Friday, December 09, 2005

Syncronicity struck yesterday. Shortly after I posted my little gripe about Chri$tma$, I ran across an editorial in the International Herald Tribune, titled "Commercialize Christmas, or else" by Adam Cohen. In the article, Cohen describes the history of Christmas. There's a one thing I found amusing: the original Puritans despised the Christmas holiday. Wrote Cohen, "They could not find Dec. 25 in the Bible and insisted that the date derived from Saturnalia, the Roman heathens' wintertime celebration." It was Emperor Constantine who set the date to join the Christian celebration with the pagan celebration. (This is the same reason most of the Religious Right boycott Halloween. Nothing wrong with a little hypocrisy.) That view held forth through much of the 1800s, that the celebration of Chri$tma$ distracted worshippers from religious piety.

It wasn't until the late 1800s, when "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was published with illustrations by Thomas Nast that we got the image of a jolly Santa.

In the 1920s, business adopted Chri$tma$ as their own holiday. That's when the phrase "Holiday Shopping Season" begins appearing. The popularity of Chri$tma$ exploded. By 1953, folks were complaining that the celebration of Christ's birth had become a time to seek profits. In 1965, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" aired, popularizing the sentiment. Linus even read from the Bible, something no other Chri$tma$ special had done before, to emphasize the point. Sadly, we ignored the lesson.

Today, most corporations generate half their revenues in November and December. Folks even have put up Paris Hilton Christmas displays! That's American!

So the "old fashioned American Christmas" that everyone is mourning is really about the generation of corporate revenues. If it was really about Christ, we wouldn't buy gifts, we wouldn't bake pies, we wouldn't travel and we wouldn't consume rum laced milk drinks. We would be in church.

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2 Comments:

Blogger ozymandiaz said...

Christmas isn't the only holiday based on the timing of pagan rituals. It was common to arange christian holidays against that of pagans so that the transition to christianity would be easier. Easter is conveniently placed around the spring equinox. All Hollows Eve (halloween when it WAS a religious holiday) was the autumn equinox. Christmas the winter solstice. Granted the calanders have shifted somewhat over the years but these are traditionaly times of celebration in many a religion or beliefe system thru out history as they corrolate to astrological events signaling the change of season. Very important in primative cultures.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Dus10 D said...

Actually, Christians were celebrating Christmas on December 25th before Constantine. Also, There is some confusion based on Julian/Gregorian calendars.

Further, Halloween isn't autumn equinox... it was the Celtic holiday of Samhain, and was suppsoed to be right in between autumn equinox and winter solstice. It was celebrated over three days that have now become know as Halloween, All Saint's Day, and All Soul's Day. Halloween would be equivalent to Celtic New Year's Eve, and All Saint's Day would be equivalent to Celtic New Year's Day.

There are many dates in Christianity that sit over Pagan days. Dates and celebrations are symbolic, and as with all symbolism, the symbols (dates) are not important at all, it is their meaning. Further, Christians used it as a way of stamping out the old. It was like sticking a finger in the Pagans' eyes. "Look what we did to your holidays, HA, HA, HA!"

I know what the dates were for Pagans, and I know what they are too me; that is all that matters.

10:02 PM  

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