Friday, December 19, 2008

Taking the Christ out of Christmas?

By popular request, here’s the return of an old favourite …

I HEAR COMPLAINTS AGAIN that "Christ is being taken out of Christmas."  Everyone from the Vatican to Fox News is complaining about the "War against Christmas" (TM) --  about the "widespread revolt" against "Christian values and symbols from the holiday."

Here's what I say about those complaints.  So what if Christ is taken out of Christmas?  Christ was never in Christmas, except in fiction and by order of the Pope.  In fact, Jesus wasn't even born in December, let alone at Christmas time: he was born in July* -- which makes him a cancer**.  Just like religion.

Fact is, 'Christmas' was originally not even a Christian festival at all.  The celebration we now all enjoy was originally the lusty pagan festival to celebrate the winter solstice, the festival that eventually became the Roman Saturnalia. This time of year in the northern hemisphere (from whence these traditions started) is when days stopped getting darker and darker, and started once again to lengthen.  This was a time of the year for optimism.  The end of the hardest part of the year was in sight (particularly important up in places like Lapland where all-day darkness was the winter rule), and food stocks would soon be replenished. 

All this was something worth celebrating with enthusiasm, with gusto and with plenty of food and drink and pleasures of the flesh -- and if those Norse sagas tell us anything, they tell us those pagans knew a thing or two about that sort of celebration!  They celebrated a truly Salacious Saturnalia.

One popular celebration involved having a chap put on the horns and skin of the dead animal being roasted in the fire (worn with the fur side inside), and giving out gifts of food to revellers.  This guy represented Satan, and the revellers celebrating beating him back for another year by making him a figure of fun (I swear, I'm not making this up).  Observant readers will spot that the gift-giving and the fur-lined red outfit (and even the name, almost) are still with us in the form of Santa.  So Happy Satanmas, Santa!

SUCH WERE THE celebrations of the past.  But the Dark Age do-gooders didn’t like the pagan revels.  These ghouls of the graveyard wanted to spread the misery of their religion; they thought everyone should be sitting at home mortifying their flesh instead of throwing themselves into such lewd and lusty revels – and  very soon they hit upon a solution: first they stole the festivals, and then they sanitised them.  Instead of lusty revels with Satan and mistletoe, we got insipid nonsense around a manger.  (Just think, the first 'Grinch' who stole Christmas was really a Pope!)  Given this history, it's churlish of today's sanitised saints of sobriety to be complaining now about history reasserting itself.

THE BEST OF Christmas is still very much pagan. The mistletoe, the trees, and the presents; the drinking and eating and all the red-blooded celebrations; the gift-giving, the trees and the decorations; the eating and the singing; the whole full-blooded, rip-roaring, free-wheeling, overwhelming, benevolent materialism of the holiday -- all of it all fun, and all of it fully, one-hundred percent pagan. Says Leonard Peikoff in 'Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial', the festival is "an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life." I'll drink to all that, and then I'll come back right back up again for seconds. Ayn Rand sums it up for mine, rather more benevolently than my brief introduction might have led you to expect:

    The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion.
   
The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: ‘Merry Christmas’—not ‘Weep and Repent.’ And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance....
   
The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying is good for business and good for the country’s economy; but, more importantly in this context, it stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decoration put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ‘commercial greed’ could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.
And so say all of us.  I wish you all, wherever you are a Merry Christmas, a Delicious Satanmas, and a Salacious Saturnalia!
===============================
* Yes, this is simply a rhetorical flourish. Jesus' birth may have happened in March. Or in September -- or not at all -- but it certainly did not happen in December. More on that here.

** "A cancer. Like religion." Think that's harsh? You should try Landover Baptist's Bible Quizzes. Or Sam Harris's 'Atheist Manifesto.' Ouch! [Hat tip for both, good old Stephen Hicks]

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34 Comments:

Anonymous macdoctor said...

This is a dumb argument. Christmas, regardless of whether it coincided with more ancient festivals, is a Christian celebration. You are welcome to celebrate a Saturnalia, or Diwali, or Creswell's Happy Day. Feel free. But Christmas is an invention of Christians to give us a day to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

That it has turned into a giant merchandising ploy is a sad reflection on all of us - including us Christians.

