Thursday, December 01, 2005

The History of Christmas

I have to say I've been quite pleased by the response to my previous post regarding my feelings about the stealing of Christmas, and of Christmas and the celebrations surrounding the holiday. I posted the same piece over in my political blog and have had a very nice response there as well. I'm not at all surprised to find so many share my feelings, nor that are those who are quite defensive about their holiday being 'challenged' or 'disrespected'.
What I was surprised by though was the fact that this post led to my learning something new and very interesting. Phyllis generously provided me with a link to a site titled The History of Christmas , which explains the real history of the holiday itself and how it BECAME a Christian/religious celebration.
What I learned there not only surprised me but explained so much for me. I can honestly say it has given me a kind of new perspective on the whole concept. If you check it out you will find that it was actually the Christian church who took a pre-existing holiday and changed it into a religious one.
Mesopotamians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks, Scandinavians, and Romans all had celebrations centering around this time of year. All the things we now associate with 'Christmas' were originally parts of those celebrations. The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born(which incidentally many historians say actually occurred sometime around late August/early September). The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the Yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals(parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.
As Christianity spread, Christians were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God. Sooo in reality it was "we" who first stole Christmas! How about that! Who says ole dogs can't learn new things?
Having read so many varied opinions, and learned a few (okay more than a few) new facts I've come to the conclusion, there are many appropriate ways to celebrate this season of holidays. No matter what you call it. I am going to do my best to embrace the true spirit of the season (yes Tom, that one's for you) and find a way in my heart to make room for all the ways that people choose to celebrate. I don't care how they say it (Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas), it means the same thing. Someone is wishing my family and myself a happy/merry time. What could possibly be wrong with that?
Therefore I insist we all eat, drink, shop, and be happy/merry!
I think my greeting will be WAR EAGLE!!
Speaking of those Tigers, after getting off to a slow, scary start the Tigers finished up their season 9-2 (#2 in the SEC). It looks like they may be tapped to meet Wisconsin (Big Ten #2) in the Capital One Bowl. Joe, I'm hearing rumors Bama may take on Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Both teams finished up the season in the top 20 (Auburn #9/Bama #11)! Can you tell I love college football?
This calls for PIE, don't ya think?

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