Sister Donatella Soul
It's that most wonderful time of the year when generally put into practice are the elements of light. Kindness, compassion, love, sharing, family, giving, all come into hyper-play during our winter celebrations. But, so do elements of darkness. Reminders that there are views in the world that those not on board with goodness and seasonal cheer all year long will be punished.
Long before Charles Dickens put quill to parchment to inscribe the ghost story "A Christmas Carol" and become "The Man Who Invented Christmas", peoples the world over associated winter celebrations with pagan spectres and monsters that doled out punishments for the wicked.
In this spirit, The Sisters offer a handy "Schedule of Fear" with Survival Tips. Mark your calendars and prepare yourselves for weeks of holiday terror!
The first item that should go on your calendar is the all-Sisters holigag show at Urban Mo's in Hillcrest, HANNUKKRAMPUS! Doors open at 8PM, show starts about 9PM.
Feast of St. Nick: December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. The night before, Nick travels the world filling kid's shoes with presents. Isn't that a sweet gesture? No wonder he is the patron saint of children. His sidekicks are another story.
Nick travels with a rowdy crew who mete out punishments for bad little boys and girls.
Housecker is a dark figure with long hair and a scraggly beard who leaves a broom made of sticks dipped in vinegar so the parents may exact their own punishment on the children. Survival Tip: With Housecker, you just have to choose nice over naughty. It may help to leave carrots in your shoes for Nick's horse, Amerigo.
Knecht Ruprecht may accompany Nick or may come on Christmas Eve. He walks with a limp and is black with soot from breaking and entering through chimneys. Sometimes he and Nick call children to the front door to perform a dance or sing a song. If they perform badly, Ruprecht beats them with a bag of ashes. Survival Tip: Pay attention in dance class.
Schmutzli wears a black robe and rubs his face with lard and soot. He whips bad children then stuffs them in Santa's empty goodie sack and kidnaps them, possibly to be turned into a cookie. Survival Tip: If you can't behave, try to appear unappetizing.
Le Pere Fouettard (Father Whipper) was a butcher who found three lost children, slit their throats, carved them up and placed the meat in a salting barrel. St. Nick popped into the butcher shop and Le Pere showed him the meat. Nick, as the children's saint, was outraged. He resurrected the children and sent them back to their families. Then he made Le Pere his servant to follow him on his rounds for eternity. Bad children get whipped by Le Pere Fouettard. Survival Tip: Don't be alone with the butcher.
Krampus is a half-goat, half-demon covered in fur, with hooves and horns, and chains that he rattles to scare children. Misbehaved children get beaten with birch branches, thrown in his sack, and carted away to hell to be drowned or eaten. Survival Tip: Offer Krampus some schnapps and hope he already filled up on the neighbor's children.
Two weeks before Christmas: Belsnickel is filthy and dresses in rags and animal skins. He visits households to dole out cakes and nuts from his pockets (um, gross) to those who've been good and whippings to those who've been bad. Survival Tip: Basically, just be out getting drunk. If you are not home, he can't find you. This is known as "Belsnicking".
Christmas Eve Day: The Jolakotturinn, or Yule Cat, visits before Christmas Eve dusk to be sure you have received new clothes to wear on Christmas Eve and into the new year. If you have not received new clothes, the giant cat will eat you. Survival Tip: Obviously, wear new duds Christmas Eve Day. Donate your old ones to charity.
Christmas Eve: The Nisse, or Tomten, look similar to Gnomes, which is cute until one recalls they live among the dead in burial mounds. They are helpful throughout the year, protecting and caretaking the households of those who do not anger them. They have a quick temper and are known to bite and drive people insane with trickery. They may drag children from their bed for interrogations. If the children offer a wrong answer, the Tomten whip them with sticks and lick up the blood from the wounds. Survival Tip: Stay on their good side by leaving out gifts of food on Christmas Eve and don't be an ignorant child.
Christmas Night: Berchta, the Goddess of Winter, is a half-demon, half-witch with a goose foot. She takes night flights starting Christmas Night through January 6th, visiting homes to reward the hard-working and generous with freshly-baked cookies and to punish the idle, greedy, and curious by slashing open their stomachs, ripping out their intestines, and replacing their innards with straw, rocks, and garbage, then sewing them back up. Sometimes Stragelle, her demon sidekick, gets to do the punishing. He prefers, much like Krampus, to rob bad children and tear them to pieces in the air. Survival Tip: After Christmas Dinner, leave out a cauldron of fat for Berchta as she rubs it on her body to enable flight. Leave out leftovers for Stragelle as a bribe for Berchta's blessings of health and wealth in the new year.
