Friday, December 6, 2019

The Mischievous Companions of Saint Nicholas

The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany Saint Nicholas throughout the territories formerly in the Franco-German Empire or the countries that it influenced culturally in Western and Central Europe. These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. Jacob Grimm (Deutsche Mythologie) associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit (kobold, elf) which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. The association of the Christmas gift-bringer with elves has parallels in English and Scandinavian folklore, and is ultimately and remotely connected to the Christmas elf in modern American folklore.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Ghost Investigation in an Athonite Monastery

On November 9th the Orthodox Church commemorates a miracle connected with the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, Mount Athos, an ancient Greek hidden treasure, and a ghost investigation.

Docheiariou Monastery is located in Mount Athos, and was founded by Saints Euthymios and Neophytos in the late tenth century, who dedicated the monastery to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Archangels Michael and Gabriel are commemorated in the Orthodox Church on November 8th, while Saints Euthymios and Neophytos are commemorated on November 9th.

Monday, November 4, 2019

How to Explain Spirituality To A Faithless Generation According to Guillermo del Toro

When dogma and religion are rejected, it is often the case that fantasy and art replace them to fulfill the human need for something that is beyond the everyday and mundane. When Dostoevsky said in The Idiot that "beauty will save the world," one way this can be interpreted is by looking at fantasy and art that explore spiritual themes metaphorically.

For director Guillermo del Toro, who early on rejected the dogmas of Catholicism, questions of faith are continually explored through metaphor. He said in a 2008 USA Today interview:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Orthodoxy and Halloween: Ten Years Later (2009-2019)

By John Sanidopoulos

On October 31, 2009 I wrote a post on that when I woke up that morning I had no intention to write. All that morning I was checking social media and saw over and over again Orthodox Christians, both clergy and laity, posting links and comments warning others of the dangers of Halloween and how anyone who participated in any way in the holiday was in league with the devil. There was hardly a positive thing to say about Halloween. When I read the contents of these links and comments, it was no wonder there was nothing positive to say about Halloween. The information being spread was so ridiculous and false, it was enough for any sane person to pull their hair out in frustration. I thought: "Are my fellow Orthodox Christians really this stupid?" Honestly, I wouldn't expect an illiterate Greek yiayia from a remote village to believe the things I was reading. But knowing this erroneous information was being circulated by clergy helped me understand why they accepted such absurdities. The people look up to the clergy and trust their judgment. So I did some quick research on the internet to see if the clergy were able to do their homework to fact check the information they were spreading. It was then that I realized there was a big problem that needed to be addressed. Almost everything I read on the internet about Halloween was false. Not only was it false, but it was often in the realm of insane.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"The Vroucolacas: A Tale" by James K. Paulding (full text)

James Kirke Paulding (August 22, 1778 – April 6, 1860) was an American writer and, for a time, the United States Secretary of the Navy. He was born in Pleasant Valley, New York and largely self-educated. He became a close friend of Washington Irving, with whom he began a periodical. The result was Salmagundi; a short-lived satirical periodical, from which the word 'Gotham' was first ascribed as a name for New York City. After writing many other things, in June 1846 he published "The Vroucolacas: A Tale" in Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature and Art out of Philadelphia. This is among the earliest American tales influenced directly from true accounts of Greek vampire tales, half a century before the publishing of Bram Stoker's Dracula. He died at his farm near Hyde Park, New York. He is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.