When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

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Postby DrStrangelove » Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:37 am

Minardil wrote:Well then why should anything be a one day festival?


Wow - rather than address the points that corrected the baseless assertions you were making about my argument - you decide to try a new pointless argument.

Things are normally one-day festivals because they fall on a day that stands as the anniversary of an event that lies at the heart of the meaning of the festival.


And here's another question: With the demise of the pre-Christian religions in Europe, would the midwinter celebrations have survived at all if it hadn't been for Christmas? I mean, if Christmas hadn't come along, would the Winter Solstice celebrations have died out?


I think the repeated failures of puritan Christiam regimes to stamp out the celebrations on the day answer that question.
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Postby Minardil » Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:49 am

Wow - rather than address the points that corrected the baseless assertions you were making about my argument - you decide to try a new pointless argument.


No, you didn't correct anything I said, in fact, some of your latest rounds of comments reinforced what I thought of your position. You appear to be growing increasingly personal in your attacks. Perhaps you should take a deep breath or something and come back when you are prepared to address this as a purely intellectual discussion.

Things are normally one-day festivals because they fall on a day that stands as the anniversary of an event that lies at the heart of the meaning of the festival.


Well, that's why that ONE particular day is chosen when the anniversary is known. But the precise anniversary of Jesus's birth is not known, but that shouldn't preclude a celebration of the event, even if another day is chosen arbitrarily. I mean, we know that he was born - unless you don't believe he ever existed - and we can assume that his birth took no more than one day, so why not just pick a day and celebrate it?


I think the repeated failures of puritan Christiam regimes to stamp out the celebrations on the day answer that question.


When were the Christians trying to stamp out Christmas, exactly? Was that before or after they hijacked it from the Pagans? I mean, did they try and stamp out the pagan version but failed, so they decided to invent Christmas and take it over, OR, did they take it over and then decide they didn't like that horrible pagan holiday after so they tried to stamp it out then?
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Postby Iorlas » Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:58 am

DrStrangelove wrote: I have simply questioned the statement that, without the pagan traditions of the Winter solstice, there is no reason to think that the nativity story would either become associated with one specific day and that day would become as pre-eminent in the calender as Christmas is today, with similar feasting and gift-giving celebrations.


What I actually said what that I don't see why celebrating the nativity would have inevitably have become a single day festival with celebrations that mirror those that take place now on Christmas.


The birth of Jesus happened on a single day, and because of its significance, it is celebrated like many other holidays, with feasting, drinking, and gift-giving. You cannot prove that Christmas would be the same without the pagan history, but I think it is a reasonable inference. Obviously, the virgin birth and the coming of the Savior is an incredibly important event in Christianity, perhaps second only to the crucifixion. I see no reason why it would NOT be celebrated. Surely it is a happier occasion than the more somber Easter holidays, symbolizing new life and hope, and therefore more likely to involve fun things like feasting, drinking, and gift-giving.
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Postby DrStrangelove » Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:58 am

Minardil wrote:No, you didn't correct anything I said


See, if you think that this might be personal - its probably based around your insistence on points such as this without bothering to give a reason why. I've explained my position a couple of times now, and how it directly contradicts the way you have claimed my position to be.


Well, that's why that ONE particular day is chosen when the anniversary is known. But the precise anniversary of Jesus's birth is not known, but that shouldn't preclude a celebration of the event, even if another day is chosen arbitrarily.


Of course not. Once again, this carries on because you are not actually reading my posts. I did not say it was "precluded" - I said it was arguable that the church would inevitably pick a single date to celebrate the event. In much the same way that there isn't a "creation day".

When were the Christians trying to stamp out Christmas, exactly?


I said celebrations. Read my posts, please!
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Postby Minardil » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:11 am

I said celebrations. Read my posts, please!


I did read your post, and I am simply asking for clarification so I can understand it.

You have said that Christmas has it's ultimate origins in pagan celebrations that were "hijacked" and adapted by the early Church in order to ease pre-Christian peoples into Christianity by allowing them to keep some of their pre-christian traditions.

But then you said that "puritan Christian regimes" failed to stamp out the "celebrations of the day".

I'm just asking how your second comment fits with the first.


