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Charles T.

Christmas: Celebrate, Replace, Rename or Ignore?

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The material values of a real-world valuer and the spirit (his mind, character, and emotional responses) in which he enjoys them are good (assuming he attained those values honestly).  A religious, mystical spirit is not good for anything.

OK, I can agree with that.

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*** Mod's note: Merged into an existing thread with a similar discussion. - sN ***

 

 

From what I have gathered, many cultures have had popular celebrations during the end of December long before Jesus was born. These traditions celebrated such things as certain gods, winter solstice, and other things as well Im sure. This was the way December was celebrated when pagan religions were dominant. Then as the Christian religion was created and started to spread, the Christian church officials wanted to implement a holiday for Jesus' birthday. Even though Jesus was almost certainly not born in the winter time, they made the holiday on December 25. Why would they choose this date? It is supposedly because the Christian officials saw an opportunity for "Christmas" to replace the already popular holidays on(or around) this date. This is my understanding of the history of December holidays.

My point is that even though "Christmas" overtook the other popular holidays already being celebrated, it is still nonetheless "Christmas"- a Christian holiday which means "Christ's Mass."

Is it proper for non-Christians to celebrate "Christmas", based on the facts I just presented to you?

I would side for "yes, its proper", because the Christians tried to cunningly gain popularity by creating this holiday on an already celebrated day, and possibly more importantly they wanted to destroy the prior holiday by doing this. So the idea now for non-Christians could be to throw the Christians despictable action right back in their face, and say "Im celebrating Christmas and theres nothing you can do about it. You brought it on yourselves."

But I could also side for "no, its not proper." Like I said already, "Christmas" is still nonetheless a Christian holiday. How can you feel fully non-guilty celebrating "Christ's Mass", because you will have to use some mental effort to evade this fact. The alternatives would be to somehow create a new holiday(for everyone to celebrate, not just non-Christians or atheists). This would be extremely difficult for it to catch on though since Christmas is so widely accepted already, even by non-Christians. So would it be worth the effort to figure out a way to make a new tradition during December, and move away from the "Christmas" tradition?

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But I could also side for "no, its not proper." Like I said already, "Christmas" is still nonetheless a Christian holiday.
But you shouldn't side with "no, it's not", even though you could. Xmas isn't a Christian holiday, although some Christians want it to be. It is primarily a celebration of the fact that the sun is starting to return. It is a good thing to have celebrations in winter, 'cuz let's face it, it's dark out and dark isn't the most cheery thing. Did I tell them to hijack this perfectly good winter holiday? Nosiree! You don't refuse to say "Goodbye" to people just because etymologically it derives from "God be with you", do you? Just because the word pronounced "Chris muss" derives from some Catholic church cerremony doesn't mean that it the holiday necessarily celebrates anything about Christ. It's pronounced "Chris muss", not "Christ mass". The possibility of confusion is exactly why it's now called "Xmas" (though Xma$ would be best). Put up those elf, reindeer and Santa decorations (nuts to the manger stuff), buy a fancy ham, go to a part, buy gifts for those who you value, and have a God Jul (pronounced "goo", not "gawd").

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Xmas isn't a Christian holiday, although some Christians want it to be. It is primarily a celebration of the fact that the sun is starting to return.

Didnt the Christians create Christmas? Wasnt it created to celebrate Jesus' birth? Yes, there were celebrations for winter solstice and other December holidays before Christmas. But Christmas is a seperate holiday, and non-Christians only want to celebrate it because everyone else does. I understand the Christians wanted Christmas to overtake the already popular winter holiday, but is the true meaning of Christmas not to celebrate Jesus' birth?

It is a good thing to have celebrations in winter, 'cuz let's face it, it's dark out and dark isn't the most cheery thing.
I agree. I just dont want to celebrate a Christian holiday just because its there and its popular. It seems like a breach of integrity since youre doing it to join with everyone else, not to celebrate the true meaning.

Put up those elf, reindeer and Santa decorations (nuts to the manger stuff), buy a fancy ham, go to a part, buy gifts for those who you value, and have a God Jul (pronounced "goo", not "gawd").

I enjoy seeing and doing these things(except the manger thing), but I think it should be a seperate holiday from Christmas. We should go back to celebrating winter solstice, and the meaning of the holiday would be to celebrate the fact that the days will be longer and the sun will shine more on Earth from then on.

