Articles, Rants and Explorations
Current Jennilog for 12 / 19 / 2003: The Story Of Christmas
The Story Of Christmas
What we call Christmas is the result of an effective assimilation of prior, nonchristian, European solstice celebrations dating back to before the glory days of ancient Rome. The Catholic church first attempted to ban such holidays altogether, then, when that failed, they assimilated the holiday instead. The ancient gods and spirits eventually got mashed together and became the trappings we associate with Christmas, such as the tree, and the holly and mistletoe (those came mostly from the Picts and their Druidic beliefs, for example, from before they were conquered), and we get Santa Claus from a long tradition of Yule Fathers, from assorted northern European nations and cultures, all blended together, and filtered through American advertising, specifically Sears and Roebuck and the Coca-Cola company; prior to the 1920's for example, there was no 'Santa Claus', instead various 'Father Christmas' rituals existed -and still do in some European nations even to this day.
As for associating the 'birth of Jesus' with the construct that became Christmas, that was a deliberate deception of the Catholic Church. The actual supposed birthday for the mythological Christian savior was in early spring, this was shifted 'for the common people' to the solstice times, to assist in the assimilation of an otherwise un-stoppable mid-winter celebration.
The reason that the celebration was so unstoppable should be obvious: winters in northern Europe are very long, and very dark, and people get more than a little squirrley during such times; a big cheering celebration in the middle of it does wonders for peoples' morale. It serves a survival purpose that transcends the arbitrary issues of religion.
And thus, the Catholic church could not destroy such parties, so they had to assimilate them, by co-opting them, changing the meanings and some of the trappings, and repackaging the holiday to suit their own purposes.
Later, American capitalism found that the need for a party during the winter could be co-opted partially, for the purpose of raising traditionally poor winter sales to astounding levels; currently many businesses make most of their money purely during the end of the year. Much of the rest of the world followed suit, because everyone likes to make money.
So, in summary, Christmas is just an old mid-winter pagan party coopted by Christianity because it could not be destroyed, and finally taken over by the profiteering of businessmen.
In the end, the party remains, but it has become terribly distorted, and for some, deeply onerous, and even utterly hateful, which is why more suicides occur at Christmastime than at any other part of the year; the socially enforced, even demanded, expectations of a 'traditional' holiday filled with presents and joyful family times (all a creation of marketing based on earlier, simpler versions of the holiday) simply cannot be met by many people, and this leads to great depression and misery.
I, myself, deal with this last problem daily during this season; having put myself out there as a resource for transsexuals with my support and information website, I am deluged, flooded, with letters every year at this time, all from desperate people on the verge of killing themselves. Naturally, I work everyday to write back to them, and try to keep as many as I can alive, but it is not easy, and I often wish I had far more power to encourage people than I do. This year, doubtless because of the Bush regime, and the massive unemployment that has come of it, is the worst I have ever encountered.
One can only do one's best, I constantly remind myself.
As for my family, we avoid Christmas, all of it, any bit of it, as much as we humanly can. It is not a part of our lives, and indeed, we find it very annoying to have it forced upon us in every location, every place, every where we might go.
Instead of this dubious, coopted, stolen, commercialized Christmas monstrosity, we work to be nice and generous and kind to each other all year round, to fill our lives with love and happy moments, and the occasional unbirthday present too, and hand back the Santa, the Jesus, and the Tree to a world foolish enough to fall for such infantile things.
And that, is the story of Christmas.
Be good to each other,
And above all, stay alive, because this time of year is a lie, the expectations are invented, and there is hope ahead. This crap will be gone soon enough, and spring will arrive, and with it, opportunities to make your life vastly better.
Website Contents, including all characters,
images, artwork, text, and any other contents are
Copyright © 2000 by Jennifer Diane Reitz
All Rights Reserved Worldwide