Did early Christians try and fail to stamp out the pagan midwinter festival and THEN decide to adapt it to fit into Christianity? Or did later Christians - the term "puritan" is usually associated with austere Christians from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries - try and stamp out the "pagan" traditions - such as trees etc - that had accumulated around the "celebrations of the day" (in which "the day" refers to the single day of Christmas and not the longer pagan mini-season of Yuletide)?
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Postby DrStrangelove » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:11 am

Iorlas wrote:You cannot prove that Christmas would be the same without the pagan history, but I think it is a reasonable inference.


I think you can infer that it might. I think you can also infer that it might not have been granted an arbitrary single day to focus the celebration.

Which is way I said the point was "arguable" that without the pagan Yule festival, there'd be a similar Christmas festival.

Only Minardil seems to think this somehow translate to an absolutist statement denying the importance of the nativity story to Christians.
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Postby DrStrangelove » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:17 am

Minardil wrote:You have said that Christmas has it's ultimate origins in pagan celebrations that were "hijacked" and adapted by the early Church in order to ease pre-Christian peoples into Christianity by allowing them to keep some of their pre-christian traditions.

But then you said that "puritan Christian regimes" failed to stamp out the "celebrations of the day".

I'm just asking how your second comment fits with the first.


That the early church adopted Yule and its traditions as a way of easing pagans into Christianity by defining major festivals with pagan roots as reflecting events in the Bible story.

And that later puritans, who saw many traditions around Christmas as not having anything to do with Christianity tried to ban the celebrations on the day to focus it on its Christian meaning. With little success.
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Postby Minardil » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:26 am

Which is way I said the point was "arguable" that without the pagan Yule festival, there'd be a similar Christmas festival.


Well, it may not coincide with the old Yule celebration, but I think there definitely WOULD be a Christmas celebration at some time during the calendar. Had Christianity first taken root in the tropics, for example, where there is no tradition of "midwinter" celebrations, since the weather is pretty much the same all year and the days are petty much the same length, Christmas might well be celebrated at some other time, such as maybe the change from Rainy to Dry season. But Christianity really took root and spread throughout Europe, where the northern latitudes result in wild swings in length of day and it is only natural to celebrate the time when the short winter days start to get longer again. Something that was no doubt celebrated even before the rise of the pagan gods by any society longing for warmer weather.



Only Minardil seems to think this somehow translate to an absolutist statement denying the importance of the nativity story to Christians.


You admit there is a Christian element to Christmas as it is celebrated by Christians NOW, but you link this celebration to the pre-existing Pagan festival only, and you say that without that old pagan custom Christians probably wouldn't celebrate the birth of Jesus at all, which is something I disagree with.
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Postby DrStrangelove » Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:38 am

Minardil wrote:Well, it may not coincide with the old Yule celebration, but I think there definitely WOULD be a Christmas celebration at some time during the calendar.


And I think it is arguable that this would or would not be case given the lack of a "Creation Day" on the calender. I also think it is arguable as to what form the celebration it would take and its importance to the calender.

You admit there is a Christian element to Christmas as it is celebrated by Christians NOW, but you link this celebration to the pre-existing Pagan festival only,


I link it to the fact that the early church adopted an existed Pagan festival and tied it to the Nativity story. Therefore any prayers as midnight mass on the night of the 24th or celebrations of the birth of Jesus on the 25th December are a direct consequence of that adoption.

This does not negate in anyway the importance of the Nativity story to Christians, just that its association with that date and many of the traditions of the 25th come from the pre-existing pagan festival.

and you say that without that old pagan custom Christians probably wouldn't celebrate the birth of Jesus at all, which is something I disagree with.


And you keep saying this, without it having ANY basis in any of my posts.
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Postby TheEllipticalDisillusion » Fri Dec 09, 2005 12:02 pm

You cannot prove that Christmas would be the same without the pagan history, but I think it is a reasonable inference.


I'm sure Christmas would be the same as it is a celebration of the birth of jesus. Perhaps the month would differ, but according to some of the theories I found in the wikipedia article, perhaps not. I'm not sure the inference is as reasonable that Christmas would have the same iconography had it not been for the pagan influences. Holly, mistletoe, fir trees, etc... are not exactly christian symbols. Then again, if the month stayed the same regardless of the pagans, certain symbols might have been used anyway just due to a countries winter climate.
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Postby wntrmute » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:22 pm

I was over in Germany a few years back, at a kind of schools where there were people from all over Europe. It was during the summer. On of the parties we had was for the summer solstice. There was a bonfire and beer. I'd never heard of a summer solstice celebration, and I was amused to find out that it was apparently pretty popular.
One solstice is the same as another, depending on where you live, I suppose.
So I'll just toss this into the mix.

edit to add: Here is the wiki for the custom.

