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Monday, November 30, 2009

The real and true meaning of Christmas

Stolen, lock stock and barrel from Quriltai on the Shore, one of my favorite bloggers. Look through the rest of his blog for equally insightful posts on a variety of topics. I'm seeking his permission after the fact to reproduce his excellent piece in its entirety.

The War by Christmas
It was an unnecessary war declared quite some time ago without a clear exit strategy, where the tide is running against conservative dreams, yet it is still cheered on by Fox News and their friends despite all evidence. Iraq? No, the War by Christmas.

That's not a typo, and it is something that needs clarification up front...we don't have a case of a recently declared "war on Christmas" in America that seeks to victimize delicate Christians, but rather a new phase in a centuries-long war declared and conducted by Christmas. The war was begun by Christmas, and I see no reason to ease up now that the aggressors are seeing the tide reverse. From now on, I will refer to this conflict by the historically accurate name "War by Christmas" and encourage you to do the same.

You likely know the full story. The most primitive of humans knew that life was warmer, better, more comfortable with more time with that bright thing in the sky. The two greatest miracles of their world were childbirth and the sun, so no small wonder that almost every culture assigned an Earth-mother and a Sun-god. However, on a yearly basis the sun seemed to be moving away, and weakening. Their god was dying. And every year, somehow, at the point of death, the Sun-god returned and grew again in strength.

We call it an astronomical event, the winter solstice. They turned it into a seminal religious feast. This near-dodge with the end of the world was a solemn annual moment, and inspired a wide range of rituals that would occur in late December. The Incans tied a celestial rope to the sun lest it stray too far away. The Kalash of Hindu Kush still offer dances and praise. Egyptians honored Aset. European pagans and their early Roman neighbors celebrated Saturnalia in late December. Most Romans marked the feast of Natalis Sol Invictus -- the Birth of Mithras, the Unconquered Sun -- on December 25th. Mithras became known to the Roman in the second century BC as a sun-god of Persian background who was born of a virgin mother, and would later die and resurrect in order to offer salvation to all. (Mithraism was as fundamental to the final shape of Christianity as Judaism. It is as accurate to say that Paul and Luke set out to spread Christianity to Mithraists as it is to say they were targeting Gentiles.)

Then the Christians came. Insofar as we can trust the Christian Bible with the label of "history", we are told that Jesus' birth occurred as "shepherds were outside, keeping watch over their flocks by night" (Luke 2:8). Shepherds only lived outside with their flocks while the sheep might be birthing -- something that only happened in springtime.

However, by the early 3rd century, the Christian church moved the feast of Jesus' birth lock, stock, and barrel to December 25th. A few days from the winter solstice and the exact day of the birth of Mithras. When exactly this occurred, we don't know, as the Catholic Church has a long history of keeping inadequate and questionable records on things like historical developments, treasury, and personnel shufflings. So when Emperor Constantine decided to use the Roman army to force Christianity on all, the die was cast. Christmas had declared war on all comers. Several centuries later, it is losing the war it began.

So don't give me this "War on Christmas" BS. About 1,700 years ago, Christmas declared a war in which it is experiencing a reverse. So Fox "News", the AFA, and the rest of you morons, stop complaining.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our world, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.


I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further innovates, the possibility of downloading our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.


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