Saturday, 22 December 2007

Aϊ Βασίλης έρχονται ξανά...

"He's making a list, he's checking it twice"

Watching a truly tacky 10 minute Christmas song programme last night, which had mechanical reindeer, someone throwing fake snow in front of the camera every 30 seconds or so, and a bunch of schoolkids singing to a Karaoke-style backing, I started wondering where the Greeks got "Ay Vasilis" from.

Then I read Chris's article, which had a link about the historical Man Behind the Beard, and was motivated to find out more (well, have a quick look on Wiki).

He's their Father Christmas. Every culture has one, even places like China and Japan. In these days of globalisation, Ay Vasilis is the Coca-Cola Santa, but like St Nicholas he also has a history. "Basil the Great" was born around 330, and is famous for looking after the poor and needy.

His exertions led him to an early grave at the age of 50 - Looking at our modern version, who is prime heart-attack material, yet moves round the world at velocities approaching lightspeed, it's clearly a dangerous occupation. At least no-one tried to hack his head off.

As for the picutre above, what can I say? Art has moved on somewhat in the last 600 years. They got the beard, but maybe they just didn't have any red for the coat. The writing at the top is too small for me to read, but I'm guessing it's Medieval Greek for "Ho Ho Ho!"

12 comments:

Jean Knee said...

he's not one of those with black peter, or wait, didn't one of them put dimembered children in a pickle barrel back together?

Okay, I'm not as up on all this as I should be. must investigate, and clean house, cook cookies etc... then I'll be back

Bee said...

I like out dude better! He doesn't seem so saintly.

Bee said...

uh... "our"

Bee said...

"Ho Ho Ho" Ummm how much do you thin they were back then? You can get one on craigslist for about $15.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

That sounds interesting.

It's been over 90 minutes - where are you? How long does it take to wave a duster round and bake a few cookies? I reckon you're having a sneaky cup of coffee...

Bee:

I think St N. probably was saintly as well.

There's been a lot of inflation since then. Probably a denarius or somesuch.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Something I didn't know - Ay Vasilis lives in "Rovaniemi" in Finland, rather than in Lapland. Loads of Greeks take their kids there every year to meet him. They've just had him on the TV - he was showing off his time machine and saying how he was worried about the environment. Funnily enough, he doesn't speak Greek.

Brian o Vretanos said...

I bet it was Father Al...

Jean Knee said...

I've been through hell, Brian, helllll. See I'm very stupid, and elastic has been yelling at me on emails.

so dreadful

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

Very Stupid: I don't believe that.

Yelling: Oh dear. Never mind, I won't yell at you.

Jean Knee said...

Okay, we kissed and made up. virtually


when she wasn't looking instead of putting out my cheek, I put out my cheek. hee hee

Klearchos said...

Merry Christmas, Brian!!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

You're just mean!

Klearchos:

Merry Christmas!