The Origin of Christmas
When I was younger, I couldn’t wait for Christmas. I would leap out of bed in the morning and rush down the stairs enthusiastically awaiting the sight of brightly coloured wrapping paper arranged in neat little piles. Diving through the piles I would find a box containing my name and sigh; my childish memory trying to imagine all sorts of presents my precious box could hold. The rest of the day would pass in a blur of boisterousness, friendly banter over Christmas dinner and the popping of Christmas crackers. I am not a child anymore, therefore as I walk through the snow gazing at the brightly coloured streets and the picturesque hills atop the valley, I begin to wonder about Christmas, its true origins. Not the happy fairy stories we are told; its true origins which evolved around a dark and sinister era.
Every year, hundreds and millions of people celebrate Christmas without grasping its full meaning. In fact, celebrating Christmas has become so commercialised and secular that many individuals fail to realise its true origin. This could be as a result of ignorance, or simply following customs and traditions. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, December 25 was also regarded as the birthdate of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness. On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. It also exposes the origin of the holly wreath: “European pagans brought holly sprays into their homes, offering them to the fairy people of the forests as refuges from the harsh winter weather. During the Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival, branches of holly were exchanged as tokens of friendship. The earliest Roman Christians apparently used holly as a decoration at the Christmas season.”
According to Puritans, (a group of English protestant in the sixteenth and seventeenth century) celebrating Christmas was in contrast with the word of God. Christmas celebrations in New England were illegal during part of the 1600s, and were culturally taboo or rare in Puritan colonies from foundation until the 1850s. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry and thus found it superfluous and a form of syncretism. Furthermore, during the Roman festivals which modern day Christians refer to as “Christmas”, several inappropriate and lawless practices were observed such as; singing naked from house to house which has been modernised by Christians to singing carols from house to house and consuming human shaped biscuits which is still produced in some part of England and Germany.
However, in contrast, many Christians argue that the historical practices which revolve around Christmas are irrelevant to this time and age. Christmas is a time of sharing, loving and realising the importance of caring for one another. Furthermore, many Christians accept that December 25th is not the exact time of Christ birth and that it is impossible to know the exact time period, but are not bothered by this. For many zealous Christians, it does not matter what ancestral or pagan practices were observed but that their intentions and thoughts towards their beliefs is noble and pure.
In contrast sects of Christians such as Jehovah witness maintain the belief that Christ was not born on the month of December. According to the Baptist church “it is perfectly human to compartmentalise and categorise the timeline of Christianity, its origins and if it is right to continue with syncretism. However, as Christians we have a duty to love, care and be better people, the date and time is irrelevant as long as our intentions are done with Christ in mind.
Personally, I agree with this statement as the deed is not what is important but the intention.
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