The reason why this was so strange to me, as an American, is that I had never before heard of people actually celebrating the summer solstice. Apparently, the Puritans were more successful with getting rid of that one.
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Postby dudalb » Sat Dec 10, 2005 11:59 am

I am beginning to wonder if Ghald is not our old buddy Smallbottom returned under a new name. He is beginning to resemble Smallbottom with his total contempt for anybody who is not as far left as he is.
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Postby Ghlade » Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:54 pm

dudalb wrote:I am beginning to wonder if Ghald is not our old buddy Smallbottom returned under a new name. He is beginning to resemble Smallbottom with his total contempt for anybody who is not as far left as he is.
..hm? I'm honestly not familiar enough with Smallbottle's opinions to really say whether we're of similar minds in most things. I'm inclined to say that I'm to the right of him, but I couldn't say that with any degree of certainty.

I live in a conservative state. Most of the people I interact with and deal with on a daily basis are conservative -- most of my friends are, too. I'd like to think I treat them with respect; they certainly don't indicate otherwise.

I have contempt for the "War on Christmas" meme because, as a Christian, I find the sort of whining and persecution complex of people like Tuor rather repulsive and embarassing. The idea that Christians are "under attack" by any sort of broad conspiracy of self-hating secular leftists is a bizzare distortion of what's actually happening, and the meme is mostly being used as a way to galvanize a certain political party's base. It certainly offends me when a holiday I celebrate every year and have a good degree of reverence for is politically exploited.

And if you're referring to my feelings or expressions to posters on this board -- you're simply wrong. I have a great deal of respect for many of the conservative commentators. Tar, wntrmute, and Xhen are obviously very knowledgable and articulate posters who pretty consistently do credit to their views. There are others of course, who through a combination of what they argue and how they argue have earned either a little or a lot of scorn from me. But it's entirely appropriate for me to react that way, as I suppose it is for you. :)
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Postby wntrmute » Sat Dec 10, 2005 2:05 pm

Ghlade wrote:I have contempt for the "War on Christmas" meme because, as a Christian, I find the sort of whining and persecution complex of people like Tuor rather repulsive and embarassing.

Well, give Tuor credit for not jumping on this one, his opinion seems to be that Xmas wasn't a Christian thing to begin with. So far as I can understand.
Where I bump heads with Tuor is when he tries to set out that America was at its foundation an Christian country (as he did in a comment above), which is at best only half-true. America was in its first days a country established by many different people of many different faiths (almost all of which were Christian in some way or derived from the Western Christian tradition) but with the stated intent that it have a truly inclusive and secular government.

Thanks for the compliment; Xhen and Tar are both most excellent and worthy posters, I am humbled to be included with them.
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Postby Ghlade » Sat Dec 10, 2005 2:59 pm

wntrmute wrote:Well, give Tuor credit for not jumping on this one, his opinion seems to be that Xmas wasn't a Christian thing to begin with. So far as I can understand.
Yeah, Tuor's own idiosyncratic view of Christmas is one of the stranger things about this thread , since he's the one who started it. But when I referred to the persecution complex and the whining, I was talking about this:

Tuor, wrote:Yet the reason for non-acceptance is that it would be viewed as a victory for the fundamentalist. This issue is simply a way to stick fundamentalists in the eye.

In other words, if Fundamentalists were not in the picture, Christmas Trees could simply be seen as a Christmas Tree. Because Fundamentalists are in the picture, when some see a Christmas Tree, they see a Fundamentalist symbol. Fundamentalists must be eradicated from American society. It is just another battle in their war against those they hate.
Which, honestly, strikes me as narcissistic and delusional.
Last edited by Ghlade on Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby dudalb » Sat Dec 10, 2005 11:28 pm

Now if you want a REAL anti Christian rant here is excerpt from an article on the current Narnia film from the "Guardian" in the UK:;"

"Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus's holy head every day that you don't eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion's breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.

Tolkien hated Narnia: the two dons may have shared the same love of unquestioning feudal power, with worlds of obedient plebs and inferior folk eager to bend at the knee to any passing superior white persons - even children; both their fantasy worlds and their Christianity assumes that rigid hierarchy of power - lord of lords, king of kings, prince of peace to be worshipped and adored. But Tolkien disliked Lewis's bully-pulpit.

