Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas is April 17th ~ A short history of Christmas Folklore

Every year, usually right before Thanksgiving, some angry Santa-hater starts posting spam photos on Facebook, 10-15 minute long videos on YouTube ~ complete with outdated and incorrect information ~ and of course, when an innocent passer-by dares to say "Happy Holidays" this person will belittle them in the most loud and boisterous way possible.

When it's brought to their attention that they're acting like a regular scrooge, they hide behind one excuse:

"I'm trying to put CHRIST back in CHRIST-mas!!"

I always find amusement in the bah-humbuggery, because not a single one of these people seem to know how un-Jesus like they're acting.

For those who don't believe, Jesus was said to have been easy going, un-hating and if you read Matthew 21:12, was actually against the church.

I also take amusement in finding out how many hate the term "Happy Holidays".

Oh have you heard the whining before?

"Most REAL 'Mericans Celebrate CHRISTMAS. You should too or GET OUT OF MAH CUNTRY"

First of all, it's MY country. I'm part Native American. If you're going to spread hate, I'd rather you move.

Second, Jesus would never wan you to turn people out of any country, based on belief. He was a person who believed in the phrase "Love thy Neighbor" not "Get offa mah property".

Third, Jesus was a Jew who was known as "Jesus of Nazareth" which is located in Israel, a country in Asia. It's more likely he would celebrate Hanukkah, and likely wouldn't turn his nose up at Kwanzaa, as that holiday is said to celebrate Unity. Last time I looked at a map, Israel and Asia were both as far from America as you can possibly get.

Fourth, it's "America". Not "Merica". Learn to say my country's name right.

And yet most of my issues with this form of Yuletide Christmas Bullying fall onto deaf ears. Look, I may not be a very religious person, but even I read the 10 commandments, specifically the part with "Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above". That specifically outlines pictures and statues of God, Jesus, Mary and the rest of His family. So you may want to think twice next time you try to spam Facebook with images of Jesus, it's kind of a sin.

December 25th has never truthfully been a day for religion at all. It origins are much more earthly and dare I say Pagan than what the average church follower believes, and actually putting the name of Jesus onto the full version of the holiday, might be a form of disrespect, rather than celebration.

Back in 2002, The History Channel ran a fascinating documentary called The Research of Holy Night, it was a great show and I'm sorry it isn't aired more often. If you can find a DVD I suggest giving it a try.

In the documentary, scientists, historians and astronomers all compared the writings of the Bible to world history and the alignment of the stars. Dr. Michael R. Molnar was able to locate the fabled Star of Bethlehem, and found that the exact date of Jesus's birth is really April 17th, 6 B.C. It's a no brainer when you read the New Testament. Sheep herders would not have been outside in December, but they would have been sleeping under the stars with the sheep around April. Also, there are clues in the book, alluding to the notion that the date of his birth is also close to what we now call Easter. A decent write up on this is located here.

Now what we call Christianity didn't actually start up until after The Resurrection, with it starting as an off-shoot branch of Judaism. (Remember, Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian.) The term "Christians" used to be a slang term for essentially the fans of Jesus. Most Romans used this more as a slur than a description.

Well not long after Christianity started looking less like a slang term and more like a cult/religion, Romans started offing them left and right. It was made clear that they would be targeted, even during holidays. So what could be done?

Simple, hide the holidays.

Easter and Good Friday (Why is it good? Jesus was MURDERED that day, that's not good at all!) were easy. They were hidden during Spring Solstice, which is a celebration of birth and rebirth. The flowers that had died off during Autumn and Winter seem to "spring back" to life, new plants sprout, and it's also a favorable mating season for many animals. Images of baby bunnies and chicks are often a good sign of fertility and renewal, so it was easy to hide the festivities of Jesus's rebirth here.

BUT they opted not to add in his birthday, otherwise the Romans could have figured out what they were doing. So, they decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus by pushing his birthday to December 25th.

December 25th is the biggest, baddest, mamma-jamma party day of the year, smack in the middle of Winter Solstice. It was a time celebrated with heavy drinking, gifts and general goofing off. Picture the world's biggest frat party. The Christians decided that there was no better way to celebrate Jesus than with the biggest feast of them all. So this was a natural choice.

It was supposed to be TEMPORARY.

But by the time that it was no longer a punishable-by-death offence to be a Christian in Rome, the descendants of these early Christians had forgotten when the actual date of Jesus's birth was. Re-checking their older scriptures did not prompt them to even try and push the date back to even the right month, instead opting to leave it where it was. Because you know... it's tradition.

Yes, tradition. To celebrate the birthday of the person they love most on the WRONG day, during the WRONG month, during the WRONG season. And in the middle of Winter Solstice, the most biggest, Pagan holiday of the year. Christians decided this. Ah... what?

Winter Solstice itself has had a changing in it's meaning. At first it was just a celebration of the onset of Winter and the upcoming change in the calendar. Some would add in an extra feast in honor of a God or spirit, but these traditions vary by area, and for the most part, it was a holiday devoid of modern day religion.

