Taking the Christ out of Christmas

Peter Cresswell's picture
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Sun, 2006-12-17 22:17

I hear people complaining that "Christ is being taken out of Christmas." In fact, the Vatican, poor dears, have "accused some western countries of waging "a war against Christmas" by removing Christian values and symbols from the holiday."

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:

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.

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.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Salacious Saturnalia!

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* 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.

RELATED: Religion, History


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Who The Grinch Is

Jeff Perren's picture

'Grinch' was a character created by Dr. Seuss in a children's book called The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. He stole all the Xmas gifts in Whoville in order to spoil their Xmas because his heart was three sizes too small.

When he discovered the Whos in Whoville enjoyed their Xmas just as much without the material things, he shed a tear, his heart grew large, and he relented, returning the gifts and thereafter enjoying Xmas.

In essence, an a-materialist, Christian-like parable about the importance of 'things of the spirit'.

Kenny, re Grinch-i-ness...

Ross Elliot's picture

...I see it as related more to curmudgeonliness or grouchiness than to spitefulness.

The Grinch is a US...

Marcus's picture

...version of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Except that he is green, non-human and not apparently motivated by money - more spite.

WTF is a Grinch?

Kenny's picture

Sorry Ross but I do not know what a Grinch is. It does not sound like a compliment. Punching an elf is probably a racially aggravated crime in the UK under Fuhrer Blair.

Edit - I have just seen the "Love Actually" elves on your other thread. I can think of a much better alternative to a punch!Smiling

Oh, Kenny, you Grinch!

Ross Elliot's picture

Just go and punch an elf and get it out of your system!

It's not commercialisation that angers me

Kenny's picture

It is not the commercialisation of Christmas that pisses me off - it is the fact that it starts so early! I have boycotted several shops in protest at the ridiculously early display of Christmas decorations. My local John Lewis started selling Christmas cards and decorations in early September!

My Christmas card list has been trimmed to the minimum. The cards will be posted tomorrow, the latest date possible. I send my family cheques rather than presents. The money goes further in the sales!

Science without superstition

Peter Cresswell's picture

Here ya' go. You'll find the link in this post:
http://pc.blogspot.com/2006/12/quote-under-worldly-camouflage-we-have.html
Cheers, Peter Cresswell

No I didn't Peter.

Marcus's picture

Would you mind posting the link here?

And to you, Marcus.

Peter Cresswell's picture

BTW, Did you get that link I sent for the online collection of essays from the Uni of Buckingham: Science & Superstition, arguing the case for a New Enlightenment in science?

It seems to be right up your jolly old strasse.

Cheers, Peter Cresswell

Merry Christmas Peter...

Marcus's picture

...thanks for that.

I read an interview with a celebrity the other day and she reapeated the mantra (as an aside) that she regrets the commercialisation of Christmas as she was talking about her wild celebrations.

I thought to myself, "why don't you fucking boycott the shops in protest at Christmas and not buy anything then?"

But it has become such a "by the way" mantra constantly repeated by nearly every celebrity, journalist and priest - they no longer even realize anymore the idiocy of the statement. It falls under the same banner of the common bromides of "save the world (from man)", "stop exploiting the third world", "all drugs are bad" and "big business is evil".

"…which makes him a

Adam Buker's picture

"…which makes him a cancer-- just like religion."

That's a hilarious way of stating the truth . Thanks for brightening my day!

Adam Buker

Music Composition
http://www.adambuker.com

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