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Old 12-22-2013, 03:21 PM
 
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Many years ago I had a Jewish doctor who used to display a Christmas tree in his waiting room, with a Star of David on top. I used to joke with him he was covering all his bases! I found no offense at the display, actually, I thought it rather cute. Its sad when we have to worry about the "thought police".
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Larry Caldwell View Post

If you are looking for a uniquely Christian festival, try Easter. In the West it is set on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, because the bible clearly records that Jesus ate Seder with his disciples and then was crucified. It's not a holiday because it is a Christian festival, not a folk festival. Besides, it's always on a weekend, so making it a holiday would be just silly. It's also a movable feast, following the Jewish lunar calendar rather than the Roman solar calendar.
Celebrating Easter based on Act 12:4 would be a mistaken observation. Easter was a pagan holiday completely, and not a Christian holiday. It merely coincided somewhat with Passover and Unleavened bread and was co-opted by the Roman church to observe the resurrection. Easter comes from an ancient pagan festival of Astarte, a female deity of reproduction. Hence the Easter eggs and the Easter rabbit. Like Christmas, it is a pseudo Christian holiday.

God's prophetic OT focus was on the great sacrifice on one particular Passover day. The thing to celebrate his death would be communion as Jesus commanded at the last supper. Or we could rightfully observe Passover (and all the spring and fall festivals from Moses) because they correspond to events in Christ's ministry and prophetic events to come.

Many people think "pascha" is mistranslated in Acts 12:4 as Easter. But it is not a mistranslation. The word is translated 28 other times in the NT as "Passover", but only as "Easter" in Acts 12. That's because there is a distinction in the timing of the event from the Crucifixion Passover. It is understood from scripture that King Herod in Acts 12 arrested Peter during the days of unleavened bread, after the Passover. Those days were commonly referred to as "Easter" by the early church until recently. Shortly after Unleavened Bread would come the actual pagan holiday of Easter.

Is it wrong to remember the Resurrection? No. It would be wrong to not remember it. But is Easter the way to do so? On the contrary, Jesus told us how to do it. In the baptism of every believer. Romans 6:3-5 --

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection”

Last edited by Led Zeppelin; 12-22-2013 at 04:34 PM..
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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^^Oh, jeez! Is it too much to accept that many cultures, with many different religions, have winter and spring celebrations? Is it shocking that cultures borrowed from each other?
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:11 PM
 
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Jesus Christ. It's just a Christmas tree.
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
^^Oh, jeez! Is it too much to accept that many cultures, with many different religions, have winter and spring celebrations? Is it shocking that cultures borrowed from each other?
I think what it attests to more than anything was the mystical regard that ancient peoples' held for the calendar and the signs of the heavens. The sun and moon, after all, were the timepieces of the world, upon which all necessary aspects of life revolved. For everyone, from the Chinese to the Egyptians to the Maya.
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Old 12-22-2013, 05:39 PM
 
Location: Arizona
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Originally Posted by jasper12 View Post
No more of these pagan displays at all, anywhere. And take down those lights on houses too!

The grinch is alive, And well.
Yup.

Time to bring back the Burgermeister Meisterberger.

Christmas trees in public libraries-image.jpg
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Old 12-22-2013, 08:13 PM
 
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I read once if we didn't have a God- man would invent one... and some have 4 wheels, go tic toc, and skim very fast on water- you know I am a Hallmark person- let's celebrate all we can. I wont worship all but celebrate heck yeah!
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Old 12-22-2013, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Live in NY State, work in CT
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Originally Posted by Linda_d View Post
I knew at least two Jewish couples who had "Christmas trees" and a Muslim couple who also had a Christmas trees when I lived in the Albany area back in the 1990s. Albany is pretty diverse for a small metro and very progressive on most social issues.

I will have to find out if my nephew and his wife put up a Christmas tree since she is Jewish ... or maybe they didn't this year because they were moving into their new house last week!



Two more recent Jewish artists who have put out Christmas albums are Kenny G and Neil Diamond. I think that Barbra Streisand also has a Christmas album.
Yes it is (Albany being diverse and progressive), I lived there for 5 years in the mid-late 1980s myself. Ironically most "downstaters" think everything north of Westchester County is "red".

