Mudcat Café message #854551 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54983   Message #854551
Posted By: CapriUni
28-Dec-02 - 11:39 AM
Thread Name: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
As a connection between the two I found it iteresting that the Green man handed over the death throws of nature to the Wild man for the sleep of the winter.

Yes... in some Neo-Pagan traditions, this is represented by a battle between the Holly King (the personification of the waning sun) and the Oak King (the personification of the waxin sun). In this battle, the Holly King is killed (like when Gawain beheads the Green Knight), but the battle will be fought again at Midsummer -- and the outcome of the battle will be reversed.

This ritual of the sacrifice and death of the Holly King has been played out in the tradition of Saint Stephen's day carolling, in which bands of boys go from house to house with a newly killed wren ("the king of all birds") or a wren effigy, asking for money and treats. The Wren Song, in particular, makes a pretty clear connection between the small bird and the Holly King, in this verse:

Rolley, Rolley, where is your nest?
It's in the bush that I love best
It's in the bush, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me

(no tune in the DT, but it scans nicely to "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush")

And the connection between the baby Jesus and the triumphant Oak King is at least suggested in this round from the Pammelia (1609):

Oaken leaves, in the merry wood so wild,
when will you grow green-a?
Mary maid, and thou be with child,
"Lullaby" mayst thou sing-a.
"Lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby."
"Lullaby" mayst thou sing-a.

I've seen it with two different melodies -- one from a library book that I don't have at the moment, and the other, from a 1940's book of rounds for children, just sounds thoroughly and utterly (as in "fingernails on a blackboard" utterly) wrong.