CHRISTMAS BEFORE BIRTH AND AFTER

Posted: December 13, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year.  If you are a non-believer in Christianity then it is a festive time but if you are a believer in Christianity then you are given a special treat.  This treat is being both the festive atmosphere and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  If you want to see the true excitement of Christmas look into the eyes of a small child as the child stands in line waiting to talk to Santa Clause.  If you want to see the real meaning of Christmas look into that same child’s eyes standing in from of a nativity scene.

So many times we get lost in the commercialism of Christmas.  This is not new.  I remember hearing this as a child. Christmas had become too commercialized or we had lost the true meaning of Christmas.  Neither made sense to me since I knew the Christmas story and why we celebrate the year and I also realized that the little ole man from the north would be coming down the chimney to leave all kinds of gifts. I’m older now, a lot older and these words have come home as I really do understand what was being said.

The one problem that we did not have to face was political correctness.  Everyone wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Nativities stood on every courthouse square and schools across America had Christmas plays.  By the mid-60s political correctness was beginning to filter its way into the vernacular.  Charles Schultz wrote a Charlie Brown Christmas and did so in a way that it provided the real meaning of Christmas.  A part of the story had one of the Children read the Christmas Story that is depicted in the Bible.  CBS asked to have it removed due to sensitivity.  Schultz refused and threatened to shut down the development.  CBS allowed the scene to remain and that was the pinnacle touch of the story.  Unfortunately there are not many Charles Schultz’s in leadership roles in the country.

Christmas did not just happen.  It took a long time to morph into the celebration we have today.  The actual celebration has roots that pre-dated the birth of Jesus and many of the pagan rituals were adopted as Christianity moved across Europe.  Following the birth of Jesus the celebration took several twists and turns until we have what we celebrate today; and this too is changing.  When we talk about a traditional Christmas we are really talking about norms and traditions that have been adopted for over a three thousand year span.

In Scandinavia the Norse, Vikings, celebrated Yule from December 21st through January.  That celebration was a festival to revel in the fact that the shortest day was behind and the date marked a rebirth.  Fathers and son’s brought in huge logs to burn and these sometimes took twelve days to burn. The sparks from the log would represent the number of cows and pigs that would be born.  The term Yule Log remains with us today.

The end of December was a time of celebration across ancient and pagan Europe.  Cattle were slaughtered at that time to prevent having to feed them through the winter so festivals were held with meat in abundance.

In Rome the week leading up to the winter solstice, December 21st, was a time for festivals.  Slaves and masters traded places and children were honored at the festival of Juvenalia.  The Romans also celebrated the birth of Mithra, a sun god.  For some Romans this day was the most special of all Roman holidays.  Mithra was supposed to have been born on a rock and the date of birth was December 25.

Initially the Christians only celebrated the death of Jesus and not his birth.  In the fourth century AD Pope Julius decided to worship the birth of Christ.  Even though it was logical for the birth to have taken place in the Spring, the pope decided on December 25th to hold the celebration.  This soon spread to Egypt and then England.  Two hundred years later it was being practiced in Scandinavia.

A reform movement took place in England in the 1600s when the Puritans took power.  Christmas was banned as a way to wipe out decadence and it would take 11 years before the Puritans were replaced and Christmas was once again allowed.  In America the Puritans banned it for their worshipers and Boston banned it celebration.

Over time Christmas grew to what we have today.   Many of the German traditions traveled to the new world.  The Christmas tree came from there and the candles, now lights, representing stars were placed on the trees.

Christmas is a celebration of the masses and on June 26th, 1870 Christmas became not only a Christian Holiday but also an official Federal Holiday.

Merry Christmas everyone.

 

 

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