Poking Sacred Cows: Part Two
Category : Glenda's Soap Box
Well, if you are returning to read Poking Sacred Cows: Part Two, I know something about you. You are either here by a complete accident attracted by the odd title of this series of Soap Boxes, you are curious about what I am going to say about Christmas or you are wondering if I (like my grandfather before me) have taken leave of my senses on the very sensitive subject of examining the melting pot of traditions incorporated into this celebration we call Christmas.
Either way, I will proceed. But, not without explaining it would be best for you not to continue reading this particular series if you have no desire to examine the roots of the celebration of Christmas. If this subject is, for you, a sacred cow that you don't want anyone to poke, it is best for you to stop reading at this point. I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade, but I am just presenting some information that can be food for thought for those who might be curious to know more.
Let’s expand on the thought I posed in Poking Sacred Cows: Part One about when the celebration of what we know as Christmas began. Did the early church believers celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ? In short, the answer is ‘No, they did not’. Why? Because in that time of history the only ones who celebrated birth anniversaries (usually of deities) were…wait for it…the pagans. (Pagans were generally defined as those who worshiped false gods and lived in the darkness of superstition.) It appears that when they (the aforementioned pagans) wanted to incorporate a celebration for what they considered a monumental event, they did so with large festivals (for one example, Saturnalia).
It is reasonable to assume that those closest to Jesus in the days in which He walked the earth had a good idea of the date of his birth. There was John, his cousin; and then of course there was Mary, His mother. I have to believe that at some point the question must have come up, or Mary might have recounted the story of His birth to those closest to her. But, amazingly enough, that date is not recorded in the Bible. Curious. Perhaps that the omission of that was not an accident.
Shockingly enough from some sources I have read, it appears that Jesus was born- not in December- but most likely in September or October during the Feast of Tabernacles. Even if that were the case, what do you think the chances are that if anyone became aware of that they would change and celebrate it then? I think pretty much nil, nada, zilch. Why? One very powerful word…Tradition. If you don't believe it is all that monumental, try dinging around with the traditions in your family that have been practiced for generations and see what the reaction is. Likely a very explosive one. People don’t like people fooling around with their, dare I say it, sacred cows.
Here is an example: when in the past some people have complained about Christmas trees in public places and they have been removed so as not to offend them. What resulted is a major dust-up from Christians that get all offended that someone is prohibiting or limiting their Christmas tree tradition. All of the sudden, it is viewed as a major affront to all Christians. But, if you really think about it, what connection does a live (or artificial) tree that is decorated with ornamentation have anything whatsoever to do with being a Christian? Once again, one word…Tradition. Tradition that has gained strength and momentum from many generations. An amazing amount of strength.
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah 10 has an interesting perspective on bringing trees into your house and decorating them.
Have you ever thought about why, every single year, there has to be a big promotional campaign to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’? For example, ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’. Why would that be continuously necessary for a holiday that bears His title of 'Christ' (the Anointed One) as a part of the name of the holiday? Isn't it reasonable to believe that this day should be all about Him? Would to God it would be so that any particular day (in December or September) would be one of undiluted focus on Him and gratitude to His Father for sending Him into our world.
Okay, I am going to try to give this next statement in the most harmless way I know how to do it. If Christmas is completely and thoroughly Christian, why is there so much concentrated effort by Christians to redirect the focus back to Jesus from the many cultural symbols and traditions that do not include Him? Some people would say it is because people have strayed away from the original purpose of the holiday, but- at this point in my life- I am not so sure the answer is that simple. If we could travel back in time for multiple generations, what would we learn about the origin of this time of year? What was the original purpose of a celebration on December 25th? Did it begin as Christmas, or as something else that needed to be repurposed and reinvented with a Christian theme?
Why would that be important for us to know now? Let me put it this way: if you want to plant an apple tree, you plant the seed from an apple, right? But if you plant an apple seed, barring a miracle, you will never, ever go to that tree and find a wonderful fuzzy peach. Why? Because, if you trace it back to its core (pardon the pun) you will discover the tree grew from a seed that always produces apples.
So, using that train of thought: What is the 'seed' (or beginning) of the holiday we have celebrated for generations as Christmas?
Check back later for the next blog in this series: Poking Sacred Cows: Part Three