Sir Isaac Newton was born 25 December, 1642. He made important advances in science and mathematics, held a professorship at Trinity College without joining the clergy, and had a thing for apples. What more could you ask of a secular holiday’s figurehead?
Newtonmas is the celebration of Newton’s birthday. It begins with decorating the apple tree. Because it’s not nice to kill trees to bring them in your house, it’s best to get something green and treelike and put apples, preferably synthetic ones, on it. But if you have a living apple tree in the yard, decorate it festively with lights and ornaments.
Newtonmas morning everyone gathers around the Newtonmas Tree – although not before everyone has showered, dressed, and brushed their teeth and had a bite to eat – and exchanges gifts of knowledge. These gifts are usually books, but CDs, videos, and other media are okay so long as they substantially contribute to the recipient’s intellectual development. People with a lot of time and patience may also give free lecture passes, good for a free lecture on some topic in the near future. Creativity is encouraged, so be prepared for some ‘special’ gifts.
With gifts exchanged, everyone begins the most important Newtonmas tradition – procrastination. Now that you have new sources of knowledge, it’s time to get busy not absorbing their contents. Eat a big meal, take a nap, talk with friends and family. Just do anything but be productive.