12/19/2008 10:55:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

We celebrate the Queens Birthday on a day (shock horror) that is not actually her birthday. Australia do it on another day entirely. Your point that Jesus' actual birthday differs isn't that exciting.

By your logic, if you want to celebrate Solstice, go ahead. But not on the 25th :-)

12/19/2008 11:40:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"Christmas is an invention of Christians to give us a day to celebrate Jesus' birthday..."

It was an invention of Christians to coopt and sanitise a pagan festival.

Long live those pagans!

"We celebrate the Queens Birthday on a day (shock horror) that is not actually her birthday."

Yes, you do. But you don't co-opt another pre-existing celebration in doing so.

12/19/2008 02:31:00 pm  
Blogger MrTips said...

It was an invention of Christians to co-opt and sanitise a pagan festival.

Oh dear, Christians tried to work in with the general population and make it Xmas work without too much disruption to society.

The solstice was a celebration of fear of the unknown to appease something the pagans didn't fully understand. Christianity gave them something REAL to focus on and something to REALLY be happy about.

If you don't like it, stick a pitchfork up your arse, put on a bedsheet and roll around moaning like a REAL pagan. Otherwise stop your incessant bitching about other people being happy.

12/19/2008 03:08:00 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Actually, we don't celebrate the Queens birthday- we have a holiday on a day that is used to commemorate the Queens birthday. But some of us do celebrate Bob Marley's birthday on Waitangi day (heh).

If you don't want to commemorate or celebrate christmas that's fine - just don't accept any christmas presents, don't go anywhere for christmas dinner and stay at work. If you cant work, don't accept holiday pay - because all this is based on the christian festival of christmas - without Christ in Christmas there would be no christmas, presents, days off, misteltoe, gift-giving, the trees and the decorations; the eating and the singing; the whole full-blooded, rip-roaring, free-wheeling, overwhelming, benevolent materialism of the holiday....

Either stick to your convictions or stop bitching

12/19/2008 03:23:00 pm  
Blogger Ruth said...

If you don't want to commemorate or celebrate christmas that's fine - just don't accept any christmas presents, don't go anywhere for christmas dinner and stay at work

That's not what our old curmudgeon is saying Dave.

Christmas is a time for all those celebratory things you mention.

It is still that without Christ and religion.

12/19/2008 03:37:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

But the Christmas tree, Christmas presents, mistletoe, the drinking and the decorations; the eating and the singing; the whole full-blooded, rip-roaring, free-wheeling, overwhelming, benevolent materialism of the holiday doesn't come from the Christians, it comes from the pagan holiday.

God damn those rip-roaring pagans, eh. :-)

12/19/2008 03:40:00 pm  
Blogger Dinther said...

As PC says, Christmas has fuck all to do with Christianity as obviously none of the rituals have anything to do with Christianity but everything to do the the pagan celebration. But I suppose it makes sense that religious nutters can't see that because otherwise they would not believe in imaginary friends would they. What blows me away are the number of NotPC readers that take offence to the post in the comments. It just shows we have a long long way to go in this world to reach true enlightenment. And that road appears to get longer every day.

12/19/2008 03:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Angus said...

This is just more of the same anti-Christian sneering by homosexuals who hate what the Bible says about their sexually abberant behaviour. PC, leave Christmas the fuck alone you malignant narcissist.

Keep popping those "E's" Bleater, it must help to drown out the self-loathing.

12/19/2008 04:14:00 pm  
Blogger Ruth said...

Read the quote from Rand again.

Seems to me that the only ones not showing benevolence and goodwill in the comments are Christians.

Every time a coconut...eh.

12/19/2008 05:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

Exercise a bit of personal choice. Don't like it, don't participate. Libertarians ..??? Pffft.. Narcissists and/or queers the lot of you.

12/19/2008 05:24:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

High praise that, coming from a person who demonstrates every time he comments why he isn't welcome here.

12/19/2008 05:45:00 pm  
Blogger Callum said...

So much for a holiday of benevolence and goodwill!

12/19/2008 05:51:00 pm  
Blogger MrTips said...

PC
Your argument might worth considering if you actually considered advent wreaths, advent calendars, the Christian Mass, the fact Christians turned a fearful festival into a happy one, the fact Christians retained the quite Ok practices of the solstice such as mistletoe and others things you list, and also instituted the practice of gift giving, visited the poor and sick and prisoners.

