The Square Root of Christmas

Today, Reasons to Remain addresses one of the most troubling problems in popular culture. No, not ohmygodIcannotbelievetheyaretogether, ImeanwhatdoessheSEEinhim? That isn’t troubling at all, it’s just regrettably insistent …seriously, don’t the covers of women’s magazines terrify you? They’re the cruellest things in the universe. When I was waiting at the supermarket check-out on Monday, there was a magazine stand next to the line where the front cover just boasted a close-up of some poor woman’s lumpy thighs, and a huge gleeful caption saying GUESS WHO? It’s enough to drive one to genocide, and that’s not even going into all those ones with headlines like ALIEN RAPE MONSTER DISEMBOWELLED MY CHILDREN — BUT I STILL WANT HIM BACK. Enough of this …palaver, though, if you want to read about such things I heartily recommend this article here. Meanwhile, we have a different issue to address. I speak of course, of this burning question: What, times itself, equals December*?

Okay, so I should probably explain. You’ve seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, right? If you haven’t, I’d recommend it. There’s a song about kidnapping Santa Claus and stuff. But anyway, a bunch of us were camped in Morgan’s cellar in Brisbane watching this on a projector on Hallowe’en (because that’s just what you do on Hallowe’en), and there’s this scene where Jack is trying to figure out the vital ingredients that make Christmas magical, by subjecting it to rigorous scientific testing. And some eagle-eyed viewer (not myself, may have been Thomas, can’t remember) noticed that the blackboard in the background on which all the calculations were scrawled bore, among other things, the legend “√December 25th”.

And hence, the immortal question. Jack’s scientific methods were ultimately unsuccessful, but surely that’s only because he failed to crack this one. What is the square root of Christmas? In the spirit of taking a joke far too far, and not coincidentally avoiding some revision which I really ought to be doing, a few suggestions:

PROPOSAL ONE: “December” is a word. Words don’t have square roots. That’s silly. The square root of December 25 is the square root of 25, with the word “December” appended. To wit: the square root of Christmas =December 5th.

This answer is boring, and therefore obviously wrong (that‘s how science works, right?). Let’s dig this rabbit hole deeper.

PROPOSAL TWO: December is the 12th month of the year. To find the square root of December 25th, we simply take the square root of 12 — to represent December — and the square root of 25, and combine them into a new date. √12=3.46. √25=5. So the square root of Christmas = the fifth day of the three-point-four-sixth month.

Hmm. It all smells a little like Platform 9 ¾, doesn’t it? And Ron Weasley has no place in mathematics. I have to say I am dissatisfied. Onwards!

PROPOSAL THREE: Time to break this shit DOWN. Anyone who spent most of their childhood solving the world’s most heinous crimes knows that words can be numbers too. A=1. B=2. Ye gets the gist. So let’s see how “December” copes…

D=4 E=5 C=3 E=5 M=13 B=2 E=5 R=18

Right. That seems clear enough. All we have to do is take each of those numbers, square-root it (may I propose the verb “sqroot”?), and re-convert it into a letter. The fact that only one of these letters actually HAS a whole number (integer? Is that right?) as its square root can be nicely ignored by rounding each one to the nearest number that DOES. Which gives us.

D=4 E=4 C=4 E=4 M=16 B=1 E=4 R=16
And thus, given that √4=2=B, √16=4=D, and so on, we can safely assume that the square root of Christmas = Bbbbdabd 25th.

I have never heard of the month of Bbbbdabd, but I am sure it is very nice. A result has been reached. Or…well, okay then. If we must. Science is harder than I thought.

PROPOSAL FOUR: so, if breaking the individual letters down gives us effectively a MEANINGLESS HEAP OF WORTHLESS NUMBERS, how can we integrate a little flexibility? How about we pool the sum total of the letters of December, and then subdivide them up again, and try to make sense of them from there? On it? On it. That would look a little bit like this

D=4 E=5 C=3 E=5 M=13 B=2 E=5 R=18
4+5+3+5+13+2+5+18= 55

Disregard the .416 as inherently confusing and rubbish and stuff.

All we need is a word that can be reconstructed from “7”. A month would be nice. But, well…the littlest month I can think of is “May”, and “Y” alone has a numeric value of 25, or more than three times our entire kitty. So just a word…three letters is probably a realistic minimum, but that gives us very little space for manoeuvre. Let’s put an “a” in the middle, though, they’re nice and small. Leaving us with 6. C-A-C. E-A-A. D-A-B. Hey wait, that kinda worked. How aboutttt….B=2, A=1, D=4. That’s seven. the square root of Christmas = Bad 25th.