 Now in 270 a.d. was born a wonderful man named Nikolaos. During his 73 years of life, he did many good deeds just because he felt like it, and after death was made into a saint. A few hundred years later, people began seeing images of him once more doing good deeds, and eventually the legend of him leaving treats for good children on December 5th-into-6th spread. It is now a holiday. In some areas of the world however, people do not believe this is the same man, and instead refer to the December 6th trinket-leaver as Sinterklaas.

Saint Nicholas/Sinterklaas is NOT Santa Claus!!

Another holiday goof is the notion that Saint Nicholas and Santa are one and the same. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Saint Nicholas was over 6 feet tall and quite skinny. Santa is a short elf.

In 1773, people began claiming they had seen a rotund gift giver, also answering to the name Sinterklaas. But by 1803 this name was re-printed in newspapers as Santa Claus.

Santa was originally described as an elf, just a few inches tall, riding a turkey. Over the years, it changed to a 4-6 foot tall, chubby elf, traveling with reindeer. It wasn't until 1821 however, that the elf began leaving presents for children. But the reason for this isn't as merry as you've been told.

Winter Solstice by this point was a quiet, somber (and sometimes outlawed) time, to give thanks for still having children. Kids in the pre-20th Century world didn't always live past 10. A family could start the year with 6-7 kids, and then end the year with just 1-2. Disease, abuse, child labor, these were all things that often times shortened the lifespan of children ~ especially in the United States. So by Christmastime, parents were often finding joy in still being "Mom and Dad".

What better way is there to celebrate a child than by giving him toys?

While some Christians toiled over the notion that Santa Claus was now a part of the holiday they made up, other Christians welcomed him, claiming that the gift giving was synonymous with the Three Wise Men giving gifts to Mary for baby Jesus.

Again, a misnomer. While the Wise Men did give gifts, they were NOT to celebrate baby Jesus's birth. They were given in preparation for Jesus's early death, a future the Wise Men had a premonition about, long before finding the boy.

Gold: This was given to help pay for a final resting place.
Frankincense and Myrrh: Embalming preservatives that are known to dry out the body after death.

These were not gifts of merriment. The reminder of this part of the Bible was not a welcome one back then for most parents.

Another gift that is spoken of (but also not really a gift) is the fruit cake. While today it is baked and given during Christmastime, it's really just a convenient way to make the fruit last through the winter. Picture a lightly sweet cake-casserole, but with the consistency of a cold brick. Again, there is no basis in religion for it, it's just a really thick mass.

Eggnog also has no religious background, but a non-alcoholic version goes great over ice cream!

The Yule Log was originally just a large piece of tree, that was burned in thanks to the universe for all that was received during the year. It started as a Winter Solstice tradition, and morphed into another ritual for Christmas.

Mistletoe (a known poison and parasitic plant) also has no modern-day religious ties. It's just a plant people kiss under.

Then there's the Christmas Tree:
At first, the holiday tree, garlands and wreaths, were all symbols of eternal life. In some areas of the world, it was used as a device to scare off demonic spirits. Then in the 14th and 15th centuries, the tree was decorated with apples and wafers on December 24th. This was to commemorate the tale of Adam, Eve and the Tree of Life. The apples represented the forbidden fruit, and the wafers represented redemption. 

Off and on from 1444 until 1841, the tree was banned, brought back, banned and brought back again, all over the world. In 1841, Queen Victoria made the tree popular again, this time for good, but all of it's ties to Adam and Eve had been completely dropped, and it was known as the perfect centerpiece for Christmas presents, it's ties to Christianity's Christmas being more of a coincidence than an on-purpose item. Still, it provided the best spot for placing gifts. Only in Germany was it consistently a "Christmas" tree.

Traditionally, holidays based on events in the Bible were celebrated with just a very big meal, and usually this meal follows a period of fasting, though not all holidays have this period.

One curious Christmas tradition however is the Christmas Ham. 

Jesus was not only a Jew, he was the king thereof. Ergo he would have stuck to a Kosher diet.

Now it does state somewhere in the New Testament that all sins are absolved through Him, but this is a passage that generally is spotted AFTER his murder. Prior to this, he would have had to access to ham or any reason to eat it, as most of the places where he was spotted had people living in them that also stuck to a Kosher diet.

Much of what we call Christmas only has Christ in the title. The actual Jesus aspect of it is celebrated on the wrong day, and any notion that December 25th should be a day of religion, is at best a misunderstanding of old traditions, and at worst sacrilege. (And often a topic of issue for believers.)

Why did I say sacrilege? Simple. Not only do we still have people celebrating on the wrong day, we also celebrate it in the current millennium with corporate greed, and gifts so expensive, people are willing to kill each other for them. 

I'm not a very religious person, but I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't want you to punch a woman over a smart phone. I'm also certain he'd take issue with corporations overworking and underpaying children in China, just so you can have that cute little $600 piece of plastic. And on a similar note, I'm certain that Saint Nick ~ being the patron saint of children ~ would also take umbrage at that.

So if you're serious about putting Christ back into Christmas, you need to start celebrating Christmas on April 17th. Have December 25th return to being a Winter Solstice, Santa-driven sleigh-ride of presents type of holiday, and you can return the proper Christmas in April, into being what it should have been all along.

A quiet dinner in Spring.
Share if you agree.

No comments:

Post a Comment