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#8 2/15/2001

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#5 12/29/2000

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#3 12/15/2000

#2 12/8/2000

#1 12/1/2000

New Celebrations:
Alternative Resources for Discovering and Celebrating Emmanuel!


Volume 1                                 Number 5                      December 29, 2000

Welcome from Editor
A Prescription for Joy
About The Real Birth Date of Jesus
The True Cost of Christmas for 2000:
         Annual Christmas Price Index
Intercepted E-mail:
         From the recipient of the gifts
Book Review:
         These Twelve Days: A Family Guide
Invitation to Share
How to Subscribe to future issues of New Celebrations

Welcome to NewCelebrations Newsletter #5!

Merry Christmas!

I think you would agree, for the most part, we do not do a very good job 
acknowledging and celebrating these twelve days of Christmas.

The theme is so ripe -- just waiting for us to claim the time.
Just as we use Advent to hone our skills of discernment to not miss the 
presence of Christ being born, we could so easily promote new traditions 
of sharing and celebrating the presence we acknowledge as Emmanuel.

Let us share stories of unselfish giving each day (Barrington Bunny). Let us 
promote something as simple as a Twelve Day Calendar wherein each person 
records secretive acts of kindness.

Send me your ideas and I will collate and disseminate them for use next year.

The purpose of this newsletter is to bring together resources that reflect a more 
healthy, a more sane, a more theologically correct approach to more meaningful 
celebration of Christmas. This year, and into the next, may you experience 

Many readers find that this newsletter is more easily read if it is printed on paper 
through your browser.

This week check out a Prescription for Joy offered by our friend, Lynn Durham, 
cast your vote for the real birthdate of Jesus, be amused by the annual Christmas 
Price Index, and the intercepted e-mail from the recepient of the gifts of the 
12 days of Christmas.

If you like what you see here, and/or a kinship with the cause, please forward this 
page to as many folks as you can. Lets get the message out.

Please, take time to share and/or recommend something a resource you have used, 
and let me know what you think.

Clyde Griffith
Stated Supply Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Drexel Hill,
Pennsylvania, USA
On the world wide web at

Prescription for Joy:  


Breathe Deeply,

Relax, Enjoy, Be at

Peace, Trust, Be Trustworthy,

Bend, Plant a Geranium, Stick it

in your Hat, Have Patience, Love

Yourself, Love Others, Sing and Dance,

Make Music, Slow Down, stay Balanced,

Laugh Heartily, Have Compassion, Count your

Blessings, Bless Others, Have Fun, Read a Good

Book, Write Your Story, Nourish your Body, Mind

and Spirit, Stretch, Experiment, Learn a Lesson, Grow

and Change, Be aware of your Thoughts, Have Good Ones,

Choose Happiness, Smell the Flowers, Be of Service, Give

a Gift, Be a Blessing, Really See, Listen, Feel, Touch, Snuggle,

Be Still, Appreciate Solitude, Commune with God, Walk in

Nature, Live in the Moment, Giggle, Release Judgments, Let

Go, Move Forward, Touch, Hug, Be with a Child, Be a Child, Be

Adventurous, Take a Chance, Be Happy, Grin, Embrace your Journey,

Have a Vision, Be a Friend, Make a Friend, Stay in Touch,


Be Grateful,

Cherish Life.

1997 Lynn Durham 603-926-9700
Mind/body/spirit health programs
relaxation - stress hardiness - joy
399 High St., Hampton, NH 03842

The Real Birth Date of Jesus

Did you know that for the early Christians, Christmas was not celebrated in 
December? In fact, for the first 300 years Christmas was not on the calendar 
at all. Most church leaders thought it unbecoming to celebrate a birth -- that 
was the way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods, 
not Emmanuel!

There are no official records that record the birth of Jesus ben Joseph in 
Bethlehem, but that did not stop speculation about when that date might have 
been. One leader of the third century church ( Clement of Alexandria, c.150-c.215) 
figured the birthday of Jesus to be May 20. Others argued for April 18, April 19, 
and May 28. Hippolytus (c.170-c.236) championed January 2. Others promoted 
November 17, November 20, and March 25. A Latin treatise written around 243 
pegged March 21 as the birth of Jesus, because that was believed to be the date 
on which God created the sun. Polycarp (c.69-c.155) had followed the same line 
of reasoning to conclude that the birth Jesus and his baptism most likely occurred 
on Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day.

By the year 273, most leaders settled on December 25 as the natal day, most 
likely because two other festivals were already being celebrated that day: 
natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday
of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness" whose worship was popular with 
Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a 
few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some 
parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and 
introduce a new festival.

Christmas was first celebrated on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine 
had declared Christianity the Roman empire's favored religion. For a while, 
Eastern churches, however, celebrated January 6 as the date for the birth of Jesus 
and his baptism. Most Eastern Orthodox churches eventually adopted December 25, celebrating the birth on the earlier date and his baptism on the latter, but the 
Armenian church still celebrates his birth on January 6.

