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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Holiday Hogwash

posted by Jazz at 12/19/2004 04:53:00 AM


The holiday season has brought out the usual list of suspects from both sides taking up some sort of holy war over Christmas. Neocons are up to their nostrils in righteous indignation that the godless commie liberals are trying to "take away Christmas" and a few uber-PC leftists are pushing for removing all mention of Christmas, as it might offend some non-Christians. I'd had more than my fill of this before it even began, so I was glad to see some common sense from James Wolcott on the subject.

This "fear of Christmas" is a phantom menace conjured every year so that certain crybaby Christians can adopt victim status and model a pained expression over the sad fact that not everyone around them isn't carrying on like the Cratchits. This thin-skinned grievance-collecting gives birth to all sorts of urban legends and rumors about big institutions being hostile to Christ's birthday, such as the one that swirled on WOR radio last week about how Macy's employees had been instructed not to say "Merry Christmas!" to shoppers. A fiction that was put to rest when the host hit Macy's website and saw its "Merry Christmas" greeting, and Macy's employees chimed in over the phones to say there was no such policy. To read conservative pundits, you'd think everybody was wishing each other Happy Kwanzaa! and averting their eyes from oh so gauche Nativity scenes. I've got news: Even here on the godless, liberal Upper West Side, people wish each other Merry Christmas without staggering three steps backward, thunderstruck and covered with chagrin.

This holy day that everyone is fighting over doesn't even have that much of a base in reality, so why not let everyone celebrate it (or not) as they please? The fact is that Christmas is an arbitrary date that was settled on by early PR men for the new religion so that it would line up with pagan holidays. (As was done with most celebrations.) It was easier to get people to join up with your religion if you could co-opt their existing celebrations.

Christmas was pasted over the top of Yule. (Which had a number of other names.) Whatever the label, they were all focused on the arrival of the winter solstice... the shortest day and longest night of the year. Remnants of these early Western European pagan festivals remain to this day. Surely you recall singing songs about "Yule tide carols" and "burning the Yule log." Do you recall anything about "Yule" in the bible? No... because it's not there. It was a bunch of people praying like hell that the sun would come back and endless night wouldn't swallow the land. Some of them tossed in human sacrifices to sweeten the deal. In any event, most good estimates which I've read indicate that Christ was probably born some time in the early spring.

At least with Christmas they managed to attach a new name that sounded Christian. The second most holy holiday of the year is probably Easter. Stop and think about your celebration of Easter throughout your life. Now ask yourself the following: do you remember the touching Bible story about how St. Easter tried to talk Jesus out of meeting the Romans at the Last Supper? How about the heartwarming tale of the young apostle who tried to bribe one of the guards with a rabbit and some eggs so they could get Christ down off the crucifix? No? You don't remember those? That's because they aren't there either.

Easter is a modernized spelling for the festival of Esther. (There are several spellings, but that one will do.) It was celebrated at the Vernal Equinox and welcomed the new planting season. And yes, as you probably guessed, she was another druidic era pagan goddess who controlled the regrowth of the spring and fertility. Her symbols were a rabbit and an egg. Christians came along and simply glued another holiday on top of theirs and taught them the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Let's not get too carried away, shall we? It's religion, so just let everyone celebrate it as they see fit and attempt to have a good time and not blow their brains out over the holidays. (Remember: this is the number one suicide season of the whole year!)