Christmas lists...

"Dear Buddha, I would like a pony and a plastic rocket..." says Mal

I have a different kind of list in mind. A list of standard rants that I just want to get off my chest. The opportunity for them occurs nearly every "Holiday Season". So let's just get to it, shall we?

First.
Every year, I hear the same thing. "Holiday this" and "Holiday that" and the counter mantra "they're taking god out of Christmas". There seems to be some confusion about the origin of 'Christmas'. Let's see if we can clear this up, eh?
Christmas is a 'bastardization' of "Christ's Mass", which is a Catholic celebration. The Catholics, being the earliest example of 'admen' on the planet, realized that they could more easily sell their religion if they simply adopted the holidays in the areas that they wished to convert. When they moved into Northern Europe, they took on the holiday known as Yule and incorporated it into their religion as the day of Christ's birth (even though it's considered most likely that the date would have been in spring) ergo, "Christ's Mass". (Mass being what a protestant refers to as a 'sermon') What I'm getting at is, if you are calling the holiday 'Christmas' and you aren't a Catholic, you are referring to the secularized holiday formerly known as Yule. There is no need to further secularize it by calling it a "Holiday".

(I was at a charter school the other day that is hosted at a Catholic Church, and they actually used the phrase "Holiday Party" to describe the Christmas Party. If there's one group that should be using the word "Christmas" it's the Catholics)

So, if you hear me wish you a "Merry Christmas", it's because "May your feast of the Winter Solstice be enjoyable" is too cumbersome to say repeatedly.

Second.

"Jesus is the reason for the season".
See the above rant. Axis tilt (22.5 degrees) is the reason for the season. Lack of sunlight causing depression is the reason for the celebration. Marketing is the reason that Jesus is associated with the season.

Admen everywhere should give thanks for their unique heritage; and I really don't understand a protestants insistance on associating Jesus and the Holiday formerly known as Yule. I thought they wanted to get away from Papal edict?

Third.

For some reason, the last few Christmas seasons have occasioned messages in my inbox exhorting us to rediscover our 'Christian roots', telling us to hold tight to our language and our culture. Most of them have declarative statements similar to the following:

"...Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented."

Anyone who has done more than a cursory hours worth of work on the subject KNOWS that this is incorrect. If you are talking about the 'Founding fathers', then you are talking about educated men for whom the dogma of organized religion represented the belief system of the past. True men of the enlightenment age (most of them) while they still professed a belief in god, they were not 'Christians'. Fully half of them were acknowledged 'Deists', which is the belief system of the true 'father' of the philosophy that is enshrined in the founding documents, John Locke, who first wrote the famous phrase as life, liberty, and estate (Jefferson changed the last to "Pursuit of Happiness" for various reasons)

But, the basis for this (country and philosophy) is not Christianity!

If, however, you are talking about the average people who founded this country...
...Then you would also be mistaken. From Buddhism to Zoroastrianism America has been host to every religion known to man, and those who came here weren't told to "check their religion at the door". We don't even "Speak English" as some of the posts assert (the British would attest to that quite readily) walk into any major city and see how many languages you run across.

While I despise the word "multiculturalism" as much as the next guy (the next guy probably being blissfully ignorant of Postmodernism and it's adherent's dismissal of objective reality and reason. Reason being the basis for Humanism and the Enlightenment, this country's REAL foundations) the "Melting pot" that is America isn't something that happens instantaneously; and as with any alloy, the base material is changed by what is added.

Yes, I know, I've ruined Christmas for you. I'm sorry but, the world isn't as simple as you want it to be, it won't change just because you think it should, and like those toys you bought for the kids, it won't go back in the !@#$%^&*! box so that you can return it to the pimply clerk that sold it to you so that you can just get the preassembled one that has all the pieces in the right place! The kid will be happy for the gift anyway, he probably won't notice the missing parts, and the world will continue to spin on it's (tilted) axis whether we will it or not.

Just relax, sit back, and have some more eggnog (or whatever your beverage of choice is) it's just a few more weeks and then we'll have a whole new year of problems to deal with. Now isn't that a refreshing outlook?

