Thursday, November 08, 2007

Christmas? Really?

It’s getting to that part of the year when folks start making a fuss about the “Festive Season”. We use that term almost euphemistically to refer to Christmas so as not to offend the Hanukkah-celebrating Jews, Yule-celebrating Pagans and any other religious types who may have ‘circumstantially’ engineered some major holy day to occur around the time of the Winter Solstice*.

What about those of us who have no religious festivals to celebrate? I’m a non-believer, and therefore have none.

I was raised a Christian, so my family still practice the Christian tradition of celebrating Christmas. Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone in my family would self-identify as Christian anymore, but the celebration continues every year nonetheless.

Over the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable about participating in it. It seems almost hypocritical to reject a religion at its core and then continue to benefit from its traditions.

There is, of course, the fact that the whole festival of Christmas is merely an imperialistic re-purposing of an existing Pagan festival (Yule, as I mentioned before) celebrating the Winter Solstice**. Many of the traditional symbols of Christmas have absolutely nothing to do with the Christian incarnation myth: pine trees aren’t very common in Israel, nor are holly, mistletoe or fat men in red suits. With the exception of Father Christmas, these were all symbols of the Yule celebration that were co-opted by the early church in order to make the conversion of the European Pagans that much easier.

And don’t get me started on the Santa Claus idea (or as I like to call him: “GodLite”).

The only identifiable symbol belonging to Christian mythology that is associated with Christmas is the nativity scene. Thanks to political correctness we are seeing that less and less often. Also, much of it was lifted from earlier myths… such as the births of Horace, Dionysus and Mithras.

Knowing all of this, it still feels wrong to wish someone “Merry Christmas”. Must I resort to “Have a Cool Yule”? Maybe we should start celebrating Kwanzaa, Festivus or Friday instead.

Is it enough to enjoy the celebration, and use the tradition as an excuse to do the family thing? Since Christmas is a lie to begin with, is it okay to imperialistically re-purpose it once again as we see fit?

I don't have an answer here, folks... I'm counting on you geniuses to tell me what to think here (you don't often get that chance, now do you?)

*I say ‘Winter Solstice’ because most of said religions originate in the Northern Hemisphere, so from the point of view of the funny-hat-wearing folks who invented said Holy Days, that’s exactly what it is. Taking note of that fact may help to explain a lot of the seemingly ridiculous rituals associated with those Holy Days. Down here on the bottom-half of Earth it is, of course, the Summer Solstice, so most of those rituals make no sense whatsoever.

**Take a closer look at the biblical myths, you’ll see how it couldn’t possibly have occurred at that time of year.