Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas History

"The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200...From the fourth century every Western calendar assigns it to 25 December. At Rome, then, the Nativity was celebrated on 25 December before 354; in the East, at Constantinople, not before 379..." ~ New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

Despite the current secular theory of a devious conspiracy among Christians to foist Christmas upon a fiercely resistant populace, Christmas is not a modern fad dreamed up to further a neo-con agenda. It is an ancient holy day, reaching back through the millennia to the beginnings of the Christian church in the early centuries following Christ's birth.

In other words, it's a holiday that has been reverently observed and joyfully celebrated for thousands of years, throughout the world. Why are we suddenly considered impolite or, heaven forbid, "uninclusive," if we wish each other a straightforward "Merry Christmas"?

My local newspaper had a section of letters on this subject. Most letter writers felt as I do. However, one dour character reviewed the history of the ancient Roman December festival of Saturnalia and chided those who believe "Jesus is the reason for the season" for forcing their dogma "down the throats" of those who don't agree.

Wow. Lighten up, buddy, nobody gets out alive. And after all, it's Saturnalia, a time to celebrate and be joyful. Right? Don't all the Saturnalians celebrate at this time of year? And personally, I wouldn't be offended if someone wished me a "Festive Saturnalia" (or whatever). If it's not my holiday, so what? In the spirit of the season, I would assume that the intention was positive.

Conversely, if I wish a Saturnalian a "Merry Christmas," where's the harm?

Please, go ahead and enjoy Saturnalia if you like, it's a free country. Pursuit of religious freedom was the reason the pilgrims came to America. But Jesus has been the reason for this season since the third century. The founders of the United States put words like "Creator," "Nature's God," "divine Providence" and "Year of our Lord" in our nation's founding documents. Christmas Day is a national holiday in the U.S.A. More than 75% of Americans are Christians.

These are facts, so deal with reality, all you Roman festival observers out there. And at the risk of falling into the category of those "with viewpoints too narrow":
Merry Christmas!