BLIND SPOT: Parting the Christmas Party

December 14, 2017

 

While local politicians are slowly making moves for the next polls, PNP is at it again on their drug war (and I hope, they don’t mess up this time); the Congress is debating on culpability of violation of the Constitution of the Chief Justice as her colleagues cite supposed errors in their informal dealings and purport them to be impeachable offense, our Senate is investigating on vaccines on pupils, and beyond our seas, Western nations are rocked, and Muslim institutions are rumbling in the declaration of a nation’s capital as its…   well, its capital, (and here I am, all along thinking that Jerusalem has been the official capital of Israel), and some guy decided to explode some fireworks in New York City, weeks before New Year’s Eve, here we are, getting ready or presently having the highly awaited apex of community of the modern social institution – the Christmas party.  So, set yourself up for the flowing food and drudgery of drinks, and buy yourself a decent item for the exchange gift because we’ll be partying the end of the year.  

Call me Scrooge or picture me as a grumpy hermit sulking in seclusion in the hills far from the urban population, but I ask, “Why do we have Christmas parties anyway?”.  Okay, I can imagine eyebrows wrinkling, and evil looks casting, right about now.  

“The interchange of presents between friends is a like characteristic of Christmas and the Saturnalia, and must have been adopted by Christians from the pagans.”  (https://rcg.org) “Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn , held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn , in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms : gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.” (https://en.wikipedia.org) “In 1848 the  Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family (Queen Victoria and King Albert) celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree, a tradition that was reminiscent of Prince Albert’s childhood in Germany. Soon every home in Britain had a tree bedecked with candles, sweets, fruit, homemade decorations and small gifts.”  (www.bbc.co.uk)  Noche Buena is a family meal conjured by the Filipinos after coming from a midnight mass and breaking a whole day fast that was required then by the Spanish friars on December 24.  However, pre-colonial inhabitants of the islands now referred to as the Philippines, “would offer up glutinous rice cakes to their gods at the end of the year, (sans any element of Christmas).  (www.pepper.ph)  So, I suppose even without the religious and/or Western cultural component of Christmas, and had we not been colonized by any Western and/or Christian culture, we’ll still having a bibingka or biko party for whatever god we’d be worshipping in that hypothetical situation.  In the case of Bicolanos, it would probably be an “ibos” or “balisoso” party.  What’s clear is that the yearend celebrations took roots in the family and residential communities; but how on earth did it find its way in workplaces.  Well, I guess, in the advent of the age of the 8 to 5 job which makes your  exposure of employment more of a de facto community than your actual residence, the office takes the place of the communal celebration passed on by tradition.  

In an economic context, the Christmas party is “a thank you from management to the staff of all their hard work throughout the year”; “Entertaining the staff at Christmas will see them return the favor in hard work, loyalty and motivation for the next year”; and “It provides an excellent opportunity to reiterate and deliver key company messages,  recognition awards and plans for the year ahead”, among others.  (https://www.thepullagency.com)  Yeah, right.  

On the other hand, “Many common complaints about holiday parties have to do with excessive drinking”, lengthy reports of company year results,  and giveaways with the company logo, among others.  (planyourmeetings.com ) According to a paper by Paul Ingram and Michael Morris of Columbia University called “Do People Mix at Mixers?”, “study found that people overwhelmingly stuck with people they already knew, even when they had “overwhelmingly stated before the event that their goal was to meet new people”, defeating the usual purpose of bonding and promoting camaraderie among employees.  Tracy Dumas et al studied and found out that company parties increased close relations among persons with similarities, but not among those with dissimilarities.  (https://hbr.org)

If only I could have myself excused.  

“let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,”                    Hebrews 10:24




 

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