As for the artists, yes that is true, but I was thinking of the actual creation of the songs. Another Jewish artist with a Christmas album is Miri Ben-Ari. Most don't know her by name, but she is originally from Israel and famous for doing the "violin background" on many rap and hip-hop songs. She does a really awesome violin instrumental of "Silent Night", you can find it on You Tube. I don't see anything wrong with appreciating/admiring the beautiful music of a fellow culture, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Caldwell View Post

If you are looking for a uniquely Christian festival, try Easter. In the West it is set on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, because the bible clearly records that Jesus ate Seder with his disciples and then was crucified. It's not a holiday because it is a Christian festival, not a folk festival. Besides, it's always on a weekend, so making it a holiday would be just silly. It's also a movable feast, following the Jewish lunar calendar rather than the Roman solar calendar.
True, but with one difference. Because the Jewish lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian solar calendar, there is a complicated "leap year" scheme to prevent holidays from drifting into the seasons. The simple way to describe it is that each year Jewish holidays are 11 days earlier (on the Gregorian calendar) than they were the previous year, then after they drift about a month they are placed a month ahead. For example, last year Passover was in late March, this year it will be in mid-late April. It actually is based on set 19 year periods, with a "leap month" placed into 7 of the 19 years. The church uses this period too, calling it the Golden Number. However, there are some years where the Jewish calendar adds the leap month and Passover occurs in late April, but the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (the way the date of Easter is determined) is still in late March. In those years Easter occurs not during the Passover week, but a month before. Next year is NOT one of those years (both Easter and Passover occur in late April), but it will happen again in 2016 (Easter on 3/27, but Passover not until 4/23).

Last edited by 7 Wishes; 12-22-2013 at 10:05 PM..
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Old 12-22-2013, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Near Manito
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Okay. What’s the real skinny on Christmas, anyhow?

The skeleton of our Christmas and New Year’s holidays is found in the ancient Roman celebrations of Saturnalia and Kalends. Saturnalia (honoring the god Saturn, logically enough) took place December 17 – 24. Kalends (the source of our word “calendar”) was a civil holiday marking the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

At the time of the birth of Christ, Saturnalia was a seven-day period of feasting and revelry -- a time of indulgence in eating and drinking, and a time for exchanging gifts. Students were given a holiday and everyone decorated their houses with evergreens.

Concurrently, an extremely popular Zoroastrian/Persian cult in the Roman Empire during the early days of the Christian church worshipped Mithra, an ancient Persian god whose priests were called Magi. Mithra’s miraculous birth from a rock was witnesses by incredulous shepherds. The celebration of his birth was called “the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” and took place on December 25th.

So what does all this have to do with Christmas? Until about 300 years after the birth of Christ, nothing. But remember that Christianity was just a tiny sect trying to establish itself in the face of a lot of competing religions. The early Christian leaders were not concerned with the details of Christ’s birth. They were more interested in his Epiphany, the time at which he learned that he was the son of God. They were also of course interested in making their church grow and prosper.

Christmas really began in 320 A.D. when Christian bishops decided to convert “the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” to the birth date of Christ. (Other details evolved slowly. It wasn’t until 431 A.D. that the bishops proclaimed Mary as the mother of God.) Their original concern was not so much establishing Christ’s divinity as giving Christians something to celebrate when everyone else was out having a great time.

Christmas moved north with Christianity, and its traditions grew and changed with every pagan culture it encountered. In 601, the Pope wrote to St. Augustine in England and told him to adopt the Celtic tradition of decorating temples with evergreens by dressing the Christian churches the same way. St. Francis of Assisi realized that since church services were all sung in Latin, the masses of poor peasants had no idea of what Christmas was all about. He made the first crèche to illustrate the meaning of Christ’s birth in understandable terms.

Christmas carols had similar beginnings. When Franciscan friars came to England and France, they discovered that people danced round dances called “carols.” The early church fathers thought carols were sinful and tried to outlaw them. The people complained that the church was too strict, so the friars began writing sacred words to popular folk tunes and trying to substitute the new sacred songs for the more ribald ones. From the 15th century on, Christmas carols were an entrenched tradition.

No one knows exactly when the Christmas tree custom began. Most early cultures decorated their houses and temples with greenery during midwinter festivals, symbolizing fertility and hope. Legend has it that the custom of Christmas trees began in the eighth century in Germany. The Teutons were used to worshipping the scared oak of Odin, the chief god of Germanic mythology. When St. Boniface wanted to convert them, he dedicated fir trees to the infant Jesus. The trees were decorated with sacramental wafers and apples to symbolize the Garden of Eden.

