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|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Gretch Who Saved the War on Christmas|
It’s that time of year again to have some fun with the kids and celebrate the secular aspects of an American Christmas. It’s also that time of year that I think about how Santa and God are the same kind of real. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he’s the God of the Children! He’s like a God with training wheels.
Santa Claus has some disputed origins from Sinterklass that might even trace some of his current traits back to Odin. The stories of the miracles of Santa have expanded and spread throughout the world because they are a compelling message of the true power of Santa. Santa could be credited with childhood morality and the source of all good girls and boys. We would certainly have an entire population of juvenile delinquents without Santa watching over them and keeping them good, right? The only reason for childhood goodness and morality is because Santa commands it in order to receive the ultimate gift he could give the children. That gift is to grant the wishes of the children for toys or other presents through the greatest miracle I’ve ever personally witnessed. That miracle is that all of those presents are delivered on a single night to all of the true believers of Santa around the world. If you don’t believe then you usually have to settle for lesser gifts from your parents or other loved ones. Some kids never receive presents at all no matter how much they wish for Santa to bring them. Hopefully the US Marine Corp Toys for Tots program can help them through the work of generous people like you.
This time of year I see all of the signs of Santa Claus and his believers spreading the message of Santa to keep him alive and well in the minds and hearts of the people. He has representatives in every mall spreading his image and message of goodness in trade for gifts. He’s all over our culture and media and does so much good that there would be no reason to stop this belief from continuing. I’ve personally witnessed and taken part in the greatest miracle I’ve ever seen and would never spoil that for any little kid today even though my own children have outgrown this belief. It’s fun and harmless for elementary school kids and younger as they do experience the real miracle of Santa. The concept of Santa delivers even though Santa himself is not real and what Santa is based on could never do what the concept has been able to accomplish year after year.
But what would you do if your teenager or coworker professed a deeply held belief in Santa? It’s a harmless belief, right? Can you imagine a distraught coworker coming in after the holidays fearing that they’re a bad or evil person because Santa didn’t deliver a present to their solitary apartment? Can you imagine a happy coworker that says with all honesty that Santa brought them an iPod for Christmas because they got a gift from “Santa” written in the handwriting of one of their loved ones? Do you really think that kind of delusion is a good thing and would be comfortable telling that person to not do something you think is wrong because Santa is watching and might not bring them a present next year?
There are parallels between the reality of what is accomplished by the concept of Santa and the concept of God. The concept of Santa has some good and harmless effects on humanity as long as we grow up and see Santa for what it really is so we can keep the adult part of this concept harmless. The concept and how we all perpetuate it for the children makes it feel very real for them. But what if we didn’t grow up and we thought Santa was still real in adulthood and that he just needed us to help deliver his presents? How would we treat the unbelievers that wouldn’t give credit to Santa for some presents? The goodness of our children are in jeopardy if we let the unbelievers stop serving Santa!
What will Santa bring you this year on his own without any help? How can you be a good person without a belief in Santa Claus? Borrowing from the United Coalition of Reason, millions of Americans are good without Santa. Think about it.
Happy Holidays everyone!!!
I’ll probably say some Merry Christmas with my Happy Holidays. This cartoon is what I remember about the holiday growing up with only a sprinkle of Catholicism thrown in, even though my mother now claims we were more religious than what I saw us practice. We had a small nativity scene, we sometimes went to mass, and we sometimes had prayer before eating but I don’t remember these things as a constant tradition. Even if it was, once I reached my own age of reason I know I’d still be where I am today in my beliefs.
There is a definite traditional side of Christmas that is rooted in pagan and Roman celebrations since Jesus most likely wasn’t even born on December 25th or any other time in the winter. The true meaning of the holiday isn’t Christ’s birth. You can actually find all sorts of info on when he might have been born from many Christian sites. You can also learn about some of the true history of Christmas at History.com.
Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to most of my fellow Americans! Do you all really know the origins of this national holiday believers think is under attack? Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa too for some of my other fellow Americans! I hope we all have a nice time and just enjoy the fact that we’re all human and we’re still alive. 🙂
If you’re looking for some good fun to celebrate Christmas day, I have a wonderfully funny movie to suggest. If you’ve never checked it out or if it’s an old favorite, I’d suggest watching Monty Python’s Life of Brian. There is a lot of underlying truth to the comedy that demonstrates how a religion could be created by people foolishly searching for answers and someone to follow. Here is a funny clip from the movie:
Alternet has an interesting history of Christmas in early America: Once Upon a Time the Religious Right Demonized Christmas, Even Banning Its Celebration. There’s a history of early Americans hating the holiday and banning its celebration. It also has a good rundown of some of the true origins of many of our Christmas traditions:
Several of the holiday’s most common features grow out of pre-Christian religions. The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia in mid-December, a time of general merriment, feasting and gift exchanges. Slaves were given time off and were even permitted to play dice games in public. During this period, many Romans decorated their homes with evergreens as a reminder that life would persevere through the dark days of winter.
Evergreen trees had long been viewed as a symbol of fertility by Pagan peoples. When winter came and most trees lost their leaves and appeared to die, the evergreen was a reminder that life would endure and that long days, warmer weather and a harvest would come again. Germans were early boosters of the Christmas tree and brought it to America. (The pious legend that Martin Luther decorated the first Christmas tree is not taken seriously by scholars.)
Candles, a necessary item during the dark winter period, were a common Saturnalia gift. Some scholars consider them a precursor to Christmas lights.
Originally celebrated on Dec. 17, the Roman Saturnalia eventually expanded to last an entire week, ending on Dec. 23.
So where did the Dec. 25 date for Christmas come from?
Many scholars believe that date came from another Roman festival, one that became popular around the middle of the third century – the feast of Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun.
During this festival, various gods related to the sun in the Roman pantheon were honored. The festival was most popular during the reign of the emperor Aurelian (270-275 A.D.), who attributed his military victories to the sun god and may have wanted to establish a solar deity as supreme in the Roman pantheon. Images of Sol Invictus remained popular and appeared on Roman coinage even during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337 A.D.).
There is some evidence that early Christians celebrated the festival alongside Pagans, and that church leaders, seeing these practices under way, simply appropriated the date for the birth of Jesus as Christianity grew and became the dominant religion of the empire throughout the fourth and fifth centuries.
Michael Grant, the late scholar of the ancient world, noted in his 1985 book The Roman Emperors that Dec. 25 was “a bequest of the solar cult to Christianity, converted into Christmas Day.”
Legal codes laid down by the emperors Theodosius I and later Justinian made Christianity the state religion and banned Paganism. Church leaders were generally tolerant of people taking old practices and adding a Christian gloss to them. Overt worship of Pagan gods disappeared but the Dec.25 date – and many residual practices associated with the old festival – remained.
As strange as it may seem, when Religious Right legal groups go to court to battle the “War on Christmas,” they may really be defending practices historically associated with the worship not of the son of God but the sun in the sky.