The winter holidays bring out the creativity in people. I don’t know why exactly, but my current theory is that time of year is steeped in myth. Modern myths. Old myths. Truly ancient myths. The birth of the Christians’ Messiah being only one of the more recent entrants.
The Russians have Snegurka (“Snow Maiden”) and Dedushka Moroz (“Old Man (or Father) Frost”). The English, Old Man Winter and Jack Frost. The Norse had Vetr (Old Norse, “Winter”).1
There are older myths, too. For some, we have only fragments.2
In spring and summer we can ignore our own mortality. But winter suffers no fools. The elements can truly kill you if you aren’t careful – and even if you are. As the days get shorter and shorter, leading up to the Winter Solstice, even we secular humanists start looking for meaning in the world. Once it is officially “winter,” we know we have made it half way to the warmth, life, and rebirth of Spring.
What I most enjoy about this time of year – other than the food – are the retellings of myths. A number of authors I know have done some interesting things around Santa Claus in particular. In no particular order:
Charles Stross: “Overtime”
Jim Hines: “Frosty”
Nerd Rage: “Frost-Born”
Penny Arcade: “The Last Christmas”