On a Christmas past I posted this on Twitter:
#Atheists are attacking #christmas, but are they demanding the Jews take Yahweh out of Chanukah, or for secular versions of Muslim Holidays?
This is in response to the atheists in Chicago putting a giant A at an annual Christmas Market-Which Stands for “Atheist.” Or “Atheism”. Or maybe “Aardvark.” On Atheism, what does it matter? But I digress.
No, really. They forced a big red A into a Christmas event. Read the sign they put up: READ ABOUT IT HERE. And of course the billboards and other print ads put up for a few years now by he American Atheists, which you can see and read about here. And more about it here. These guys are more obsessed with Christmas than Buddy the Elf.
The replies I got were remarkable at least, and add to a growing concern I have that I may not be speaking English at all. I mean, I HEAR English when I talk, and I SEE English when I type, but people tend to reply to me as though they are having a completely different conversation from the one I think I am having with them. If you read my Tweet as I do, you will see that my point is the one sided anti-Christian stance which the atheists have which is not matched with equal time attacking Jewish, Muslim, or other non-Christian holidays. Christmas and the Church are the target. Where is the giant A at the local Islamic festival?
Where is the billboard proclaiming “the Koran is a lie and we should all be atheists”?
This is what I was asking.
But the replies I got were as follows: “nobody is attacking christmas. christmas is not even a christian holiday, originally.”
Not my point at all, but it immediately became the focus of the conversation which followed. One of the more vocal and adamant contributors of this concept was a Twitter Duck,
“The time of year was originally the winter solstice, and a pagan holiday.”
I was astounded to learn this! Here I had always thought CHRISTmas has something to do with CHRIST, but it turns out that Christmas is something WE Christians stole from the Pagans! “christmas is the pre-christian feast of winter solstice that was assimilated by early christians” continued the Twitter Duck, and a like-minded tweeter added, “the most recent actual festival Christianity took was called Saturnalia, with its feasts on 25th.”
Naturally I went to Wikipedia to see what else I could learn. It said thus, “Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23.”
Hmmm. So much for the 25th. But I suppose since it DID cover most of the end half of December, then ANY holiday which ALSO took place in late December must be merely a Saturnalia of its own under a different name. I kept reading to see if maybe the Romans were celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah whose death and resurrection were to be the atoning sacrifice to pay for man’s sins and make us right with God. Wikipedia said this: “In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of social egalitarianism.”
I am not a Sociopolitical Theologian, but I think that means, no. Not celebrating the birth of Jesus.
But I am assured by my fellow tweeters that
EVERYTHING Christmas is of pagan origin
making us merely Saturnalia with a Christianese name. Said a Duck, “people gave gifts to each other and decorated their houses with fir & candles & nuts.”
Surely if gifts and candles and nuts were involved, it cannot be anything BUT pagan, for what God fearing person would give gifts or have anything to do with decorations and food but pagans?
Oh, except the Jews.
They had all kinds of feasts. And they are the first Christians. Hmmm… Maybe gifts and Fruit doesn’t prove all that much. But surely if these people are SO dedicated to the idea that Christmas is pagan, we must know enough about the Saturnalia to show a close match? Back to Wikipedia I went. “Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.” That’s not much. What DO we think we know? “Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.”
So, no Santa bringing presents? And where is the tree that, for some odd reason, we put in the living room and decorate? I’m sure THAT is pagan.
No God fearing man or woman would EVER decorate a tree.
Thankfully, the Duck was not done educating me, “christmas is the pre-christian feast of winter solstice that was assimilated by early christians.”
NOW I get it. Because maybe people decorated trees BEFORE the birth of Christ, then the holiday dedicated to celebrating the birth of Christ is NOT Christian.
Wait, no. I still don’t get it.
On the 4th of July we eat hotdogs and set off fireworks, neither of which had anything to do with the signing of the declaration of Independence. The Chinese invented fireworks. Does this mean the 4th of July is a Communist Holiday? I suppose it must.
The Duck had a challenge to me, “so jesus was born under a fir tree, delivered by a fat old man with a reindeer sleigh and mistletoe?…90% of your christmas traditions have 0 to do with jesus. didn’t that EVER occur to you?”
Once again, if you read my original post, I find it amazing that THIS is the kind of reply I get. But since it’s here, let’s think about it. Did I say Jesus was delivered by a fat man under a fir tree? Or any of this? Nope. And I don’t know who may have. What does this have to do with Christmas being pagan? Did the Saturnalia involve a former Bishop delivering gifts on the birthday of Jesus Christ as a symbol of the Gift God gave to us when he gave us his son? Wikipedia was inconclusive. Veggie Tales was a bit more helpful Watch their answer HERE.
Of course I think I can guess his meaning. If we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas, and it involves a whole lot of things which have NOTHING to do with the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, doesn’t that mean most of Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus? Consider if you will any other celebration, holiday, or festival. What does a cake covered in lit candles have to do with being born? I get gifts on my birthday too, does that make it pagan? Also, my birthday tends to fall on the Superbowl weekend, which obviously came before me. Does that mean my birthday originated in the NFL? Maybe I was never actually born at all!!! Maybe my family just stole that national day of celebration to twist into our own day while still keeping the origins- food, parties, cheerleaders?!?! Wait- I never have cheerleaders at my birthday parties…
And what about my wedding??!?! I’ve only worn a tuxedo ONCE since then- what did that have to do with being married? We got gifts and ate food on our wedding day too, just like the Pagan Romans! Does that mean my marriage is pagan and Roman? I DON’T EVEN SPEAK GREEK!!! OR LATIN!
Am I even really married?
The discussion is a silly one at best. This may shock the TwitterDuck, but I already knew about the Roman Festivals of late December. The Romans were not entirely supportive of the Christian Church for the first 300 years (By which I mean they killed them for sport), so it would make sense that the Christians, wishing to celebrate their faith in Jesus but not draw a lot of attention by doing so and thus be murdered would move the celebration to a time which was already a national holiday. And who doesn’t give gifts or feast or decorate for holidays? I would argue that paganism does not have the market cornered on those details.
Christmas IS the celebration of the birth of Jesus. That is why it is called CHRISTmas- because he is Jesus, the CHRIST. The fact that we add all kinds of superfluous decorations and events to the celebration is no proof that Christmas is anything other, anymore than the use of fireworks proves that the 4th of July originated with the Chinese and is therefore NOT an American holiday.
If you want a late December celebration which has nothing to do with Jesus, then bring back the Saturnalia. You can have it on a Saturday. You can drive to those parties in your Saturn while listening to Holst’s Saturn. And I can pretty much promise that no Christians will demand you pray the Rosary and sing some old hymns at all of your public celebrations or try and convince you on Twitter that the Saturnalia is a Christian holiday.
Arbor day, on the other hand, is ours. God made trees, so we’re taking that holiday back. The cross was made out of wood, so obviously ANY celebration of trees MUST be of Christian origin.
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