December 14, 2009

Christmas-Some Uncomfortable Facts...

 I just nicked this from the TPUC forum.

Is this another in a long line of things to file in the "Shit We Didn't Know We Didn't Know" section? I have no recollection of being taught this version when I attended Sunday School. I have read my fair share of books on ancient Rome and it looks very plausible. I hope so. The version we get force-fed is a bit bland. If you are a devout Christian, stop reading now.

Set your faces to "stun":

I. How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

B. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

C. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.[2]

D. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

E. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

F. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”[3] Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.[4] However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

G. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”[5]

H. As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.”[6] On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.

III. The Origins of Christmas Customs

A. The Origin of Christmas Tree
Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.[7] Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

B. The Origin of Mistletoe
Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna. Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim.[8] The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.[9]

C. The Origin of Christmas Presents
In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January). Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace. The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas (see below).[10]

D. The Origin of Santa Claus

a. Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra. He died in 345 CE on December 6th. He was only named a saint in the 19th century.

b. Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament. The text they produced portrayed Jews as “the children of the devil”[11] who sentenced Jesus to death.

c. In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy. There Nicholas supplanted a female boon-giving deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children’s stockings with her gifts. The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the center of the Nicholas cult. Members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, December 6.

d. The Nicholas cult spread north until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. These groups worshipped a pantheon led by Woden –their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw. Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn. When Nicholas merged with Woden, he shed his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and donned heavy winter clothing.

e. In a bid for pagan adherents in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.

f. In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (most famous his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History. The satire refers several times to the white bearded, flying-horse riding Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

g. Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, read Knickerbocker History, and in 1822 he published a poem based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…” Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

h. The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus. From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper’s Weekly. Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock. Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world. All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

i. In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red. And Santa was born – a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.

IV. The Christmas Challenge

· Christmas has always been a holiday celebrated carelessly. For millennia, pagans, Christians, and even Jews have been swept away in the season’s festivities, and very few people ever pause to consider the celebration’s intrinsic meaning, history, or origins.

· Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christian god who came to rescue mankind from the “curse of the Torah.” It is a 24-hour declaration that Judaism is no longer valid.

· Christmas is a lie. There is no Christian church with a tradition that Jesus was really born on December 25th.

· December 25 is a day on which Jews have been shamed, tortured, and murdered.

· Many of the most popular Christmas customs – including Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas presents, and Santa Claus – are modern incarnations of the most depraved pagan rituals ever practiced on earth.

Many who are excitedly preparing for their Christmas celebrations would prefer not knowing about the holiday’s real significance. If they do know the history, they often object that their celebration has nothing to do with the holiday’s monstrous history and meaning. “We are just having fun.”

13 comments:

Revolution Harry said...

I'd come across some of this before but there were quite a few things I hadn't known. When you think about it there aren't many of the seven deadly sins that aren't celebrated during the Christmas period.

For a deeper (and darker) take on the 'Christmas' festivities try this article by Matthew Delooze. He's a gruff typical northern former factory worker with his own unique style. That said he has some amazing insights.

I'll leave you to make your own mind up.

banned said...

"...drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets" sounds like lot more fun than carolling.

Leg-iron said...

December 25th goes back way beyond the Romans.

On Dec 22nd the sun reaches the lowest point in the sky for the year. It doesn't start back up straight away, it doesn't appear to start rising again until the 25th.

So the 'sun' dies, is dead three days, and then comes back to life... it's a common theme.

The three stars in Orion's belt point to where the sun will rise on the 25th. These three 'kings' follow the 'sun'... another common theme.

The 22nd is the solstice, the 25th is the day when the sun starts getting higher in the sky again which means warmer weather is on the way.

All it took to control the ancient masses was to convince them that if they didn't do what the priests said, the sun would never climb the sky again and it would always be dark and cold. The priests only had to make the link once. They'd 'hold' the sun down for three days and then let it climb again. The people wouldn't risk it next year.

Even the Righteous have history ;)

Captain Ranty said...

Leggy,

I remember a lot of what you say from the first Zeitgeist movie. No wonder the god-botherers got so upset. It wiped out their belief system.

Control is everything, is it not?

CR.

Captain Ranty said...

Banned,

You are a savage.

But I do like you.

CR.

Captain Ranty said...

Harry,

I checked out the link. Dark is right. But the truth so often is. Do you think all this guff is to make us feel better about ourselves? We lie to ourselves constantly (it seems) to maintain that thin veneer of...protection? From what?

I would rather have the truth, no matter how unpalatable, than to live in a dreamy cocoon.

CR

I am Stan said...

Yo Capitan,did you know that Coca Cola invented the red santa in one of its adverts....no really its true .

subrosa said...

When I was a child Christmas Day wasn't a public holiday, everyone went to work as usual. School children had holidays thought. New Year was the public holiday.

Christmas lunch was a very low key affair although everyone received presents.

Why Scotland was brought 'in line' with the rest of the UK I'll never know the truth. The excuse I remember was that the rest of the UK wanted New Year's Day declared as a public holiday so Scotland could have 25th December in return.

Captain Ranty said...

Stan,

I believe you. It says so right there in the post..:)

CR.

Captain Ranty said...

SR,

When we were kids we counted the presents. When be become adults we count the cost.

It has become unbearably commercial, and why not? It doesn't seem to have any religious foundation at all.

Let the fools be parted with their hard earned coin.

As an offshore worker, and an ex-soldier, Dec 25th has less meaning for me than a lot of other folks. More often than not it was just another working day.

Hogmonay is something to be celebrated though. A new year brimming with new challenges....and new insults to our intelligence.

AND the exciting prospect of sending Labour forth, to endless night.

(Along with all their damned cameras).

CR.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a conservative working with Rediscovering God in America I and II. If you want to teach your kids about our country’s (Judeo)-Christian heritage, you might want to consider this as a Christmas gift. http://bit.ly/RediscoveringGod1

Captain Ranty said...

Anon,

Thank you for the gift.

Many years ago I made the decision to allow my children to decide for themselves whether God/Yahweh/Jehova/Allah/Guru Nanak existed.

It remains their choice.

My choice was a conscious one too. I decided never to believe the words of a true believer.

I am no theologian, and I am willing to debate, but I have had a bellyfull of zealots.

Anti-smoking zealots, climate change zealots, religious zealots, Labour zealots, Tory zealots: as far as I am concerned they can all fuck off, and when they get there they can fuck off again.

These days I prefer rational debate, backed up with sound reasoning and erm..evidence.

Bring it on, my brother.

CR.

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