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Subject: Christmas History rss

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Spoiled brats screaming in stores for more toys and soaring credit card debt both make Baby Jesus cry
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Mr. Manners: Excuse me boys, but it's rather rude to make noises and interrupt me when it's my turn to talk.
Butt-head: Uh...we were doing this long before you came in, sir.
Beavis: Yeah. You interrupted us, butthole.
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From http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/

"Was Jesus born on December 25? There is no evidence for this date. So then, who decided that Jesus' birth would be celebrated on that date? ... It wasn't until A.D. 440 that the church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Christ. This was not based on any religious evidence but on a pagan feast. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. December 25 was used as a celebration of the birthday of the sun god. It was observed near the winter solstice.

The apostles in the Bible predicted that some Christians would adopt pagan beliefs to enable them to make their religion more palatable to the pagans around them. Therefore, some scholars think the church chose the date of this pagan celebration to interest them in Christianity. The pagans were already used to celebrating on this date.

The Bible itself tells us that December 25 is an unlikely date for His birth. Palestine is very cold in December. It was much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. Also the shepherds were in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus' birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter - making the date around the September/October time frames.

Other evidence that December 25 is the wrong date for the birth of Jesus comes from early writings. Iraneus, born about a century after Jesus, notes that Jesus was born in the 41st year of the reign of Augustus. Since Augustus began his reign in the autumn of 43 B.C., this appears to substantiate the birth of Jesus as the autumn of 2 B.C. Eusebius (A.D. 264-340), the "Father of Church History," ascribes it to the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and the 28th from the subjection of Egypt on the death of Anthony and Cleopatra. The 42nd year of Augustus ran from the autumn of 2 B.C. to the autumn of 1 B.C. The subjugation of Egypt into the Roman Empire occurred in the autumn of 30 B.C. The 28th year extended from the autumn of 3 B.C. to the autumn of 2 B.C. The only date that would meet both of these constraints would be the autumn of 2 B.C.

John the Baptist also helps us determine that December 25 is not the birth of Jesus. Elizabeth, John's mother, was a cousin of Mary. John began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar. The minimum age for the ministry was 30. As Augustus died on August 19, A.D. 14, that was the accession year for Tiberius. If John was born on April 19-20, 2 B.C., his 30th birthday would have been April 19-20, A.D. 29, or the 15th year of Tiberius. This seems to confirm the 2 B.C. date, and, since John was 5 months older, this also confirms an autumn birth date for Jesus.

Another interesting fact comes from Elizabeth herself. She hid herself for 5 months and then the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary both Elizabeth's condition and that Mary would also bear a son who would be called Jesus. Mary went "with haste" to visit Elizabeth, who was then in the first week of her 6th month, or the 4th week of Dec., 3 B.C. If Jesus was born 280 days later it would place his birth on Sept. 29, 2 B.C. ..."


Every major event in the life of Jesus was on a "Feast of the Lord" (aka Jewish Holiday). He most likely was born during the fall Feast of Tabernacles, the most joyous celebration of the seven annual feasts. This eight day feast would have provided for His birth on the first day and His circumcision on the last day (His first shedding of blood). The early "Christians" certainly celebrated this important Holiday as they were mostly Messianic Jews already keeping this feast, especially now in light of the Messiah's fulfillment.

I believe all the Feasts of the Lord, as designed by God in the Torah, are about the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus): a foreshadowing of Him, a remembrance of Him, and a celebration of Him.

Edit: I celebrate Christmas also, because it is fun.
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Many religions do this, in fact prior to Christianity the Romans tended to view local gods as 'aspects' of a particular god in the Roman pantheon, it made assimilating other cultures fairly easy. The local tribe has a god of war called 'Fred'? No problem, he is now 'Mars/Fred', carry on worshipping you chaps.

One result of this would be that each god's special day would vary according to local tradition.

When Christianity came along, the same method was followed. Saturnalia becoming Christmas was one result, but another was the vast pantheon of Saints - many of these can be traced back to historical figures. Many more can not but their stories CAN be traced back to stories told about one pagan god or the other which had been absorbed by the early church.

As a (sort of) Christian, I don't mind all this. Names and dates are not important to me, the message about how we should treat each other is what is important.

However, some Christians do get terribly exercised about all this. After some years of debate about 'the true meaning of christmas' a lot of Christians in the UK are aware of the history and tend to focus more on Easter as 'the real Christian festival' a result, as the date can be more closely linked to passover.

Of course Easter itself has pagan links - the name (of the goddess Eostre), the eggs, the rabbits, the date (first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox) all point to pre-christian fertility festivals.

