Merry Christmas?

To take one of Ricki Gervais’ popular phrases, it may sound like I’m having a go, but I’m not. Really, I’m not! Please read through the entire post before flaming me, but this whole Christmas thing has gotten to be rather irritating for two reasons:

  1. It has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Not now, not ever.

The story of Jesus’ birth is a myth developed through a series of biblical texts, the earliest of which making no mention of Jesus’ birth. In other words: the entire story is fictional.

In the texts that do mention Jesus’ birth, there is no mention of the date. Not even in the Dead Sea Scrolls is there a mention of December 25th. So where did we get the date from?

Let me introduce you to Mithra, Zoroastrian god whose birthday is, coincidentally, right around the winter solstice. December 25th, to be exact. It also happened to be rather popular in Rome around the time Christianity was beginning.

Christianity paled in comparison to the older and well-reputed religions such as Zoroastrianism (or Mithraism), especially since Christianity at the time didn’t have much in the way of celebrations.

Oh wait, did we mention that Jesus was born right around the winter solstice? Like er, December 25th? Fancy that!

In other words, Christmas and many other “Christian” holidays are in fact adaptations from several other religions used to make Christianity more appealing. Holidays were a ploy to convince people to convert.

  1. It is not a time for everyone to go out and buy people stuff.

Christmas isn’t about spending money. It’s not about buying shiny gifts. It’s not about spending hours in a shopping mall, stressing over what to buy for your [insert relation here].

Christmas is about being with those you love, and showing them that love. Yes, buying gifts can be and usually are a part of this, but that’s not all there is to it. The worst gift can mean everything if it was bought (or made) with love and good intentions. Similarly, the best gift can mean nothing if it has no meaning behind it.

I don’t know a single person who doesn’t enjoy getting gifts, myself included. At the same time, I would be just as happy celebrating with my family if gifts were not involved at all.

So why do I bother celebrating Christmas at all?

The short answer is tradition. I’ve celebrated it my entire life, as had my mother hers, her mother hers, and so on. It’s always been an enjoyable time of the year for me, and I most certainly have no intentions of ending that.

The long answer is in fact a question: What reason do I have to not celebrate? The sun rises yet another day, the world continues to turn, I have a warm home and a wonderful family I love to bits. I have amazing friends and one friend I would like to be more than a friend, one day.

Everything in my life is a gift. All of it. For me, Christmas is about celebrating those gifts. It’s about celebrating love and happiness. Celebrating the sun as the daylight hours grow longer. Celebrating the trees that stay forever green in the dead of winter, a symbol of hope.

I celebrate because I am alive and I am blessed. Maybe by God, maybe by gods, or maybe by the grace of the Universe. I can’t say I know and part of me hopes I never do. It’s a bit like having a Secret Santa.


About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on December 28, 2010, in Real Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. *ahem* Not to mention how his whole resurrection thing is basically an adaptation of Balder’s ‘second’ coming after Ragnarok. Their depictions are exceedingly similar too, but then the whole yule/christmas thing is primarily hearkening to the celebratory feasts of Frey/Freyr if I’m not mistaken.

    Regarding the whole celebration of Christmas however, I kind of see it similarly. I was born Catholic but I kind of ‘transcended’ it when I reached the age of 14 and I am pretty much apathetic to the customary ‘rituals’ we as a people here do. I think the last time I stepped in a church as nine years ago or so. Christmas, or any other holiday seems to be more cultural than a ‘day’ to remember a certain deity or patron. In my country’s case, it has been influenced primarily by spanish and american holiday customs. As such, despite there being ritual evening masses here or ‘simbang gabi’ as they call it, Christmas here is pretty western already.

    LIke you, I have no reason not to celebrate Christmas. Again it’s a cultural thing and though I’m pretty much a Grinch or a Scrooge during Christmas, I respect the notion of it being a holiday and a celebratory event. I mean it’s that time of the year where I can truly say that we Filipinos are happy, and not just hiding it in a cheery façade.

    • I hadn’t even made the connection to Baldr’s resurrection. I’ve been studying Norse myth lately, too. It would be fascinating to break religions and mythologies down to the basic themes (birth, resurrection, afterlife, etc) and see how similar they all are.

      Though it is a bit ironic. the holiday is essentially based off myth, yet has such a profound effect on people’s moods. No matter how “fake” Christmas is, if it makes people genuinely happy, if it makes them remember what it’s like to be kind and generous, I most certainly won’t complain.

      Thank you for the comment. I’ll have to look up the celebrations for Freyr.

