Friday, December 24, 2010

It's What You Make Of It

It's Christmas eve. I've had a house full of kids, and extended family coming and going all week and most likely will next week too. I've read a number of blogs today talking about how messed up this holiday is. One article in Alternet was about forgetting it. Teacher in me is breaking forth.

Much of the was we celebrate Christmas comes from Queen Victoria. She's the first modern British monarch to set up a Christmas tree with ornaments. Actually she only allowed her German husband Prince Albert to set it up starting in 1839. The merchants used this as an opportunity to push the holiday, which was at the time had a bad reputation. Those with houses had to have an alcoholic bowl of punch for those who came around demanding a drink. Wassail it was called. If you didn't have wassail they'd vandalize your place. Kind of like Trick or Treat. As said earlier merchants changed the character of Christmas and started making a nice profit in the process. After the Civil War the holiday took off for the same reason in the U.S. As much as those pushing this war of Christmas crap feeling that the commercialization cheapens the reason for the season wouldn't have a season to fuss over if it wasn't for the merchants.
The Germans celebrated this time of year centuries before Christ was born and continued it against the wishes of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther joined the pagan tree worship of Woden where they would decorate evergreens because they were a symbol that the Ice Giants would be conquered in Spring. They started the tradition of giving gifts at this time of year, but not among families and loved ones, they made gifts, traveled sometimes great distances and gave the gifts to their enemies. In the Norse religion dying with a sword in your hand meant you'd be taken by the Valkeries to Valhalla, if you died in bed you spent the afterlife in the ground (German word for ground is "hell"). They give gifts to their enemies thanking them for the upcoming battles that would send them to Valhalla. Talk about twisted logic, but religion does that. Luther took the symbols of Woden worship and gave them Christian meaning. Giving of gifts was because of the gifts of the magi. The star on top the Tannenbaum was for the star of Bethlehem, etc.
Historically Jesus was born in summer. The shepherds tending their flock by night wouldn't do that in winter. The magi most likely didn't show up until he was two or three years old. Herod ordered all children killed under the age of three. He's also referred to as child, not babe.
The Romans celebrated the Saturnalia. It was the only day of the year slaves were without duties. Most of the early Christians were slaves as it promised equality in the afterlife. It would be natural that their one free day of the year they would choose in celebrating the birth of their God's birth.
John Calvin in reaction to Luther's profaning Christmas with German paganism ended all celebrations at this time. He was rather a dour party pooper agains all forms of celebrations. There were penalties in Geneva for whistling on the sabath. Calvinists spread to France (Hugenauts), Scotland (Presbyterians), England (Puritans). Oliver Cromwell set up a Puritan theological state in what is known as the Interregnum after the English Civil War. Upon his death and the restoration of Charles II much of the party pooper restrictions were lifted, but Christmas wasn't one of them. The Puritans then infested the New World with their fundamentalist bullshit which brings us up to where Christmas stands today.
If your a little minded, mean spirited, religious bigot; then you fuss about too much commercialism because you want to impose you beliefs on everyone else.
If you hate the hussle and bussle and commercialism because it stresses you out and makes you depressed and you wonder why you're doing all of this because you really don't believe in all this nonsense. Then why are you? Tradition, seems kind of silly.
If you choose to put up with all the commercialism because you enjoy the smile on your children's and loved ones face as they open their presents. Feel fullfilled to be around family that you don't get much time with because your scattered all over the world. Then this is a great time to put up with all the hassle and mess. It's worth it.


Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Thanks and Merry Christmas.

P M Prescott said...

Glad you liked it.