Tis the Season
The War on Christmas? Apparently it’s on again, at least in this county. I made the mistake of wishing someone a “Happy Holiday”. With great indignity she replied, “I celebrate Christmas.” Well then. I then said “oh” and said I hoped it was joyful.
The second mistake was in not moving on immediately.
She informed me that this is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, and that she was sick of liberals who wanted to destroy ‘their’ holiday.
When I replied that if their holiday was about shopping until one was deeply in debt, wasting money and time buying expensive gadgets for overly-spoiled children, and shoving their religion in other people’s faces while simultaneously failing to live by the principles of that religion, then maybe it ought to be destroyed – well it wasn’t pretty. Much pearl-clutching and a sort of gasping fish face.
I’m probably off her Christmas card list. Darn. I probably won’t get the newsletter either. You know – “the newsletter”:
Bill is retired now and spends most of his time working on various projects [he’s seeing a 22yo stripper and just bought a cherry-red Corvette] including a new business: refurbishing old properties and reselling them! [He saw an infomercial; we’re going to lose our shirts.]
I’m busy with my charities [drinking heavily] and have started taking some gardening and self-defense classes. [Because if that bastard tries to divorce me, no one’ll ever find the body.] I help out with the new business occasionally as well. [Mostly bitching about how much money we’re losing.] It’s very interesting, working with your spouse. [I never knew how much I hated him until now.]
DarlingSon decided to take a year off college [was kicked out] and had some dealings in the chemistry and legal fields. [cooking meth in the basement; sentenced to 2yrs and probation]. He’s currently working with less-fortunate young men [has been assigned to a half-way house].
DarlingDaughter, you’ll be surprised to know, was recently married [hush-hush JP wedding] to her long-time [2 months together – a record for her] beau, and is currently spending time working in graphic arts [doing spit-and-India tattoos in the senior high lunch room] .
We’re very proud to announce that our first grandchild [not counting DD’s 6 illegitimate ones] will be making his/her appearance in early spring! I’m sure you share our joy with DD and her new hubby, William. [Spike]
The fact is, Christmas as it is celebrated now is a fairly recent amalgamation of various beliefs and rituals the ancient Church stole in order to bring in more converts. Besides which, money is king this time of year, not an ancient newborn.
I’m not Christian, though I was raised in the Protestant faith – three of them, in fact. I used to be “MethoBaptiTerian”. When we would move, Mom always took us to the closest Protestant Church.
Nowadays, I call myself a Zen-Humanist-Pagan, which is really just a name I made up to recognize that I have taken various teachings and rituals from a variety of beliefs, and combined them in a way that makes my life more meaningful. I celebrate the Solstice, but, because I have children, I choose to do some of the ‘traditional’ Christmas stuff, like putting up a tree, as well following some non-Christian traditions. (Want to scare your neighbors? Have your kids run around the backyard with (tiki) torches to ‘wake’ the sun! Let’s just say we won’t be doing that again!)
I don’t have anything against Christians, or anyone who chooses to celebrate Christmas, except when they want to force their holidays to be the only recognized holidays. The problem comes when their holidays are shoved down my throat by people who can’t even follow the precepts of their espoused religion.
I don’t want Christian symbols on government properties or in public schools or anywhere else where religion and state are traditionally separated. Not unless all religions are allowed to put their winter holiday symbols up as well.
I don’t think it’s disrespectful to say, “Happy Holidays” because it’s simply a shorter version of “I want to wish you well as you celebrate whatever holiday of whatever belief system you hold – if you hold one. Since I can’t tell what holiday you celebrate just by looking at you, I will simply express the hope your holiday season – however you celebrate it, if you celebrate it – is a joyful one.”
Let’s take on the first part of the myth: Jesus’ Holy birth – the Immaculate Conception, etc. While I’m of the belief that the man known as Jesus was a wise teacher, and that his teachings are important, his birth story is just another version of the same tale that existed long before his birth.
Mithras is the most likely source for the Virgin Birth myth, having existed at least 5 centuries prior to the birth of Christ.
Roman Mithras was perhaps the greatest rival to early Christianity for many reasons. As well as being a popular pagan religion practised by the Roman Army, Mithraism had many similarities to Christianity. Mithras was born of a virgin, remained celibate, his worship involving baptism, the partaking of bread marked with a cross and wine as sacrificial blood, held Sundays sacred and Mithras was born on 25th of December. Mithraist called themselves ‘brother’ and were led by a priest called ‘father’ (Pater).
These similarities frightened the early Christian leaders – that almost 500 years before arrival of Christ all of the Christian mysteries were already known. To combat this, Christian witters [sic] said that the Devil knew of the coming of Christ in advance and had imitated them before they existed in order to denigrate them. As Christianity gained strength and became the formal religion of the Roman Empire, the ‘Cult of Mithras’ was one of the first pagan cults to come under attack in the fifth century; Temples of Mithras, like most other pagan Temples, were destroyed and Churches build on them.
According to Persian traditions, the god Mithras was actually incarnated into the human form of the Saviour expected by Zarathustra. Mithras was born of Anahita, an immaculate virgin mother once worshipped as a fertility goddess before the hierarchical reformation. Anahita was said to have conceived the Saviour from the seed of Zarathustra preserved in the waters of Lake Hamun in the Persian province of Sistan. Mithra’s ascension to heaven was said to have occurred in 208 B.C., 64 years after his birth. This birth took place in a cave or grotto, where shepherds attended him and regaled him with gifts, at the winter solstice. [all emphasis mine]
Sound familiar? As with nearly every other facet of the modern-day Christmas celebration, even the birth of Christ was appropriated from another religion.
Personally, I think all those who want to force Christmas on the rest of us should be forced to celebrate as the earliest citizens of our country did.
From Pagan Claus:
Christmas even started out controversially in North America. Reverend Rel Davis writes:
The festival of Christmas has always been a controversial one in Christianity. The Puritans banned Christmas altogether and during the Cromwellian period in England, anyone celebrating Christmas was jailed for heresy. Probably the most hated of all Puritan laws was the one abolishing Christmas and probably led to popular acceptance of royalty (nb: the Restoration) — at least the King allowed the masses to celebrate Yule!
In America, Christmas was generally outlawed until the end of the last century. In Boston, up to 1870, anyone missing work on Christmas Day would be fired. Factory owners customarily required employees to come to work at 5 a.m. on Christmas — to insure they wouldn’t have time to go to church that day. And any student who failed to go to school on December 25 would be expelled. Only the arrival of large numbers of Irish and northern European immigrants brought acceptance of Christmas in this country. [emphasis mine]
Christmas did not even begin to be a legal holiday anywhere in the United States until very late in the nineteenth century CE, with Alabama being the first state to make it so.
So, all you who want Christmas hailed all over the land…I expect you to be at work or in school on Dec. 25th. After all, that’s what the founders of our country apparently wanted.