Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » GETTING THE CHRIST OUT OF CHRISTMAS

    Filed at 8:17 am under by dcobranchi

    A fellow heathen atheist home educator (Thanks, Chris!) tipped me off to this interesting article about how celebrating Christmas was disdained by many Protestant denominations through the late 19th century:

    “People don’t think of it this way, but it’s really a secular holiday,” said Foster, a Princeton-based pastor in the United Church of God. He last celebrated Christmas when he was 8.

    His church’s objection to Christmas is rare among U.S. Christians. Gallup polls from 1994 to 2005 consistently show that more than 90 percent of adults say they celebrate Christmas, including 84 percent of non-Christians.

    That’s a huge change from an earlier era, when many Protestants ignored or actively opposed the holiday. But as it gradually became popular as a family celebration, churches followed their members in making peace with Christmas.

    The change didn’t happen overnight. Through much of the 19th century, schools and businesses remained open, Congress met in session and some churches closed their doors, lest errant worshippers try to furtively commemorate the day.

    I think I just might need to tip off a FOOLish blogger about this.


    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 9:49 am

    Spread the word. Maybe people will stop trying to ban Christmas decorations.

    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 10:07 am

    The Puritans actually PUNISHED people for celebrating Christmas.

    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 10:32 am

    Many years ago, I was a Biblical research student and we studied when Jesus Christ may have been born. Due to harvests, tax time and other telling details, most of us determined his birth would have taken place in the fall(say September) rather than December.

    I agree with Foster that it is a secular holiday.

    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 11:22 am

    Naw, it’s not a secular holiday. It’s a full-blown pagan rollick. Okay, I suppose you COULD argue that pagan=secular these days, but way back then it was a celebration marking the turn of the dark days to light days (because the shortest day of the year is the Winter Solstice and days gradually become longer after that). That’s why there are so many candles, lights, and sparkly bits, folks.

    Also, if you’re in a wintery clime, it sure helps to chase away the bitter-cold-blues. I, for one, am kept merry by the thought of christmas just around the corner, even though it is -36C here today.

    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 12:10 pm

    Interesting. My ex and I had discussions about this. He was raised in a very active Methodist family. He came away from it with the feeling that Christmas was the most important day in the liturgical year. Reading this, I suspect his Methodist ancestors would be appalled.

    I wonder if some of that Protestant reaction to Christmas wasn’t part of the rejection of the RC church as well. Growing up Catholic where I did, Christmas was a bit bigger than other holy days, but it was clear that Easter was the big one.

    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 12:26 pm

    Alasandra: “The Puritans actually PUNISHED people for celebrating Christmas.”

    So there’s a certain irony about the fact that while Plimoth Plantation is closed for the season, they’re advertising their gift shop is open for the holidays. 🙂

    “This holiday season, consider giving those special people in your life something unique– a gift you can only find at Plimoth Plantation!
    For your convenience, our gift shops at the Visitor Center will remain open from now until Noon on Dec. 24th”.

    Looking online, they sell a collection of Mayflower ornaments, including one with this tag:

    :Made in the USA and laser cut from solid American hardwoods, this unique ornament is a new addition to our collection of Mayflower ornaments. A lovely reminder of your Mayflower heritage or a new addition to your collection.”

    A reminder of your Mayflower heritage on that Christmas tree your ancestors would have arrested you for having. I like it. 🙂

    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 15th, 2007
    at 12:50 pm

    “Christmas Out of the Box” is a National Geographic channel program (NGC) the kids and I saw the other night. One segment discussed the Star of Bethlehem as it might have been perceived by ancient wise men, and a theory we hadn’t heard before was presented. It intrigued me because it’s about belief and human filters of story and meaning, rather than history or science, that the Starwas itself metaphorical, astrological rather than astronomical — not literally a blazing light across the sky but something historic because of how learned man interpreted it through the power of story and meaning and belief at that time.

    (So why wouldn’t the event it supposedly foretold be equally so?)

    And it took place in April (around Easter-to-be rather than Christmas-to-be then??) in the year 6 B.C.

    There was a unique alignment of the sun, Saturn, our moon and Jupiter, all in the sign of Aries, with a lunar eclipse of Jupiter thrown in. This would have been perceived as natural evidence from the heavens that a King was being born because of various (human-created, not holy writ) astrological (and heathen-pagan) symbolism about the constellation Aries as bold and strong, the Sun and Jupiter as Great Kings etc.

    Comment by
    December 15th, 2007
    at 4:02 pm

    The War on Religion

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 15th, 2007
    at 4:14 pm

    Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.

    Ron Paul has evidently never read the Constitution. “God” is not mentioned. Ever. “Lord” rates a single mention: “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.”

    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 15th, 2007
    at 7:12 pm

    Choose the correct answer or we all get left behind. (We may get left behind anyway.)

    a) Christians founded this nation and remain the dominant defining majority, ergo Christian culture, beliefs, and practices rightly define America, case closed!

    b) Christians today are an endangered species, persecuted and plotted against by the government and public as they struggle to maintain their own private, modest faith against overwhelming diversity, barely hanging on by a thread to their traditions and culture, deserving all the protections due the “fragile minority” they’ve tragically become.

    c) Both — Ron Paul manages to make both contradictory claims at the same time in a few short graphs.

    “Although an overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and those who don’t celebrate it overwhelmingly accept and respect our nation’s Christmas traditions. . .the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.”

    d) Neither (a) nor ((b) is in fact true, although it IS true that both are simultaneously claimed in current political currents, as in (c) above.

    Comment by
    December 17th, 2007
    at 9:50 am

    C’mon! Christmas is a legitimate holy day for Christians. And how interesting that God revealed this truth to Christian merchants first. 😉