adequately celebrate Pasteur's work? Or maybe we'd celebrate by drinking HOT toddies? Through syringe-shaped goblets, even? THAT would be apt, wouldn't it? See, it's the details of the fĂȘte that matter, ultimately. I suppose that a tractor pull that flattened some sort of bacteria in effegy might work, too, but the hot toddies would be more appreciated in this cold part of the year, at least in the northern hemisphere...