  2. I did a very brief study on mythologies and their similarities while I was in college. I had done it to test a notion shared by JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis that all mythologies contain similarities. Their argument was because they all are telling the same basic story–the One True Myth. But it is fascinating how similar mythologies around the world are.

    Jesus definitely wasn’t born in December. It would have been a ridiculous time of year for a census–after all, it gets cold in Isreal during the winter, and they’re in the Northern Hemisphere too–and shepherds definitely would not be hanging out in fields during the night. One of the Pope Juliuses during the 4th century chose December 25th to celebrate the birth, and they likely chose December because of the many celebrations that were already part of December. From there, local traditions–Yule logs and Christmas trees–were adopted into the holiday and, when it came to the Americas, it became the more family-oriented holiday it is today.

    I agree, all of the buying does sometimes become a distraction and can get ridiculously excessive. The most important thing is spending time with friends and family. And it’s a great excuse to make dozens and dozens of delightful cookies to share with them. 🙂

    • On your comment about ‘family-oriented’: I just recently discovered the idea of the Krampus, the antithesis to Saint Nicholas, punishing naughty children and sometimes dragging them down into the underworld. Quite a gory aspect of the season, and one that I’d never previously heard of. It’s only told of in parts of Europe, though, so that would explain it. You won’t see any Christmas specials on TV about the Krampus.

      • I’ve heard of that! It’s kind of like a seasonal bogeyman. I think it’s a lot better than the threat of receiving coal if you’re naughty..instead you court the ire of a malign pan! A sure fire way for your kids to behave. xD

        *sigh* I wish we had such figures o’er here. All we have are ancient weather deities masquerading as saints. -_-‘

      • Bloody. Brilliant. Even the name is fantastic! If ever I have kids, I shall raise them to fear the Krampus!

        In response to Bryna: I hadn’t thought of the more practical inconsistencies with the myth. December would not do for a census at all. I approve of the cookies. So far this season I’ve baked cookies and made muddy buddies, have pumpkin and cranberry bread left to bake!

  3. So…my believes are the different ones here but I can still comment, right? I mean I believe in Jesus too (a different idea but it still counts)…
    I don’t celebrate any religious figures’s birthday (Mosses, Jesus, Mohammad to name a few) but *if* I did (because many Muslims do so), wouldn’t the date be not very significant? It probably isn’t about when they were born, just the fact that they were that should be of importance. But that is just my idea.
    And all major religions were a renewed and altered form of some other religion so there are likely to have many coincidences (like the birthday of Mithra and Christmas)…
    I agree religious celebrations shouldn’t be a spend-spend-spend frenzy but just a time to get together. And maybe a chance to give back to the less fortunate ones, I think.

    • Of course you can comment! Hearing different points of view is the whole point in posting.

      You’re right, though. It’s not the date of birth that’s important, it’s the fact that this “wonderful” person was born at all. It’s a celebration that the hero in question even lived in the first place, regardless of the date of birth, death, or any of that. Part of me wishes we could strip away the myth involved in most (if not all) religions and get back to what they are actually about.

  4. Oh, and a little bit of info. I think the whole milk and cookies as well as the stockings was largely attributed to Odin. Children would fill their boots with carrots, molasses or sugar and straw and then place them near the chimney as an offering to Sleipner. Odin would then reward these nice kids by filling their empty boots with presents!

    Odin with the beard kinda looks like Santa too! And he rides across the sky in a flying steed! But I heard or read somewhere that the Claus’ trademark Ho Ho Ho was from the Puck/Robin Goodfellow. The mischievous wood spirit was also reputed to ‘see you when you’re sleeping’.

    • I had heard the whole stockings on the fireplace thing was because people would hang their wet/snowy stockings to dry. The tree was largely Pagan (from what I’ve read) as the evergreen was a symbol of hope — all other foliage had long since died come December, but the evergreen lived on. So they would take a branch indoors as decoration.

      Though honestly I see no connection whatsoever to Jesus and Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus.

      • I believe that connection could come from the Catholic celebration of Saint Nicholas (December 6th). In the fourth century, the real man–Nikolaos of Myra–would leave money and gifts secretly for people who left their shoes outside. Because he was a part of December celebrations for so long, he began merging into the modern celebration of Christmas. I haven’t yet found exactly when that happened, but I would suspect it was in the 1700’s or 1800’s, once America began morphing Christmas into what it currently is.

        • That’s fascinating, thanks for the info! Wonder if Nikolaos of Myra was a real man or if it’s another tale made true with the passing of centuries.

  1. Pingback: Zodiac Shift! « Shards of Infinity

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