Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Christians Who Stole Christmas

There is paranoia abound lately over Christian fears of secular Atheists' destruction of baby Jesus' manger and "his" holiday of Christmas. Most of these people are like Jerry Falwell, scrapping for headlines and searching for further "proof" of the "war against Christ in America". Of course, he is fat and retarded and has no idea what he is talking about since the conservative religious Republicans hold the White House, the House and the Senate, leaving the liberals little power to "destroy Christmas". People such as Falwell and every Christian blogger from Idaho to Georgia think that Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus and, thus, the start of Christianity, which they assume is the religion to which all Americans belong. As always, they are wrong.

Earliest examples of "Christmas" were practiced as long as 4000 years ago by Babylonians as a celebration of a 12 day New Year festival honoring the god Marduk. Also called Sacaea by the Persians, these celebrations involved holiday feasts, giving gifts, and caroling.

The Roman Pagan celebration of Saturnalia started in the middle of December and lasted until January 1st. This was a celebration of the solstice, marking the Sun's return. The exchange of gifts, decoration of homes with greenery, feasts, and the suspension of private and public business marked this celebration. Once Christianity began to spread throughout the Empire, Pagan and Christian societies began to merge and the prosecution of Christians decreased. During the reign of Constantine (a sun worshiper), Pope Julius I moved Christmas from January 6th (Epiphany) to December 25th, which was the Pagan Deus Sol Invictus, or the birthday of the unconquered Sun god. Sun god. Son of God. Not a huge leap of faith for these early Christians assuming the Latin words for "son" and "sun" sound as similar as they do in English--but really, who speaks Latin? This is where Christmas started to take on some of the traditions and meanings that we see today. Still, these events are not the only things that contribute to Christmas as we know it.

Yule or Yuletide was the Pagan winter solstice celebration which in the Julian calendar was December 25th and Gregorian calendar December 21st. The Scandinavians and Germanic tribes of Northern Europe celebrated this as the return of the sun from the long dark winter nights. Trees were decorated with candles, holly decorated doors, a Yule log was burned, and feasts were prepared along with the sacrifice of a pig, which is where we get the traditional Christmas ham. The mistletoe was used in both Norse and Druid celebrations. Obviously, as Christianity spread in this region, Scandinavian seasonal celebrations merged with the Roman's Pagan/Christian winter solstice holiday. It must also be noted that Odin, the primary figure in Norse mythology, had a hat and a big white beard had a flying 8 legged Horse instead of 8 flying reindeer. Odin at one point also had hung from a tree and had a spear wound not unlike the fate of Jesus.

One other reason that Christmas is not a Christian holiday is that Jesus was not born on December 25th, nor is there really any proof that he was born in Bethlehem in a cold manger. Every Biblical scholar knows that if Jesus was born when "shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night." that this would have to have been between the months of March and November as it would have been too cold for the shepherds to have still been there at night in the cold rainy season. Since we know Jesus was born 6 months after John the Baptist and we know he was born in late March or early April, Jesus had to have been born in late September or early October at the latest.

Christmas has really always been a celebration of winter solstice, it’s just that in our calendar it is 4 days off the mark due to the difference in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Just as they did with the once secular pledge of allegiance and our currency, Christians stole Christmas and made it their own, adding the nativity scene and Jesus' birthday. Somehow, secular Americans are the assholes when we merely try to take the pledge, our dollar bill, or Christmas back to its original incarnation.

My Father is an Atheist, my Mom is a Christian who doesn't believe Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and I am Agnostic. We all welcome Christmas as a time for sharing and togetherness, not the birth of baby Jesus in his manger. What does a Christmas tree have to do with the birth of your savior? What does getting your kid the new X-box have to do with Christianity? Nothing. And you know who else thought this way? The Puritans.

That’s right, about the time they started burning witches, Puritans in New England outlawed the Christmas celebration. Christmas, The Mass of Christ, was considered to be a Catholic holiday which had nothing to do with the actual birth or birth day of Christ so they therefore outlawed the Pagan traditions of decorating trees and caroling. Since they believed that the Christmas celebration and the birth of Christ was completely separate, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659-1681 and the Colleges in New England didn't even start observing Christmas until about 1847. Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until 1870.

