Christmas Origins: A Heathen Explains.

laserguru

laserguru

yeah right is a lifelong Vikings fan. He is into self denial and still harbors hope. Loves to cook, read and drink. But he doesn’t plate.
laserguru

For the uninitiated, non-Christian, non-Anglican, or extra terrestrial, Christmas is a seriously weird-ass holiday.

In it’s current iteration in the U.S. we are, in theory, celebrating the birth of the Christian saviour Jesus Christ by bringing an evergreen tree into the house, decorating it with lights and shiny globes and things, attending church services, anticipating the arrival of a fat, bearded old guy who rides on a sleigh being pulled by (8 or 9) reindeer who will bring presents to every single good boy and girl in the entire world over the course of one evening, while we cook a large traditional meal (that is in many cases pretty much the same damn meal that was just done a month ago for Thanksgiving) while lounging around in our pajamas all day while singing traditional and non-traditional “carols” after spending entirely too much money for presents and loved ones (including a brand new Lexus and diamond rings from Zales for the wife) to help support the economy, all done while watching college football “Bowl” games and NBA basketball games and using all of the above as an excuse to start drinking alcoholic beverages at breakfast time.

Damn.

How the hell did we end up here?

That’s what I, an unrepentant heathen, am going to attempt to explain.

/takes deep breath

Let’s address a few of the reasons for the celebration one at a time starting with the birthday of Christ.

First of all there is no way in blue hell that we know the actual birth date of Jesus Christ. It was, how you say, a long fucking time ago. Since the first few references to Christ start with his baptism, it’s safe to say that historians at his time of being, really weren’t that interested in the date of birth. I often use this excuse on my daughters when I forget to buy them a birthday present. One of the first mentions of the date of birth was in Roman history when a historian pegged the date as March 28th. Several centuries later, the date was listed as the same date as his death (which is kind of a fucked up thing if Jesus died on his birthday, by crucifixion yet) and that date was agreed upon as March 25th. A bishop of Alexandria later claimed the birth date was November 18th, while yet another scholar,  Joseph A. Fitzmyer – Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, claimed that the date was on…wait for it…September 11th. Holy shit nobody tell this to Pete Carroll.

Basically nobody knows the actual date of birth so the date was changed to coincide with the conclusion of the Roman pagan celebration of Saturnalia which was a week long celebration that ran from December 17th and concluded ON December 25th. And oh shit, oh dear kids, we just have to talk about Saturnalia.

Saturnalia:

Saturnalia_de_Ernesto_Biondi

Saturnalia was celebrated by the ancient Romans and ancient pagans to honor the ancient deity Saturn. It was also aligned with the start of the winter solstice. Depending on which account you read some claim it was a festival of merriment, where gifts were exchanged, feasts were prepared and even the slaves were allowed to celebrate with their masters. This all took place over the course of the seven day festival. Now I choose to believe the accounts of the ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian who in a dialog after observing the festivities said it was a week long period of lawlessness in which the Roman courts remained closed and Roman law dictated that nobody could be charged for damages to property or injuries to other revelers.

That’s right, it was the inspiration for the movie “The Purge”.

The festival began as Roman dignitaries selected the “Enemy of the Roman People” some poor unlucky bastard who was overfed alcohol and food, exposed to many, many sexual and wanton favors throughout the week and at the conclusion of the festival that man or woman was then brutally murdered which destroyed “the forces of darkness” according to these highly fucked up individuals. There are even some suggestions of possible cannibalism but reports vary. Some of the things that are certain include the consumption of biscuits and breads that are shaped liked humans I.E.

gingerbread

Yeah. Other confirmed activities included widespread intoxication, rape and other sexual activities and the ever popular going from house to house singing while being completely naked. I’m impressed that some of the members of the Commentist Party still continue a couple of these practices year round.

So about the naked caroling thing:

“Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some;
We won’t go until we get some, so bring some out here.”

Get the picture? It may or may not be a good thing that people aren’t still doing this naked.