I grow weary of this nonsense, frankly. Bad 25th? What manner of an entity is that? The twenty-fifth line in “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, perhaps? Let’s see…that appears to be …um… “B-B-B-B-Bad”. Which is actually kind of freakishly similar to proposal three up there. See? B-B-B-B-Bad. Bbbbdabd. I’m a little spooked out now. I really didn’t expect a pattern to emerge.

No, really, I didn’t. The “punchline” of this article was going to consist of adding the √25 to the √55, and combining them into some silly word like, say…well, actually, there aren’t many options, are there? You could get B-B-B-A-D and have one left over, though.

So ladies and gentlemen, there we have it. This investigation, performed under the strictest scientific testing conditions KNOWN TO MAN***, has found that…


Thank you and goodnight.

* phrasing taken from Wegner, Morgan. Conversation. Brisbane: 31st October 2010.**

**notion of citing friends for humorous effect blatantly nicked from Ramdin, Soraya. “The Best Description of Ozzie Summer”. Facebook. Web. 27th October 2010.

***Evidence for this statement? Why would I need evidence? I’m doing science. Oh. Wait.


6 thoughts on “The Square Root of Christmas

  1. In the interest of scientific accuracy, I’m afraid I have to challenge your conclusion. You say the answer is “Bad 25th,” but this is clearly incorrect because you only found the root of “December” and forgot the much simpler but equally important root of 25. Thus, the answer ought to be “Bad 5.”

    This new information coincides with the 5th line of “Bad to the Bone,” which is either “bad to the bone” or “the head nurse spoke up,” depending on where you break your lines. As this doesn’t make much sense, I propose an alternate method here: the time-tested scientific rigor of Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky button, because we all know that luck has everything to do with scientific integrity.

    The result of this method is AMC television’s 5th major series, an as-yet-untitled drama about the aftermath of a teenager’s murder, which is based on a Danish television show called “Forbrydelsen.”

    Some research into said TV show reveals that the star character is played by a man named “Nicolas Bro,” which indicates to me that the square root of Christmas is St. Nick’s brother.

    Upon researching “St. Nick’s brother,” however, my internet connection went out not once but three times in a row, which forces me to conclude that a vast network of shady individuals are striving to impede my progress and prevent this important knowledge from coming to light. Clearly, we have stumbled onto a conspiracy, and further research may cost us our lives.

    1. You make an excellent point, and I am ashamed of the slip up. Alas, we founding fathers of groundbreaking science oft must leave it to our disciples to plug the unseen gaps in our theory.

      HOWEVER, I would challenge your assertion that the line “bad to the bone” doesn’t make much sense. Remember the initial context of the sum? It came from Jack SKELLINGTON’s MISGUIDED attempt to take over Christmas. A skeleton? A skeleton doing bad? How better to put this than ….”bad to the bone”? Perhaps what is in fact being stated is that the failure of Jack’s schemes were latent in them from the very beginning, and the subtle background placing of √December 25th is a gentle foreshadowing of this subtle piece of moral philosophy. The entire device thus serving as a complex but (as we have proved) ultimately entirely decipherable comment by the authors of the piece that evil inherently contains its own demise, simply through the pure fact of being evil to begin with. That which is bad, is bad to the bone.

      Of course, your own explanation is equally plausible. Or possibly linked. It could even be that the two are contradictory, but both true in separate (but not distant) worlds, and that counterfactual theory needs to be integrated in order to account for the multiplicity of theories. I should probably do my essay now, huh?

      I look forward to future developments in the field.

  2. It’s a cryptic crossword clue without telling us how many letters are in the answer. Oh yes it does! The square root of 25 is in fact 5,5 – what is at the heart of Christmas (5,5). Answer – Santa Claus. And that is who Jack kidnaps.

  3. Which would surely mean that Jack’s plan would succeed? And yet, no such luck…further evidence for the kind of sinister background influence experienced by Ms. Wegner. Dun Dun DUNNNNNNN.

    Given that I’ve stuck a permalink to this post under “creative writing”, I feel I should attach Soraya’s contribution to the debate here, so that future scholars can take it into account:

    “However, in Holland we would have stopped at the first option, as 5th of December is a national festival; the celebration of St. Nicolas. The saint co…mes from Spain to give away gifts to kids who were good and slap kids who were bad. The popularity of this happening is declining however and Xmas is getting bigger. Thus, we would say that Xmas is double the size of St. Nicolas, and this can only mean that Jack is Dutch. Final conclusion.”

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