Sufficiently confused yet? Elesha Coffman reminds us that "Another wrinkle was 
added in the sixteenth century when Pope Gregory devised a new calendar, which 
was unevenly adopted.
The Eastern Orthodox and some Protestants retained the Julian calendar, which 
meant they celebrated Christmas 13 days later than their Gregorian counterparts."

So, although there is no public record to support the claim, most -- but not all -- 
of the Christian world now agrees on the Gregorian calendar and the December 25 

The 2000 Christmas Price Index (CPI),

which is the cost of the gifts in the age-old song "The 12 Days of Christmas" has 
risen again. Each year since 1984, PNC Advisors has provided a tongue-in-cheek 
tracking of the goods and services purchased by the "True Love" in the holiday 
classic. Unlike the 5.1 percent spike observed in 1999, the increase this year of 
1.8 percent is less than the energy induced Consumer Price Index of 3.4 percent.

Despite this modest increase, the extravagant gifts from a partridge in a pear tree 
to the 12 drummers drumming are not for the budget-conscious shopper, with a 
price tag of $15,210. Interestingly, the same gifts priced over the Internet would 
cost $23,103, an increase mostly due to shipping and handling charges. While 
some items, like the five golden rings and pear tree, were less expensive online, 
others, such as the French hens and the maids-a-milking, cost more. After adding 
the costs of shipping or travel, PNC Advisors found that purchasing over the Web 
can significantly increase one's overall cost of Christmas.

"In the 16 years that PNC Advisors has been tracking the `cost of Christmas,' 
this is the first time we compared online versus retail shopping for these famous 
gifts," said Don Berdine, chief investment officer, PNC Advisors. "Some of these 
higher prices may be reflective of the volatility we've seen in the Nasdaq recently 
as the high-tech companies continually struggle with maintaining strong growth. 
We don't see many bargains on the net."

According to Berdine, the tight labor market in the entertainment sector pushed 
up the prices for the lords, pipers and drummers this year, ranging from a 3.50 
to 4.76 percent increase. This uptick is similar to the inflationary trends in the 
service sector of the U.S. economy as a whole, he noted.

"The most popular item without a doubt is the five golden rings, although 
True Loves today prefer platinum, two-tone or diamonds over plain gold rings," 
said Rebekah McCahan, investment strategist, PNC Advisors. "The plain gold 
bands are not as hot an item this holiday season, and consequently do not 
demand a higher price. Nevertheless, jewelry of any kind is timeless and has 
been very popular throughout the ages as a gift to give at Christmas."

The generous giver, who decides to purchase all 364 gifts, including all of the 
repetitions in the song, will be set back over $60,000...the "true cost of 
Christmas" for 2000. McCahan commented that perhaps the True Loves who 
seek a special gift for their beloved this holiday season should consider 
something more practical, especially if their pocketbooks are suffering the 
consequences of participation in the stock market this past year.

PNC Advisors 2000 Christmas Price Index:
                                                                       Change          Internet
                                              1999        2000   2000/99  Internet  Delivery            Total
One Partridge in a Pear Tree   $113.00   $113.00   0.00%   $50.99   $31.95            $82.94
Partridge                                   15.00       15.00   0.00%    35.00     25.00             60.00
Pear Tree                                  98.00       98.00   0.00%    15.99       6.95             22.94
Two Turtle Doves                        50.00       50.00   0.00%    79.98     25.00           104.98
Three French Hens                     15.00       15.00   0.00%    97.50     50.00           147.50
Four Calling Birds                     280.00     280.00    0.00%  200.00   100.00           300.00
Five Gold Rings                        250.00     250.00    0.00%  147.00       0.00          147.00
Six Geese-a-Laying                  150.00     150.00    0.00%  180.00      75.00          255.00
Seven Swans-a-Swimming      3,500.00  3,500.00    0.00% 4,200.00  420.00        4,620.00
Eight Maids-a-Milking                 41.20       41.20    0.00%    296.32      0.00          296.32
Nine Ladies Dancing              3,932.72   3,932.72    0.00% 5,400.00  600.00       6,000.00
10 Lords-a-Leaping                3,537.00   3,660.80    3.50% 5,500.00 3,500.00      9,000.00
11 Pipers Piping                    1,474.20   1,544.40    4.76%    950.00    600.00     1,550.00
12 Drummers Drumming         1,597.05   1,673.10    4.76%    600.00       0.00       600.00

Total Christmas Price Index $14,940.17 $15,210.22   1.81% $17,701.79 $5,401.95 $23,103.74

True cost of Christmas in song
$59,719.33 $60,307.18 0.98% $73,984.26 $19,203.40 $93,187.66


Intercepted E-mail:
Last year this series of messages was intercepted, I thought you might be 
interested. This serves as a warning to all who tend to go overboard with lavish 
gifts designed to impress -- thinking that is the reason for the season.