New Year's Eve: Expect a visit from MARI LWYD, the Welsh skeleton-horse attended by human zombies, for they make a point of visiting EVERY HOUSE to remind people of the ephemeral quality of life. Survival Tip: You may keep the mare at bay by engaging in a rhyming battle of wits.
Blog by Sister Develyn Angels and Edited by Sister Donatella Soul
Ever have a Facebook Memory pop up in your feed and you think, "Wow, time sure does fly by"? I had that response recently when I scrolled down to find posts from the past four years of The Purple Party for Youth Rally.
Five years ago I was a Novice Sister with The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Novice Sisters are required to complete a Novice Project before they request consideration for elevation to a Fully Professed Sister. When I reached the point in my journey to create a project, I knew I wanted to raise awareness and funds related to something personal and something that became the cornerstone of my Ministry as a Sister.
After three years of living with a misdiagnosis for ulcerative colitis, in 2008 I was diagnosed correctly with Crohn's Disease. I was informed by my doctor that I had suffered from this most of my life based on the severity of the damage to my colon.
Life progressed on and off Crohn's medications, I got divorced, and I developed a massive abscess on my colon which led to a parade of hospital visits. In February 2013, in a final act of desperate advocacy for myself, I put my foot down and demanded to have surgery.
"Stomie" was born on March 9, 2013. Stomie is my ileostomy, the opening in my belly through which the lowest part of my small intestine was brought to form a stoma. My colon had nearly been completely removed. I have under 3" left. To this I attach ileostomy pouches, or, as I call them, "poop bags". Yep, I wear a poop bag.
Post surgery, I felt good. I felt awesome! I had been sick for so long that I had forgotten how it was to feel good. Even better, I was alive! I was relieved my family was visiting me in a hospital room instead of a funeral home. The colon abscess removed by the surgeon was the size of his fist. I would have been days away from death. So began my renewed life and my new normal.
Just two months later, in May of 2013, I began my journey with The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Asylum of the Tortured Heart. I had a new lease on life and I wanted to bring awareness to conditions like mine that affect health and well-being. So, when the time came to create a Novice Project, I knew I wanted to do something related to Crohn's and digestive disorders.
I ended up speaking with one of the Saints of the House, Saint Shuttabug, Sarah Biggart, so named for her photographs of the San Diego Sisters. Sarah is an osteomate. She wears a pouch and is a manager at Ostomy Secrets.
Sarah and I discussed organizations I might raise money for. She suggested I visit the Youth Rally, Inc. Website.
After reviewing the site I knew I had found my beneficiary. For more than 30 years Youth Rally has sent kids ages 9 through 17 who are living with bladder and digestive issues to a 5-night camp that encourages self-confidence and independent living. They learn self-esteem, comradeship, and how to care for themselves medically. Most importantly, they get to be kids and are surrounded by others who understand what they are going through.
The camp staff, including the counselors and nurses, have the same conditions as the campers and, in some cases, formerly attended the camp.
The hardest part was that first step of sending an email saying, "Hi, I am a Queer Nun and I would like to host a fundraiser for you!"
Happily, the CEO for Youth Rally, Inc., Paul Hastings, is openly gay. He not only knew about The Sisters, he welcomed us into the Youth Rally family! Paul also has Crohn's Disease and had ileostomy surgery in 1979.
That first Purple Party was held at the now defunct Numbers Nightclub and was packed with supporters. They donated money, voted for their favorite decorated bags in the ostomy pouch fashion show, tipped the performers (who donated the tips to the fundraising efforts), bid on auction items, and, best of all, had fun doing it!
They enjoyed the mashed-potato-with-all-the-fixins bar and the decorations, which were created with toilet paper rolls.
I gained a great deal of knowledge, friendships, and working relationships from that first Purple Party, but what touched me the most were the personal stories I heard. Some attendees wore a bag or were dealing with digestive issues, or they knew someone, or they had a relative. It was the first time I shared my complete story. That night, we all realized the truth of the Youth Rally catchphrase, "You are not alone".
There is more to the Purple Party story, but that first year sparked an annual event. The Sisters welcome your attendance at the 2018 Purple Party on Sunday, October 14 at The Rail in Hillcrest. Doors open at 5 PM and the stage entertainment starts at 7 PM. Admission is 10 dollars which is donated to Youth Rally. Your emcee is Brother Love Joy Vey.