During the 4th century AD the Christians attempted to join in the party while at the same time toning down the antics a bit by declaring December 25th as the birthday of Christ. Did this proclamation change any of the festivities? Fuck no! They kept right on a drinking and naked singing and they continued to rape err-body up in there. It took centuries before things calmed down. There are instances as late as 1466 where the practice was revived by the Catholic church by Pope Paul II himself who forced Jews to run naked through the streets while the local non-Jews laughed at them and pelted them with various projectiles. Witnesses said old Pope P2 just laughed and laughed. The laughing taunting of the Jew thing continued into the 18th and even 19th!!! centuries.

Holy fucking shit, these people. Let’s move to more pleasant things.

The Christmas Tree:

Not with this fucking tree again!
Not with this fucking tree again!

Early on the Christians adopted the practices of the Asheira cult and other pagan clans who worshiped the tree. Pagans had long worshiped trees and would bring them inside their homes, decorate them and spoon feed them some lovely gruel (that last part may not be true). The Christians painted a nice shiny veneer of Christianity on this practice and Boom! Christmas tree! Bam!

Santa Claus:

santa-2014

We all know that Santa Baby was adapted from Saint Nicholas, who was born in Turkey in the 3rd century AD and who was beatified in the 19th century. Despite being of Turk origin his mythology has him joining in with the church and those damn pagans in Europe when a bunch of his fan boys dug up his bones and dragged him to Italy where he took the place of a previous gift giving deity called The Grandmother. This allowed him to be the cool cat who filled children’s stockings with gifts and left other presents. There’s a strange cross-cultural thing with his appearance. There was a time in Northern Europe where Old Nick’s mythology got intermingled with the mythology of Woden, you know the father of Thor, Balder and Tiw? Yeah that Woden. You see, it was Woden that had the long white beard who rode his horse through the heavens every evening. In 1809 Washington Irving, yes the “Sleepy Hollow”, “Rip Van Winkle” guy, wrote a satire on Dutch culture called “Knickerbocker History” and he called old flying Saint Nick/Woden horse riding dude “Santa Claus”. First known mention. Clement Moore (you know it, that’s the Night Before Christmas writer) read this story and in his still very famous poem wrote about this Santa Claus guy and was the first to mention the eight reindeer and the stockings hanging by the chimney.

You see? This isn’t very ancient history.

Now the Santa that we know? With the red suit and the chubby belly and the rosy cheeks? You know who created him? Do you? The motherfucking Coca Cola Corporation! In 1931! For reference on the ancient history thing, my father was alive in 1931. Ancient tradition my ass. This was done as a fucking advertisement! Goddammit! They commissioned a Swedish artist to draw this Santa and insisted that his furry suit be Coca Cola Red.

CCscriptRED

The artist chose a friend of his as the inspiration because his friend had a chubby, cheerful face. I guess we started to crack the commercialization aspect of the holiday a bit now didn’t we?

Ads, commercials, modern Christmas Carols, Black Friday, all of this shit goes back to this moment. And with that revelation I will never drink another Coca Cola product.

Hate filled rant time!

I grew up loving Christmas, I couldn’t sleep at all the night before. I loved the feel, the smells, the presents, the tree and the lights and the family get togethers and just within the last decade or two I have begun to fucking loathe this holiday. Nothing to do with Jesus or the concept but the blatant and force fed commercialization makes me want to fucking puke up my Christmas cookies. The ads begin before Thanksgiving and they are glaring, insidious and relentless. They bastardize EVERY existing carol to sell their shit. “It’s the most wonderful SALE of the year!” Double fist fuck you miserable shit eating corporate cocksuckers for making me feel this way. Look what you’ve done to this wonderful occasion. Stores are overcrowded, many of the people are obnoxious, commercialized fucking greed-heads who don’t give a shit about the spirit of the season, they just want to get their new electronic LED light up ashtray because it’s 20% off today only! You motherfuckers brought this on yourself! Your very ads scream “Door Buster Sale” and you wonder why people hurt themselves and each other and literally crash in the front doors of your fucking stores. You have fully fucked the entire holiday season now. You weren’t happy enough with just fucking up Christmas OH NO!!! Now you have your shitty After Christmas sales that start at the butt crack of dawn on the 26th so these rampaging shit-for-brains can run back to the stores and get in another fucking free-for-all. But the biggie! My big goddamn point here is YOU HAVE NOW FUCKED UP THANKSGIVING TOO! You miserable fucking assholes. “Now Black Friday Sales start on Thanksgiving!” Fuck you! My daughter couldn’t come to Thanksgiving dinner this year because she had to work ON Thanksgiving night until 3:00 AM the next fucking morning! This shit needs to stop immediately!

