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Saturday, December 08, 2007

'Tis the Season,...

Since it is the CHRISTmas season, the TrekMedic gets back to his Catholic roots with this appropriate posting:

On December 8, 1854, having spent all of his holy life his boyhood, his priesthood, as bishop, cardinal and Pope at the feet of the Mother of God, the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and having deeply considered also, in his exile at Gaeta, the earnest petitions of Catholics all over the world in its behalf, Pope Pius IX defined ex cathedra, in the glorious Basilica of Saint Peter's before one hundred and seventy bishops and innumerable pilgrims come literally from the ends of the earth, the divine dogma of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. The voice of the Sovereign Pontiff broke and tears filled his eyes as he paused before uttering the infallible words:

"We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful...."

As the Holy Father finished speaking, the cannon of the Castle of Sant' Angelo boomed and the bells of the basilicas and churches of Rome long rang out the glorious news, which ushered in the Age of Mary the last age of the world. The Catholic faithful rejoiced, and grace flooded their souls as they prayed the prayer Our Lady herself had given twenty years before to Catherine Laboure, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

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At 12:48 AM, Blogger Toad734 said...

Earliest examples of "Christmas" were practiced as long as 4000 years ago by Babylonians as a celebration of a 12 day New Year festival honoring the god Marduk. Also called Sacaea by the Persians, these celebrations involved holiday feasts, giving gifts, and caroling.

The Roman Pagan celebration of Saturnalia started in the middle of December and lasted until January 1st. This was a celebration of the solstice, marking the Sun's return. The exchange of gifts, decoration of homes with greenery, feasts, and the suspension of private and public business marked this celebration. Once Christianity began to spread throughout the Empire, Pagan and Christian societies began to merge and the prosecution of Christians decreased. During the reign of Constantine (a sun worshiper), Pope Julius I moved Christmas from January 6th (Epiphany) to December 25th, which was the Pagan Deus Sol Invictus, or the birthday of the unconquered Sun god. Sun god. Son of God. Not a huge leap of faith for these early Christians assuming the Latin words for "son" and "sun" sound as similar as they do in English--but really, who speaks Latin? This is where Christmas started to take on some of the traditions and meanings that we see today. Still, these events are not the only things that contribute to Christmas as we know it.

Yule or Yuletide was the Pagan winter solstice celebration which in the Julian calendar was December 25th and Gregorian calendar December 21st. The Scandinavians and Germanic tribes of Northern Europe celebrated this as the return of the sun from the long dark winter nights. Trees were decorated with candles, holly decorated doors, a Yule log was burned, and feasts were prepared along with the sacrifice of a pig, which is where we get the traditional Christmas ham. The mistletoe was used in both Norse and Druid celebrations. Obviously, as Christianity spread in this region, Scandinavian seasonal celebrations merged with the Roman's Pagan/Christian winter solstice holiday. It must also be noted that Odin, the primary figure in Norse mythology, had a hat and a big white beard had a flying 8 legged Horse instead of 8 flying reindeer. Odin at one point also had hung from a tree and had a spear wound not unlike the fate of Jesus.

One other reason that Christmas is not a Christian holiday is that Jesus was not born on December 25th, nor is there really any proof that he was born in Bethlehem in a cold manger. Every Biblical scholar knows that if Jesus was born when "shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night." that this would have to have been between the months of March and November as it would have been too cold for the shepherds to have still been there at night in the cold rainy season. Since we know Jesus was born 6 months after John the Baptist and we know he was born in late March or early April, Jesus had to have been born in late September or early October at the latest.

Christmas has really always been a celebration of winter solstice, it’s just that in our calendar it is 4 days off the mark due to the difference in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Just as they did with the once secular pledge of allegiance and our currency, Christians stole Christmas and made it their own, adding the nativity scene and Jesus' birthday. Somehow, secular Americans are the assholes when we merely try to take the pledge, our dollar bill, or Christmas back to its original incarnation.

My Father is an Atheist, my Mom is a Christian who doesn't believe Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and I am Agnostic. We all welcome Christmas as a time for sharing and togetherness, not the birth of baby Jesus in his manger. What does a Christmas tree have to do with the birth of your savior? What does getting your kid the new X-box have to do with Christianity? Nothing. And you know who else thought this way? The Puritans.

That’s right, about the time they started burning witches, Puritans in New England outlawed the Christmas celebration. Christmas, The Mass of Christ, was considered to be a Catholic holiday which had nothing to do with the actual birth or birth day of Christ so they therefore outlawed the Pagan traditions of decorating trees and caroling. Since they believed that the Christmas celebration and the birth of Christ was completely separate, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659-1681 and the Colleges in New England didn't even start observing Christmas until about 1847. Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until 1870.

For these right wing nut jobs to say that December 25th, and all that is associated with that day, is purely Christian, is ludicrous. So when they say that the secular Christ-haters are trying to destroy Christianity when we call it the holidays and not Christmas, tell them that you think it's ironic that someone who thinks that America was founded by Puritans is so intent on going against Puritan beliefs, which were anti-Christmas. You can also tell them that you find it ironic that the same people who are trying to censor the internet, cable TV, song lyrics and art are offended when someone tries to censor their 1st amendment rights.

No one wants to destroy Christmas, you are paranoid. Who doesn't want a couple of days off work every year to hang out with family and friends to eat, drink, be merry and get presents?We just realize that roughly 23% of the US is not Christian; you cannot simply bully minorities because you outnumber them. We realize that all the traditions of Christmas, except going to mass, are secular. We realize that like the Pledge of Allegiance and US currency it has been adopted by Christianity, not the other way around.

So if some Jews in your town don't want The Night Christ was Born playing at the town hall manger, get over it. Go home and play your own Christmas music; you are free to do so. You wouldn't like it if you were forced to fast for Ramadan would you?

Merry Saturnalia!



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