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The nice thing about the phrase "Have a merry Christmas" is, that while Christmas means, literally, "mass for Christ", that meaning is happily lost when we pronounce the "Christ" with a short "i" and drop the "t". It then becomes "krismas". Also, since Christ was never merry ("Ho, ho, ho, turn the other cheek, ho, ho, ho"?), the "merry" contradicts and defeats his gloomy spirit.

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I might add, there is no "true" meaning of Christmas. There is one meaning for a %100 pure Christian, another (and variations) for a variety of mixed up Christians, and another for pure secularists who love celebrating their wealth and giving gifts to their loved ones.

But, if you don't like the name Christmas, you can always call it Midas Day, in cheerful honor of the man (and woman) who is proud of, and wants to celebrate his productive life, a kind of extension and climax of Thanksgiving. New Year's is like the foam that tops the whole thing off.

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I might add, there is no "true" meaning of Christmas. There is one meaning for a %100 pure Christian, another (and variations) for a variety of mixed up Christians, and another for pure secularists who love celebrating their wealth and giving gifts to their loved ones.

I think theres a true meaning to Christmas. Just because people adjust the holiday to fit their personal needs and desires, doesnt mean there isnt one correct meaning. As for what the true meaning is, I still see no reason why it wouldnt be to celebrate Jesus' birth. I think this is its true meaning because of the origins of Christmas and the purpose of it described by its creators.

But, if you don't like the name Christmas, you can always call it Midas Day, in cheerful honor of the man (and woman) who is proud of, and wants to celebrate his productive life, a kind of extension and climax of Thanksgiving.

Its not the name, its the meaning. Im trying to figure out if it should be recognized as a religious holiday or a secular one.

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Im changing my stance on Christmas due to new evidence I found.

I knew the Christians wanted to overtake other popular December holidays. But it seems their top priority was to convert pagans to Christianity and to change their December holiday called Saturnalia to a predominant Christian meaning, so they changed it to "Christmas". A lot of the traditions of Christmas were taken from Roman pagans, such as bringing trees inside the house and gift-giving- other traditions were picked up along the way. The start of Christmas actually resembled Saturnalia quite a bit, with drunken wildness and whimsical behavior by the masses. I assume Christmas became a much more religious holiday for a time being, even though it doesnt need to be one. So, Christmas appears to be essentially Saturnalia, which was not a religious holiday, but instead a time for irrational behavior and no laws whatsoever. But I see no reason to object to adjusting that meaning to a better one, which a lot of people have already done.

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Im changing my stance on Christmas due to new evidence I found.

I knew the Christians wanted to overtake other popular December holidays. But it seems their top priority was to convert pagans to Christianity and to change their December holiday called Saturnalia to a predominant Christian meaning, so they changed it to "Christmas". A lot of the traditions of Christmas were taken from Roman pagans, such as bringing trees inside the house and gift-giving- other traditions were picked up along the way. The start of Christmas actually resembled Saturnalia quite a bit, with drunken wildness and whimsical behavior by the masses. I assume Christmas became a much more religious holiday for a time being, even though it doesnt need to be one. So, Christmas appears to be essentially Saturnalia, which was not a religious holiday, but instead a time for irrational behavior and no laws whatsoever. But I see no reason to object to adjusting that meaning to a better one, which a lot of people have already done.

What you are saying here---that "Christmas appears to be essentially...a time for irrational behavior" is based on the "drunken wildness" of Saturnalia. Why does the essence, or true meaning of ANY celebration have to be----the nature of the actions of long-ago practitioners? I think you should first clearly identify what you mean by "true meaning". Look at how many words we use today that have very different meanings than what they started out as hundreds of years ago. You might also look up intrincicism in OPAR and see if it applies to your thinking.

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What you are saying here---that "Christmas appears to be essentially...a time for irrational behavior" is based on the "drunken wildness" of Saturnalia.

I said when Saturnalia was around, the people celebrated it with irrational behavior and drunken wildness.

Why does the essence, or true meaning of ANY celebration have to be----the nature of the actions of long-ago practitioners? I think you should first clearly identify what you mean by "true meaning".

Did I say that was the "true meaning" of Saturnalia? I believe I said that was how the people acted on that day. And I also said: "But I see no reason to object to adjusting that meaning to a better one, which a lot of people have already done." Meaning, there can be a better way to celebrate than the way the people originally did on Saturnalia.

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Why does it matter where Christmas came from? If you just look at what it is, you see several things (in American Christmas, anyway):

1) A very few people celebrate Christmas by declaiming that there is a war on it.

2) A very few people celebrate Christmas by complaining about consumerism.

3) Many people celebrate Christmas by going to church for an hour or so and listening to a fable about the birth of Jesus.

