Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making the Case for "Happy Holidays"

Because you will dismiss me immediately if I simply offer up that the best reason for keeping “Christ” out of Christmas is because the story of Christ is a fabricated tale related to the world in an over-translated book which contains so many contradictions and conflicting stories that it has yet to be completely deciphered or made sense of by any human being to the point of being agreed upon by anyone, let’s take that off the table and get down to the empirical evidence.

If Christ actually existed, his actual date of birth is not known. According to the description in the Bible (and one would think that the birth date of the Savior of the World might be an important one) most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. Almost all historians agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the Bible states that the shepherds tended their sheep in the fields on that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So, then…why is “Christ”mas on December 25th?

The answer is pagan in origin. (Whoopee!) In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25th. Rowdy partying, gluttonous eating and drinking and the exchanging of gifts were traditions of this feast. (Sound familiar?)

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated years before the supposed birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season included much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from neighbor’s house to neighbor’s house singing and entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born. (Hmmm….yet many church groups get together and do this today. Infidels! Heretics!)

In northern Europe, several other traditions that are now considered part of Christian worship began long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated their own Winter Solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year. (Somehow Christians turned Yule into a log covered in chocolate frosting. Weird.)

Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means “wheel,” the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. The Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods. (Mistletoe and holly…any of this ringing any silver bells in your head?)

The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25th. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.

Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ.” So, one of the very core symbols of the Christianized (yes…I just made that a word) version of Christmas was originally thought of as being blasphemous.

I checked out a few Christian websites to find out what they tout as being the origins of this holiday. Most acknowledged in some part its pagan origins, but glossed over that unimportant part of history and stated things like this: “For today's Christian, the origin of Christmas is, and should be, the birth of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible. Nothing more and nothing less.”
Ah. “Today’s Christian”. So let’s wipe out history and start over to accommodate today’s Christians. Sounds right.

The author of one Christian website actually had the nerve to write this: “The Christmas holiday we celebrate today is indicative of Christianity's willingness to absorb the world's customs and traditions, and forget its simple roots in the historical reality of Jesus Christ. Christmas should be nothing more than a simple, yet wonderful reminder of Christ's humble beginning as a human child in this world.”

Oh. So, you wonderful souls are so flexible and accommodating that you willingly absorbed the world’s existing traditions, twisted them into your own fairytale, called them your own and then insisted that it is your holiday and that those who dare try take the “Christ” out of Christmas seek to destroy the spiritual foundation of Christianity.

Christian, please.

This wasn’t your holiday to begin with. You shamelessly stole it and now you try to hold the very people you stole it from (“pagans”), hostage by claiming we are trying to take from you something that was never yours in the first place.

Get off our backs and let us eat, drink and be merry and celebrate this holiday however we see fit. Mine is going to be celebrated with a few presents, some killer homemade Mexican food and some frozen margaritas. I may even walk around with some mistletoe sticking out of my bra. Who knows? We’ll see how the day goes.

One thing you can be sure of though. If I see you, I’ll certainly be wishing you the very happiest of holidays.


Just Jennie said...

Just be careful of those mistletoe berries - poisonous ya know- wonder how that ridiculous tradition started? Lets take a parasitic plant with poison white sticky nasty berries on it and kiss under it. Don't even get me started on how those berries are transferred from tree to tree! HAHAHA Interesting history lesson - Much strangeness this time of year for sure!!

Bob said...

So, Amy, the point that caught my attention was the one about the mistletoe. Bobby Likee!!

4Wheel4Fun said...

Don't you think there should be a mistletoe for boob honking? I do.