Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Merry something

The prevailing belief, based on years of scholarship and study, is that Jesus, "called the Christ," was not born on Christmas (Christ's mass), nor in the year zero. The calendar we use today is not even the calendar used in Roman or Jewish cultures. Very early Christians didn't celebrate Christmas, but only Easter. The day for Christmas - December 25th - was arbitrarily chosen, meant to coincide roughly with Saturnalia and other pagan winter solstice celebrations. Some Christian churches, notably the Greek and Russian Orthodox, don't celebrate the 25th as Christmas, but instead have long celebrations either before or after that date. In fact, Christmas wasn't even designated a federal holiday in the US until June of 1870. Puritans banned the celebration as hedonistic.
Christmas has become almost entirely commercial these days. December 25th is not the day when Christians celebrate the birth of their savior, but is instead the day they celebrate spending money, giving unnecessary gifts and overeating, to the point that magazine after magazine lists articles on how to prevent weight gain during the holidays, how to choose gifts that won't be returned or regifted, and how to prevent yourself from going completely broke. Airlines charge extortionate prices for flights which are no different than any other, except in date.
Throughout much of the world, Christmas is not a holiday. Other cultures and other religions celebrate their own massive festivals; Eid, Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year or Bikrami Samvat (March 16th next year, in case you're wondering) are all 'holy' in some way to those who celebrate them. In fact, one might wonder if Christmas should be such a big deal to a 'non-practicing' or unbelieving Christian. If one doesn't consider the context holy, why then the date? This year, having been living in another country, Thanksgiving seemed to have much more gravity to it, my American heritage more important in the contrast.
The date is, in the end, unimportant. We assign it however much importance we wish, based on whatever criteria we choose.

But then, this could all just be the frustrated rambling of a girl who doesn't know how to tell her parents that she can't make it home for Christmas this year.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like it's time to play that old I'll be home for Christmas off the cheesy holiday collection.

    But really, Christmas / festivus is a perfectly good pagan holiday- enjoying people, bringing a tree inside, making light of the darkness, etc. Just because the Christians tried to steal it doesn't mean it is ruined forever!

    I hope yours is still merry.

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  2. Good suggestions from Burk. I would skip the feats of strength though....

    Ah, the holidays - humans have decided that the beginning of winter, the cold dark barren winter, is the "most wonderful time of the year"......and I have to say, I love us for that.

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  3. And I have not spent the holidays apart from family, so I can only imagine. I am sure that you are loved though.

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  4. I've nothing against celebrating festivus. I understand the deep-seated human desire to know that there is hope even in the darkest part of winter. I'm just trying, unsuccessfully, to convince myself that I won't be upset if I miss a specific day.
    One of my favorite Christmas songs of all time is actually a new one, sung by Blues Traveler. "Well, excuse me if I'm not being reverent...."

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  5. Kelly, you have made a good point. I have complained about the date of Christmas back in July on my blog. And you are right that Easter was the first holy day to be celebrated by Christians. A Merry Christmas to you.

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  6. Correction: It was on Facebook and not on my blog that I made that complaint.

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