Thursday, December 28, 2006

Putting Christ Back Into Christmas - Again

Ok, the Christmas post is late. But so is Christmas!

Jesus was not born in December. And if you check with your local C of E vicar, I'm sure he (or she - but that's a post for another day) will tell you that no one in the church is seriously suggesting that Christmas is the anniversary of Jesus' actual birth.

The pagan celebration of the winter solstice and the Roman feast of the birth of Sol (the sun-god) are among the pre-Christian festivals whose timing and customs were adopted when their adherents converted to Christianity. That's when they first put Christ in Christmas, so-to-speak.

Today as a wave of atheism purges 'Winterval' of any Christian reference, a rearguard of Christians urge us to remember what the season is all about! I read one columnist (Jeff Jacoby) who hurls any Xmas card without Christian reference straight into the cylindrical file. "Remember the true meaning of Christmas that we've trowelled on after we pinched the celebration from the pagans!"... lacks a certain ring as a rallying cry.

(Now I don't mind trying to be accurate about the birth of Jesus Christ since the subject comes up at Christmas. So while I'm at it...
There is no mention in the Bible of three kings at the birth of Jesus. An unknown number of magi visited the young child Jesus, perhaps years after his birth.
The angels never sang, they spoke.
The angels didn't fly, neither is there any suggestion of wings, they stood.

But Christian friends, please don't alter the words in Christmas carols to make them Biblically accurate. Oh, it hurts.)

I find myself trying to balance two arguments. On the one hand, the Apostle Paul said he rejoiced that Christ is preached "whether in pretence or in truth". In other words, be thankful that someone is speaking up for Christ, even if they got half the facts wrong. So sing those ridiculous carols! On the other hand, Paul and the first century church got along fine without "Christ in Christmas".

I guess Jeff Jacoby wouldn't accept any Christmas cards from First Century disciples. Especially if they look like this.


Peter said...

Lets start a more accurate campaign, "Put Coke Back Into Christmas." Its that fizzy black stuff that pushed Christmas into overdrive. Back in the 1800's gifts ranged from carrots to small patchwork embroideries (eat your heart out kiddies). In the 1900s Christmas slowly gathered momentum but it still wasn't the consumer feeding-frenzy it is today. It was coca cola that provided the slingshot that turned Christmas into a capitalist's wet dream, popularizing and projecting jolly, giving Santa to the forefront of Christmas.

So, forget about putting Christ somewhere he never was in the first place, lets put coke back at the centre where it truly belongs.

Alex said...

"Putting Christ back into Christmas" Makes about as much sense as "Taking America back for God" Nice rant!

Sacerdote said...

Actually, according to and others, the 25th was the birthday of Mithra, a Zoroastrian god, before being taken up as the Natalis Invicti by the Romans. So for the true meaning of Christmas, we should be either slaughtering bulls, of getting drunk and swapping places with our masters, depending on how far back you want to go.