Friday, December 23, 2011

In Defence of Christmas

No, this isn't another rant about Happy Holidays being used in place of Merry Christmas. I'm able to accept that I live in a pluralistic society, and in point of fact I agree with pluralism. I can't believe wishing someone an enjoyable end-of-December 'season' is causing so much grief.

When I was younger I used to read this comic called Oh My Gods!, which was written by a neo-pagan, for other neo-pagans, and I bring that up because of something that the author pointed out, and which I've heard fairly often this time of year.

You see, it doesn't take much to realize that Christmas and Yule (the Anglo-Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice) coincide... in point of fact, for many people, the two terms are synonymous. In fact, when you look at it, the two celebrations are highly similar: the former celebrating the birth of the Son of God (who is known by the epithet "Light of the World"), and the latter celebrating the return of the Sun God (the literal light of the world).

So you hear it put about by atheist, agnostic, and general muckraker alike that Christmas is just Christianity co-opting yet another pagan holiday in order to ease conversion, and that therefore Christmas is invalid and there's no way to say precisely when Christ was born, so logically it couldn't have happened that way, and therefore Christmas is just one more way the Christians are mislead by the Church (which we all know is used by many to refer to the Universal Church rather than any one particular tradition). Let's take a look at that idea.

Christmas and Yule overlap, this much is true, and nobody can argue that point. Indeed, they are similar situations, and one could even argue that the choice to celebrate Christ's Birth in place of the return of the sun and the lengthening of days was made so that the pagan world would be that much more accepting of this new religion. The problem stems from taking that and assuming it somehow invalidates Christmas. For one thing, I've never heard it argued by anyone who makes a study of this sort of thing that Christmas is literally the day that Christ was born. This is the time of year that the world as a whole chooses to celebrate His birth. Much like how there's no real reason to argue that Easter is the precise weekend that Christ died at Cavalry, lay in a tomb for the weekend and returned to the living. In fact, there's no reason (that I know of) to even suggest that the three days he lie dead were the weekend at all.

The fact of the matter is that, much like much of the bible, the holy days of Christendom are symbolic and allegorical.

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