All your attitude suggests is that of a smug Libertarian, getting his cheap jollies with fallacious arguments against Christianity. YAWN.

12/19/2008 07:16:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

My oh my! Have the god botherers got their undies all twisted up over this or what.

Funny how this is the subject that raises any passion with them. The economy can be tanked, the socialists can be busy expropriating wealth and destroying productivity, politics can be ruinous, people can be impoverished or enslaved and the god botherer doesn't really care enough to comment until.... PC writes abut the pagan origin of the festive season we are presently enjoying. Strange ones indeed, these hate filled christians.

LGM

12/19/2008 08:52:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

What we do at Christmas:

advent wreaths

NO!



advent calendars

NO!



the Christian Mass

NO!




Worshipping imaginary spirit monster ghost things

NO!



Respectfully listening to imbeciles raving on about how they believe in fairies, pixies, devils, spirits, supernatural worlds and the like

NO!



Respecting the feelings of such morons

NO!



Kneeling and praying to imaginary friends

NO!



Drinking like a Pagan

YES!



Eating like a Pagan

YES!


Giving and receiving gifts like a Pagan

YES!



Singing, dancing and chanting like Pagans

YES!




Go visiting atheistic friends to enjoy their company and eat their food and drink their grog with them

YES!


Geting fully imersed in commerical activity because that's fun and also an enriching exoerience.

YES!




Commercialised? Pagan? Secularised?


Bring it on. It's civilised.


LGM

12/19/2008 09:05:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

That's just your biases speaking LGM. Nothing I said was particularly rude. As for range of topic, this is my first time to comment on Christmas - Peter has taken the time to do an entire post.

As for being "unchristian", it seems a bit rich to complain about that when the tone of the post (cancer etc with a touch of "the grinch pope") comes out with fists looking for a nose.

Christmas is about Christ for Christians, and no amount of bleating can change that. It's also about family and giving for others, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

And for satanists, pagans and others who didn't get out of bed on December 21, well, I'm not stopping them from a revel on December 25 too.

Fleece on earth and good wool to all men. Just don't act like wolves and expect Christians to remain sheep. Although, we try :-).

Merry Christmas to all, even you godless heathens with flailing fists. Ya punch like a big girls blouse anyway :-)

12/19/2008 09:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

I love christmas and I am having a christmas carol singing party tonight (20th, Saturday, Dec). Drink and singing and not much about fuckn' reasoning. It is about, well sort of body reflex mechanism, it means that oneself gets used to it with or without understanding of what christmas is all about. Mostly, it is about traditions.

I grew up knowing christmas as a time of enjoyment, religion or otherwise, that is personal choice, so to all the fuckers out there who moan about christmas celebrations, just bud out, if you don't enjoy it, just enjoy whatever you and nobody criticizes you for doing so. Do not bang on other people's rights to enjoy what they like to celebrate, just celebrate whatever you like to celebrate, don't coerce (oh , a libertarianz term) or try to educate what others enjoy, because we're all adults.

Merry XMas to all.

12/20/2008 12:54:00 am  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

"... don't coerce (oh , a libertarianz term) or try to educate what others enjoy, because we're all adults."

I'll remember that line the next time a US-based Christian Church picks my pocket for one of it's Federally funded 'faith-based' initiatives.

As for Xmas: I know the Pagan and Christian origins of it and don't give a fig. Xmas is what I choose to make of it and the rest of you can bugger off.

But do keep the noise down though, it's hard enough to hear the the Boxing Day test match and the Horse Racing commentary in the US without you lot crapping on.

12/20/2008 04:31:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

so to all the fuckers out there who moan about christmas celebrations, just bud out

meant to say:

so to all the fuckers out there who moan about christmas celebrations, just butt out

12/20/2008 08:26:00 am  
Anonymous ej said...

PC, your faux outrage on behalf of those poor, downtrodden pagans is tiresome.
After all, they had a religion too - and we all know you don't like religions. So stop using them as an excuse to stomp on Christians.

Yep, just keep encouraging us here in the West to take the "Christ" out of Christmas - so we can all be "civilized." Let's strip the meaning out of all our festivals and traditions while we're at it.
Oops, that's right we've almost already achieved that objective. And perfect rationality has indeed broken out all over the West, you see it every day.

