Saturday, December 10

The Christmas Song

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire Jack Frost nipping at your nose Yuletide carols being sung by a choir And folks dressed up like Eskimos Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe Help to make the season bright Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow Will find it hard to sleep tonight. They know that Santa's on his way he's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh And every mother's child is gonna spy To see if reindeer really know how to fly. And so I'm offering this simple phrase To kids from one to ninety-two Although it's been said many times, many ways Merry Christmas to you. Mel Torme (c) 1946 Ever wonder how and why people started celebrating Christmas? We know Jesus wasn't born in December, and the exact date of his birth isn't even known. I'm sure you've all heard that the Romans elevated it to the stature of a big celebration to coincide with the Saturnalia feast around the winter solstice. Also that the trees were a druid symbol, having nothing to do with the Biblical Jesus. We also know that the Puritans hated Christmas because it was a frivolous display and gifts were, to them, an unncessary indulgence. So why is it that we've created a mythology around the birth of Jesus that actually has nothing to do with him & his teachings? It's almost like every aspect of Christmas is intentionally going against everything he believed in. Seriously. Read the gospel accounts of the birth In Matt & Luke---they bear individual similarites to our story of the star, shepherds & magi but when you look at it, they cannot individually be taken to be anything like our tradition of wrapping gifts to put under the tree (and make believe that some old, white, bearded fellow left them). Santa Claus is weird, too, when you think about him. He is the vehicle which allows us to pretend that we don't spend tons of money buying each other crap we don't need. We dress him up in right clothing and exaggerated features---big beard, big belly, big nose, big hat---so we don't have to think about a real person spending all that cash on toys and electronics---unless you're reading Forbes magazine. That puts it into perspective in an eerie way: Santa's unlimited wealth is actually our own, and we choose to spend our resources buying crap that will either be forgotten or broken in a few months. And yet, I have also spent money on presents for my family. We go with the flow no matter what our actual convictions may be.

2 comments:

PeskyFly said...

Hey Sarabee, let me help you out a little with why Christmas is in December. There was another popular mystery cult that grew up alongside Christianity--the cult of Mithras. This other god-man was also called "the good shepherd" and the "Light of the world." Like Jesus he was born to a virgin, there was a star and wise men and shepherds--- and his life plays out much like Christ's. Before his conversion to Christianity, Constentine was a devotee of Mithras, and a few outher gods as well. Mithras' birthday was celebrated around Dec. 25,and by moving Christmas to Dec. 25 early Christians were able to confuse the two figures even more--and to their advantage... Sorta like having two candidates with the same name in an election.

The vatican is built on the site of an ancient Roman temple, and some of the original walls are still there. There is a striking painting of Mithras with a lamb on his shoulders. If you're not up on your pagan symbology you'd never know it wasn't Christ. If you are up on your symbology you could even mistake it for Orpheus, or Dyonisis, who also have Christlike bios.

Memphis Word Nerd said...

What pisses me off are the people who get upset if we call it a "Holiday Tree" and say that it was a Christmas tree until the world got PC.

AAAAAAACTUALLY, folks, it was a SOLSTICE tree long before it was a CHRISTMAS tree, so perhaps we should go back to calling it that.

Grrrrrr.