Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Pine Tree Decorated With Crimson and Green

A Pine Tree Decorated With Crimson and Green
by Georg Freese

     As you may or not know, I am currently waist-deep in the writing of a story, fording through the obscure waters of history in search for buried signs, and sifting through cold wet sands in hopes for that golden nugget of knowledge that will validate my theories.
     I speak of the Goths of the 4th century C.E, them who lived in the former Roman province of Dacia (modern day Ukraine) and later migrated west, where they came to be known as Visigoths and Ostrogoths.
     Spending hours of research for the sake of historic accuracy, I have come to learn many things, two of which I will share with you now, as they relate to the happy holidays we are celebrating today.
     Though later celebrated as a Christian holiday, the celebration of Christmas is Pagan in its roots, a notion made evident by its distinctive paraphernalia, all of which seek to bring joy in the darkest and coldest nights of the year.
     The first and most obvious sign is the presence of a decorated fir tree (or pine tree). Remember that the firs and pines are evergreen trees, which means they keep their foliage throughout the dead of winter while the rest of the trees in the forest shed theirs. This quality of endurance during the harshest season of the year was admired by the early peoples of Europe, and thus they revered, celebrated and worshipped it.
     Also a common tradition of Christmas is the use of the colours crimson (red) and green for decoration. But why? I cannot provide the exact reasons, but I did come across a passage that documents the use of these colours by northern European peoples for ceremonial occasions. It is an observation by the 5th century Gallo-Roman historian Sidonius Apollinaris who, describing a procession of Frankish royalty (tribes migrated to early France), wrote as follows:
     "... The prince himself... [was] clad in gleaming scarlet, ruddy gold and pure white silk... The chiefs and companions who escorted him... wore a tight fitting, many-coloured garment (tartan squares?)... [and] green mantles with crimson borders.        
     Perhaps the green and crimson was regarded by many as an elegant combination fit for solemn occasions. Or perhaps it is just a coincidence. I can only sigh at the sight of this nugget of knowledge, not sure what to make of it, and throw it in my pouch with the rest, hoping that later, putting more of them together, I will have a more accurate notion of an epoch long since gone by.
     But for now...
     Merry Xmas everyone!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Their Time Forever Gone 
(250 word fic)
by Georg Freese

The winding cobblestone streets, jostling with brown timber and white plaster houses, converged at the square of the old German town. 

There stood a tower of smooth masonry, a five stores stalwart which arose from the square holding high a quadrilateral turret with a clock on each of its four facades, a turret crowned by an arched belfry and a spire of blackened brass tiles. 

A door at the tower's base, a door with its wooden planks chipped and its iron studs corroded, creaked open to the abandoned darkness within, where a hundred and thirty steps of stone clambered round the inside of the tower's walls.

Ascending past a titanic pendulum, the steps wound round and round until they arrived at the turret above, where the clock's mechanism of interlocked cogwheels and gears sat absent gyration, rusted by disuse, swathed in spider's webs and mantled in oblivion's dust. 

Further aloft, the belfry was quiet but for the flutter and cooing of roosting pigeons, where a bell of tempered brass once loud and solemn now hung dead from its gallows, its flank blemished by a thousand strokes from the mechanical mallet quiescent beside it. 

Outside, at each of the four clocks, the twelve roman numerals stood at their radiating posts in eternal wait for the rotating sentries to pass their hour. But the arms and the hands stayed to their last place of call, never to march again, their time forever gone.