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Old 12-23-2013, 05:20 AM
 
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
693 posts, read 925,844 times
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Quote:
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.
This is the same person who will tell us how bad crime is, kids dont play outside, etc, etc

What a joy being around this person must be...
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Old 12-23-2013, 07:25 AM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 6,937,366 times
Reputation: 13779
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieA View Post
not all Christians are zealots. I know plenty of Christians, including myself, that do not care a fig whether you like Christmas at all and you are certainly welcome to observe or not observe any tradition that you want to. If you put up a display of blow up zoo animals on your lawn at Christmas time, I could care less. If you do nothing in regards to the season, I'm okay with that, too.
That's why I singled out the "zealots" rather than saying just "Christians". It's not even denomination specific but individuals, either church members, ministers, or even churches (think Westboro Baptist Church) who want to push their views on others. In other times, it was largely just ignorance/insensitivity but in recent years, it's become much more deliberate and calculated with definite "culture wars" overtones. The "Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays" nonsense is the perfect example of that.
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Old 12-23-2013, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Poshawa, Ontario
2,986 posts, read 3,162,859 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everdeen View Post
I know that Christmas was originally a Christian holiday, but the tree and time of year was adapted from a pagan ritual (I think).
Christmas was originally the Pagan festival of Yule that celebrated the winter solstice and the return of the sun (or giver of life) to the Earth. This idea was hijacked by the Christians in order to make it easier to convert the so-called heathens and bring them into the fold.

If you honestly think Jesus Christ was born on the 25th of December, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd love to sell you.
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Old 12-23-2013, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
3,681 posts, read 3,266,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertpasa View Post
I live near LA and all the public libraries have Christmas trees. But if Christmas trees are not allowed in public schools, why are they allowed in libraries?

Do all US K-12 schools have the same rules about whether they can have a Christmas tree - or is it different between states, cities, counties?

Christmas is obviously a Christian holiday, yet so many people celebrate it as a non-religious, cultural thing. Harper's Magazine just mentioned that 1/3 of American Jewish people have a Christmas tree.
Technically, the object we know today as a Christmas tree was a pagan fertility symbol that was incorporated into Christmas by market-savvy northern European Christian evangelists several centuries ago.

Most commercial aspects of Christmas have by now been adopted in a secular fashion by 1st-world cultures all over the world.

BTW, today's militantly evangelical atheists would be advised to look at the success of the old Christian evangelicals and soften their approach to banning the outward trappings of a religion they'd prefer to ban.
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Old 12-23-2013, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
85,041 posts, read 98,948,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtab4994 View Post
Technically, the object we know today as a Christmas tree was a pagan fertility symbol that was incorporated into Christmas by market-savvy northern European Christian evangelists several centuries ago.

Most commercial aspects of Christmas have by now been adopted in a secular fashion by 1st-world cultures all over the world.

BTW, today's militantly evangelical atheists would be advised to look at the success of the old Christian evangelicals and soften their approach to banning the outward trappings of a religion they'd prefer to ban.
No sh*t! Why do so many on CD ass*u*me that Christians don't know this stuff and have to keep posting their superior knowledge over and over? Good grief, anyone who has gotten farther than elementary school Sunday School in their Christian education knows that, and it's all over the internet, on TV, and other media.

10 Remarkable Origins of Common Christmas Traditions - Listverse
Origin of Christmas | The history of Christmas and how it began
Christmas Traditions Worldwide — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts (History Channel)
Christmas History (Kid's website)

Enough already!
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:24 AM
 
9,776 posts, read 7,685,937 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeledaf View Post
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!
Excellent post - my only quibble would be the highlighted statement above. While it's certainly true that celebrating Christmas was banned in several of the northern British colonies, Christmas was always celebrated in the southern colonies, where few Puritans settled. Most Southern colonists were Church of England members in the 17th century, so hanging greens, feasting, singing, dancing, visiting family and friends - and church attendance on Christmas Day itself - were customary and continue to be so.

