I’m probably going to get a lot of flak from the non-Christians, and maybe even the non-Catholics who read my blog. But what the heck. 😛
Ettienne, in his latest entry, believes that Christmas is a total waste of time. He states the following:
Many people don’t know this… but Christmas was originally a PAGAN festival. That’s right. When Christmas was first created, it was a festival in which public nudity and being drunk, gambling, etc etc etc was what was done. December 25th was a day on which many different gods were worshiped, gods like Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god, and Thor, the God of Thunder.
Christmas was never celebrated by Christians, ever, until eventually, in the year 379, the Catholics decided “Hey, how about we chuck Jesus’ birthday in with all these other pagan gods?!”.
There’s a reason why the early Church decided to have Christmas on December 25th, which I found after doing some research. No, it’s not the reason that Ett thinks, although it’s also not the actual birth date of Jesus (I doubt that there are birth records that far back, even within the Roman empire). This article explains the choice of date:
In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.
If that was indeed the intent, no doubt it has been a great success, as Christianity is now the dominant religion in the world today. The article that I linked to earlier mentions that some pagan traditions still continue today; this should in no way detract from the religious aspect of Christmas.
The article doesn’t mention of the giving of gifts to each other, but I remember reading somewhere ages ago that this was done to remind us of the gift of Jesus. Unfortunately, commercialisation has taken this way too far now. I’m not going to go into too much detail on this; I’m sure we all know it. After all, we all see it at this time of year. If you’re really interested, this Wikipedia article details how the religious aspects of Christmas are slowly being degraded by secular, commercial aspects. Maybe we’re just coming full circle from 350 A.D. – regardless, if you’re a Christian, it makes for some pretty depressing reading.
But it’s definitely not the fault of us Catholics. To be quite honest with my loyal blog readers, I’m getting rather sick and tired of my faith being constantly attacked, even by fellow Christians. Mass media isn’t helping either – just look at movies like “The Da Vinci Code”, and more recently “The Golden Compass”, both of which attack the Catholic Church. (Admittedly, they toned it down in the latter movie from the book from which it was adapted, but it doesn’t make it any less worrying.) In particular, I’m really concerned about other Christian groups attacking us. One person that I know ended up at a charismatic church for a while, and I was told that said church (or, at least one of it’s members) was distributing material attacking the Catholic Church. This is just plain not acceptable. We’re all Christians. We all worship the same God. We should be united – not divided.
But enough of that litte rant, and back to Christmas. Don’t ignore it. But if you’re Christian, then put the emphasis into the religious aspect of the whole occasion. As some local churches are saying, “Put ‘Christ’ back into ‘Christmas'”. It’s something that my family does extremely well, and if you’re Christian and reading this, try doing the same. You’ll get so much out of this “pagan festival” this way.