Friday, December 6, 2013

The Christmas Tradition

. . The celebration of Christmas is a great example how traditions are corrupted and history rewritten to serve popular needs.  Christians are often dismayed by the commercialism of the holiday and plead to put Christ back into Christmas.  Most likely this group has little knowledge of the history of Christmas and that Christ was never the origin of the Christmas tradition. Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen summarizes the origins of Christmas tradition in his History of Christmas.
. . The popular myth is Christmas was when Jesus of Nazareth was born.  Actually, no one knows when he was born, but is is generally accepted it was not on December 25'th.  This date derives from the gruesome Saturnalia custom of the Roman Empire, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25.
Roman courts were closed, and the law during this period did not allow any one to be punished for damaging property or injuring people. Each Roman community would select an innocent victim whom they forced to indulge in food and partake in debauchery during the week.  On December 25'th, Roman authorities brutally murdered the victim with the belief they were destroying the forces of darkness.
. . In the fourth century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.  They converted large numbers of pagans to Christianity by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. However, there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. So, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25, to be Jesus’ birthday.

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