I feel better now.

Summation:

I still enjoy the holidays themselves. It’s because I get to spend time with my family and friends. You don’t have to adhere to their definition of “tradition”. Make your own traditions. One of my traditions when I was married and raising the kids was to cook whatever the girls wanted on Christmas Eve. I mean whatever they wanted. It started out simple when they were young. Things like a box of Twinkies and some pancakes but it got more challenging as their tastes changed. I finally had to stop a few years back when I had already made a lasagne (recipe is in there some place) a quiche lorraine and also started the grill on Christmas Eve to grill some jerk chicken. We still keep a few of the most requested items around for the holidays, totally random shit like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Chicken in a Biskit crackers, that shitty Kraft cheese in the can and pizza rolls. Hey, these are OUR traditions. The family gets together for some food, plenty of drinks, we usually play some hands of poker and we will sometimes watch the DVD of the time we were on The Family Feud. Did you know that my father, brothers and I were 5 time undefeated champs who won right at 36 grand? It’s true. We were bad motherfuckers on that show.

Spend time with your family, give the gifts to the kids but the older adults get family time and lots and lots of love.

In my opinion THAT is the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Holidays everyone. Love from my family to yours.

Quick post script: as I was tidying, editing and cleaning up this post my daughter called to tell me that she wasn’t going to make it for Christmas after all due to working too many hours and because she said the shoppers attitudes destroyed her mood and all she wanted to do was go home, cry and sleep. I won’t be seeing her until some time in January. The prosecution rests.

laserguru
laserguru
yeah right is a lifelong Vikings fan. He is into self denial and still harbors hope. Loves to cook, read and drink. But he doesn't plate.
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Sunday Gravy with yeah right: Get your Swine on! Braised country style ribs and gratin potatoes. – [DOOR FLIES OPEN]SonOfSpamMoose -The End Is Well NighDon TThePirateSloth Recent comment authors
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[…] Next thing you know you’ll tell us Santa Claus as we know him was invented by the Coca Cola company! Well actually. […]

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
ThePirateSloth
ThePirateSloth

I like the cut of your jib and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Let the hate flow!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Lothar of the Hill People
Lothar of the Hill People

Whenever I read my kids’ books about the nativity, they know all the parts where I rant and rave about how “Bethlehem doesn’t look like that,” etc. One book that riles me up shows Bethlehem as a valley oasis in a bleak, empty desert. On more than one occasion, I’ve closed up the book and grabbed my phone to show the kids some of my pictures of Bethlehem, with the olive groves and the Church of the Nativity on the highest hill. It amazes me how authors can write shit about (and draw shit about) an event they thoroughly believe happened in a particular place, and yet they obviously never traveled to that place.

Anyway, the cold water I splash in my face about having spent significant chunks of time in Bethlehem is that we can be pretty sure that Yeshua of Nazareth was almost certainly not born in Bethlehem, and absolutely not on December 25. And even if he was born there and/or somewhere near the winter solstice, the events were absolutely not as described in the Gospels.

Knowing all that, and hating the commercialism of the holiday, I still try to make it special and meaningful for my kids, so that some day they’ll have treasured memories of the holidays and be able to complain about how “people today” are fucking up their most wonderful time of the year.

Because the whole point of the season is complaining about how far it has fallen into degradation, right?