The custom of hanging mistletoe is a recent revival of an ancient tradition. The contemporary belief is that mistletoe will earn a kiss. The Celts believed that it was more powerful than that, and used it for poisoning, ulcers, and epilepsy. They believed that it was an aphrodisiac, which also aid fertility and brought timely childbirth. It was hung above peoples’ doors to protect them from illness and danger. It signaled that old fights were forgotten and peace was at hand.

Of all the Christmas traditions we observe, the myth of Santa and his elves is the most complex cultural mixture. Most cultures included a mythical gift-giver for their children, but the Santa Claus who comes down the chimney and leaves toys for our children is mostly a descendant of St. Nicholas, originally the patron saint of the poor.

The stories about St. Nicholas are mostly folktales. They observe that Nicholas was born the only son of wealthy parents who were known for their good deeds. At his parents’ death, he received a large inheritance which he spent to help the poor and unfortunate. His first good deed was to aid a wealthy family which had lost its fortune. To help their beloved father gain capital to recoup his fortune, his three virtuous daughters decided to sell their bodies as prostitutes. But for three successive nights before their lives of sin were to begin, St. Nicholas threw bags of gold down the chimney and into their stockings, which had been hung up to dry after washing. Thus the girls’ virtue and the family’s fortune were saved.

St. Nicholas became the patron saint of children when Christianity spread to Russia. The church there didn’t want any pagan sprite bringing gifts when Christian saints offered nothing, so St. Nicholas took over the job.

And the North Pole? Elves? The earliest people in Norway and Sweden were a race of small, dark cattle herders. They were conquered by the Norsemen, who forced them out of their homes and into the remote tundra areas of the north. These people eventually died out but retained a mythical presence as the “little people,” the “Nisse” who would play practical jokes or bring bad luck to Norse farmers. After the arrival of Christianity, the bringer of gifts at Christmastime was “Julenisse”, the Chief of the Little People. He word a little pointed cap and dressed all in red.

It took the Americans, the melting-pot people, to pull all these diverse traditions together, with the publication of Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” ( better known todayas “The Night Before Christmas”) in 1823, Coca-Cola’s pioneering use of Santa as an advertising icon in 1931, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s appearance on behalf of Montgomery Ward in 1939, and all the rest.

Of course, people haven’t always felt so positive about Christmas. During the Reformation, Lutherans and Calvinists tried to get rid of the holiday altogether. They thought it was immoral and ritualistic. (And they were half right!) In New England, the Puritans outlawed the celebration of Christmas in 1651. They fined anyone five shillings for celebrating the holiday or even taking a day off from work. It was 150 years before Christmas became acceptable again in the US.

So where does that leave us this holiday season, when we will probably eat too much, drink too much, stay up late and be tired and grumpy as the children bicker, tease, scream, and get wonked out on greed.

Well, it helps to know that families and friends have been giving each other gifts in the middle of winter for more than 2000 years, and that they found reasons to celebrate during the darkest and most miserable days of the year. Reasons to kill a boar for the feast or to bake a cake. To bring as much greenery as possible into their otherwise dreary homes. To light precious candles and surround themselves with symbols of health, hope , and peace.

We should all celebrate the noise and bustle of our guests and our families because in this way we celebrate life. We should find promise in the rich and growing colors of green and the spicy smell of forests and find joy in the traditional songs of religious faith and secular hope. There’s enough good for everyone, be they believers or not.

Most of all, we should celebrate that we are part of a continuum – that we are linked with the Romans, the Teutons, the Celts and the Christians through the ages. When we hang ornaments on the tree, light candles on the mantle, fill stockings with treasures, or carry a feast to our table, in the darkness behind us are eyes of our ancestors shining through the centuries. We take our place in a long line stretching to the dawn of human memory. We celebrate what has always been celebrated: Life.

Because that’s what Christmas is about, after all – one big, happy – and yes, Diverse – party, with life at its center. Enjoy the season in the way that makes you happy.

Merry Christmas to all of us!
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Old 12-22-2013, 11:05 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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I think you've been misled about the Lutheran approach to Christmas. Luther only wanted to reform the Catholic church, not start a new one. He kept a lot of the traditions, including the celebration of Christmas.

Religion Today: Banned Christmas
**Second, after Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517, special liturgical observances began to be frowned upon. The Lutherans thought that the celebrations of saints' days were too much and so cancelled them. But they still emphasized observing events in Jesus' life, and so continued with joyous Christmas festivities.**
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