Io Saturnalia!

IdiotsThis post was originally from 2005, with some edits. So I’m recycling I guess. (In 2005 I was either living in, or had just left, a marina run by a bunch of truly annoying evangelical Christians. My feelings showed through.)

Nanovirus: The war on Winter Solstice. When I was a kid, Christmas celebrations started after Thanksgiving. Not that long ago it was traditional to put up Christmas trees on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed.

Today Christmas decorations appear before Halloween – I guess retail never figured out how to make money on Samhain or Turkey Day. And yet everywhere you turn you hear about the “War on Christmas.” Actually there seems to be a war on all non-Christian Solstice Celebrations. (How many other religious holidays are also federal holidays?)

What happened to the idea of tolerance?

For example, while it remained customary for one Christian to say Merry Christmas to another, to a stranger it was considered more thoughtful to say “Season’s Greetings,” or “Happy Holidays.” Such was the beauty of tolerance: all faiths were able to be true to their origins while respecting their fellow humans’ right to do the same.

Do you doubt there is a war on non-Christian holidays? The war is long-standing. Consider the date.

The Romans honored Saturn, the ancient god of agriculture, each year beginning on December 17 in a festival called the Saturnalia. This festival lasted for seven days and included the winter solstice, which at that time fell on December 25 (today, following calendar reform, it falls on December 21).

The Catholic Church’s calendar reform did 2 things; it fixed the problem with the calendar, and it MOVED the solstice away from December 25th. The 25th was the birthday of Mithras (at least according to some scholars) and celebrated in the Roman Empire. The solstice was also the focus of many winter celebrations.

So “Happy Holidays,” whatever flavor of holiday you observe.

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That’s Gonna Leave a Mark – A Politician Gets Schooled on the Origins of Christmas Customs

Evergreens and holly and mistletoe don’t have squat to do with Christianity. Here is a history lesson in the form of a smack-down. The Tyee – An 'Infidel' Writes: Dear Mr. Pallister, Since You Asked.

For example, when some ill-informed zealot tells me Jesus is “the reason for the season” it’s only generations of WASP-y repression preventing me from launching into a history lecture on the spot.

Sure it’s Canada, but it’s still fun.