I mean…can you really have a weekly article space fall on a major holiday like Christmas which is intended to be used for random information and not then use the space to give out random information about that day?
I suppose my Lutheran heritage might have to come into play here with some of these bits of fact.
Let’s start with an easy one. Christmas, you know, December 25th, is not considered by any of those people in the know to be the actual date of Jesus’ birth (should that be Jesus’s now? I think they changed it again…). There’s all sorts of things to back up the idea that they date is way off, from ideas as simple as that the shepherds probably wouldn’t be hanging out in the fields on a cold winter day to the much more fact-based reasoning that this time frame was typically filled with extravagant festivals dedicated to the Winter Solstice, which actually occurs on the 21st, but we’ll leave that be for now. Things such as the Koliada (a Slavic pagan ritual that predates known celebrations of Christmas) which look an awful lot like Christmas carolers,
Or…more importantly…the Roman holiday created to celebrate the sun god and the winter solstice together, which just so happened to happen on December 25th of every year called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti…or, the birthday of the unconquered sun (sUn, not sOn). Okay…actually, there’s a lot of known information to back up this connection. There was even a well-documented movement that happened sometime around the 4th century to have the Christian holiday assimilate the pagan one…which was connected to the assimilation of Easter as well…you know, since Easter was the Spring Equinox, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
But that’s all old hat type stuff, right? What about the big things? Why do people put dead trees in their houses and dress them up like an ugly sweater? You can thank the Germans for this one (at least that’s what most people suggest you do). Of course, the reasons for this aren’t all that well documented, but there’s a good amount of thought that Martin Luther was the first to put lit candles on the tree (which was inside) as the precursor to our current twinkle lights…just think of the fire hazards involved there!
Doesn’t seem like there’s much more to it outside of a continuation of an old pagan idea to give support to the sun god on the darkest days of the year by filling the house with green, green being the sun god’s favorite color.
In other words, the tree is a tribute to the sun god that now works as a central part to this celebration of Christ’s birth.
Actually, a lot of our traditions that come from Christianity, are actually ones that were borrowed from old pagan rituals. Rabbits and eggs have very little to do with resurrection, but we have them all over Easter anyways. As such, Christmas has many items that appear to be very odd in connection with the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
In fact, one of the few things that are actually typically attributed to be a Christian addition to the festivities (although there are those who debate it) is the concept of gift giving, generally considered a tribute to the gifts of the Magi (which were probably given to Jesus much later than the day of his birth) is the practice of exchanging gifts…a practice that is often looked down upon by Christians today due to it causing a loss of focus on Christ for the holidays.
I’ve found it rather amusing how much I’ve seen Christians lately talking about removing the presents from the holiday, considering this background.
But ultimately, holidays such as Christmas have no required methods of celebration. The traditions for these holidays aren’t just different from country to country, but from family to family. And being concerned about how others celebrate the holiday is quickly becoming some families’ favorite tradition :-).
But whatever way you celebrate it, I hope you’re having a great one!
I’m off to have some egg nog (he says, writing this on the 18th…)
Have fun out there!