Christmas and Mithras

Christmas is celebrated on 25 December because it is the birthday of the Roman sun god Mithras, whose stories bear a striking resemblance to the basic mythology of Christianity. Characteristics of the Mithras cult included:

  • Mithras being a saviour sent to Earth to live a mortal whom it was possible for sinners to be reborn into immortal life.
  • He died for human sins but came back the following Sunday.
  • He was born of a virgin on 25 December in a manger (or perhaps a cave), attended by shepherds and became known as the light of the world.
  • He had 12 disciples whom he shared a last meal before dying.
  • His devotees symbolically consume the flesh and blood of him.
  • Because he was a sun god he was worshipped on Sundays.
  • He is often depicted with a halo around his head.
  • Worshippers of Mithras gave each other gifts on 25 December.
  • The leader of the religion was called a “Papa”, and their headquarters was Vatican Hill in Rome.

As for December 25 being Jesus’ birthday, no-one is certain on what date Jesus was born – that is, should he indeed have existed. According to Islam, Jesus was born in the summer, while Jehovah’s Witnesses claim he born on the 1st of October. Speaking of which, according to the Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain, the Jehovah’s Witnesses must be right since presumably they were there.

“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously? ” ― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes

On Santa Claus and God

Calvin: This whole Santa Claus thing just doesn’t make sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery? If the guy exists why doesn’t he ever show himself and prove it? And if he doesn’t exist what’s the meaning of all this?

Hobbes: I dunno. Isn’t this a religious holiday?

Calvin: Yeah, but actually, I’ve got the same questions about God.

Bill Watterson

Sport is not Always Good for You

According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the risk of dying from a cardiac arrest is about 1 in 50,000 for endurance athletes who exercise for three hours or more.

“I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.”
– Rodney Dangerfield

That is, if you run marathons or participate in other forms of exercise which last for three hours or more, that distressing number is the approximate risk of suffering an acute heart attack or sudden cardiac death during – or within 24 hours of – the strenuous effort.

The sad truth is that for every 50,000 athletes, one will be stricken during such prolonged activity. Therefore, running a marathon or cycling intensely for three hours is riskier than taking a commercial airline flight.

In fact, any athlete who participates in a strenuous test of endurance lasting about three hours or more has an increased chance of dying during – and for 24 hours following – the exertion, even when the athlete’s chance of a sudden death is compared with the risk incurred by a cigarette-smoking, couch potato who spends the same 24 hours drinking beer and watching television. This is what is known as a U bend phenomenon, in which one extreme is equal to the opposite.

Hobbes: Jump! Jump! Jump! I win!
Calvin: You win? Aaugghh! You won last time! I hate it when you win! Aarrggh! Mff! Gnnk! I hate this game! I hate the whole world! Aghhh! What a stupid game! You must have cheated! You must have used some sneaky, underhanded mindmeld to make me lose! I hate you! I didn’t want to play this idiotic game in the first place! I knew you’d cheat! I knew you’d win! Oh! Oh! Aarg! [Calvin runs in circles around Hobbes screaming “Aaaaaaaaaaaa”, then falls over.]
Hobbes: Look, it’s just a game.
Calvin: I know! You should see me when I lose in real life!”
Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes


Watterson’s ideas on education take the stage.

Calvin and Hobbes was a newspaper comic written and illustrated by American cartoonist Bill Watterson between 1985 and 1995.

Within a year of its first publication, Calvin and Hobbes was featured in approximately 250 newspapers all over the world. The 3,160th and final comic was published on December 31, 1995. Watterson is said to have quit the comic shortly after animators showed great interest in it. Although Watterson considered the idea, he later came around saying he liked the fact that his work was a “low-tech, one-man operation”, and took great pride in the fact that he drew every line and wrote every word on his own.

The comic revolves around the life of six-year-old Calvin and his tiger friend, Hobbes, who is a regular stuffed animal to everyone but Calvin. Calvin and Hobbes are named after John Calvin, 16th century Reformationist, and Thomas Hobbes, 17th century philosopher, respectively.

Calvin feels the world revolves around him. Although being quite bright, demonstrating a level of vocabulary and humour unusual for a six-year-old, he regularly shows lapses of common sense and consequently gets into trouble because of this. Calvin is also creative and imaginative – this is shown for instance through his gruesome snow sculptures depicting snowmen with several heads (or none at all) pierced with branches or being brutally murdered by other snowmen, and through his colourful set of alter egos (Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff and Tracer Bullet) and inventions (the Transmogrifier, the Duplicator and the Time Machine).

In many ways Calvin is as childlike as any other six-year-old boy; he is afraid of his babysitter, disobeys his parents and detests school. But with his stuffed tiger friend, Calvin often discusses philosophical issues. Together they embark on imaginary adventures, plot practical jokes (mainly against girls), and try to solve the various problems they (truthfully, Calvin) encounter.

Hobbes, visible as a full-sized talking (albeit cartoonish) tiger only to Calvin, operates as a counterpart to Calvin’s impulsive, rude and childish behaviour. He is the sardonic voice of reason in Calvin’s life, pointing out his hypocrisies and stupidities, but despite his rationality often refrains from interfering in any of Calvin’s dangerous ventures. Although Hobbes isn’t real, the consequences of his interactions with Calvin are sometimes visible by the secondary characters in the comic, for instance when he helps Calvin escape a Houdini-like tie-up, causing bewilderment on his father’s part.

Calvin and Hobbes is unique is many ways, from addressing social issues to the occasional tribute to Lichtenstein-like artwork or Biblical tales of creation and from themes of love, friendship, parenting and innocence to bringing a whole lot of thirty-something men (and hopefully women alike) back to a time when yelling KAZAM to your parents, arms outstretched, would turn them into aliens.


“Do you hate being a girl? What’s it like? Is it like being a bug?
I imagine bugs and girls have a dim perception that nature played a cruel trick on them, but they lack the intelligence to comprehend the magnitude of it.”