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Ho, Ho, Ho ? Merry Christmas!


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I'm an ex-Christian and an atheist. This Christmas I have two overly decorated 9' tall Christmas trees complete with twinkling lights and circled by a battery powered toy train. Perched in locations all around my house, dozens and dozens of Nutcrackers of every height and description keep vigil while festive smelling candles taint the air. Snow blankets the ground outside my window, and holly and ivy decorate my neighbor?s porches. It's holiday time at an atheist home!

 

What? An atheist celebrating Christmas?

 

Christ's Mass. The Catholic Mass held on the eve before Christ's birth. That's what Christmas means, doesn't it? I mean, isn't an atheist who is celebrating Christmas about as hypocritical as one can get? Aren't we always hearing "Keep Christ in Christmas" and "Jesus is the reason for the season?" Isn't there even an atheistic "War on Christmas?"

 

Well, I suppose this is all just because of ignorance. Not my ignorance — Christian ignorance. You see, when I was a "True Fundie™," there were several years when I refused to celebrate Christmas, and for good reason too! Regardless of the name that's been glued on to the so-called holy day, the roots of this celebration are deeply pagan.

 

Long before the arrival of the two now famous Jewish peasant cousins who itinerantly preached on the hillsides of Judea for a couple years, the Norse were celebrating Yule from December 21 through January, honoring the return of the sun and in Germany people were celebrating the god Odin.

 

"Jo Saturnalia" (pronounced yo) would have been the December greeting in Jesus' neighborhood. With Romans marching all over Palestine, Jesus and his band of merry men would have been quite familiar with this idolatrous holiday honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture.

 

From the History Channel:

Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

 

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of
Mithra
, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. [...] For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

 

Interestingly enough, Mithras was always portrayed as an infant during this festive time.

 

As a good, Yahweh fearing Jew, I sincerely doubt Jesus or his cousin would have dared light up a Yule log, or mix a potent batch of eggnog, or whatever the Roman revelers would have used to usher in the traditional holiday season.

 

Reason for the Season

 

From the Catholic Encylopedia:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday.

 

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, sporadic feasts commemorating Jesus' birth began to crop up in various locations beginning in 200 CE, but the dates assigned to the feasts varied widely, and there was no general consensus on when Jesus might have been born, or even if the event was appropriate for Christians to commemorate.

 

Christmas celebrations spread to Egypt by 432, to England by the end of the sixth century and to Scandinavia by the end of the eighth century. By the Middle Ages, Christmas had, for the most part, supplanted the older pagan celebrations. But, it was still celebrated in the traditionally pagan way, with raucous Mardi Gras-like drunkenness and partying. Of course, that was after the church service.

 

During the 17th century, Puritan forces took over England and vowed to rid the land of the decadence of Christmas. Christmas was condemned by Oliver Cromwell and forbidden by an Act of Parliament in 1644. The day was to be a fast and a market day; shops were compelled to be open; plum puddings and mince pies condemned as heathen. Even after Charles I took the thrown and re-legalized Christmas, Yuletide was called "Fooltide" by the faithful.

 

When the pilgrims arrived on the shores of America, Christmas was not one of their holidays, and in Boston, the celebration of December 25 was outlawed. Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under the new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

 

In the 19th century, Americans began to embrace and re-invent Christmas. In 1819 Washington Irving wrote "The Sketchbook of Geoffery Crayon, Gentleman," a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. Irving's fictitious celebrants enjoyed supposed "ancient customs" that in actuality were fictitious inventions from the mind of the author. No such ancient customs existed prior to Irving's book, but because of the popularity of his stories, his invented Christmas "traditions" took hold.

 

Also around this time Charles Dickens hit the scene with his classic "A Christmas Carol." These two authors, more than any pope, prelate, or peasant preacher, are responsible for what those living in the west have come to regard as a traditional Christmas celebration.

 

Just as an added point, even with 2,000 years of evangelism, to this day oriental countries do not celebrate Christmas the same way we do. In Japan, people generally work on Christmas, and Christians may or may not attend church that day or on Christmas Eve. Japanese and Chinese more enthusiastically celebrate New Year, which has no Christian connotations whatsoever.

 

Cel-e-brate, good times... Come on!

 

For thousands of years, people have been making merry in December, celebrating with joy their lives, their families, the change of seasons, by gathering together with friends against the cold. Regardless of the name of the holiday or whether the general population is celebrating Marduk, Mithras, or Messiah, all the gods are myth anyway, so why should an atheist miss out on the fun?

 

So, as far as I'm concerned, the next time someone tells me to remember the reason for the season, I'll point to the sun, raise a full mug of spiced wine, and toast to the health of the ignorant well wisher. If that person joins me in the toast, who knows, maybe he or she will finally understand the real meaning of Christmas.

 

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2006/12...-christmas.html

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Sweet article - it's the stuff I try to remember when the holidays get me down :)

 

Jo Saturnalia!

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As a Pagan, I will be celebrating Yule my own self - on the solstice. I will be having a sumptous feast complete with ham, (I can't find boar), and meade. I plan on inviting my fundamentalist mother-in-law and saying my pagan grace and see how she likes having to sit there and endure it.

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Here's MY kind of Christmas music.....

 

http://www.trans-siberian.com/multimedia/index.shtml

 

Crooners and trembly warblers can just take a hike. Go plow snow.

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"Happy Solstice!" "Merry Mithramas!"

