Friday, December 23, 2011

Familiar Christmas customs based on ancient pagan rituals? GASSSPPP!!!

This time of the year tends to bring out the best - and the worst - in all of us.  It's also the annual time of the year for various retail outlets and government representatives at all levels (city, county, state, and federal) to commit to saying "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas" so as to not offend those who don’t celebrate Christmas.  Well, I have my own solution to this particular dilemma, but more on that in a bit. 

First, I want to bring up a common argument generally brought up by those who hate the Christmas season; and they usually bring it up as a way to "de-legitimize" Christmas - as if bringing this up is supposed to make the Christmas celebrant crash into a heap of shock, daze, confusion, and disappointment, and then they’ll leave Christianity and embrace atheism.  That particular fact is that many familiar Christmas customs actually originated from ancient pagan rituals.  It's times like that that I really have to bite my tongue to keep from saying:


You all might not know this, but I have a snarky side that I have to fight to control.  LOL 

Anyway, as I've mentioned before in a recent blog entry, I'm a big lover of history, and these particular facts about Christmas have been known to me since early adolescence.  The fact that Christmas originally was about celebrating the winter solstice is the most common argument brought up by these people – however, that fact is not exactly true.  What the early Christians were doing was not to look for a covert way to celebrate the winter solstice, but to redirect common pagan celebrations to have a Christian theme to them instead, so that this transition from pagan rituals to Christian ones will be very gradual.   Since pagans were used to celebrating at this time in December, then it wouldn't be a great stretch to make it about Christmas instead. 

But what really influenced our current practices of Christmas rituals in our country actually originated in Victorian England, and also by retail stores in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century looking to boost their bottom line (those damn corporations and One Percenters at it again!).  They basically made the Christmas season, in which the three wise men gave gifts to the infant Jesus, to be a time for gift-giving in general.  They were so successful at this transition that we've been paying for it with our dollars and our sanity ever since. 

So is Christmas too commercialized?  You bet! It's been so bad in recent decades that it's a common source of stress.  Heck, even the Peanuts television special in the mid-1960s made reference on how commercialized Christmas was back then!  Given that, I'm not only not surprised that some wouldn't be keen on a holiday with so many manufactured rituals (think Black Friday, Super Saturday, Cyber Monday, for example), I can actually agree with them.

Surprised that I would agree?  My Christmas-hating friends, you will find that you have a lot of people fond of Christmas who also hate the commercialization of it and of the hyper stress and the manufactured rituals.  What really ticks us off, though, is that you will lump us into the creators of the manufactured, commercialized holiday season (notice that I said "holiday" rather than "Christmas".  A distinction that I'm about to clarify) with those of us who appreciate the true "reason for the season".

Ah, yes. The “reason for the season”. That would be, of course, the arrival of the Christ child. Without getting heavy into Christian theology (so that I won’t be accused of trying to “evangelize” any of you LOL), Christmas Day is simply the celebration of Jesus’ birth. His birthday, in other words. And before anyone starts telling me that we don’t know the real date of his birth – yes, that’s true – so chill out! So why December 25th? Well, since we don’t know the true date, then a date had to be picked so that we can all celebrate it!

It also happens to be 9 months after the Catholic feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. And well, pregnancies tend to last 9 months and all that. Yes, we don’t know the true date of his conception, nor do we know whether his mother Mary’s pregnancy lasted the standard 9 months, or if it were shorter or longer than that. And yes, as previously stated, December 25th was picked likely to coincide with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice – but NOT to celebrate it! Thing is, friends, what mattered is that Jesus came into the world, and the other details aren’t necessarily important. So whether Jesus was born on December 25th or May 8th, the most important fact for Christians is that he was born.

Having said all that, I do believe that the celebration of Christmas needs to be more "Christ" centered; and not so much "holiday" centered. So those of you who aren't Christian and are pissed about all the trappings that are actually products of Victorian England and the marketing campaigns of retail outlets, be sure to direct your anger in the right direction. You just might find more Christians agreeing with you than you expect.

And finally, my solution to the whole "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays/Seasons Greetings", I say that those who trouble themselves over what to say should do this: Say all of them! What I mean is, say the following:

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Holy Ramadan
Happy Holidays
Seasons Greetings
Happy Festivus
And all the rest!

Any marketing departments worth their salt can find ways to utilize this in creative ways. It *can* be done.

And with that, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Don't forget as well that if you want to give me a holiday greeting here or on FB, be sure to tell me "Merry Christmas", because that's my preference. Heck, it's on my blog banner! LOL

Just so that you all know, I will be taking a break from blogging for about a week, and I'll see you back here early January. However, I will definitely still be posting on FB. In fact, watch my FB page starting on Monday for a special treat! I think you'll like it!

Take care, everyone! I hope you get lots of prezzies!

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