Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Wishes1

Saturnallia Celebrations

Although many people think of Christmas as a Christian festival it is in many ways not Christian. After all it emerged from old pagan celebrations around the Winter Solstice.

I must be mentioned that for men not so long ago the gradual extension of darkness after late June was a source of fear and terror. Then came the cold and the gradual death of plants. There was the fear that the darkness would continue to extend until the whole Earth was encompassed in eternal, never ending darkness and its terrible companion eternal cold. With this eternal darkness and cold would also come the eternal triumph of death and the eventual end of life.

So that when in late december the days began to lengthen again it was a signal that life would come back, that the forces of darkness, cold and death would not triumph but would be forced back; that spring and new life would return and the earth would once again be abundant with life.

Thus once again hte earth would get a reprieve from the triumph of death. Men in those days could not be sure that the darkness would retreat and so when the days did in fact begin to lengthen it wasa source of joy.

This joyeous festival was not surprisingly appropriated by by Christians in that it was very hard to wean Christians from the wonderful goodtimes of this pagan celebration and further there was a built in reason for this festival.

Jesus' birth is simply not known so it was easy to tack it on to the winter solstice and so give Christians an excuse to have a good time and celebrate the return of light and the retreat of darkness.

In what time of year was Jesus' born; well we do not know. If the accounts that referer to Shepherds are anything to go by it is not likely to be late December but more likely March, April.

In point of fact the early Christians did not give much importance to the anniversary of Jesus' birth. However they were concerned with the fact that many if not most Christians continued to celebrate the pagan festivals around the Winter Solstice called Saturnallia so the Christianization of it was eventually done and since Jesus' actual birthdate was not known easy to fit that in.

So in Honour of the Holiday Season and everyone getting over on this December 26th Christmas day hijinks I wish everyone the triumph of light and life and may death and darkness stay far away from your door in the coming year.

1. As a Christmas gift to myself I will not footnote this posting.

Pierre Cloutier

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