Thursday, December 16, 2010
The Spirit of Christmas, Fabulous and Free
(Screenshots of Fantasy Kingdoms, showing special Christmas Quest reward prompt, Traditional Christmas Tree with lit candles and magical Holiday Sweets and Ornaments Crops)
Christmas or Yuletide should be a time of universal rejoicing, a brilliant Star in the firmament of our lives in the often dreary winter season. In all Northern cultures, even before Christianity, there was a Winter Festival to celebrate the rebirth of life at a season when visible signs of death dominated the landscape. Although the Roman festival of Invictus Sol, or the Ever-Victorious Sun, near the time of the Winter Solstice, was an invention of one of the later Roman emperors, it actually was founded upon more ancient mystery cults.
In contemporary Western 'culture', we are bombarded with the propaganda of desperate consumerism, urging us to BUY, BUY, BUY for Christmas. In fact, the current Christmas episode of the popular television series, 'Family Guy', is a brilliant allegory about the effects of the greed of big businesses AND consumers alike on Christmas. (If one can tolerate or ignore the superfluous vulgarity of the occasional release of unpleasant noises from the human body, it definitely is worth a view or two. That guy really needs a good editor. What could have become a classic is marred by farts and belches from the human 'commentator'...)
At the same time that Christmas is being suffocated by aggressive commercialism, the anti-Christian or 'Atheist' groups are busy making mischief everywhere, protesting against any public demonstrations of faith in the Spirit of Christmas or any decorations that could have religious Christian connotations. It appears to be solely Christianity that is targeted by the atheists, by the way, a fact that strips their 'cause' of any virtue whatsoever.
Jung wrote about universal symbols in the collective unconscious and the fact of the matter is that most 'Christian' symbols of Christmas are replete with significance for EVERY ONE. Whether it is the Holy Family, the Lord adored by Beasts, the Infant King, the Blessed Virgin, the Star of Bethlehem or the Christmas Tree, ALL of these symbols can be found in mythology and folklore throughout the globe throughout the centuries. This, of course, is the source of ANOTHER group of protests from the fundamentalist Christians who declare that Christmas is a Pagan Festival and should be shunned and avoided by all devout Christians!
With all of the anti-Christmas Spirit in the air and the endless assaults by commercial enterprises urging us to BUY, BUY, BUY, it can require almost superhuman efforts not to become depressed during the holiday season, especially if one is poor, alone, ill or disabled. Indeed, Advent Masses almost always include prayers for the poor, the isolated, the ill and the disabled and concerted efforts are made by almost all Churches to deliver food and gifts to members of these groups.
Another source of Christmas spirit is available to those who might not be able to interact with others in the ordinary way. With the blossoming of wireless internet connections and Facebook, there are ways to interact with others in celebrating the blessings and beauty of the Christmas season.
Facebook is a social application that is free to users and was designed primarily to allow friends and family to share information about their lives, whether through photographs, videos or written messages. In the past year or two, however, free games have proliferated on Facebook and some of these are very creative in their efforts to celebrate traditional holidays.
Even though I take a personal interest in games, there is far too little time to explore all of the available options on Facebook. For me, however, it is the 'farming simulation games' that provide the best methods of social interations through gaming as one is encouraged to share with Friends and Neighbours rather than defeating or even killing them!
For sheer, breathtaking beauty, I would recommend Fantasy Kingdoms to every one who loves the visible aspects of the Christmas spirit. From magical Crops that grow Ornaments and Holiday Candy to incredibly exquisite Reindeer and Evergeens, Fantasy Kingdoms is a treasure trove of artistic delights.
Farmville may not be as exquisite as Fantasy Kingdoms but it offers a number of entertaining options, including a Workshop that can be 'harvested' daily for Gifts and a Christmas Tree where Gifts are stored and then traded for special holiday items.
These games are free and user-friendly. You do not have to be a gamer or even a computer expert to enjoy them. Although they do offer special limited items that require currency (Farm Cash or Kingdoms Cash) that is difficult to amass in the course of gameplay and therefore are designed to persuade players to invest real money in the game, there are plenty of items that can be purchased with currency Coins or Mana) earned by playing the game.
Fantasy Kingdoms and Farmville are two of the games offered on Facebook. There are many, many more that celebrate the Yuletide season by offering special items and activities.
Much has been published with respect to the dangers and pitfalls of internet friendships but for all the individuals one 'meets' who are not worth the time of day, there are far more who are wonderful people. Many could be described as 'poor, alone, ill or disabled', in fact, but rather than becoming depressed by their situations and the trials they are forced to endure, they involve themselves with activities that raise their spirits and the spirits of others.