Excerpt from Holiday Hilarity: A Humorous History of Celebration by Jeffrey Gurian

In the spirit of humorists and comics must all stick together,  we are featuring an excerpt from the latest book from twitter friend and talented comic Jeffrrey Gurian.

Bio:  Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer, performer, director, author, producer, doctor and Healer.   He’s written material for comedy legends such as Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers, George Wallace, Phil Hartman, Richard Belzer, and Andrew “Dice” Clay. 
Jeffrey has performed stand-up at all the big clubs in NYC and L.A. and was featured several times on Comedy Central’s hit Kroll Show with Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Laura Dern and Katy Perry.  He was in the viral “Too Much Tuna” sketch, was the very first person to be pranked with “Too Much Tuna”, and was also a regular on-air personality on Sirius XM’s Bennington Show, where he brought on special guests/friends like Russell Peters, Trevor Noah, Colin Quinn, Artie Lange, Susie Essman and Lisa Lampanelli.  
For the last five years he’s written a weekly column covering the comedy scene for The Interrobang called “Jumping Around With Jeffrey Gurian” and has also written for MTV, National Lampoon, Weekly World News and many Friars Roasts. 
In 1999 he launched Comedy Matters, a celeb-based online entertainment column that has evolved into Comedy Matters TV, an internet TV channel with over 500 A-list celebrity interviews and well over 1.9 million views.  He’s produced shows starring Kevin Hart and Susie Essman, and according  to Paul Provenza, and Nick Kroll is known by everyone in comedy. 
This is his 6th book and it recently hit Best Seller status on Amazon.  His 5th book on Happiness, “Healing Your Heart, By Changing Your Mind- A Spiritual and Humorous Approach To Achieving Happiness” also reached Best Seller status on Amazon.  Visit his website at http://www.comedymatterstv.com

Holiday Hilarity: A Humorous History of Celebration


You’d have to go all the way back 4,000 years to ancient Babylon (which is quite a trip by the way) in order to find the earliest recorded celebration of a new year. The celebration was called Ikatu and was one of the oldest recorded Mesopotamian festivals.

In those days, the Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in late March, on the first new moon following the vernal equinox, which is not the name of a man, a gym or a disease.

It’s the day when there’s an equal amount of sunlight and darkness, and they had a huge religious festival which went on for 11 days, with a different ritual each day.

Besides celebrating the new year, it was also a celebration in honor of the Babylonian sky god Marduk, who supposedly defeated the evil sea goddess known as Tiamat.

Marduk was said to have created the world out of chaos! So that’s who’s to blame! I’ve been trying to figure that out for years! The festival was supposedly a way to prevent Marduk from taking back control of the world.

There was also an important political process tied in with these festivities as it was the time they would choose a new king or renew the current ruler’s reign if they so wished.

Interestingly enough, it was also the tradition during this time to “humble” the king. This took place on the 4th day of the festival by (believe it or not) having the high priest first strip the king of his crown and other regalia.

At that point he would pull him by his ears to kneel down in front of a particular statue, (this is true!) and then have the king pray for forgiveness and promise that he had not been in dereliction of his duties.

As if that wasn’t enough, when that was done, the head priest had to slap the king’s face as hard as he could with an open hand, hopefully drawing tears from the king. (Google this if you don’t believe us!)

If it in fact drew tears from the king it would prove than he was humble and that he was Marduk’s choice to be king for another year.

This symbolic taking away of the king’s power was supposed to strengthen the bond between the community and the gods, and prove to the king that without his crown, his sword and other regalia that he was just an ordinary mortal and that his fate depended upon the gods and how he served his people.

Supposedly, according to the Jerusalem Post, even a powerful Babylonian king like Nebuchadnezzar, which is a name you don’t hear used much these days, and who considered himself King of Kings, allowed himself to be slapped once a year.

And for his sin of destroying the First Temple of Jerusalem, The Temple of King Solomon, in 567 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuch as his friends called him, is forever associated with the Jewish holiday of Purim.

This holiday commemorates the saving of the Jewish people by Queen Esther from a plot to destroy them by a vicious, bigoted man named Haman. And thanks to Haman, Jewish children get to eat special cookies on Purim named Hamantashen, which are sweet triangular shaped pastries with a filling traditionally made from poppy seeds. We really showed him!

Throughout history many civilizations developed sophisticated calendars like Julius Caesar and his Julian calendar, in which he had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. in order to have the Roman calendar match with the movements of the sun.

Very often these civilizations would tie the first day of the year to some astronomical or agricultural event. For example, in ancient Egypt the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile River, which just happened to coincide with the rising of the star Sirius. I wonder if that’s where Sirius XM radio got started?

In China however, they tied their first day of the New Year to the second new moon after the winter solstice and I tend to believe them, because Chinese people are the smartest people in the world. They have to be. They figured out how to speak Chinese! And even more impressive … to write it!!! Chinese may be the Rubik’s cube of languages!

There are still some countries that have Spring festivals and in Iran, March 21st is known as Nowruz, or New Year!



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