Over the years, others have had uneasy doubts about the Narnian brand of Christianity. Christ should surely be no lion (let alone with the orotund voice of Liam Neeson). He was the lamb, representing the meek of the earth, weak, poor and refusing to fight. Philip Pullman - he of the marvellously secular trilogy His Dark Materials - has called Narnia "one of the most ugly, poisonous things I have ever read".

Why? Because here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America - that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right. I once heard the famous preacher Norman Vincent Peel in New York expound a sermon that reassured his wealthy congregation that they were made rich by God because they deserved it. The godly will reap earthly reward because God is on the side of the strong. This appears to be CS Lewis's view, too. In the battle at the end of the film, visually a great epic treat, the child crusaders are crowned kings and queens for no particular reason. Intellectually, the poor do not inherit Lewis's earth. "

I would say somebody has some real issues here.
There are bigots on both sides of the argument. The "Christian Country" article earlier in the thread is one example, the above crap is the other.
It's pretty plain the writer of this is just using the film as a excuse for a rant.
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Postby wntrmute » Sun Dec 11, 2005 11:04 am

dudalb wrote:It's pretty plain the writer of this is just using the film as a excuse for a rant.

My gosh, the idea of someone using something as an excuse for a rant!
Horrifying!

:wink: No, we don't do that here.....
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Postby Iorlas » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:17 pm

I would say that the author of this review clearly dislikes some aspects of Christianity in general, but his criticism is aimed far more at C.S. Lewis, and his version of Christianity that, in the author's view, has been adopted by American conservatives to justify un-Christian behavior.
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Postby portia » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:18 pm

The idea that worldly wealth is an indication of righteousness has come up frequently in American Christianity. Conveniently forgetting about the analogy of putting a camel through the eye of a needle.

I also am offended by the "War on Christians" propaganda. No-one would be interested in attacking aggressive Christians if they were not themselves so, well, aggressive and willing to impose their ideas on others. I view the "War" as mere self-defense.
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Postby Tuor, » Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:56 am

Yeah, Tuor's own idiosyncratic view of Christmas is one of the stranger things about this thread , since he's the one who started it. But when I referred to the persecution complex and the whining, I was talking about this


Read my first post to see the original topic of this thread. In case you can't tell from the title, it is supposed to be about calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree.

Which, honestly, strikes me as narcissistic and delusional.


Perhaps you can tell me the implication of this post:

    DrStrangelove wrote:

    To be honest, at least in the UK, for most people that is precisely what has happened. "Christmas" means the celebrations of the 25th December and for many is divorced from the Christian elements or they are a minor element.




    That is interesting DrS. Perhaps I could take that attitude were we here not under such constant assault from the Fundamentalists who want to impose their theology on our Law, our Education, our Public Spaces, and even our bedroom behaviours, who have neither understanding nor respect for the distinction between the public and private sphere.
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Postby Aravar » Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:13 am

Iorlas wrote:I would say that the author of this review clearly dislikes some aspects of Christianity in general, but his criticism is aimed far more at C.S. Lewis, and his version of Christianity that, in the author's view, has been adopted by American conservatives to justify un-Christian behavior.


I don't recall CSL in any of his apologetics coming out with the idea that the amassing of great wealth was sign of being particularly blessed. If anything his writings are rather ambivalent towards capitalism.
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Postby GlassHouse » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:53 am

The author cerainly has an ax to grind and takes things a wee bit too seriously for sure but he also has a few grains of truth burried in that rant (which is usually the case with the most effective rants - just enough truth to be dangerous :lol: )
For instance Lewis (and Tolkien) have an afinity for fuedalistic systems of government that I'm not entirely confortable with. I mean they're great to read about in a story but not all that desirable in the real world. As a reviewer of Narnia (the books) recently said;

We don't really want to live in a country of kings and queens chosen by fate or luck - but we don't mind visiting such places in fantasy as the companions of monarchs, facing their decisions and weighing our own hearts on these scales.
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Postby GlassHouse » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:00 am

For Min and DrS, there's a whole lot of info on the origin of Dec 25th as the date of Christ's birth here on this page. It's the best one I've seen yet.