As far as this issue is concerned, libertarians seem to march in lockstep with the left - different ideolgies, same outcome.
Strip us of the strong (judaeo-christian)underpinnings of our society. Leave us supine and uncertain of ourselves. Ready, just like those pagans, to be slowly subsumed by a culture utterly confident that it is in the right, and has God on its side.
(Have Muslims taken the Allah out of Eid yet? No, I didn't thnk so.)

In conclusion, before I'm accused of being a fundy nutbar - I am an athiest. But I still deeply value the roots and traditions of my culture.

12/20/2008 12:57:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

Christmas would be great if only those bloody Christians weren't always whinging on about how its "all about them and their Ghost and his kid"....


Before God was dreamed up people were perfectly able to make merry and have a good time with their fellows at this time of year without the doom/gloomers hovering about spoiling things


Sod off!

12/20/2008 03:56:00 pm  
Blogger Brett said...

Great post! I thought about sending out Happy Saturnalia cards this year, and I still want to find a little porcelain solar-system Nativity set! I would set it in hay and everything. :)

12/21/2008 04:35:00 pm  
Blogger Lee S. said...

I enjoy reading notPC and your views but disagree on this subject and find your attitude too uncompromising. I wouldn't class myself as a Christian but I like the historical Jesus who stood up to the establishment and was crucified for it.

My thoughts on this are more in line with U.S libertarians Robert Ringer and Vox Day and I intend reading Day's book 'The Irrational Atheist' which I understand is his rebuttal of Dawkins, Harris etc. Merry Xmas

12/21/2008 05:16:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Lee S

Before you read that stuff read this for an honest perspective:

http://www.truthdig.com/dig/item/200512_an_atheist_manifesto/

LGM

12/22/2008 06:39:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many atheists are living in the wrong century. I am an atheist and I love Christmas. I actually like Christianity as well. If you have to have a belief in fairies, it is one of the better ones. 2000 years of Christianity and Western thought, and all the history in that time has got us to the point where I can be an atheist without someone burning me at the stake for it. All you people who hate Christians so much should look a little more at who is actually trying to enforce their religion on you in the 21st Century. The OIC has bascially got the UN on the way to declaring islamophobia (any copmment or criticism of Islam by infidels) a crime.

There are worse things than a bunch of people celebrating the birth of their favourite deity on the back of an older festival.

Brian Smaller

12/22/2008 09:36:00 am  
Anonymous James said...

Brian....its the pushy,arrogant way SOME of the Christians act in trying to flop all over Christmas while remaining wilfully blind to other influences that make Christmas what it is that piss's many of us off...

I can live with Christ being part of the Christmas tradition as we have it now....it would be stupid to pretend it could be otherwise...the mans name is in the title after all.

And I think its wankey and wrong to try to ban or hide the nativity so as not to "offend" people....for fucks sake!

But....Christians forcing themselves and their belifes on others is just as wrong as when the PC try to do it coming the otherway.....how about we just leave everyone to do their own thing and respect their right to do so?

12/22/2008 12:11:00 pm  
Anonymous anti-muslim said...

Christians forcing themselves and their belifes on others is just as wrong as when the PC try to do it coming the otherway

Can you point out to some examples here? I bet that you can't find a single one. I suggest that these banning are all in your imaginations.

12/22/2008 01:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Enjoy Christmas, regardless of your belief. I do.

Excuse the liberty, PC, but a personal note to FF:

Hope you got my msge on Sat morn - and trust the party went well that evening?

The emergency chiro knew what he was doing as it happened .. I was no good all Sat, still hobbling yesterday, albeit less so, with back nearly right today.

Sorry to have missed it. Better luck next year, eh? :)

12/22/2008 03:18:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Quoting: "All you people who hate Christians so much should look a little more at who is actually trying to enforce their religion on you in the 21st Century. The OIC has bascially got the UN on the way to declaring islamophobia (any copmment or criticism of Islam by infidels) a crime."

Firstly, did anyone say they hated Christians? The hate seems to be FROM the Christians, directed TOWARDS those who do not agree with what the Christians are writing and won't be forced into submission to what those same Christians demand...