Personally, I am just in it for the chocolate.

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Andrew Rowse
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Quote:
They'd like us to believe that the commercialization of the holiday is a modern phenomenon aimed to take the religious aspect from the holiday


The fact that Christmas has replaced a pagan holiday doesn't really prove that statement wrong. For over 1000 years, Christmas has been a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Over the last few decades, the commercialisation of the holiday has steadily increased, and the emphasis on Jesus had diminished.

Even as an atheist, I think that's a bit of a shame.
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William Boykin
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I'm sorry Christians...
Its not Me, its You....... shake

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Man, I love the Holiday season. Nothing brings out the holiday spirit like seeing people in a shopping mall. Everyone is warm, and nice..and FULL of the TRUE SPIRIT of the Holidays.........

Darilian
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Nothing to get worked up about folks... there's room for everyone. Just give some nice presents to folks you care about, pour some brandy into the eggnog and quit being so strident. I happen to like Christmas because it's always fun making my kids happy.

They like it too.
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Tony Allen
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Here's another way to ruin Christmas:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/359541
 
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Preston Fuller
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Quote:
So what you're saying is, "Tis the season for extremist pagans/atheists to lecture society on the 'true meaning of Christmas'."

Gotcha.
[/q]

Good one.

Well, as a minister preparing for the first Sunday of Advent, I can tell you the Christian year is influenced by many traditions much of which pre-dates what is stated on this list. The earliest "Jesus movement" were Jewish people and thus were much more keen on reflectiing the Jewish year.

Christmas is not the full focus nor is everything as steep in "pagan roots" as is often flaunted this time of year. Advent and Epiphany are the area of importance for the full "season."

But as minister if I were to "preach" anything to all of you. Christian or pagan, it would be this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCsLtsn_Z70

Blessings to all.


 
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This isn't my holiday nor have I picked up the peculiar American custom of giving gifts at Chanuka [Purim would make more sense] so mostly I'm a spectator on this one.

Yes, the winter solstice was celebrated by lots of cultures and yes many of those traditions have been incorporated into celebrations of Xmas. I can see two sides of this boiling down to those who care and those who don't. Those who don't will go on as before. Those who do will either in the end ignore it after all, change what they do on the 25th of December or stop celebrating it at all.

I don't suggest anything-- except that for those who do the last my father used to always be able to easily get a great tee-time on 25 Dec each year. I'm not a golfer myself, but to some this might be useful info.
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Preston Fuller
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whac3 wrote:
This isn't my holiday nor have I picked up the peculiar American custom of giving gifts at Chanuka [Purim would make more sense] so mostly I'm a spectator on this one.

Yes, the winter solstice was celebrated by lots of cultures and yes many of those traditions have been incorporated into celebrations of Xmas. I can see two sides of this boiling down to those who care and those who don't. Those who don't will go on as before. Those who do will either in the end ignore it after all, change what they do on the 25th of December or stop celebrating it at all.

I don't suggest anything-- except that for those who do the last my father used to always be able to easily get a great tee-time on 25 Dec each year. I'm not a golfer myself, but to some this might be useful info.


It is also a great day to catch a flight. Most ministers have Christmas eve obligations so we fly on Christmas. Like I said, it isn't all about Dec. 25. Shalom Moshe (though Dec. 25 in New hampshire would be a horrible day to golf. unless you like snow)
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Jorge Montero
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KAndrw wrote:
Quote:
They'd like us to believe that the commercialization of the holiday is a modern phenomenon aimed to take the religious aspect from the holiday


The fact that Christmas has replaced a pagan holiday doesn't really prove that statement wrong. For over 1000 years, Christmas has been a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Over the last few decades, the commercialisation of the holiday has steadily increased, and the emphasis on Jesus had diminished.

Even as an atheist, I think that's a bit of a shame.


But has it really been a celebration about the birth of Jesus? Or was it something more primal, with a Jesus sticker stuck on top? I think it's a very interesting question.

While it's hard to argue that there's been a move towards commercializing Christmas, I'd not say that it means that there was much theology behind the celebration itself. If we open the definition of religion a little bit, one could even see the commercialization as just another manifestation of a primal 'religion',a dedication to what we should do, instead of what we would like to do. 'You must buy something for your friends and family to impress them' is, for some people, the equivalent of a commandment.

If we look at actions that seem to have religious-like behaviors and call them a form of Paganism, then Paganism is all around us. Like ritual visits to houses of worship where two teams compete and people care about the result for no good reason. Or this commercial holidays that we celebrate in december. The jewelery purchases for Valentine's day. Or some teen girl's large emotional investment in a prom dance. It's all religion without a theology behind it.

