Taking the Christ out of Christmas
So what? Christ was never in Christmas, except in fiction and by order of the Council of Trent.
Jesus wasn't even born in December: he was born in July*, which makes him a cancer -- just like religion.
'Christmas' was originally not a Christian festival at all, but the lusty pagan festival that became the Roman Saturnalia, celebrating the winter solstice. This was the time of year in the northern hemisphere (from whence these traditions started) when days stopped getting darker and darker, and started once again to lengthen. The end of the hardest part of the year was in sight (particularly important in northern climes where all-day darkness was the winter rule), food stocks would soon be replenished, and all this was something well worth celebrating with enthusiasm, and with relish -- and if those Norse sagas tell us anything, they tell us those pagans knew a thing or too about celebration!
Dark Age Christians couldn't put a stop to these lusty revels, so they hit upon a solution: first they stole them, and then they sanitised them. (Just think, the first 'Grinch Who Stole Christmas' was really a Pope!)
The best of Christmas is still very much pagan. The mistletoe, the trees, the presents; the drinking; the celebrations; the gift-giving; the trees and the decorations; the eating and the singing; the whole full-blooded, rip-roaring, free-wheeling, overwhelming, benevolent materialism of the holiday -- all of it all fun, and all of it fully, one-hundred percent pagan.
Says Leonard Peikoff in 'Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial', the festival is "an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life." I'll drink to all that, and then I'll come back right back up again for seconds. Ayn Rand sums it up for mine, rather more benevolently than my brief introduction might have led you to expect:
The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion.I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Salacious Saturnalia!
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: ‘Merry Christmas’—not ‘Weep and Repent.’ And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance....The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying is good for business and good for the country’s economy; but, more importantly in this context, it stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decoration put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ‘commercial greed’ could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.
* Yes, this is simply a rhetorical flourish. Jesus' birth may have happened in March. Or in September -- or not at all -- but it certainly did not happen in December. More here.
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