Disclaimer: The Reverend is one person who enjoys this time of year. The following, while based entirely on facts, is meant to be humorous. Please do not take offense. It is not intended as a personal attack against Christians or Christianity.
Many well-meaning folks, and some that aren't, believe that the Christian holiday, Christmas, is being warred against by evil secularists. The battleground, invariably, seems to revolve around the phrase "Merry Christmas" and the nativity scenes set up on taxpayer owned properties. Those who object to government sponsored Christmas displays on Constitutional grounds are described as leading a "War against Christmas". Owners and managers of retail stores who instruct their workers to say to their customers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" are accused of joining the secularist devils in their "War against Christmas".
I'm sure this will come as no surprise.......The Reverend doesn't think we should be looking at this annual dispute the way we have been.
I believe Christians need to stop their war against pagan winter solstice celebrations and the pagan gods the celebrations were founded upon.
It's a war that has gone on for so long now, a review of how we arrived where we are is in order.
Long before the three wise men and the baby in a manger story, came these December 25th celebrations.....
A winter festival was traditionally the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included less agricultural work needing to be done during the winter, as well as people expecting longer days and shorter nights after the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. In part, the Christmas celebration was created by the early Church in order to entice pagan Romans to convert to Christianity without losing their own winter celebrations. Certain prominent gods and goddesses of other religions in the region had their birthdays celebrated on December 25, including Ishtar, Sol Invictus and Mithras . Link
The Romans held a festival on December 25 called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun."
The Sol Invictus festival has a "strong claim on the responsibility" for the date of Christmas, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Several early Christian writers connected the rebirth of the sun to the birth of Jesus
Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. Yule logs were lit to honor Thor, the god of thunder, with the belief that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. Feasting would continue until the log burned out, which could take as many as twelve days.
In Roman times, the best-known winter festival was Saturnalia, which was popular throughout Italy. Saturnalia was a time of general relaxation, feasting, merry-making, and a cessation of formal rules. It included the making and giving of small presents (Saturnalia et Sigillaricia), including small dolls for children and candles for adults.
It's a very good thing for Christianity that copyright and trademark lawyers weren't as prominent in ancient times....else relief would be sought from a religion that, as you can clearly see, borrowed pagan winter solstice celebration dates and practices and made them their own. And not just one or two, either, a whole bunch of them. Religious plagiarism, in a way.
And so my question this December comes down to this: When will the Christian faith stop it's war against pagan winter solstice celebrations? When will Christianity allow the authentic and original "reasons for the season", all of them, to be celebrated in their historical form as the many founders of this ancient holiday period intended?
In short.....when will Christians put paganism back into the Christmas holiday season where it belongs? When will the many leaders of Christianity finally acknowledge what they've done and give back to the rightful owners of the pagan winter solstice celebrations all the dates, practices and traditions borrowed for the sake of proseltyzing (converting new members)? When will Christianity finally admit it's sin of thievery and make restitution to all those secularists and pagans whom they have sinned against? And what kind of weak spined, compromising, religion was Christianity back then, anyway, that it had to trick people by keeping traditional pagan solstice celebration dates and customs in tact, all in order to make more converts?
This war against the original meaning and intent of the December holiday period must stop. It has gone on far too long......about 20 centuries, you know, give or take.
The question we should be asking, the question that should be occupying all our minds this time of year,....when will Ishtar, Sol Invictus, Mithras and Thor, be allowed to be put back into the Christmas holiday? Why do Christians continue to wage war against those "original" gods being depicted this time of year in front of courthouses and federal buildings? Why would Christians object to the greeting "Have A Sunny Sol Invictus Day"? Isn't this more proof of the Christian war against non-Christians?
Why would Christians object to baby Ishtars or baby Thors being publicly displayed alongside of the baby Jesus? After all, it is because of belief in these pagan gods in the first place that we even have the traditions surrounding the Christmas holiday today. Why not recognize paganism's part in the season's reason for being?
Fairness, of course, would require that the Christian version of the historical pagan winter solstice celebration not be excluded entirely. I don't want the Bethlehem story to be left out. Alongside depictions of Thor, Mithras, and the various sun gods, I agree, the baby Jesus should be included.
And honestly, who couldn't benefit from a return to a few of those early pagan winter solstice celebration traditions? Like the traditions surrounding the birth of Saturn.....
There was drinking, gambling, and singing, and even public nudity. It was the "best of days," according to the poet Catullus.
The battle rages on.....The Reverend will remain steadfast, renewing his vigor with each year's conflict. My battle cry?
"Put the X back in X-mas."
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