Being British has some drawbacks. Hard to imagine, but it is true! The biggest for me is that as a Nation, Britain colonized the world. The sun never sets on Britain, or at one time in history it did not. It was a while back and I should move on, but that history comes with a lot of baggage and for me a heightened awareness of what Britannia did - England even. England ripped apart Scotland. England caused some major problems in Ireland which may have taken over 350 years to 'fix'. Britain did serious damage on the African continent, and in India, and what we did to the indigenous people of America was appalling. I know other countries did similar things, but. With all of this came exploitation, and... and the suppression of indigenous beliefs.
So when I come to tell tales from other cultures I carry that sack on my back. Especially around the Winter Holidays. We could begin hte winter Holidays with the Eid Al Adha on the 14th and 15th of October and run until the Chinese New Year which is the Year of the Snake and is celebrated on the 10th and 11th of February. Somewhere I wanted to find some great stories I could be faithful to and tell from deep inside. And not be too down - I was going to be performing for kids as well as grown ups. I looked at some Jewish tales, mainly the story of Hanukkah and the folklore of the driedel. But I did not feel right telling this story as a non-Jew. Then I remembered a wonderful story written by Eric Kimmel called Zigazak!: A Magical Hanukkah Night. Well, because this was an original story I could not with good conscience tell it without Eric's permission. So I emailed him via his website and he said: YES. A firned of mine Tim Van Egmond told me (and others) about a Japanese story. And I had my own stories to draw from. So over the Holiday period, I was able to tell a story about a couple of Hanukkah goblins (thanks so much Eric), the story of King Wenceslaus from Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), a Japanese story about New Year and why the seas are filled with salt (thanks Tim), the Winter Cherries (a great Welsh tale set in the Arthurian 'romances' pantheon), and a true story about the truce the soldiers created on the Western Front of World War I, 1914. (Over the holidays I found another true story about a German pilot who escorted a British bomber to safety!) It was a nice mix of tales and religions and all of them contained the best part of humankind - our humanity! Every story I read and told contained our humanity, our ability to make the right things happen, to help others. And every story has it's own little miracle in it.
|Oh we ain't got a barrel of money |
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we'll travel along singin' our song side by side
Don't know what's comin' tomorrow
Maybe it's trouble and sorrow
But we'll travel the road sharin' our load side by side
So with all of that said, I wish that you all have a great New Year, and that every day you find a little miracle and that you can share it with our fellow human beings, no matter what race, colour, creed, faith, or non-faith they are.