It is Christmas time folks and in consonance with the season, let us sit back, relax and talk of something philosophical about Christmas and its origins.
I was invited to a meeting by a Christian sect about a month ago and I decided to play along and perhaps, if I get bored, leave after 30 minutes or so, to browse at a nearby bookstore.
Well, as I expected, I really got bored with so much discussion about why Christmas should not be celebrated at all. Preacher after preacher took turns lambasting Christmas as a sinful practice inherited from pagans and having absolutely nothing to do at all with the birth of Jesus.
I have been fairly familiar with such kind of literature. I first read about it in “The Plain Truth” magazine, ages ago when I was a lad in high school.
The second time I heard something similar was in law school when a law professor discussed it in class as a side topic. That was many Christmases ago when I was a hungry just-starting banker by day and a struggling law student by night (studying law was an endeavor I never finished of course, thanks to the lure of the mighty petro dollar and the call of one the Kingdom’s banks).
The law professor, a noted authority on Civil Law, and a charismatic teacher with a penchant for telling side stories in-between law topics, related to the class that the Roman empire used to celebrate December 17 to 25 of every year to honor the pagan god Saturn.
The celebration was called Saturnalia and consisted of about a week of raucous merrymaking: eating, drinking, dancing, singing, fighting, destroying properties, getting lost or going nuts, and just about all forms of worldly indulgence or decadent behavior including sex orgies and going around singing naked.
When the pagan Roman empire metamorphosed into a Christian Roman empire during the time of Emperor Constantine or thereabouts, the Romans simply found out that they could not do away with Saturnalia. It had been so much a part of their culture that it is something they could not do away with.
Hence, to make a long story short, the pagan Saturnalia simply became Christian Christmas.
Well, this information can easily be verified nowadays in the information superhighway that is the web.
Other than the pagan origins of Christmas, one other thing is absolutely sure: Christ was never born on December 25 nor at any time in the month of December.
Biblical accounts say that, “shepherds were abiding in the field and keeping watch over their flocks by night.”
Anyone who has lived in the Middle East knows that it is practically impossible for neither shepherds nor flocks to stay out long in the fields in the thick of the winter month that is December.
If ever, Christ was most likely born in spring or summer, as most writers and commentators say.
Anyhow, just to complete this piece, I should say those who assert that Christmas should not be celebrated, I believe, are just too dogmatic about it and miss one key point:
“As soon as a practice is adopted, believed, and is infused positive meanings and virtues that improve and benefit peoples’ lives, the actual not-so-commendable origin holds little relevance.”
There is hardly any dispute that in countries where Christmas is celebrated, humans get so generous, so foregiving and so accommodating to fellow humans.
Even combatants and warring parties muzzle their guns or observe ceasefire for a period in deference to the season.
When people stop killing each other even just for a brief period that is Christmas, then that is reward enough.
We can therefore forget everything about Christmas’ pagan origins and just enjoy the air of giving, of getting together and enjoying the season in the best way we can.
Even the inevitable short bursts of Christmas splurging will not harm.
Just make sure to reign in your credit cards and keep in mind that there is such a thing as the” curse of the plastic.”
Merry Christmas and enjoy yourselves, folks.