December 10, 2003
Season's greetings

Pen says: "Bah! Humbug!"

Personally, I think he's throwing out the baby with the bathwater here. If the date of Christmas and the Christmas tree had their origins in the pagan past somewhere, I don't see why that matters unless people actually think they're worshipping Saturn or whoever. I don't know exactly when or why the Church chose Dec. 25 as "Christ Mass", but it was a long time ago, and up till the 19th century it was apparently a fairly modest holiday, taking a back seat to Easter. So if you're running up the credit card and drinking too much eggnog on Christmas, I don't think that's Saturn's fault.

Secondly, gift-giving holidays may not be Christian per se, but they aren't an invention of consumer culture either. Cultures all over the world have them as a way of sharing possessions and cementing bonds between friends, relatives, and allies. That's basically what Christmas means to me. It's a chance for me to get together with my far-flung family, celebrate, and think about what the others want and need. It's not Christian, but my family isn't Christian. I don't think that makes it bad, though.

Of course, as Pen says, a lot of people don't enjoy Christmas this way. They get stressed out and spend their money on useless junk that others don't really want. And certainly that's not the right way to do it, and is not Christian either. But I don't think that should slip into a puritanical distrust of anybody having a good time. The pastor at my former church pointed out that Jesus loved going to weddings, which in ancient Judea were huge wingdings with lots of eating, drinking and dancing that could go on for days. You might call it wasteful, but Jesus didn't seem to see it that way. In fact, his most notable act at a wedding was to replenish the booze.

Yeah, yeah, I know weddings have a symbolic meaning in the Gospels. I'm just saying, a big party, with or without an explicit religious purpose, doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Posted by Camassia at December 10, 2003 10:22 AM | TrackBack

Now Cam... bah humbug was not a direct quote -- right?

My intention wqs to call people back to a truer celebration. You can do it on 12-25, you can do it with Santa, and you can even exchange gifts .. but lets be sure we remember why we do and for whose glory we do it.

Thanks for the dialogue.. I look forward to reading more.

Posted by: Pen on December 10, 2003 02:28 PM

Now Cam... bah humbug was not a direct quote -- right?

I was kidding. You're no Scrooge. (Now that I think about it, Dickens casting a capitalist as the archenemy of Christmas was rather non-prescient.)

Anyway, I don't disagree with your comment. I do think Christmas shouldn't be hijacked by consumerism. It's just that recommending that people not get a tree or exchange presents seemed like an overreaction.

Posted by: Camassia on December 10, 2003 06:45 PM

Good post, Camassia. I have similar thoughts, which I posted yesterday. My feeling is that the Christian story can encompass the pagan traditions of Christmas and infuse them with deeper meaning. Well done!

Posted by: Lee Anne Millinger on December 11, 2003 06:42 AM
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