A brief history of Borat

For those of you who haven't caught a snippet of Borat yet, take it from us -- you're missing out. Hailed as "genius" by Entertainment Weekly and endlessly compared to Peter Sellers and Andy Kaufman, fictional Kazakhstani journalist Borat is the hugely un-PC, anti-Semetic and yet strangely likeable brainchild of British comedian (and Jew) Sasha Baron Cohen. Hugely offensive to some and brilliantly satirical to others (read: smart folks), culturally clueless Borat's reportage on the people and customs of the "U.S. and A" come off like cracked versions of Rick Steeves' travelogues -- that is, if Steeves were a homophobic misogynist who unintentionally offended everyone he met.

But enough talk -- the only way to discover Borat is to watch his segments, all culled from Da Ali G Show and conveniently available on YouTube. Of course, there'll be plenty of Borat for everyone when his 20th Century Fox-produced film, Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, hits theaters on November 3. But you don't want to go in cold -- so start here:

In this segment, Borat tastes wine with some Southern gentlemen, then tricks them into lamenting the passing of slavery -- and manages to work in some brilliant physical comedy to boot. (Warning -- this one isn't 100% "family-friendly.")

Many more after the jump:

Borat's most YouTubed bit, in which he leads a rousing anti-Semetic sing-a-long in a crowded Country & Western bar:

Borat helps a Republican candidate for Congress do a little door-to-door campaigning in Mississippi. "Is your husband home? We want to speak with someone who can vote."

A real jaw-dropper: Borat makes a Texan big-game hunter comfortable enough to admit that he thinks Hitler's "Final Solution" was the right move for Germany.

Borat argues that Kazakhstan is the #1 country at an American patriot rally.

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.


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