LINK

II. How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

B. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

C. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.[2]

D. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

E. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

F. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”[3] Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.[4] However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

G. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”[5]

H. As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.”[6] On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.



see also;

III. The Origins of Christmas Customs

A. Christmas Trees
Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.[7] Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

B. Mistletoe
Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna. Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim.[8] The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.[9]

C. Christmas Presents
In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January). Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace. The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas (see below).[10]

D. Santa Claus

a. Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra. He died in 345 CE on December 6th. He was only named a saint in the 19th century.

b. Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament. The text they produced portrayed Jews as “the children of the devil”[11] who sentenced Jesus to death.

c. In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy. There Nicholas supplanted a female boon-giving deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children's stockings with her gifts. The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the center of the Nicholas cult. Members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, December 6.

d. The Nicholas cult spread north until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. These groups worshipped a pantheon led by Woden –their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw. Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn. When Nicholas merged with Woden, he shed his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and donned heavy winter clothing.

e. In a bid for pagan adherents in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.

f. In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (most famous his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History. The satire refers several times to the white bearded, flying-horse riding Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

g. Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, read Knickerbocker History, and in 1822 he published a poem based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…” Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

h. The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus. From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper’s Weekly. Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock. Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world. All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

i. In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red. And Santa was born – a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.
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Postby gwynhvar » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:03 am

Tuor, wrote:
Perhaps you can tell me the implication of this post:

    DrStrangelove wrote:

    To be honest, at least in the UK, for most people that is precisely what has happened. "Christmas" means the celebrations of the 25th December and for many is divorced from the Christian elements or they are a minor element.




    That is interesting DrS. Perhaps I could take that attitude were we here not under such constant assault from the Fundamentalists who want to impose their theology on our Law, our Education, our Public Spaces, and even our bedroom behaviours, who have neither understanding nor respect for the distinction between the public and private sphere.


Tuor, since this is the second time you've referenced my post, why don't you tell me what you think are the "implications" of that post? I think it's pretty clear to anyone following current events, but I am getting the feeling (especially since your "eradicate" comment) that you have arrived at some conclusion of threat or sinisterness?

Back to the original topic, it is beyond my comprehension why anyone would object to the word "holiday" which is inclusive, non-insulting to anyone, and even accurate, since as far as I am aware ALL the various celebrations held around this time of year - including Christmas - are called "holidays."
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Postby Tuor, » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:56 am

Tuor, since this is the second time you've referenced my post, why don't you tell me what you think are the "implications" of that post?


Implication was the wrong word. I should have said the reason given why you won't divorce Christmas from the Christian celebration. It is because of the fundamentalists, who are doing evil things in your eyes.

According to your statement, if the fundamentalists did not believe in Christmas or if the fundamentalists were not so politically active, then you'd be able to divorce "Christmas" from the Christian aspect.

Back to the original topic, it is beyond my comprehension why anyone would object to the word "holiday" which is inclusive, non-insulting to anyone, and even accurate, since as far as I am aware ALL the various celebrations held around this time of year - including Christmas - are called "holidays."


Back to the original topic, why change the name of the "Christmas tree"? After all, its just a Christmas tree.
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Postby gwynhvar » Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:01 pm

Tuor, wrote:
Tuor, since this is the second time you've referenced my post, why don't you tell me what you think are the "implications" of that post?


Implication was the wrong word. I should have said the reason given why you won't divorce Christmas from the Christian celebration. It is because of the fundamentalists, who are doing evil things in your eyes.

According to your statement, if the fundamentalists did not believe in Christmas or if the fundamentalists were not so politically active, then you'd be able to divorce "Christmas" from the Christian aspect.


I am sure that most Fundamentalist are content to practice their own religion without attempting to impose it on others, so I should have qualified the descriptor with some word to indicate that I was speaking of those who wish to impose their version of christianity on the functioning of the secular state. So perhaps I should have said "fanatic fundamentalists."

In my reply to LordMorningstar, I used the word "perhaps." That's because I don't know how I'd feel under circumstances which do not seem to me to describe the current situation in the US. And also because I am unwilling to dispute LM's description of the situation in his own Country - that would surely be arrogant and foolish - but it is hard for me to imagine that there are not, for instance, people who are Jewish who are not discomfited by being greeted with "Merry Christmas" wherever they go. But - again - he would know better than I: that I find something hard to believe does not make it inaccurate. So "perhaps" is a qualifier.

Tuor, wrote:
Back to the original topic, it is beyond my comprehension why anyone would object to the word "holiday" which is inclusive, non-insulting to anyone, and even accurate, since as far as I am aware ALL the various celebrations held around this time of year - including Christmas - are called "holidays."


Back to the original topic, why change the name of the "Christmas tree"? After all, its just a Christmas tree.


