Screwing for Virginity

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Reason for the Season

I'm sure you've all heard the phrase, "Jesus is the reason for the season," and most of us probably give lip service in support of the sentiment if not the pithy phrasing, but this year, I've begun to wonder if that is true.

I watched several Christmas specials this month on the origins of various traditions surrounding Christmas, and I realized that most of them have little if anything to do with the birth of Christ and more to do with the pagan rituals that were already being celebrated at the end of the year, for example, the Roman Saturnalia, the northern European Yule, and the pagan Winter Solstice. The Saturnalia, the festival to honor the god Saturn, the father of Jupiter, was celebrated from December 17 to the 23rd. Since Saturn was the god of farming, evergreen trees were cut down and displayed in his honor, and families exchanged gifts. Yule is a sabbat that was celebrated by Germanic pagans to commemorate the winter solstice, and the celebration included eating ham, hanging boughs of holly and misteltoe, and of course the burning of the Yule log.

Obviously most of us are not paying homage to Saturn or any pagan deity when we engage in such activities. They've become traditions associated with the season, and as they bring people together and cause joy, I say God bless them. But they have nothing to do with Jesus. Neither does Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Garfield, Scrooge, or the Grinch, and it just wouldn't be Christmas without them.

What do we as Christians do with them then? Do they get in the way of the true meaning of the season? Or, as I'm beginning to think, should we just admit that Jesus is not entirely the reason for the season and get on with the party?

I'm not advocating taking Christ out of Christmas or ignoring an opportunity to celebrate his birth. In fact, Christine and I are resolving this next year to follow the Church calendar and commemorate Advent as it has traditionally been observed and to celebrate Christmas Day as the beginning of the festivities, not the end. But within that, we will probably eat ham, decorate a Christmas tree, and maybe do some kissing under the mistletoe, and while doing so, probably think about Baby Jesus very little.

I guess what I really want to say is that for those of us in the Kingdom of God, Jesus is the reason we can enjoy anything, so let's recognize that and not feel guilty for indulging in excess and enjoying the giving and receiving of gifts. Let's enjoy the liturgy as well as the revelry and not feel as if one is more important than the other.

So now, as Herb says, "Let's Wassail!"


  • At 6:08 PM, December 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You go, boy. Even though we say that as Christians we are celebrating Christ's birth, we join right in with the rest in decorating and gift giving. And, as you so eloquently put it, celebrate very little of Jesus. Let's do better next year.

  • At 10:55 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Calvin said…

    "Let's... not feel that one is more important than the other."
    So we can ascribe the same importance of the coming of the Son of God to Santa Claus?

  • At 11:39 PM, December 28, 2005, Blogger Buddy said…

    No. I'm advocated a holistic view of life and, in particular, the holiday season. Worship and liturgy are part of life, as are eating, drinking, and socializing. Whatever we do, we do it to the glory of God. What I'm saying is, both have their place; don't sacrifice one in favor of the other.


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