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Tradition

Train Wheels

Train Wheels

The funny thing about tradition is – it must have been invented somewhere. Someone must have done it first, then the rest of us followed like sheep (we’ve plenty of those around here, so we know all about that). It must have been likeable, or enjoyable, perhaps even useful enough, to keep people doing it until no one could remember why they did it any more – then they kept on doing it anyway. Did you know that the tradition of wearing a white wedding dress only started when Queen Victoria wore one – when she married Prince Albert? In fact a great many other traditions we assume go back thousands of years, started life in the Victorian era.Christmas cards, Christmas trees and Christmas crackers spring to mind.

Saturn was a Roman continuation of a Greek god – the Romans did this often. If they found a god or a goddess that filled a hole in their own religious calendar they would adopt him or her. An upgrade followed the adoption, adding additional responsibilities where necessary, then a general Romanising and modernising makeover, before being given a temple and a festival. Saturn was the god of good times – he had run an idyllic rural place of plenty in the ‘olden days’. When Christianity turned up with it’s Utopian heaven and Garden of Eden, the Romans were happy to reuse a good party for the latest and greatest.

Then there’s the tradition we have here, of showing you a picture of a train now and then – for no specific reason. Here’s a dog’s eye view, I can’t imagine what he sees in trains.

Moo No Moo

Moo No Moo

Moo No Moo

Moo no moo. Moo no moo. Moo no moo. The three wise monkeys come from Japan or maybe China, or maybe not. As with many of the things we just accept in the normal course of our daily lives, a great many people know the answer – it’s just that they all know different answers.

One possibility is that you have three tiny worms in your body. Every sixty days, while you sleep, the worms wriggle off to the Gods and tell tales on you. The Gods then decide how bad you’ve been on a sliding scale from instant death (you know if you deserve this) to feeling a bit off colour. There are, naturally, ways to combat the worms. You could, for instance, perform various religious obligations and hope that the priesthood will intervene on your behalf. Cheapskates will just try to stay awake all night on the sixtieth night as the worms can’t leave until you go to sleep.

In Europe, the monasteries of the same period were a little more business minded, you needed to attend to your sins every seventh day rather than every sixtieth. I don’t think any other religion pushed for higher frequency of attendance, so every seventh day must have been all the market would bear.

The Japanese names for the monkeys are “mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru“, strictly “Don’t see. Don’t hear. Don’t speak”. The -zaru part is actually an archaic form of ‘don’t’ and also a pun on the Japanese word for monkey.

So, the whole thing is just a clever joke really.

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