4) The vast majority of people (including those in categories 1 and 3 above) celebrate Christmas by singing carols, decorating their houses with trees and lights, eat candy canes and Christmas cookies, send out greeting cards of good will to their friends and buy and exchange gifts, often fabulously expensive gifts, with those they love.

I'm not saying popular consensus makes the holiday what it is, but rather that, no matter what certain groups of people might say the meaning of Christmas is, almost all of them invariably celebrate it in the same way. (4) is what people look forward to for the rest of the year. (4) is what excites children. (4) is where the happiness of the holiday comes from. Even people who say (2) is the true meaning of Christmas aren't thinking about (2) on Christmas morning. The way they celebrate it shows what they really think. Whatever its origins, Americans choose to celebrate Christmas with consumerism, frivolity, giddiness, wealth, extravagance, exuberance and general merriment. That's what it is. And in this one case, most Americans have managed to create an "is" in line with an "ought."

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:santa: Thank you all for this illucidating conversation on Christmas! This is my first post.

I am atheistic. But I grew up with Christmas and have a very dim view of those who try to remove that title from this celebratory day!

Personally I don't make a big day of it! I grew up poor and have never become rich though I support free enterprise. I am a musician who provides for himself and am happy with that. So celebrating by giving gifts - well, I'd rather give gifts when I want to than when some community appointed day suggests it. But I like the idea that by bringing a green tree inside we preserve life that has pretty much gone dormant in the nature ouside. (I live in the Northeast) And the candles, too, are to me a symbol of that life. And then we have the beautiful music. Christian or not - this art, is awe inspiring, even if I sometimes have to choke at certain texts! I grew up with it and it's uplifting in a nostalgic as well as artistic sense.

I've been with older folks in an assisted living facility who were told to call the Christmas tree a "Holiday tree". Hey - C'mon let's let them have their joy!

From what I have gathered, many cultures have had popular celebrations during the end of December long before Jesus was born. These traditions celebrated such things as certain gods, winter solstice, and other things as well Im sure. This was the way December was celebrated when pagan religions were dominant. Then as the Christian religion was created and started to spread, the Christian church officials wanted to implement a holiday for Jesus' birthday. Even though Jesus was almost certainly not born in the winter time, they made the holiday on December 25. Why would they choose this date? It is supposedly because the Christian officials saw an opportunity for "Christmas" to replace the already popular holidays on(or around) this date. This is my understanding of the history of December holidays.

My point is that even though "Christmas" overtook the other popular holidays already being celebrated, it is still nonetheless "Christmas"- a Christian holiday which means "Christ's Mass."

Is it proper for non-Christians to celebrate "Christmas", based on the facts I just presented to you?

I would side for "yes, its proper", because the Christians tried to cunningly gain popularity by creating this holiday on an already celebrated day, and possibly more importantly they wanted to destroy the prior holiday by doing this. So the idea now for non-Christians could be to throw the Christians despictable action right back in their face, and say "Im celebrating Christmas and theres nothing you can do about it. You brought it on yourselves."

But I could also side for "no, its not proper." Like I said already, "Christmas" is still nonetheless a Christian holiday. How can you feel fully non-guilty celebrating "Christ's Mass", because you will have to use some mental effort to evade this fact. The alternatives would be to somehow create a new holiday(for everyone to celebrate, not just non-Christians or atheists). This would be extremely difficult for it to catch on though since Christmas is so widely accepted already, even by non-Christians. So would it be worth the effort to figure out a way to make a new tradition during December, and move away from the "Christmas" tradition?

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I said when Saturnalia was around, the people celebrated it with irrational behavior and drunken wildness.

Did I say that was the "true meaning" of Saturnalia? I believe I said that was how the people acted on that day. And I also said: "But I see no reason to object to adjusting that meaning to a better one, which a lot of people have already done." Meaning, there can be a better way to celebrate than the way the people originally did on Saturnalia.

When you say "how the people acted on that day", do you mean all the people? Did all the people, or even a majority of them, get drunk (including the women---half the population---servants, sober thinkers and philosophers)? Probably much less than a majority. Besides, is the meaning of a celebration to be found in the way (the type of actions taken) it is celebrated by some, or even many, people, or in the purpose of the celebration? This is what you are not distinguishing.

Someday in the future a person may read an historical account of the drunkenness of people celebrating New Year's, but , even among those who drink, the drunkards are a minority, even if a more colorful bunch to write stories about than the "boring" drinkers of coke and 7-UP.

