Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas: Not Just For Christians Anymore

What the heck does Christmas have to do with religion? I've never been particularly religious, even as a kid stuck going to church each Sunday; but Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Sure, I know. The whole Jesus birthday thing. But I understand that most serious bible scholars don't think his birthday was actually in December at all. In fact, the whole nativity story is really quite suspect, and most likely was a later invention by early Christians as a way of giving a jazzed-up beginning to Jesus' otherwise inauspicious origins.

Besides, since when do you give presents to other people on someone's birthday? If it's a birthday celebration, you'd think Jesus would be the one getting all the presents. But no. On Christmas, everyone is expected to get a present, and Jesus doesn't even get a lousy t-shirt. I wonder if Yahweh sometimes regrets giving up on the whole animal sacrifice thing. Sure, getting a slaughtered goat isn't the best b-day present ever, but it's the thought that counts.

And beyond that, there are lots of civilizations that celebrate in late December. It's clearly a dreary time of year, what with the long nights and whatnot, and so people like to have something to be excited about. And that's why Christians picked Christmas time to be Christimastime. So they'd have a nice fancy holiday to get people jazzed about. I honestly find it a bit offensive that most Christians don't seem to know this. Even the ones who know this somehow keep forgetting about it.

So the idea that Christmas is somehow a religious holiday is entirely hogwash. If Christians want to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, that's fine by me. But it's not their holiday. Christmas is about Santa Claus and eggnog and Bing Crosby singing about his roasted chestnuts. And I don't see where religion fits in all that. Hell, they even give up the eternal damnation stuff, at least as far as scaring kids go. Santa's the chief god in December.

For the record, while Santa has always left presents and candy for my kids, we generally eschew the whole "naughty/nice" angle. After all, kids will be kids, and it's a lot more pleasant to spend Christmas Day watching them open their presents than standing in the return line at the North Pole. Come to think of it, if I'm forgiving enough to help my kids deceive Santa into giving them presents each year, how could a loving god allow me to be doomed in Hell; all due to a misunderstanding that is clearly his fault? Sorry, but I'm just not buying it.

Oh, and if you're interested, it looks like the Archbishop of Canterbury just called bull on the whole Three Wise Men story, as well as the rest of the nativity scene and the December birth. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

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