The way of Christmas

I intensely dislike what christmas has become these days. The TV gets filled up with movies about santa claus which vary in quality from slightly annoying to downright horrible and all of a sudden there is a forced atmosphere of 'merryness'. The phrase 'hohoho' is used a lot and christmas songs, usually equally as terrible as the movies clog up our radiostations and you cannot avoid them no matter where you go...

Does anyone still know what we're celebrating at christmas or are we all disciples of the new christ, santa claus? Cause thats what this world has gotten too. We do remember that its about the birth of christ, right?

If so thats funny because no one really knows what day Jesus Christ was born on.  One thing all historians agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night. Now, even the jews weren't mad enough to do that during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?

The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. Yeah, you read that right. PAGAN. You know? Those people we used to burn and crucify until the end of the 19 century? In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and the consumption of ridiculous amounts of alcohol, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast. Good times....

The Romans had something simular too. They called it the winter solstice and the celebrated it for a whole season. The festival season was marked by much general 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 house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born. Yep, we got that from pagans too.

In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The tree for one. This is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter celebrations.  The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees. Pagans, again.

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. 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. Nice way of avoiding a mutiny, I suppose.

Christmas (Christ-Mass, for those of you with mental disabilities.) 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.”

The controversy continues even today in some fundamentalist sects. People need ways to amuse themselves and a religious controversy usually fits the bill.

The ancient (and in some cases current) Nordic way to celebrate Jul is by having a bit of an drunken orgy (the highlight of any celebration) combined with a nice midwinter sacrifice. The christian celebration of St. Nikolaus fell on his name day on January 6th, but was moved to December 25th in the 4th century since even the fear of God wasn’t strong enough to pry the annual feast away from the various European tribes. So they just moved the birth of Jesus in order to overtake and erradicate the old heathen traditions. More pagan influence!

The protestants didn’t like St. Nikolaus much, so when they became influential, the tradition of gifts to children was moved into connection with the birth of Jesus. The old saint was still in charge of the gifts in some regions but remained a semi-obscure figure until the Coca Cola Company gave him a red and white makeover and relaunched him as a Coke-drinking jolly symbol of American consumer culture.

The name Santa Claus is derived from a dutch dialect term for St. Nikolaus; Sante Klaas. In his original form he's still prominent in the low countries but has been overtaken by the Coca Cola created image of santa claus, who got flying reindeer and gift making elfs for no apparent reason. 


Right, thats enough history for one week.... decide for yourself whether christmas sucks or rules. In any case, have a good X-mas dinner!


Back to the world of rules and sucks

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