Monday, December 08, 2008

Have a merry pagan Christmas, and a sprightly Yule too

With the advent of the Christmas season reigning strong in the hearts and minds of the American public, it’s a good time to come out and revisit the strange scintilla of spirit that actually rests over these holidays. The retail industry tried to start as early as they could, barely letting Hallowse’en slide out the back door before they started putting out the Christmas decorations and ornaments—we had a really interesting Thanksgiving with turkey’s sitting side-by-side with the egg nog and snow angels.

The supposed War on Christmas touted blindly from the television is blathering on; but really the secularization of Christmas happened way back during Dickens era and now it’s been bled dry by Wal-Mart and Hallmark to the point where it has few of the original allusions to what people think it should—but never really had in the first place.

Except for people who celebrate Saturnalia, maybe.

The so-called atheist movement has gotten strange bolstering from bus advertising, and even a poster set next to a Christmas tree (excuse me Holiday tree) in the capital city of Washington Olympia. Only to have their sign stolen—then returned. TV pundits like Bill O’Rilley then brought out their vituperative voices to screed the governor of the state for following the law. Perhaps people need to re-read the 1st Amendment that we all cherish so much.

As for everything else Christmas, I will leave everyone to settle into their Yule spirit and quote—and link to—my favorite Pagan blog on all subjects religiosity and mythology.

The Wild Hunt.

December brings many things: snow, cold weather, people acting horribly at shopping centers, and journalists seeking a new angle on holiday reporting. A favorite in recent years is to talk of the "pagan" origins of the Christmas holiday. These often come in the form of editorials rebutting the inane "War on Christmas" prattlings by Bill O'Reilly and his ilk. For example, Pete Langr of the Budgeteer News has this to say.

"It’s ironic that the effort to put Christ back in Christmas is both so profitable and so willing to focus on the Christmas tree and on the word “merry.” The Christmas tree itself “has nothing to do with other religious holidays celebrated in December” says my letter writer. Except that the Christmas tree was apparently co-opted by Christians from a pagan celebration in which evergreen boughs were hung in the home. In effect, the pagans lost an earlier culture war. Perhaps they bartered buttons saying 'take back our winter solstice celebration.'"

And so on, and so forth. Some reporters have even tried to debunk the "Christmas traditions aren't really Christian" debunkers.

"Despite popular belief, the idea of Christmas trees did not come from Pagan rituals. In fact, the first Christmas trees are believed to have originated in 17th century Germany. It took two centuries for the idea to catch on in the U.S."

Too bad the Bible somewhat refutes that notion.

Preparing For the “Pagan Christmas” Rush, link via The Wild Hunt.

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