Put the CHRIST back in CHRISTMAS!
JESUS is the REASON for the SEASON!
It's not a Holiday Tree, it's a CHRISTMAS TREE!
Sad, isn't it?
Here we are at one of the most holy times of the year and we are faced with a Militant Christian attack on every other faith. This isn't just an attempt to revise some wrong-thinking political correctness that has snuck up on us. This is a first strike in a war currently masquerading as Christmas.
Like the Bush administration's "War on Terrorism", the enemy is not a country. In fact, it really isn't even the Christians who are carrying the torches that threaten to burn the most joyous season to the ground. The enemy is a select few Christian Fundamentalists who are using the Holiday Season as a way of stirring up hatred towards anyone whose beliefs are different than theirs. This is different than previous attacks on same-sex marriage, homosexualty, school prayer bans, and the like. This is far worse.
Christians across this nation, and in many parts of the world, grow up being exposed to traditions of the Christmas Tree adorned with lights, burning the yule log, kissing under the mistletoe and exchanging gifts. They are told that all these things are part of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of their Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, these are all Pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity.
Evergreens were long thought to have magical properties since they did not "die" in the winter. The practice of bringing in an evergreen tree to the home started with bringing in cut boughs and hanging them in the hopes that the evergreen's magic would help the family survive winter; the time when many children and elderly perished. Decorating full trees can be traced back to the Roman feast of Saturnalia.
The Yule Log practice, now often just a baked representation, dates back to the Norse Pagans who would find the largest log possible to burn in honor of Odin, the Yule Father or the Father of the Sun. A piece of the burnt log would be kept as a starter for the following year's fire. This ceremony, held on the Winter Solstice, welcomed the return of the light and the lengthening days. The practice came to the British Isles with the Norman invasion and was brought inside the home and turned into a family tradition. The burning of holly branches was added as a symbolic destruction of all things negative in the past year.
Mistletoe also has Norse roots. It was believed that Balder, the son of Frigga, the Goddess of Love, was slain with an arrow made of mistletoe. When Balder was brought back to life, Frigga blessed the mistletoe and offered a kiss to anyone who passed beneath it. Mistletoe was also a powerful healing herb used by the Druids, reportedly with some aphrodisiac-like powers and often harvested on or near the Winter Solstice.
Finally, the seasonal habit of gift-giving did not start with giving the baby Jesus presents of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Again we see the Roman festival of Saturnalia as the source of this tradition. Saturnalia was the greatest annual festival held in ancient Rome. Lasting for several days and held in honor of the god Saturn, Saturnalia was a time when work was put aside, gifts were traded among friends and families, decorations were everywhere, and food and drink were consumed in abundance.
As you can see, the true "reason for the season" goes back much farther than Christianity. The Catholic Church, the commanding presence in Medieval Europe, co-opted these traditions in order to make forced conversions more palatable; even going as far as to claim Jesus was born on or near the festival of Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice. Many Biblical Scholars now concede that Jesus was most likely born in March or perhaps April.
Since its liberation from native control (thanks to GWB for the phrase), The United States has become an increasingly diverse country. Many who quietly stood by and allowed the majority, the Christians, to dictate terminology became more and more vocal. The Jews reminded us that Channukah is in the same general season as Christmas. The Muslims reminded us that occasionally Ramadan falls near the Christmas holday. Pagans, a long silent minority, have spoken up to remind us that the Winter Solstice, or Yule, is their holiday. All these days, including Christmas, are HOLY to these faiths. The word Holiday means holy day. Christmas, Channukah, Yule. All Holy Days and all deserving of respect.
The Christian movement is fond of the phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" I'll tell you what he would do - he would celebrate Channukah because he was Jewish. That's right, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. And to take this glorious and wonderful season and force a Christmas message on everyone is the same as saying Jewish (or other religious) Holidays are unimportant.
That said, would you tell Jesus of Nazareth that he is wrong? Somehow I doubt it.
I often wonder why people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and the like are so afraid of other faiths. Is it insecurity? Is it fear for their Christian God losing followers? No. It is political. If Christians can take control of the season and force people to shun the Jews and Pagans, the Muslims and Hindus, people like the aforementioned gain more power as leaders. As has been proven time and time again, that power translates to money - the love of which, the Bible says, is the root of all evil. That doesn't say much for the Christians who are spearheading this seasonal revolt.
There is my take on the matter. When you look at it through these eyes you see that there is trouble ahead - A war of faith around the corner being egged on by men with a falseness not much different than that attributed in the Bible to the anti-Christ.
So those of you who follow Christ, as my loving wife says, "Just do what Jesus would do. Love the lord with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, and have a happy holiday."