Tuor, I simply don't see how one can disassociate a word based on the word "Christ" from the Christian religion. And the original post was about the tree on the Capitol grounds. Since it is on the Capitol grounds I presume that it is "official" in the sense that it is put up by "the Government" and paid for with tax dollars. That makes it seem to me that "holiday" tree is much more appropriate, as the word has no specifically Christian content and is thus more inclusive of all citizens. Nor is it insulting to Christians, who seem to call Christmas a "holiday." Perhaps it would be better for the decorations not to include a tree at all, if the tree is inseperable from the "christ" of christmas. But others here - including LordMorningstar, have argued persuasively that the tree has become secularized.

I have no quarell with what individuals call the holiday. If someone says to me "merry christmas" or "happy hannukah" or "happy Kwanza" or "merry solstice" I take it simply as an expression of seasonal goodwill and don't feel compelled to inform the person that I celebrate none of those things in any religious sense, though our own family celebration has borrowed elements from most of them.

Corporations, I would imagine, establish policy based on what is good for business. Anyone who doesn't like their policies is free to shop elsewhere.

But we are not free to reside under a different Government than the one we have. The Capitol belongs to all the people, and should not endorse or promote one religion over another.

And Hastert ought to take a look around at the mess that is still New Orleans, at the dire prospects of so many of the city's former inhabitants, at the prospect of people going without heating fuel this winter and Seniors utterly confused and frightened by the incomprehensible mess of a Medicare prescription drug "benefit" and consider whether making a stink about the natural evolution of a designation to a non-discriminatory, inclusive term is the best way he can spend his time as a public servant.
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Postby portia » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:56 pm

It would be better to use the inclusive term "holiday" tree.
If it is to be put up by the government I would like to see, at the very least, elements from the different holidays that take place this time of year included on it. That would be more respectful of the different religious traditions in this country, and less of a government endorsement of one religion.

Some have said things like "It is a Christmas tree, why not call it a Christmas Tree?" It is only a "Christmas tree" if it is put up specifically and solely to celebrate Christmas. If that is the case, it should not be put up by the Government.

An episode of "The West Wing" on cable today made a passing reference to whether the government (Supreme Court and President) should be involved in celebrating a Red Mass. The Preseident said something like "Sometimes it is no big deal." Well, maybe to a Catholic President (the character on TWW is Catholic) it would be no big deal. How would a Jewish or Buddhist President have responded?

I supose there are times when I would say that the fight to keep church and state separate is, in a particular case, not worth the effort involved, but those cases are very few and far between.
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Postby Tuor, » Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:31 am

In my reply to LordMorningstar, I used the word "perhaps." That's because I don't know how I'd feel under circumstances which do not seem to me to describe the current situation in the US.


Then I guess I should have put a 'perhaps' in front of what I said.

but it is hard for me to imagine that there are not, for instance, people who are Jewish who are not discomfited by being greeted with "Merry Christmas" wherever they go.


This isn't the topic of the thread. The topic of the thread is calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. If you want to argue that they shouldn't put up a Christmas tree, that's fine, but it is not the topic of the thread.



Tuor, I simply don't see how one can disassociate a word based on the word "Christ" from the Christian religion.


It's simple enough. Compare how "Christ" is pronounced in Christmas to how it is pronounced in "Christ".

Christmas trees have nothing to do with the Christian religion. Christmas trees are completely secular.
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Postby Aravar » Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:45 am

Or one could compare how it is pronounced in Christianity, or Christian or even Iesus Christus in Latin, or Christos in Greek.
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Postby GlassHouse » Tue Dec 13, 2005 9:41 am

Christmas trees have nothing to do with the Christian religion. Christmas trees are completely secular.


So is Christmas to a very large extent. I don't blame Christians for trying to disassociate their religious holiday from the festival of mass commercialism that it's become. It's a real mess. It's one reason i like to look back to older traditions.

Tuor, do you see all the non-Christian trappings of Christmas as un-Christian? Does that make them undesirable?



aside; I recently learned that the abbreviation X-mas isn't part of a plot to "Take the Christ out of Christmas" It's derived from a Greek spelling of Jesus which begins with an X.
Xmas
This abbreviation for Christmas is of Greek origin. The word for Christ in Greek is Xristos. During the 16th century, Europeans began using the first initial of Christ's name, "X" in place of the word Christ in Christmas as a shorthand form of the word. Although the early Christians understood that X stood for Christ's name, later Christians who did not understand the Greek language mistook "Xmas" as a sign of disrespect.
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