On the epistemology of Christmas

Do they know it’s Christmas? Isn’t that such a presumptuous question? And I don’t mean for all the usual boring oh-they’re-so-ignorant-about-Africa ranty reasons it would be pathetically easy to recycle. I think it’s presumptuous because it assumes that the speaker, the implicit we, know ourselves when it is Christmas. But how do we know that it is Christmas? What is the foundation of this knowledge?

Traditionalists will point to dates on calendars, births of saviours, or even notices on the church noticeboard of scheduled “Christmas” church services and the like. But philosophically speaking, these are all a bunch of pretty dodgy empirical manifestations. Dates on calendars are subject to the whims of tyrants and bureaucrats; alleged birthdays of saviours are notoriously unreliable; and as for church services, well… which tradition of church? Catholic? Orthodox? Maybe neither?

I’m afraid no certainty lies with any of these. Fortunately over the last week, I have discovered that the true path to a profound and indelible determination of whether or not it is Christmas is both constructivist and yet uncomplicated, and requires merely the following.

  • 250g unsalted butter.
  • 350g muscavado sugar.
  • 4 cinnamon sticks.
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 litres water.
  • 1L Myers dark rum at the bargain price of USD $14 from Jomo Kenyatta Airport.

Bring together these ontological devices in a large pot, and simmer on a very low heat for a couple of hours. Then, merrily consume in the company of friends and/or family.

Perhaps after the first cup, perhaps after the fourth, you will find within you the sure and certain knowledge that, regardless of what any priest, president or printed notice says, it is undoubtedly Christmas. Mmmm…. Christmas… in my mouth.

And then you will need a nice nap.


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