For these right wing nut jobs to say that December 25th, and all that is associated with that day, is purely Christian, is ludicrous. So when they say that the secular Christ-haters are trying to destroy Christianity when we call it the holidays and not Christmas, tell them that you think it's ironic that someone who thinks that America was founded by Puritans is so intent on going against Puritan beliefs, which were anti-Christmas. You can also tell them that you find it ironic that the same people who are trying to censor the internet, cable TV, song lyrics and art are offended when someone tries to censor their 1st amendment rights.

No one wants to destroy Christmas, you are paranoid. Who doesn't want a couple of days off work every year to hang out with family and friends to eat, drink, be merry and get presents?We just realize that roughly 23% of the US is not Christian; you cannot simply bully minorities because you outnumber them. We realize that all the traditions of Christmas, except going to mass, are secular. We realize that like the Pledge of Allegiance and US currency it has been adopted by Christianity, not the other way around.

So if some Jews in your town don't want The Night Christ was Born playing at the town hall manger, get over it. Go home and play your own Christmas music; you are free to do so. You wouldn't like it if you were forced to fast for Ramadan would you?


Sources: Holidays.net, History Channel, Wikipedia, Pantheon.org, World Wide Church of God (wcg.org) , Religioustolerance.org, All about Jesus Christ

39 comments:

indygirl said...

Great post Toad!

Nölff said...

Booyah!
I couldn't have put it in better words.

Giving some these right wing-nut bloggers shit is fun. I clicked through the "Give these guys some shit" section. I gave therm some shit.

Oh and Jay at "stop the ACLU" is getting his ass handed to him:
http://stoptheaclu.com/archives/2005/12/16/aclu-shocked-at-bush-use-of-national-security-agency-for-domestic-spying/

Fun fun fun

Otto said...

You sir have clearly thought about this and have entered a very reasonable exchange between the religious right and the unorthodox left.
Thank you for bring the two sides together in a very dividing time.

Happy Holidays,
=Otto

Jerome said...

Nice post. It is interesting that modern christianity is so heavily influenced by paganism (pretty much all other christian holidays including easter) and most don't even know it.

Tiger said...

Toad! In terms of the Christians using pagan holidays and symbols, you're exactly right!

In fact, that's the entire purpose! Most of the yearly "Christian Calendar" has been done this way since the "beginning".

Christmas occurs at the Winter Solstice (Dec. 22nd) and as a competitor to Hannukah, Easter is there to compete with pagan fertility celebrations, etc.

Christians acknowledge this openly, BTW, and it doesn't make the worship of Christ any less viable.

The entire point is to compete with the "wordly" setup.

Merry Christmas guys! : )

NewsBlog 5000 said...

I wish I could have said it as well.

Dr. Van Skleeve said...

Well put, Toad, I couldn't have said it any better myself. Thanks.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that jazz!

Toad734 said...

This has nothing to do with the worship of Christ and neither does Christmas; that is the point.

I am trying to point out that the paranoia from the Christian media concerning the "destruction of Christmas" is unfounded as Christmas has very little to do with religion, Christianity and even less to do with Jesus' birthday. The only things that tend to make Christmas, Christian is for one the title, and use of the manger or nativity scenes in decoration and as well as a few songs that have been written. As pointed out the nativity scene shouldn't be displayed, not because it may offend Jews, but because it would be more appropriate for Labor Day than Christmas as Jesus was born in September not December.

Bottom line, no one is trying to take Christ out of Christmas because they had little to do with each other from the get go. That being said, quit trying to add more Christ into Christmas and then crying about it when the people won’t bite.

I suppose I should email this to Falwell and Robertson.

Tiger said...

Oh my, Toad. The only "paranoia" is in the media, not with the Christian community. The worship of Christ will be there no matter what day it is.

This is the true lesson of Christmas, not your poor attempt to degrade it.

Even for you, TOAD - Merry Christmas and GOD Bless.

Mike V. said...

How did Toad degrade Christmas?
By the way, give me the one word true meaning of why Christmas was supposed to be celebrated.

Toad734 said...

Why would the "liberal media" be hawkish about the "attack on Christmas".

As I said, it is what I am hearing from the fundamentalist both in the media, on blogs and in general from the people on the streets.

Even for the liberals who really don't like Christmas at all (there are very few), this post is to show them that if it's the Christian aspect they are concerned with, there really isn't must christianity in Christmas.

Why would I degrade Christmas? As I said I love getting a couple days off work, seeing people I only see once a year and eating, drinking and getting presents. That is Christmas, as you said you can worship GOd when ever you want but we only get a few days off per year from work and a couple of them just happen to be called Christmas.

