Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday Miscellany and Readers Write


Christmas Day having come and gone, are we all on this Boxing Day 2016 in recovery mode after the travelling, the eating and the drinking? 

By the way, when should the Christmas tree be taken down?

Apparently the traditional date is 6 January, the day after Epiphany, a Christian holiday marking the revelation of God in human form, in the person of Jesus. Taking it down before then or after then is said to bring bad luck.

5 January is also known as Twelfth Night, being the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Christian celebration of the nativity of Jesus.

Some take the view that the tree should be taken down on or before 31 December so that you don’t take this year’s baggage and bad luck into the new year.

It’s so much easier to take down a Festivus pole (which was our trivia team table decoration this year, but we didn’t win):

A Festivus pole

For those not familiar with Festivus, it is a parody holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the religious traditions and commercialism of Christmas. Originally a family tradition of scriptwriter Dan O'Keefe, who worked on the American sitcom Seinfeld, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the focus of the 1997 Seinfeld episode "The Strike".

The celebration of Festivus, as depicted on Seinfeld, includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, practices such as the "Airing of Grievances" (which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed them over the past year), "Feats of Strength", and the labeling of easily explainable events as "Festivus miracles". It comes with the slogan “Festivus for the rest of us.”


Sue P sent me an email in reference to the post about mistletoe:
Love the mistletoe cartoon :) 
But your story of being spread by droppings prompted me to search the Mistletoe Bird which you may find interesting:

Thanks, Sue.

Here is the story (short and fascinating) from the above link, 

Mistletoe bird and dispersal

Mistletoe Bird, Dicaeum hirundinaceum

Like many fruit-eating birds, these species have a relatively simple digestive tract, so that the seed passes through the bird rather quickly. In the Australian mistletoe bird defecation usually occurs 4-12 minutes after ingestion, and in the phainopepla 12-45 minutes after ingestion. Even so, the bird digests a significant amount of glucose from the sticky layer, which is still intact when the seed is defecated. 
The seeds therefore emerge from the bird intact and undamaged. The mistletoe bird performs a number of twisting movements when defecating, wiping the seeds on to the branch on which the bird is perched, rather than dropping them to the ground. The sticky layer dries and cements the seed in place on the branch, where it germinates spontaneously. It is thought that there are germination inhibitors in the fruit coat which prevent premature germination before ingestion. The mistletoe plant and the mistletoe bird thus show complementary adaptations for mutual benefit, the plant attaining efficient dispersal and the bird ensuring a continuing food supply. 
Haustorial pad on right 
Haustorium embedded in host 
Germination is normal, except that even the primary root of the embryo is modified into a haustorial pad, which emerges first (far left). The haustorial pad becomes cemented to the host stem, like a holdfast, and the haustorium grows into the host from its base. Subsequent development of the mistletoe plant is like any normal plant, except that it has a haustorium embedded in the host instead of a root system in the soil.

More Readers Write tomorrow

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