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Jeff Hinrickson
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Shushnik wrote:
All of you who are claiming that I am lecturing on the meaning of the holiday should go back and actually read what I wrote. I said it's wonderful for someone to celebrate for whatever reason they see fit, just quit telling me that the way I celebrate onis wrong. It wasn't your holiday to begin with, so don't plaster your meaning on a tradition and then complain when we don't all bend to that meaning.

And I'm not an athiest, so if you'd like to attack me personally you'll have to try a different angle.



Then what's the point? To show people how smart you are being that you did some research to find out what other festivals fall on or around December 25 so that you didn't have to call it Christmas.
 
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jjloc wrote:
Shushnik wrote:
All of you who are claiming that I am lecturing on the meaning of the holiday should go back and actually read what I wrote. I said it's wonderful for someone to celebrate for whatever reason they see fit, just quit telling me that the way I celebrate onis wrong. It wasn't your holiday to begin with, so don't plaster your meaning on a tradition and then complain when we don't all bend to that meaning.

And I'm not an athiest, so if you'd like to attack me personally you'll have to try a different angle.



Then what's the point? To show people how smart you are being that you did some research to find out what other festivals fall on or around December 25 so that you didn't have to call it Christmas.


Even then the fact that there are only 365 days in a year means that statistically the thousands of different rituals, celebrations and observances will overlap and share dates. Sort of like it not really being odd at all that somebody has the same birth date as you do.

Speaking of stats... one I wish I'd kept was how many people each Christmas season bring up the whole pagan/Christian thingie. I recall it as early as when I was 15 or 16... one of my friends obviously had decided to read some of the encyclopedias his mother bought him and made sure everyone he knew was made aware of the not-so-odd fact that Christmas occurs on a similar date to other events.

My oldest son was born on November 3rd... my last GF's oldest daughter was born on November 3rd... hmmm... that must mean something. Oh yeah, I was getting laid on the same night, ten years earlier, that she was subsequently getting laid on. The stars were aligned!
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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It could also be that Christ would obviously have died on the day he was conceived. Since he died March 25, he would have been born Dec. 25th. If some pagans tried attaching their rituals to this holy day so be it, but Christianity did not supplant any pagan holidays.

That is an actual theory that was proposed at one point for the dating of Christmas by some theologian (don't remember the name). Do I believe it? Nope, but I find people will tend to believe whatever they want to justify their beliefs, religious or otherwise, just like the theory proposed by the original poster and the one I just referenced.

Proposing that anything written in the OP is anything more than "wild speculation" is misguided at best. The controversies surrounding the claims are so deep it would take far more time than I think is worth it to dispute even half the things you've said. Now don't get me wrong, there are definitely strains of truth in there (I think so, at least), but trying to give an "authoritative" view on the history of Christmas is laughable.

And Tripp, if you're wondering how long buzz-kills have been trying to look smart by bringing up Pagan connections, a lot of these "attacks" on Christianity came from Protestants trying to undo "Popery." Puritans outlawed Christmas in some places (don't remember where). Of course to them Catholicism might as well have been paganism, so there's something the OP and Protestants can agree on
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Quote:
And Tripp, if you're wondering how long buzz-kills have been trying to look smart by bringing up Pagan connections, a lot of these "attacks" on Christianity came from Protestants trying to undo "Popery." Puritans outlawed Christmas in some places (don't remember where). Of course to them Catholicism might as well have been paganism, so there's something the OP and 4


Jehova Witnesses also don't observe the Easter and Christmas holidays because of their questionable roots. They might be categorized as extremist christians by some, but definitly not extremist pagans/atheists.
 
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GAWD wrote:
Well, I'm glad there's someone on the RSP that represents pagan religiosity ... thanks for the heads up Shushnik.


Methinks there's way more than you think.
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And Tripp, if you're wondering how long buzz-kills have been trying to look smart by bringing up Pagan connections


Nah, I could care less Dan. It all seems kind of feverish and fake to me anyway. Not Christmas because I'm not a "mall" sort of person... I mean the whole debunking of Jesus thing. It's similar to people who cough when I light up a stogie or cigarette or who sneer at my gas-guzzling truck. When one of the "buzz killers" goes out of their way to actually say something to me I usually smile nicely and respond, "Thank you for telling me that."

Works every time... brings blissful silence.
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DWTripp wrote:
Works every time... brings blissful silence.


Oh to be as wise as you some day.
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BagpipeDan wrote:
DWTripp wrote:
Works every time... brings blissful silence.


Oh to be as wise as you some day.


Patience Grasshopper... patience.
 