Next. Whether it is Islamics or Christians attempting to force their ideas onto others, it's all about the same muck- religion. Fundamentally, what flavour of religion it happens to be makes little difference. At base religion is uncivilised and unfit for Man. It relies on frustration of the faculty of reason.

Similarly, collectivism of various sorts, whether national socialism, democratic socialism, communism, liberal socialism, welfarism, egalitarianism, mixed economy, environmentalism, global warming, central planning, big government, supra-national govt etc. etc. etc. is all the same muck- collectivism. The flavour may vary some, but it all smells just as bad. At base the ideas are uncivilised and unfit for Man.

Moving on. This season is an excellent time to celebrate the joy of being alive, the value of good friends, the excellence of good food and drink, one's family and relatives, enjoyment of good things (including presents but also one's home and property etc), one's adventures over the past year (successes, errors and learnings) and it's the time to get prepared for the next year of adventures. Get well rested and ready for a challenging new year of independence and living as one ought.

LGM

12/23/2008 10:42:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually LGm, there is a difference. In 2008 it isn't Chrisitans murdering people for failure to belong to their creed.

12/23/2008 10:52:00 am  
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Along with Guy Fawkes, New Zealand’s inherited annual celebration of The Winter Solstice on the 25th December, has to be one of the more absurd ‘holiday’ observances going.

Who in New Zealand gives a ‘rats arse’ that this date heralds the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere, when down-under we are basking in sunshine, donning shorts, and lazing on beaches?

And if the Christians wanted to pinch this date from the pagans & Mythraics and call it their own – why should we follow suit and act like that this date is any more relevant than say the 25th of August or the 07th February?

Pick a date, any date for the birth of Christ, they all have the same basis in fact.

That’s to say…..none.

It’s not yours, or my fault, no one bothered to put crucial information like dates of births in The Bible and the ‘desperate & dateless’ Catholic Church said “this Winter Solstice the sun worshippers use will do the trick” ten plus centuries ago.

This plagiarism of holiday observance dates may have some historic validity in say England, where winter falls at this time and where folks got naked & worshipped the sun (prior to do-gooders spoiling their fun) but the date has no credence in New Zealand.

Christmas, is New Zealand’s cultural equivalent of a legacy from a dead distant uncle, who liked wearing brown-suits & grey shoes, and expects you to now don them.

Hey, don’t get me wrong I totally support the principal of New Zealanders taking time off from work, drinking to excess, connecting with friends and family, venerating the deity of their choice (as long as it’s away from me), exchanging crappy gifts, adding to the countries obesity epidemic – but on the date of Winter Solstice when its’ 25 degrees Celsius outside?

Get outta here!

Then there’s the issue of Christians who conveniently ignore those ‘gapping blanks’ in their most precious book, and want the rest of us to go along with their historic pantomime and pretend, like they do, that Christ was born on this date – when he wasn’t!

These are the very same group of zealots that want us to be fine up-standing & honest citizens – but when it suits their own purposes they ‘never let the facts get in the way of a good story’.

If we are going to continue celebrating sacred pagan holidays - why stop at just Christmas and Easter?

And why should Christians have the monopoly on stealing & re-packaging pagan holidays and forcing them on the rest of us?

I want to lead a campaign to make New Zealand the first country to officially re-introduce the traditional Celtic observance ‘Beltane Day’, in place of the naff Winter Solstice (a.k.a Christmas).

Start circling the 01st May on your calendars.

Here’s a brief synopsis on what Beltane Day is all about so you make your own conclusions as to its merits:

In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.

In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply)

In a few years no one will remember Christmas!

Have a happy Northern winter solstice with your 'love ones' (not in a Christian Heritage term of the phrase)

May Santa bring you a nice dark ale.

Paul.

12/23/2008 12:30:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Anonymous

You really do need to acquaint yourself with fact sometime.

LGM

12/23/2008 02:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Greg said...

2000 years of Christianity and Western thought, and all the history in that time has got us to the point where I can be an atheist without someone burning me at the stake for it.

Of course, throughout most of those 2000 years it would have been the Christians burning you at the stake...and before that, nobody would likely have been burning you at the stake at all anyway...so you could have just skipped the 2000 years of Christianity and the odd burned corpse with much the same end result.

1/03/2009 07:08:00 pm  

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