Merry Christmas Everyone!
I have to admit it! I don’t like the Christmas season. I never have and probably never will. The main reason is because there are a bunch of dark memories from my childhood that happened around the Christmas season.
I really don’t look forward to the many people who get offended by “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. All of the “Keep Christ In Christmas” slogans and people being offended by the “X-mas” abbreviation (not realizing the “X” is the greek symbol for “Christ”) just gets old year after year.
I have researched the origins of Christmas traditions, and I have dreamed of writing this post for about 8 years now. Thank you #MerryChristmasStarbucks, you have pushed me over the edge!
Here We Go:
Paganism has always looked at December as the winter solstice. This is the time of year where the nights are longer and the days are shorter. In the pagan world, this has always been the best time to practice and celebrate dark magic.
In the ancient (pre-Jesus) world of Scandinavia, pagans would burn a “Yule Log” to their god of fertility for twelve nights, during the winter solstice (hence the song “12 Days Of Christmas”). The “Yule Log” was a phallic idol to this. On each of these twelve days, an animal or a human would be sacrificed.
In Roman, many other pagan gods were worshipped. During the winter solstice, there was a festival dedicated to the god Saturn called “Saturnalia”. This drunken orgy/festival lasted seven days, from December 17th to December 24th. On December 25th gifts were then exchanged. The Romans believed that Mithra (the god of the sun) was born on December 25th.
The “Edict Of Milan” was passed in the fourth century, and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. It was decided that the Roman Christian Church would adopt the pagan festivals for two reasons. 1) Because the majority of people in the empire already practiced these festivals, and they didn’t want to fight current culture. 2) They thought that by adopting these festivals, they would win people over to Christianity easier. “Saturnalia” was renamed “Christ Mass”. The festival to the “god of the sun” now also included “the son of God”. (Jesus was most likely not born in December.)
In England, Charles the 1st died and the Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell was a key figure in outlawing the “Christ Mass” celebration, because they believed in separating from anything worldly. “Christ Mass” was outlawed until Charles the 2nd took the throne.
In America the Puritans and the Separatists dominated the population. In 1659 Massachusetts even passed a law that stated that it was illegal to celebrate anything other than going to church on December 25th.
As time went on many different cultures influence America, and Puritans and Separatists no longer dominated the population. Scandinavians brought the celebration of Yule (in a less violent way that included evergreen plants) and settlers from Scotland, Ireland, and England began the festival of “Christ Mass” in America. It was an underground movement at first, but in 1928 there is a record of the police having to get involved to control the crowd in New York.
In 1846, Charles Dickens released “A Christmas Carol”, and it changed the face of “Christ Mass” from the drunken festival to a warm family day. In 1867 Dickens traveled to America to read his story to packed theaters.
The church in America was the latest adopter of Christmas. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1800’s, when the “American Sunday School Society” realized that they can use the Christmas season to boost attendance in their churches and Sunday school classes. They would use the story of Jesus’ birth, nativity scenes, and candy canes as a tool for evangelizing children and families. Christmas was not legally accepted as a holiday until 1890.
Over the 1900’s you would see Christmas as a major part of American culture. The stories of Saint Nicholas and Sinterklaas, crossed with mass marketing, would bring Santa Claus into the picture. Stores realized that with the right Christmas promotion that they would make over half of their year’s sales during Christmas season alone.
Don’t get hung up on calling anyone that says “Happy Holidays” intolerant of Christianity. Just say “thank you” and realize that Christmas has a history that is not very “Christian”.
If you want to find me during the “Holiday Season”, I will probably be sipping on a cup of Starbucks “Christmas Blend” (which is funny because apparently they are against Christmas), and being thankful that I am free to worship and believe what I want. Let us be mindful of our brothers and sisters who are dying for their faith around the world. They are living under true persecution!