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Drew1365 wrote:
"Christmas" has always been about the birth of Christ. That's why it's called "Christmas." Doy.


And it's always been overcommercialised. I blame the 'wise' men and their extravagant gifts: gold? myrrh?

What's wrong with a nice hug?
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tommynomad wrote:
Drew1365 wrote:
"Christmas" has always been about the birth of Christ. That's why it's called "Christmas." Doy.


And it's always been overcommercialised. I blame the 'wise' men and their extravagant gifts: gold? myrrh?

What's wrong with a nice hug?


I thought about this for a while... "always"? I'm not so sure. When I was a lad Christmas was not even on the radar until mid-December for most people I knew as well as my family. Stores didn't decorate until about the 15th... Santa didn't appear on Coke cans in August... TV ads didn't show people in elf hats right after Halloween.

I think that's really what is meant by over-commercialization. Not the simple act of selecting and giving a gift. I'm not so keen an observer that I can peg when critical mass was reached and retail began focusing on Christmas above all other seasons, but it seems to have taken off and got up to speed in the 80's... maybe as early as the mid-70's. Right about the time that anyone who could fog a mirror was getting dozens of credit cards in the mail just for having an address. Think there's a connection? Between credit cards and Christmas? I do.
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Shushnik wrote:
Tis the season for extremist Christians to lecture society on the "true meaning of Christmas". They'd like us to believe that the commercialization of the holiday is a modern phenomenon aimed to take the religious aspect from the holiday. I just saw Four Christmases last night and there were a couple of characters perpetuating this farce.

Here's the skinny for those of you that have never looked into the history of the holiday. Christmas predates Christ. In the Roman empire it was Saturnalia, the festival of the sun god. All over Europe it is the time of pagan winter festivals. In Scandanavia, it was the celebration of the return of the sun, which they called Yule.

Lets focus on the Roman part of the world, because that is where the Catholic church would eventually claim the festival as it's own and dedicate it to Christ. Saturnalia contains the foundation of the holiday we know as christmas. Just some of the similarities are the tradition of using trees and holly to symbolize the rebirth of life after the winter season. The colors red and green. Socialization with family and friends. Exchange of gifts among friends and family.

When the Catholic church became the dominant metaphysical entity of the western world it tried to ban pagan festivals. It was largely unsuccessful, the populous would not give up their traditions. After failure to outlaw pagan holidays, the church decided to give the people their holidays but change them to mesh with Catholic dogma. So Christ's birth was used to overlap pagan winter festivals. The crucifixion was used to overlap pagan fertility fesitvals in the spring (they didn't even try to rename this one, Eostre is a pagan goddess of spring and fertility). The people accepted this new regime, so long as they got their celebrations.

Frankly, I don't care if people would like to dedicate their holidays to Christ, Buddha, David, Mohammed, Vishnu, etc... Please, enjoy the holiday in any way you wish. But please don't whine about commercialization and such destroying the religiousity. These traditions are older than your religion. If any part of the holiday is trying to "destroy" the other it is this upstart Christianity trying to destroy our commercialization, not the other way around.


I'd say you've done a good job at in your history and background of the foundation of the Christmas tradition. I've learned more than I knew before I read this.

It has come to mean something very different in our day, and there are Christians who want to ascribe a biblical meaning to it. Then there are some people that don't. I say let's all live in peace about the meaning of how one views the season. If there are Christians who bother you about there focus on Christ - it may bother you but don't let it. I don't let others who don't want religion into the picture bother my personal convictions. Christmas will be Christmas to each and his own.
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caltexn wrote:
I'd say you've done a good job at in your history and background of the foundation of the Christmas tradition.

...

It has come to mean something very different in our day, and there are Christians who want to ascribe a biblical meaning to it. Then there are some people that don't. I say let's all live in peace about the meaning of how one views the season.


My only point, by the by, because I am conceited enough to think this may be an indirect response to my rebuttal amongst others, is that he did a very good job of presenting only one view of the foundation of Christmas. I personally find great joy knowing that Christmas has these Roman, pre-Christian rituals, but to say this is a definitive tale of the "foundation of Christmas" is, I repeat, misguided. I do not mind a plurality of opinion on this (ask me how much I believe Plutarch: too much, it's more fun that way) but to say something "comes" from something is another matter entirely. The post provides as much a "true meaning" of Christmas as do the "true meanings" he is correcting.

example: "Socialization amongst family and friends" and "exchanging gifts" are such a common rituals as to provide no actual link, but it is thrown in with the other "similarities" to add an invisible depth to the argument.
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I whine about commercialization all year long. Am I allowed to do that or am I stepping on commercializations toes which came long before I did?
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