Tiger said...

... love

michael the tubthumper said...

not being from US i find all this war on christmas stuff very bizarre. in fact, i am sure most of u do too. fox news are just using this as the latest (poor) excuse to whip up anti-leftwing sentiment and then everyone seems to get all theological about it. fuck it.

i am with jon stewarts joke. we won't be happt until all christmases are spent in osama's homo-abortion crack and pot gizporium

fox news is not a serious organisation. why give it the credibility it does not deserve??

NewsBlog 5000 said...

As a regular of Osama's Homo-Abortion Crack and Pot Gizporium, I can honestly say that I wish people would stay home on Christmas. Frankly, I can do without the crowd. That's why I don't shop at Wal-Mart. Especially this Christmas, when I've filled my abortion punchcard, and I'm due for freebie.

Mike V. said...

Sorry, Tiger, that is incorrect.
The word is "incarnation".

FreeThinker said...

We all should remember the true Reason for the Season - the Winter Solstice!

Before Jesus, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mithra, before Paganism, before religion itself, before we humans even evolved into our present state, we were fully connected with nature and we marked the passage of time with the sun, the moon, and the seasons. We observed that time moves in a cycle which repeats itself after about 365 sunrises and sunsets. Throughout this cycle, the sun spends less and less time in the sky until a particular moment when the sun stops making its daily visit briefer and briefer, and starts staying visible a little bit more every day. This special moment -- what we now call the Winter Solstice -- is certainly a time to celebrate, because more and more light returns to every day, the weather gets warmer, and the nourishing crops take root once again.

On this Winter Solstice (to be precise: December 21, 18:35 GMT), which is also the shortest day and longest night of the year and the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere, join me in imagining how our ancestors observed this time. Imagine the awe and respect they had for the earth and the sun and their awareness of the interconnectedness and interdependencies of all living things and the cosmos.

All this was way, WAY before "Christmas," before Christianity, before any religion!

Toad734 said...

My abortion punch card is full as well; I guess that means I get a freebie.

Karenpuppy said...

I have nothing against the existence or lack thereof of Christmas carols, ideologically speaking. But if eliminating them means no more seasonal warblings by the likes of Josh Groban, Amy Grant & Celine Dion(AKA A Karenpuppy Family Christmas. Ugh!) then I say PLEASE DO IT!!!

Two Minutes J said...

Hey 'Freethinker', 1965 called and they said they wanted their Hippie Rhetoric back.

erinberry said...

Good post.

I think tiger missed the point.

SFChick74 said...

I tried to explain the pagan origins of Christmas to someone at my office and they looked at me like I had two heads.

Mike's America said...

Hey Toadbat... Read any good books lately?

How about the 9/11 Commission Report? I especially commend to you chapter 4:

http://www.9-11commission.gov/ re...1Report_Ch4.htm

Half way down the page you'll see:

The Presidential Daily Brief received by President William J. Clinton on December 4, 1998.

SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks


That's right Toadbat... Nearly THREE YEARS before September 11 and your boy knew Osama was coming after us... Too bad he was spending his time wiretapping Catholic Cardinals (you haven't heard about that Mr. Civil Liberties??)

Let me just repeat this one more time:

The Presidential Daily Brief received by President William J. Clinton on December 4, 1998.

SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks

NewsBlog 5000 said...

Maybe Clinton was distracted by the impeachment, just like Bush was distracted by his inability to read or comprehend anything.

Toad734 said...

Mike:

Looks like someone is off his meds again. (I had to use that one)

Did you see the memo Rice and Bush got in August of 2001 that said Bin Laden determined to attack on US soil? If you didn't notice no planes were hijacked on Clintons watch. Maybe Clinton and all his cronies weren't too busy shredding documents.

Did you also know that the same information Clinton had obtained was passed along to the Bush administration but they threw it in the Garbage?

Nice try. Next.

From now on stick to the subject at hand.

Toad734 said...

PS

The other point I had in this post was to not only tell the Bible thumpers to shut up for once and just be happy but to do the same for people like myself who may get bent out of shape over the Christians war to overtake Christmas. I think this post shows that Christmas trees, mistletoes, holly, yuletide, decorations, giving gifts etc. are Pagan if anything but mainly secular and that they shouldn't be offended by Christmas trees and what not. I guess the nativity scene, which probably never happened, is a different story since that is a tactic used by Christians to make Christmas their own, but pretty much every thing else is void of Christian influences. So everyone can have a decorated Christmas tree with gifts under it if they wish and it doesn't necessarily mean that they bomb abortion clinics and hate fags.