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
December 26
Dearest Bill:
I went to the door today and the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree. 
What a wonderful thoughtful gift! I couldn't have been more surprised.
With deepest Love and Devotion,

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
December 27
Dearest Bill:
Today the postman brought your most wonderful gift. Just imagine - two turtle 
doves! I'm delighted at your very sweet gift. They are just adorable. I will have 
to get a cage for them.
With deepest Love,

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
December 28
Dearest Bill:
Oh! Your third gift arrived! You really went too far, I think. I don't deserve such 
generosity - three French hens. They are just lovely, but I must protest - 
you've been way too kind.

FM:Miss Sara Truelove
December 29
Dearest Bill:
Today the postman delivered four calling birds. Now, really, they're quite nice, 
but now I have 10 birds and nowhere to put any please, no more birds!! 
But, thanks.

FM:Miss Sara Truelove
December 30
Dearest Bill:
What a surprise! Another present....and not a bird this time! Wow! 
Today the postman delivered five golden rings, one for each
finger. You're just too extravagant, but I love it! 
Frankly, all those birds squawking were beginning to get on my nerves, 
but the rings are wonderful...and so quiet!!
All my love,

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
December 31
Dear Bill:
When I opened the door there were actually six geese a-laying on my front steps. 
So you're back to the birds again, huh? Those geese are huge! 
And it was bird poop that they were laying... complete with a large count of 
coloform bacteria. Where will I ever keep them? The neighbors are complaining. 
The police came by with a formal complaint, and I can't sleep through all the 
racket. I guess I have my own noise-makers for the new years eve celebration 
Please stop. NO MORE BIRDS!!

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
January 1
Happy New some people. It hasn't been so happy with me. 
What's with you and those dumb birds? Seven swans a-swimming. 
What kind of practical joke is this? There's bird guana all over the house 
and they never stop squawking. I could not sleep all night and I'm a nervous wreck. 
You have gone too far, bird brain. 

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
January 2
I think I prefer the birds over this. What am I going to do with eight maids 
a-milking? It's not enough with all those birds and eight maids a-milking, 
but they had to bring their cows. Have you ever smelled a yard full of cow 
patties? Their piles are all over the lawn, and I can't move in my own house. 
Leave me alone. 

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
January 3
Hey, Vacuum-for-a-brain:
What are you? Some kind of freak? Now there's nine ladies dancing... 
right in the smelly you-know-what and tracking it all over my house. 
The way they've been bickering with the milk maids, I hesitate to even call 
them ladies. 
You'll get yours, buddy.

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
January 4
You rotten piece of cow patty:
What's with the ten lords a-leaping? I have threatened to break their legs 
so that they can never leap again. All 23 of the birds are dead. 
They've been trampled to death by the leapers, the dancers, and the cows. 
At least, I don't have to worry about them any more. 
However, the cows are mooing all night having gotten diarrhea. 
My living room is a sewer! The City Commissioner has subpoenaed me 
to give cause why my house shouldn't be condemned.
I'm filing a complaint to the police about you!
One who means it.

FM: Miss Sara Truelove
January 5
Listen, brainless:
Now there's eleven pipers piping. And they never stop piping... 
except when they're chasing those maids or dancing girls. 
The cows are getting very upset and are sounding worse than the birds 
ever did. 
What am I going to do? 
There is a petition going around to evict me from the neighborhood.
I hope you're satisfied, you rotten, vicious swine.
Your sworn enemy,

FM: Law Offices
Sue, Pillage, and Plunder
January 6
Dear Sir:
This is to acknowledge your latest gift of twelve drummers drumming 
which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, Miss Sara Truelove. 
The damage, of course, was total. 
She was found beating her head against the wall to the beat of the 
twelve drums. If you should attempt to reach Miss Truelove 
at Happy Glen Sanitarium, the attendants have instructions to shoot you 
on sight. 
With this letter please find attached a warrant for your arrest.
Law Firm of Sue, Pillage, and Plunder


Book Review:
These Twelve Days : A Family Guide to After-Christmas Celebrations
by James Kasperson, Marina D. Lachecki
A great resource filled with stories and suggestions for families to observe 
Christmas for the whole twelve-day season!

Buy here for only $13.95.

<A HREF="">These Twelve Days : A Family Guide to...</A>

Invitation to Share

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, pass New Celebrations on.
New Celebrations is meant to be a clearing hourse, a resource, of
practical information folks can use. The idea is that we could
all use some help in overcoming the mass-merchandising influences
of the season.
New Celebrations Newsletter is intended to be shareware.
As Arlo Guthrie pines: When one person does something, it is
pretty much ignored. When two people join in doing something,
people raise their eyebrows. When three people get together to
do something, it becomes a movement...
Our Christmas celebration CAN be more faith-full and less stress-
full. Help spread the word. Forward this message to everyone
you can think of.

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New Celebrations is a part of CyberMin Resources and edited by
The Reverend Clyde Griffith.
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Thanks for reading.