Apologies! Your faithful scribe had matters constructive to attend to last week, attempting to ensure at least the partial completion of Clarens’ newest commercial building, ‘On The Square’, and was otherwise occupied.
It is Advent Calendar time again, following the previous week’s introduction to this time-honoured tradition of communicating gay (?!) Christmas tidings in the 24 days leading up to the Big Day itself. As will be obvious, these Advent greetings are entirely out of kilter and sequence as they arrive daily, and I write weekly at the behest of my dragon editor. So, welcome to the 8th and 15th Days of Advent, respectively, on the 20th of December, the point of which will soon be revealed.
In the first window (8th Day of Advent), we are advised that the ancient Germanic calendar was divided into six periods of 60 days each, known as tides. Yuletide, then, refers to the two month ‘tide’ corresponding to modern December and January. Within this time period falls the Twelve Days of Christmas and the winter solstice. Like Samhain (Samhain or Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead and was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld), the ancients felt that the spiritual veil was thinner during Yuletide, and ghosts and spirits walked the land. It was also considered an ideal time for divination. And drinking. So why am I telling you this?
First, it reminds us that Clarens is a very spiritual place and that there are a number of houses unquestionably inhabited by, well, things that go bump in the night. Given the season – and Yuletide specifically – we can expect even more bumps than usual, so brace yourselves, boys and girls. A renowned authority on the subject, ‘Jenny’ (real name Jenny), cautions that you must not betray any fear but rather go with the flow, so to speak. In other words, if your lights start going on and off without rhyme or reason, offer up a glass of good red wine and drink it immediately. Similarly, if you happen upon an unknown visitor in bed with your loved one, close the door discreetly and havetwo glasses of red wine. Or call your lawyer.
Second, given the note about the ghosts of the dead mingling with the living during this Samhain season, here is a tip on spotting the difference: If a stranger claims to be an accountant, Member of Parliament or banker, simply punch them hard on the nose. If they vanish in a puff of noxious smoke, you hit a genuine ghost. If however they reel backward screaming hysterically, they are quite possibly living and, again, I suggest you call your lawyer asap.
On the 15th Day of Advent, we are advised that, according to Swiss legend, Tante Arie (also known as Aunt Arie, you Anglophile), is a creature that’s a bit like a cross between a witch and a fairy. She lives in a cave among gold-filled treasure chests (the Holkranz perhaps!?) and wears a diamond crown. Supposedly having iron teeth and goose’s feet, she rides on a donkey during Christmas Eve, giving gifts to the good children but punishing the disobedient ones. Well! Clearly Clarens has its own Tante Arie but the question is, who is she? Answers on this delicate subject to the Editor, Clarens News, but by way of a clue, it is not our own Kaalvoet, now resident on the Vaal Dam and sinking boats with a happy passion.
That’s all for the final lap into Christmas, so to all our feathered friends and their two-legged companions in Clarens, our felicitations and greetings. More Advent windows in a year’s time, but for now, be well.