Grant said...

I love HKRXmasux. The air is cold, crime and suicide rates are up, flashing lights and holly are pretty, most of my bosses are on vacation and I get a whole day off next Monday. It's a great holiday, assuming the bloody xtians don't ruin it for the rest of us. Fortunately I think at least half of those who claim to be xtian merely do so because it's currently the popular religion and the remaining ones would rather fight amongst themselves than band together and present a united front, so I think we're all safe.

Boiled Owl said...

Good post Toad. But you left out "wassailling" which was a hoot, kind of like trick or treat. The peasants of the feudal lords in the middle ages would go to the Lord's manner and demand the best food and drink, and if they didn't get it they would kick some jolly righteous ass.

Also, in early New York City, Christmas was a time of extreme violence and street rioting. It's only in the last 150 years or so that Christmas has become the relatively tame celebration we know now. But it's always been party time.

So have a great one man, however you do it. Same to all the rest who blog here.

Mike V. said...

Damn, Toad.
Now you are "Toadbat".
Is it just me, or are you thoroughly enjoying the nutcases like "mikesamerica" come completely unhinged?
What makes me even happier is to read a real conservative use very proper English, like George Will did this week, to say that GWB needs to go fuck himself.

Mike, you do know that it's not 1998 anymore, right?

BTW, that picture of you with Reagan is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen when viewed full size.
Seriously, if you lived on my street, I wouldn't be shocked to come home one day and see the cops digging in your backyard..

Son of Lilith said...

Toad, you have been tagged. Head to my blog.

Also, I just finished a similar post on my blog ("Happy Holidays!"). You might like it.

And yes, Mike is off his meds again.

Ryan said...

Happy Solstice! Mike is a sick bastard and he lives to give cheer to the slaughter of the poor. I guess one must have their own prerogotave but I thought the scrooges were supposed to be the democrats. Wait... Isn't being able to feed your family a family value? I guess that just refers to the rich. Good post toad.

Mike V. said...

brandon, you are assuming that there are strong enough meds for a nutcase like that..

erinberry said...

Oh, boy, "Mike's Anti-America" is back. Who let him out of the asylum, anyway?

Son of Lilith said...

You're right, Mike V..

Shock therapy is the only thing that'll help that guy.

Erinberry:

"Mike's Anti-America."

Good one.

By the way, does anybody really give a shit what this guy says anyway?

Grant said...

Happy HKRXmasux!

Mike V. said...

Before I forget, Merry Christmas, Toad and all.
Peace.r

KEvron said...

hey, toad.

read your post over at truckerphilosophy re: the true nature of god. i've been saying the same thing for years; that god is whatever the individual wants him to be, and that an individual can rationalize any action by simply envoking his god. well done, bub.

oh, and i cite my catholic upbringing as the foundation of my liberal perspectives. as you say, it's right there in the gospels.

KEvron

Da Katz & Reni said...

Although I try to be a kind and gentle humorist...(and leave the 4 letter kvetching to other folks) your description of Rev. Falwell was sadly funny... I'm not Baptist, but I was raised that way, so I do understand where he's coming from, but I just don't agree with anyone who says I can't stand in front of a microphone...

for show and tell.

Kind Regards,
Katriel, Katie Kat
or something like that.

Yahoo or MSN "eccentrically meshugunah" and I'm the only one...
the wonderful thing about tiggers is...

Be an original... it's way more fun.. ask anyone who has the chuztpah like you seem to have.

(Same as original post--just need re-editing...I meant kvetching.)

Da Katz & Reni said...

I would like to add though, that I do respect Reverend Falwell for airing his own opinions on any matter... I pray he would have the same respect for me... even if his views of certain scripture passages concerning women differ than the actual context.

Hard to stand out in any public arena, knowing that sometimes something you say or do is going to be taken wrong...

I should know... been there, done that.

^..^

Toad734 said...

Teshuvah:

He doesn't want to allow anyone who disagrees with him to say what they think. He, and people like him are constantly attacking peoples 1st amendment rights to free speech. Ever hear of the PMRC, American Family Association etc. These people only want free speech for Christians who think like they do and want to silence everyone else and forbid people to listen to, read, and watch what they want.