So why did these differences exist? The thirteen colonies were initially settled by members of different religious denominations, ranging from the strict Puritans to the less rigid Church of England members (with a few Quakers and Presbyterians here and there). C.of E. members tended to go south - many immigrated to grow tobacco, a huge cash crop of the time - while the Puritans, most of whom came to America for religious reasons, went north.

There's a very intriguing and readable book called "Albion's Seed", about these two groups plus the Scots-Irish, who collectively formed the majority of English-speaking American colonists. Not only did the language develop differently within each of these groups, but so did customs, beliefs, manners, ways of life in general - and those differences can still be readily observed today.

By now, of course, Christmas is celebrated all over this country and is only controversial in places like City-Data!
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
3,681 posts, read 3,266,964 times
Reputation: 6538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
No sh*t! Why do so many on CD ass*u*me that Christians don't know this stuff and have to keep posting their superior knowledge over and over? Good grief, anyone who has gotten farther than elementary school Sunday School in their Christian education knows that, and it's all over the internet, on TV, and other media.

10 Remarkable Origins of Common Christmas Traditions - Listverse
Origin of Christmas | The history of Christmas and how it began
Christmas Traditions Worldwide — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts (History Channel)
Christmas History (Kid's website)

Enough already!
Wow, freak out much? My response was to the OP, not you.
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Old 12-23-2013, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Near Manito
19,294 posts, read 20,184,132 times
Reputation: 13385
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Excellent post - my only quibble would be the highlighted statement above. While it's certainly true that celebrating Christmas was banned in several of the northern British colonies, Christmas was always celebrated in the southern colonies, where few Puritans settled. Most Southern colonists were Church of England members in the 17th century, so hanging greens, feasting, singing, dancing, visiting family and friends - and church attendance on Christmas Day itself - were customary and continue to be so.

So why did these differences exist? The thirteen colonies were initially settled by members of different religious denominations, ranging from the strict Puritans to the less rigid Church of England members (with a few Quakers and Presbyterians here and there). C.of E. members tended to go south - many immigrated to grow tobacco, a huge cash crop of the time - while the Puritans, most of whom came to America for religious reasons, went north.

There's a very intriguing and readable book called "Albion's Seed", about these two groups plus the Scots-Irish, who collectively formed the majority of English-speaking American colonists. Not only did the language develop differently within each of these groups, but so did customs, beliefs, manners, ways of life in general - and those differences can still be readily observed today.

By now, of course, Christmas is celebrated all over this country and is only controversial in places like City-Data!
Thanks for this excellent post. The Fischer book (Albion's Seed") is indeed a valuable resource on the many aspects of this holiday. Enjoy the season!
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Old 12-23-2013, 12:52 PM
 
8,753 posts, read 8,971,140 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everdeen View Post
And I'm sure plenty of atheists celebrate Christmas (and Easter)
I'm an atheist, and participate in Xmas. I realize it's beginnings with the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun" and just don't care.

Religion aside (and the commercial aspect), Xmas is a great time of year when families and friends come together, and people overall are just nicer. I enjoy this time of year, even if it's religious roots don't mean anything to me
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:01 PM
 
24,511 posts, read 34,182,461 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainNJ View Post
its all fake anyway right? im sure your researchers are no more correct than the religious folk. but what matters is what people believe. you have a tree for christmas, its a christmas tree, you are celebrating christmas and christmas is a christian holiday. it may not make any sense, but religion doesnt really make sense to everyone does it? so it doesnt have to make any sense. the christmas tree is a jesus tree.
It's likely that people with trees are celebrating Christmas but in the US, Christmas has cut ties with it's Christian/pagan past. It's more about family, friends and festivities. I see Christmas heading more and more into this direction.

As a result, I see a big difference between a Christmas tree that represents modern western celebration of Christmas and the nativity scene that represents religious beliefs of historical events in an inaccurate manner.
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