...Oh, and Merry Christmas!

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:01 AM

    Anthony,

    A fellow listmember of NCMUG (North Coast Macintosh User Group) shared your Holiday piece with us.

    And now I find I need to discover an answer to the following:

    What is the origin of the word Yule?

    I will let you know what I discover. Unless you already know the answer. In that case, please let me know.

    Donna Shore
    dshore@sonic.net
    Rohnert Park, CA

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:22 AM

    OK Anthony, here it is:

    Etymology

    Of the contested origin of Jól, one popular but factually unlikely connection is to Old Norse hjól, 'wheel,' to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowpoint, ready to rise again. Linguists suggest that Jól has been inherited by Germanic languages from a pre-Indo-European substrate language and borrowed into Old English from Old Norse.

    In the Scandinavian Germanic languages, the term Jul covers both Yule and Christmas, and is also occasionally used to denote other holidays in December, e.g., "jødisk jul" or "judisk jul" for Hanukkah. The word "jul" has also been borrowed into the neighboring Finnic languages, most notably to Finnish and Estonian (where it has been modified to "joulu" and "jõul" , respectively, and denotes Christmas in modern usage), although the Finnic languages have a linguistic origin different from Germanic languages.

    Donna (not so anonymous)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks.

    I hadn't given much thought to the origin of the word 'yule'. 'Bottom of the wheel' has an interesting logic to it.

    A christian friend of mine pointed out that Saturnalia was also celebrated about that time of the year; and that Saturnalia is what came to be Christmas. I think it's sufficient to simply note that the early leaders of the church created a holiday in their religion to mirror holidays that were celebrated in competing belief systems.

    That there were several of them simply goes to show how depressed people can get this time of year. ;-)

    -RAnthony

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd like to also bring up the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. This feast had things we don't associate with Christmas such as the reversal of slave and master roles and the orgies (but it's Rome, everything had orgies). However, they did have an analogue to the Christmas Tree and even an exchange of gifts. Again, it was a solstice celebration. I think it likely that any aggricultural civilization has a Christmas/Solstice analogue.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey!!! RAnthony! I just learned about your blog. How've you been?

    Actually, you are mostly right about the Founders; many were Diests, altho I am told some were Christian too.

    In any case, I think that the celebration of Christ's birth is good, regardless of the origin of Christmas, Yule or whatever.

    And, BTW, Holiday means Holy Day, so I really don't think there is any need for controversy. I say one should celebrate if and the way they want to.

    And, BTW, I have a blog of my own: http://www.alicelillieandher.blogspot.com .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Alice Lillie said:
    about the Founders; many were Diests, altho I am told some were Christian too.

    One of my 'Heros' was Christian, John Adams. Yes, the first "one-term failure of a president" is a hero of mine. Read one of his biographies (I suggest this one) or just watch the (restored) version of 1776, and you will get a feel for what the man was like. He was the most tireless activist for liberty of his time. A truly remarkable man. But I don't think he would agree with most of the rhetoric that is bouncing around these days, either.

    Alice Lillie said:
    In any case, I think that the celebration of Christ's birth is good, regardless of the origin of Christmas, Yule or whatever.

    I don't celebrate Christ's birth. I say "Merry Christmas", because that is the Holiday's name. It has been all my life. I celebrate the turning of the Season as well as Family, Friendship and Charity; that is what 'Christmas' means to me. I have no religion of my own, per se. Technically speaking, I have a philosophy, I don't need a religion.

    Alice Lillie said:
    And, BTW, Holiday means Holy Day, so I really don't think there is any need for controversy. I say one should celebrate if and the way they want to.

    Holiday is one of those words that has been secularized over the years. In Britain it means the same as 'vacation'. Much like Christmas, it's contextual use over-rides it's original meaning.

    I'll have to check out your Blog.

    -RAnthony

    ReplyDelete

Ad Hominems, Spam and Advertisements will be mercilessly deleted. All other comments are eagerly anticipated.