Inotherwords, what I am saying, meant as constructive criticism, not as an attack, is that your thinking is much too generalized to enable you to have a firm grasp of reality.

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When you say "how the people acted on that day", do you mean all the people? Did all the people, or even a majority of them, get drunk (including the women---half the population---servants, sober thinkers and philosophers)? Probably much less than a majority. Besides, is the meaning of a celebration to be found in the way (the type of actions taken) it is celebrated by some, or even many, people, or in the purpose of the celebration? This is what you are not distinguishing.

Then I'll answer it now. I had to look at the peoples actions in order to understand the purpose of the holiday and what it stood for. The meaning of Saturnalia was not necessarily to act like a moron, but it was to celebrate. The means they used for this celebration was the god they worshipped, which was Saturn. But judging by their actions, celebrating the existence of Saturn really wasnt the main focus of the holiday- it was to be free from any type of laws or free from any rationality at all. From the knowledge I have on this subject, I think the reason why Saturnlia was created was to have a day of celebration, a celebration in general. And it was a good idea.

Someday in the future a person may read an historical account of the drunkenness of people celebrating New Year's, but , even among those who drink, the drunkards are a minority, even if a more colorful bunch to write stories about than the "boring" drinkers of coke and 7-UP.
I think the main focus of the writing would be on the majority of people who celebrated the new year. That a popular attribute of the holiday(in the US) is to watch the big ball drop in NY. Or they may write that it was popular to kiss someone at midnight that day, or that people counted down the last 10 seconds watching a tv screen. I dont think the main focus of the writing would necessarily be about people getting drunk. More likely what would be written is that it is popular to have wine that day, or something subtle like that. But with Saturnalia, anecdotal stories described the King setting up races with naked Jews going against each other- crazy stuff like that.

Inotherwords, what I am saying, meant as constructive criticism, not as an attack, is that your thinking is much too generalized to enable you to have a firm grasp of reality.

Im basing my conclusions on the knowledge I currently have on the subject.

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Why does it matter where Christmas came from?

I wanted to know how Christmas SHOULD be celebrated, and if I should participate in it. And what better place to look than its origins, and its causes?

If you just look at what it is, you see several things (in American Christmas, anyway):

1) A very few people celebrate Christmas by declaiming that there is a war on it.

2) A very few people celebrate Christmas by complaining about consumerism.

3) Many people celebrate Christmas by going to church for an hour or so and listening to a fable about the birth of Jesus.

4) The vast majority of people (including those in categories 1 and 3 above) celebrate Christmas by singing carols, decorating their houses with trees and lights, eat candy canes and Christmas cookies, send out greeting cards of good will to their friends and buy and exchange gifts, often fabulously expensive gifts, with those they love.

Just because a holiday currently is celebrated a certain way doesnt mean its the right way to celebrate it. In order to know the real reason why Christmas should be celebrated, researching its hirstory was necessary. I wanted to learn if it should be a religous holiday or a secular one- what are we celebrating for?. I wanted to know the meaning so I can have a firm grasp on what should be included in the holiday and what should be omitted. Why omit the religious figures if they are what the holiday was meant to celebrate? Without knowing the origins and history of Christmas, you are omitting it to change the holiday to your desires, not accept the real meaning of it.

Everybody else has these traditions during Christmas? Fine, you say, I'll just do what everybody else is doing instead of putting in the effort to know how it should be celebrated. I'd rather celebrate a holiday for its real meaning than to adjust the holiday to my wishes(or everybodys elses wishes).

I'm not saying popular consensus makes the holiday what it is, but rather that, no matter what certain groups of people might say the meaning of Christmas is, almost all of them invariably celebrate it in the same way.

I think you are saying popular consensus makes the holiday. Popular consensus and adjusting the meaning of the holiday to your desires is what it seems youre saying. You are not saying there is one correct meaning to Christmas. You are saying its correct when people say Christmas is the celebration of Jesus, you are saying its correct when people say Christmas is only for consumerism, you are saying its correct when people say its a day of celebration in general. Not that youre personally doing this, but how can one dispute the Christians when they call it their holiday? A person who doesnt have knowledge of the history of Christmas would say, "Not everybody incorportates Jesus into Christmas so therefore Christmas should be celebrated how one wishes." And that would be as far as you can proceed with the conversation.

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it was to be free from any type of laws or free from any rationality at all.

I forgot to fix this line when I was typing it. I didnt mean free from any rationality(people can always choose to act irrationally). But it was probably more lenient of judgments from most people during Saturnalia because it was expected to act like that. Most probably accepted whimsical behavior more so during that holiday than their typical days.

