Monday, December 15, 2008

The story of the Christmas Beard

Christmastime is a good time of year. I hesitate to say it’s the best time, because some people might think Hanukahtime, Kwanzaatime or Solsticetime is the best time, and I don’t want to discriminate.

Some people might like other times of the year, celebrate stuff I haven’t even mentioned or not even celebrate anything at all, which is cool too. As for me, I like Christmas and Christmastime. I think part of the reason I like it is because of the traditions, like being with family, making Christmas food and listening to Christmas music and crap like that.

Traditionally, I’ve grown a Christmas Beard the last two Christmases. This awesome Christmas tradition came from the time that I went to school at a university that had a dress code that required men to be clean-shaven, which is a drag. As soon as I took my last final I would quit shaving and would not resume shaving until the first class of the next semester.

Unfortunately, as soon as I started graduate school my face broke out like I was 15 years old again. I think it was all the stress. This is unfortunate because I got on some gnarly acne meds and now they are interfering with my beard growing. You have to put all this stuff on your face and that’s nearly impossible to do with a beard. I’m only three days in and I have decided it’s a lost cause.

So I mourned my Christmas Beard. I shaved it off, built it a little funeral pyre, burned it and scattered the ashes on the Rio Grande. The Christmas Beard would’ve wanted it that way.

With the grieving process over, I started shopping for a new Christmas tradition. In my search I stumbled across “Mari Lwyd,” an ancient Welsh tradition, and I think it just might be worthy enough to replace the Christmas Beard.

I don’t know how to pronounce it, but “Mari Lwyd” is when a group of Welsh partygoers takes a creepily decorated horse skull to a pub or someone’s house and starts singing. Then the people inside have to start a “pwnco.” I don’t know how to pronounce it either (it must be in Welsh, which, as it turns out, is a real language) but “pwnco” is an integral part of the tradition. It's a contest where the people inside and the people outside trade insults in rhyme, no joke. Then, after they have exchanged disses, the Mari group comes inside and they party on.

Hecks yeah! Christmas Beard who? It’s like Mari Lwyd and I were made for each other. We are a match made in holiday horse skull heaven. I can’t get over it, it’s like a combination of Halloween, Christmas and a RAP BATTLE! Come to somebody’s house with a horse skull, spit some rhymes, then come in for a glass of eggnog. That is my kind of holiday tradition, and it sure beats the heck out of caroling. Caroling is like the poor man's Mari Lwyd. The Welsh know how to party!

Honestly, I think Mari Lwyd is a holdover from old pagan holidays that were celebrated long before Christian holidays. But seriously, what Christian holiday didn’t start out as a pagan holiday? Not that there's anything wrong with pagans, as I mentioned earlier, but I know some people get weirded out by stuff like that. I just figure any holiday tradition with Mari Lwyd's winning combination of animal skulls and rapping is cool with me.

Anyway, buy some eggnog and practice your rhymes. You never know when I might show up at your house with a horse skull and want to battle you.

And, for an early Christmas and/or other holiday present, here is a link to help you improve your battle-raps.