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

May be able to get your kids to say; “Back when IIIIIIII was your age…..[things were more real/harder/better/etc.]

http://45.media.tumblr.com/99a508f999d77fdc436412834eeff1e9/tumblr_no7baahzdM1s26dsio3_540.gif

JerBear50
JerBear50

I was interested by the Coke thing and did some research. It looks like that image was actually created long before Coca Cola had those portraits done. From what I found, the modern version of Santa was started by Thomas Nast from Harpers Weekly in the 1860’s. The coke ads definitely polished the image, but it was already pretty well established by that point.

https://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/1225.html

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-SMiHCnrMiLo/TvYKDhWmHgI/AAAAAAAABoo/GugCvTgLGtk/s320/Nast+Christmas+Illustrations.jpg

JerBear50
JerBear50

I feel you man. I work a lot of holidays (that’s where I’m at now) so I’m used to it, but my girlfriend had to work tonight because the bar/restaurant she works at decided to open up for the night. With all the generous, good-will Christmas sentiment, she managed to make a whopping forty fucking dollars for an 8 and a half hour shift. She had a table of guys run up tabs over $100 each and then tipped her five bucks. People are shitbags no matter what time of year it is.

King Hippo

hopefully she caught the creeper vibes ahead of time, and started pre-emptively spitting into their drinks.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

FUCK THOSE PEOPLE!

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
JerBear50
JerBear50

DON’T YOU HURT MY DOG!!!

Sill Bimmons
Sill Bimmons

That’s a bummer. Hope you can be with your family again soon.

As for Christmas’ origin, things go even further back than the Romans.

http://stonehengetours.com/stones-wintersunset.jpg

That is the sun going down on the winter solstice as seen through the Great Trilithon at Stonehenge.

Stonehenge was aligned toward the winter solstice because it was the most important day of the year. For months, the people who built Stonehenge watched as the days became shorter and shorter. They knew that the shortest day had always been Dec. 21, and that the next day was just a little bit longer. The sun had never abandoned them before, but there was no guarantee that this Dec. 22 was going to be even a little bit shorter than the solstice and that the sun was going away for good.

So it was time to party like the world was about to end. Literally. All around Stonehenge are evidences of massive feasting grounds that were used by its people to celebrate another year/go hard because this might be the last time we ever do this I LOVE YOU GUYS

There are Neolithic monuments all over northern Europe dedicated to the winter solstice. The celebration gave them a warm moment in the harsh winter and one last hurrah if the sun decided not to come back.

Christmas is so important because it happens the winter. Nobody rocks Christmas like northern Europe/North America for a reason. Winter sucks and it’s time to party.

Have a frank and productive solstice season.

Don T

Hmm. That nobody rocks Christmas declaration is a bold statement.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
entropy

It’s Christmas in prison
There’ll be music tonight
I’ll probably get homesick,
I love you
Goodnight.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Don T

Some of our moms and all of our spinster aunts say that it is Baby Jesus who actually deliver the gifts.
Hope the family gets together soon. Merry Christmas man.

entropy

I am firmly ensconced at the older brother’s place, drinking Jameson & Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale. It is alarmingly high in alcohol content. Xmas is now tolerable.

Merry Merry, folks.

Senor Weaselo

They make ginger ale too? Oh fuck yes.

jjfozz

Reading about my ancestors, the Romans, and their society makes me feel okay about how I behave.

jjfozz

What? Huh? I’m in a meat ravioli and meatball/braciole coma

BrettFavresColonoscopy

I learned something today. Thanks, YR.

And on top of the history, that’s solid “you do you” advice for the holidays. I’ll toss back a tipple in your honor when I get back from seeing Star Wars tonight, only the second time in my Jewy life that I’ll be in a movie theater on Christmas Day.

Beastmode Ate My Baby

Great read! It made my atheist heart grow three sizes (so it’s now the size of a walnut).

There’s also this:

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/12/here-are-5-reasons-to-suspect-jesus-never-existed/

Interestingly, one current theory points to the Roman Empire itself fabricating Christianity as an alternative religion to the more militant Judaism.

ballsofsteelandfury

Awesome post!

As a Catholic that actually goes to church, I heartily endorse this post.

The latest thing that is pissing me off about Christmas is that an acquaintance sent a group text wishing people a merry Christmas and now my stupid phone is blowing up with messages from random people I don’t know. Grrrrr!

SonOfSpam

There are still Catholics who go to church???

Senor Weaselo

Is there video of the yeah right family on Family Feud? I’d like to see that.