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Christmas appears to be essentially Saturnalia, which was not a religious holiday, but instead a time for irrational behavior and no laws whatsoever.

Er, I think you're seriously confusing Saturnalia with Bacchanalia here. Latter was a Greek holiday, former a Roman one. Saturnalia had none of the "free from rationality" nonsense, Romans would set up evergreen trees with decorations, and exchange gifts.

Edited by Free Capitalist

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Er, I think you're seriously confusing Saturnalia with Bacchanalia here. Latter was a Greek holiday, former a Roman one. Saturnalia had none of the "free from rationality" nonsense, Romans would set up evergreen trees with decorations, and exchange gifts.

Good catch. I knew something was wrong with his description but couldn't quite put my finger on it.

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Konerko14, You still have to define your terms. What do you mean by "real meaning" or "true meaning"? By looking at how and why an activity (in this case, celebration) began, you are implying that ''real'' means original. Does it? Why?

You also ask, How should Christmas be celebrated? Well, if "real" (or true) means ''original'', and you have got to be true to the truth, then you should go out and do what the Romans did. But, you might ask yourself, Do I have to? Why? Why can't I do what I want to do? Why can't I start my own new tradition?

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Of course, one can look for the meaning of Christmas by asking, What one thing is necessary to Christmas as the majority of people now practise it? What good is a tree without presents beneath it? What good is Santa without a sleighful of presents? What good are stores, at Christmas, without potential presents? What good is an abundance of time, money, and affection, without the purchasing, or making, of presents? If, as these questions imply, presents are necessary to Christmas, what is the meaning of presents? I would say that a present is the physical expression of an implicit trade of the positive feelings aroused in one person by another. True, some people give things (toys to charities, for example), but that altruistic giving is relatively minor, and thus, not essential. Nor do most altruists (at least the ones I know) give to charity first; it comes only when there is something (as money) left over after the primary giving to loved ones.

And Christmas is not dependent on Christ. What present would (or could) anyone want to give to an immortal, non-working, non-valuing, non-logical-reasoning bum? There are some Christians who say that there should not be gift-giving, but very few people (including most Christians) pay them any attention.

So, I would say that the meaning of Christmas is ITM:D (implicit-trade-mas)---the celebration and glorification of one's happiness with one's self and one's loved ones.

Ooops! That :thumbsup: after ITM is supposed to be a laughing face. I must have accidentally cut part of it off.

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Er, I think you're seriously confusing Saturnalia with Bacchanalia here. Latter was a Greek holiday, former a Roman one. Saturnalia had none of the "free from rationality" nonsense, Romans would set up evergreen trees with decorations, and exchange gifts.

Yeah, youre right. Thanks. Saturnalia seems to have been quite similar to how Christmas is currently celebrated.

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Konerko14, You still have to define your terms. What do you mean by "real meaning" or "true meaning"?

I think Ive said already. The real meaning is the purpose the holiday was created. In this case, Saturnalia was started in order to have a celebration during this time of the year. It was to have joy and unbridled enthusiasm in December.

By looking at how and why an activity (in this case, celebration) began, you are implying that ''real'' means original. Does it? Why?
Real meaning means purpose. I had to judge the originators actions to get a better understanding of what that purpose was. But over time a holiday may run the risk of moving away from its real purpose because people start adjusting the holiday to their wishes, so thats why I looked upon the originators and not the aftermath.

You also ask, How should Christmas be celebrated? Well, if "real" (or true) means ''original'', and you have got to be true to the truth, then you should go out and do what the Romans did. But, you might ask yourself, Do I have to? Why? Why can't I do what I want to do? Why can't I start my own new tradition?

The purpose of Saturnalia was to celebrate and have fun. Its up to the individual how he chooses to have fun though. You dont want to bring a tree inside your house? Fine, you can choose to celebrate how you wish. I think its a celebration in general, so you can choose what should be incorporated into the celebration. But to say its strictly a celebration of Jesus, or strictly a celebration of any particular thing, I think is wrong.

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And Christmas is not dependent on Christ. What present would (or could) anyone want to give to an immortal, non-working, non-valuing, non-logical-reasoning bum?

I dont think its correct to say that. Christians dont intend to give presents to a dead Jesus. Jesus is just what they want for the means for the celebration. They want the celebration of Christmas to be only because of Jesus.

So, I would say that the meaning of Christmas is ITM:D (implicit-trade-mas)---the celebration and glorification of one's happiness with one's self and one's loved ones.

I agree.

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