I have a deep dislike for the winter holiday season. Not Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, or any of the other multitude of holidays that celebrate the return of light and life. It is not a case of Seasonal Affect Disorder, S.A.D., or simple “Bah-Humbug.” No.
It is the seeming endless celebration of retail from about one-week before Halloween to Martin Luther King Day. For my overseas friends, that is October 21 when the first Christmas sale ads appeared in stores to January 21 so that Valentines day can be hawked. And Valentines Day really starts January 2!
My own mental health is in question, forced to watch and listen to an endless stream of badly made-for-the-holiday movies and endless Christmas songs played by radio personality John Tesh (who should be arrested for torture). How many versions of “White Christmas” can one listen to before insanity sets in? How many times can one hear Mannheim Steamroller’s “Carol of the Bells” before losing consciousness?
How many times do we need to read headlines like Huffington Post’s “Black Friday Brutality: Violent Stories from the Day after Thanksgiving”?
Some truths about the holiday season.
We know when Chanukah and the solstice are to be celebrated. There are records for the former and we all observe the latter.
Based on the biblical renditions of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth and the story of John, Jesus was most likely born in early to late spring. However, the “first census” (Luke 2) was conducted in August, 6 C.E.
For the Eastern Orthodox Church, Jesus was born January 7. That is December 25 per the Julian calendar.
Some early Christian sects believed Christmas celebrated the conception of the child Jesus. If that is correct, Jesus’ date of birth would have been sometime in September.
Not all American Christians celebrate Christmas because “celebrating Christmas violates at least the First, Second and Third Commandments of God’s Ten Commandments.” The celebration of Jesus’ birth is not told in the Bible, nor is there a reference to such celebration.
Want more history? Read “Why Some Christians Don’t Celebrate Christmas” by Jerold Aust, in Good News magazine, the “biblically based flagship publication of the United Church of God.”
The Christmas tree is a secular symbol? No. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and other non-Christian do not put up a tree celebrating Christ’s birth. Lights, evergreens and yule logs are northern European pagan, celebrating the return of the sun, the warming of the earth and the return of life to the lands.
There is a tale (one of many) originating from Germany about the Christmas tree. A monk wanting to prove that there were no living spirits in the base of oak trees, cut one down. He discovered one lone fir sapling survived the otherwise destructive fall and prayed, thanking Christ for the symbol of his rebirth – thus Christ’s Mass Tree.
Why an evergreen? Because it is “ever green,” and represents that we will not die during these cold dark months.
Chanukah (Hanukah or Hanukkah), is a minor holiday in Jewish tradition. If gifts are given, they are to be small and symbolic. Unfortunately, today’s giving of large and expensive gifts came with the increased affluence of Americans after World War II and the need to keep up with the Jones.
This is not to denounce one’s celebrations of the winter holidays or religious beliefs, but to give light to what we should be celebrating – Life.
All of our winter celebrations, including those of the eastern religions, honor the return of life to a barren planet, filled with gloom and cold. Candles and fires are lit in celebration of the return of the sun, the coming of new crops and livestock births. The rebirth of the planet.
Chanukah celebrates the rebirth of the Temple. The Hindu’s Sankranti is a day of luck, the cheating death on that day so one can be reincarnated. Buddhists’ Bodhi and the American Hopi and Zuni people’s Soyal, celebrate the rebirth of the earth. New Year’s honors the Virgin Mary for giving birth and the circumcision of Jesus, the day his name was given. All celebrations of rebirth and Life. Saturnalia the rebirth of the sun.
I am deeply disheartened that our winter celebrations have turned commercial, that today we celebrate retail sales and keeping up with the Jones. Or that too many go to church or temple only to maintain social status.
Can we please get back to celebrating Peace, Love, Harmony, Rebirth and Life?