 

Heh. I celebrate the Holiday Of Lots Of Presents, I don't know about anyone else. Granted, I'll prolly have to whip out a Solstice celebration out of my ass next year to out-do my bitch boss over her "you're not Christian, you shouldn't have it off" argument, because Mithras is a bit too obscure.

 

I also very greedily hoard every odd Christmas song and album I can find, for the one (or two) days out of the year I'm forced to play the shitty crap. Hence The Hamster Christmas Song, some Brian Setzer, A Twisted Christmas (by way of Twisted Sister), and Sailor Moon's Christmas albums. Bwahahaha.

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Here's MY kind of Christmas music.....

 

http://www.trans-siberian.com/multimedia/index.shtml

 

Crooners and trembly warblers can just take a hike. Go plow snow.

 

Right there with you, WR. I just picked up their full discography the other day; that's some damn good stuff. I only wish I could have made it to their concert here on the 9th.

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I'm an ex-Christian and an atheist. This Christmas I have two overly decorated 9' tall Christmas trees complete with twinkling lights and circled by a battery powered toy train. Perched in locations all around my house, dozens and dozens of Nutcrackers of every height and description keep vigil while festive smelling candles taint the air. Snow blankets the ground outside my window, and holly and ivy decorate my neighbor?s porches. It's holiday time at an atheist home!

 

Can I show up? Sounds like an awesome Christmas to me!!! My cousin recently broke his promise and kicked me out of his home as I would not return to Jesus (he's a "Christian").

 

I get sick of "Keep Christ in Christmas"...it was as you said, an old pagan day of feasting and celebration honoring the Germanic and Nordic gods. I had asked some Christians before (when I was a Christian) what a big decorated, lighted pine tree has to do with Jesus Christ. They had all pretty much said, "Well, it's CHRIST-MAS!" Same thing for Halloween...I was part of several Christian fellowships in the past that actually debated over "what to do on Halloween"...it was like an international chess championship match! I had said to some other believers that "what's the big deal, so have a Christian party without the Halloween junk!"..."Oh no brother, the whole day is...SATANIC!!!" Eat pumpkin pie, get a demon in yer eye!

 

I saw on CNN a day ago that a Jewish Rabbi complained at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, as they had a huge Christmas tree up. He said he wanted "an 8 foot menorah next to it". So they decided to take it down! How ignorant can a person be, especially a practicing Jew? After they took it down, the Rabbi said he was sorry about the whole thing! Oy vey, the guilt, the guilt!

 

 

Shawn

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I'm an ex-Christian and an atheist. This Christmas I have two overly decorated 9' tall Christmas trees complete with twinkling lights and circled by a battery powered toy train. Perched in locations all around my house, dozens and dozens of Nutcrackers of every height and description keep vigil while festive smelling candles taint the air. Snow blankets the ground outside my window, and holly and ivy decorate my neighbor?s porches. It's holiday time at an atheist home!

 

Can I show up? Sounds like an awesome Christmas to me!!! My cousin recently broke his promise and kicked me out of his home as I would not return to Jesus (he's a "Christian").

 

I get sick of "Keep Christ in Christmas"...it was as you said, an old pagan day of feasting and celebration honoring the Germanic and Nordic gods. I had asked some Christians before (when I was a Christian) what a big decorated, lighted pine tree has to do with Jesus Christ. They had all pretty much said, "Well, it's CHRIST-MAS!" Same thing for Halloween...I was part of several Christian fellowships in the past that actually debated over "what to do on Halloween"...it was like an international chess championship match! I had said to some other believers that "what's the big deal, so have a Christian party without the Halloween junk!"..."Oh no brother, the whole day is...SATANIC!!!" Eat pumpkin pie, get a demon in yer eye!

 

I saw on CNN a day ago that a Jewish Rabbi complained at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, as they had a huge Christmas tree up. He said he wanted "an 8 foot menorah next to it". So they decided to take it down! How ignorant can a person be, especially a practicing Jew? After they took it down, the Rabbi said he was sorry about the whole thing! Oy vey, the guilt, the guilt!

 

 

Shawn

 

 

Heh. A Christmas tree is the least offensive of the religious decorations; at least that's pagan and relatively offensive. Now, if it had been the Nativity? Then I can see the guy getting pissed.

 

I just have to tear my hair out at the idiocy of people claiming we evil liberals are "destroying Christmas" by saying public businesses and the like should be saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Because apparently, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, the Solstice, and New Year's don't take place in the same general month and it isn't easier and more fair to simply say "Holidays" to cover them all. :Wendywhatever: It's not even out of my athiesm; it's about simply showing manners. Christians aren't the only ones celebrating a major festival in the month of effing December.

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I borrow from the Jewish Festival of Lights, as the theme for the celebration for the season and the Winter solstice--the symbolic and actual return of the Sun (having precessed a few days over the centuries, but who's counting). Also, lights represent not only individual spirits, but also the victory of Truth over darkness.

 

I still find the religious music impressive, expressing as it does the mythology of my past which I can appreciate as much a I do, say, Roman mythology. I do wish there was some music to express my sentiments in the first paragraph.

 

As for giving, the best gift we give one another is the stimulation of the economy. I regret the commercialism only when it engenders gift-giving that is so obligatory as to require taking on debilitating debt. Christmas, above all, should be a celebration of family, and of one pulling one's own weight.

 

barks5.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd be having a merry Christmas if not for all of the Christmas music. Every single station, even NPR which I listen to all day on Sunday because I know it DOESN'T have religious programming.

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