Christmas Wakeup Call!!!

“The festival of KALENDS is celebrated everywhere as far as the limits of Rome extend…Luxurious abundance is found in the houses of the rich, but also in the houses of the poor…The impulse to spend seizes everyone. He who erstwhile was accustomed to and preferred to live poorly now enjoys himself as much as his means will allow.” – Libanius, fourth century Greek scholar

Hmmm....you know, if I hadn't read the first line of this description, I would have guessed that this was an account of an American Christmas celebration...you know? The "spend, spend, spend" attitude, the overindulgence...Doesn't it sound a LOT like a description of the way we celebrate Christmas? Guess what? This is actually an account of a Roman holiday called Kalends, a pagan-centered new year celebration. At the end of the year, Romans would celebrate Saturnalia (a celebration of the god Saturn) and Kalends. Festivities would include exchanging gifts to ensure good fortune in the coming year (gifts would include small idols and food), feasting, and decorating with evergreen boughs, which symbolized the fertility of the crops in the coming year. In case you were wondering, yes, this is where we got the traditions of Christmas trees and exchanging gifts. No, it didn't come from some Nativity play (although they did use an evergreen tree as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in a Medieval Nativity play). And no, the tradition of gift-giving did not originate from the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus. No, you see, those are just excuses that have been made over the years. Unfortunately, our American Christmas celebration is made up of primarily pagan celebrations. In Parent's Magazine's Christmas Holiday Book, this observation is made, "In fact, we are unknowingly reverting to a primitive human instinct: the celebration of the turn of the year, when the winter begins to wane and the sun starts once more to climb in the sky, and when the crops and fruits are reborn. Almost every known civilization…has had such a festival, and all of them have celebrated with feasting and rejoicing.” Honestly girls, if you really think about it, our Christmas rejoicing is not a commemoration of Christ's birth...but rather, a self-centered, me-me-me, overindulgent, American-ized holiday.

That's just what you wanted to hear a few days before Christmas isn't it? You really wanted to learn that all of America's traditions have roots in pagan ones, didn't you? Do you feel guilty? Shocked? Or did you already know all this stuff? I don't want to ruin your Christmas. I'm not saying some components of our celebration are wrong. In fact, some of them are rooted in purely Christian traditions. But no, that is not my point by any means.

My point, ladies, is this- a celebration that is supposed to be a celebration of Christ has become utterly American-ized, just like everything else in our country. It's self-centered and gluttonous. We need to focus on CHRIST during the holiday season. HE is what our thoughts should be centered on- not what's waiting for us under the tree...or what you're going to wear to the holiday party on Saturday...or whether or not your friends and family will really appreciate the gifts you bought them. No. Christ was...IS...others-centered. He reached out in compassion to the needy, dirty little children in the street, the physically and mentally disabled, even those who were stricken with leprosy and had been deemed "untouchable". Christ loved the people that no one else loved.

Look back over the links I posted earlier about ways that you can give back. Think about how you can love those who are unlovable, unworthy, thankless...

I'll post more later.


Teapot Sue said...

I do agree with you on the fact that Christmas has become something not Christ related, but my question is, is something that we get from Pagans bad?

What else do we get from them? Halloween. Christmas trees (like you mentioned). Pastors. (Yes, I just said that! :D Having someone stand up in front of a group and teach a message is, in fact, pagan.) Also, tea.

So are pastors and tea bad? I don't think so. I believe that God is a redeemer. Look at what he does with us! We're not good enough for him. We've got plenty of issues. But God redeems us. I believe he can redeem Halloween, Christmas trees, pastors, and tea. :D

Madeline said...

Oh, I totally agree with you- at least on the Christmas trees, pastors, and tea. Definitely not Halloween- sorry, I don't want to get into this again...there is a verse that says "Everything is permissible (OK) but not beneficial." Here we go again on the witchcraft issue-

OK,girls, so, TeaSue believes that God is forgiving and redeeming- and is so gracious that he will not condemn you even if you participate in witchcraft related activities (And I don't mean stuff like chanting spells or anything..I mean even "small" things like reading a book about wizards or Halloween) (correct me if I'm wrong Sue)...

I believe that yes, God will forgive and redeem...but I don't go out and do a bunch of bad stuff and then just say God will forgive and redeem...God clearly says in the Old AND New Testament that we are to have nothing to do with witchcraft. I don't believe necessarily that God will condemn you for doing this stuff. I just believe that as his children, we should decide against it to bring him glory.

So..those are our very different views. What do other people think about this? What is YOUR view on this controversial topic? (P.S.- I think there are some situations [perhaps Narnia] where witchcraft can be used as an example of a bad thing..I don't know if this is necessarily what I believe..but maybe.I'm so confused! What do the rest of you think????)

And back to the Christmas thing- my point was definitely not that those things are wrong- it was just that those things shouldn't be our focus. Sorry, TeaSue, if I didn't make that clear. I want this blog to be a CHALLENGING, ENCOURAGING place...not a place where you are confused, discouraged, etc. But there ARE some very controversial issues, clearly, and maybe we just shouldn't try to tackle them- just encourage each other and sharpen each other as "iron sharpens iron."

Love you, Sue. :)