Raining On The Christmas Parade

I confess to not liking Christmas much. All the compulsory gift-giving, mandatory office parties, forced and uncomfortable family gatherings, crowded stores and general holiday chaos and hoopla is quite a bit more than this cynical introvert can cope with.

That said, I do still participate in the festivities to a degree. I started the whole tree and presents thing when my son was a baby, and I don’t think it’s fair to abruptly snatch it all away just because I’m beginning to like it considerably less with each passing season. But I am trying to gradually tone it down with the hope of eventually bypassing it completely.

It’s interesting, though, to observe and listen to Christians discussing the holiday and what it “really” means, occasionally reminding each other not to forget the “Christ” in “Christmas”. Having been a practicing Christian for the vast majority of my life, I know that this is a reminder that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Savior of the world who was born of a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem and, well, I’m sure we all know the story, Christian or not.

The really awkward part of that whole “reason for the season” is the fact that the circumstances surrounding this miraculous birth are neither original nor unique to Jesus or even to Christianity. I’ve known this for quite some time, but a post by my friend, Gary, entitled Christmas and Mithras got my wheels spinning again and there’s no time like the present to go ahead and write about it.

Gary talks about how he very nearly became infected with a Christmas bug upon seeing some pretty lights on a tree. He was quickly cured before too much damage was done by watching a video clip from QI, which Gary has embedded in the above-linked post for your viewing pleasure.

In it, Stephen Fry and those on the panel discuss why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. In doing so, Fry also outlines some of the characteristics of Mithras (2000 B.C.E.) and the story surrounding his life:

  • Called Savior
  • Sent to Earth to live as a mortal
  • Through him, sinners could be reborn
  • Died for our sins
  • Came back to life the following Sunday
  • Born of a virgin in a manger or perhaps a cave
  • Attended by shepherds
  • Known as the light of the world
  • Had twelve disciples with whom he shared a last meal before dying

My goodness! Where have I heard that before?

But Mithras wasn’t the only god to share these striking similarities. Horus (3000 B.C.E) shared them all and the following as well:

  • Mother’s name Meri
  • Annunciation by an angel to his mother
  • Heralded by a star
  • Announced by angels
  • Witnessed by three solar deities (wise men)

More here and here.

There was also Krishna (1200 B.C.E) who shared most of the same attributes, plus these:

  • Second person of the Trinity
  • Adoptive human father was a carpenter
  • Spirit or ghost was his actual father
  • Was without sin
  • Criticized for associating with sinners

More here and here.

So, you see, the so-called “Christ in Christmas” did not originate with Christianity at all. The story behind the Christian celebration of Christmas is a scrapbook of hand-me-down legends and myths that predated the Jesus figure by several millennia. In fact, the tenets of Christianity most significant to Christians; the very foundation of Christianity itself — the virgin birth, and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus — are all borrowed from previous religions and gods.

Now, I say this not to criticize Christians for their beliefs or religious practices and celebrations. The fact that the story of Jesus is not original or unique doesn’t matter one bit to me. I do find the parallels very interesting, however, and of equal or perhaps even greater interest is the fact that so many Christians who make an effort to focus on the “reason for the season” seem completely unaware of it all.

But celebrate or don’t for whatever reason you choose, or for no reason at all. Whether you gain a new perspective from reading this post or dismiss it altogether, it doesn’t really matter: I am writing this for informational purposes only. Do with it what you will.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Bah Humbug; it’s all the same to me!

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

Advertisements

27 responses to “Raining On The Christmas Parade

  • Terra

    Oh yes I felt the same way… Very same way… The reason for the season? Family πŸ™‚ Not extended when I can help it though…

  • saintpaulgrrl

    I could write my own post about this topic and would probably do so if I wasn’t doped up to the max on ibuprofen! I can tick off all the reasons why Christmas doesn’t mean anything to me. Family? Nope! Best to avoid getting us altogether in one room or someone is probably going to get punched in the eye. The birth of Jesus? Well, yeah, him and a lot of other characters from the history of the world, as you outlined above. (Good history synopsis, Lottie. I’ve just become familiar with some of this after reading some historical religiously-based fiction. But then again, most religion is fiction, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰ ) The closest I’ve come to finding meaning in this holiday are the pagan celebrations involving the winter solstice, but one doesn’t need to buy gifts upon gifts, attend parties, send cards, and generally be completely inundated with propaganda about this holiday for a third of every year to celebrate the return of light following the darkness!

    Well! I did a mini-post on your blog! Thanks for renting me some space — and thank you for your friendship. We’ll survive this holiday. I guarantee it!

  • Lottie

    Terra: Do you put up a tree and everything? Just curious.

    Bonnie: I’m glad to hear from you. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you were feeling. I guess the ibuprofen is doing the job then?

    Take as much space as you want, any time you want. Thanks for a great comment and I’ll look forward to seeing your post when you’re up to it.

  • Obi-Mom Kenobi

    It’s funny, because I think I enjoy the winter holidays now more as an atheist than I did as a religious person. No more guilt. I can just enjoy the snow, the friends, the few presents and the time with Dad Windu and Padawan Learner. We bow out of things we don’t enjoy and we severely limit time with people who bug us. Each of us three have the right to impose a two-hour limit (max) on forced-family-fun-time (aka, when the extended families get together). It’s nice to be able to toss the junk we don’t like (I always hated that advent candle ring thing) and keep or incorporate the parts we like (such as roaming around at night and seeing all the lights on peoples’ houses. I hope you can find a few parts to enjoy.

  • Lottie

    Thanks, Obi-Mom. Glad to hear you’re still enjoying it. I enjoy seeing my son enjoy it, but that’s about all at this point. Maybe I’ll eventually find ways to enjoy it or invent new ways of my own to celebrate. My husband and I have discussed that as well.

    Thanks for commenting. Always nice to hear from you.

  • dam

    Hey! I liked this post. You know I’m totally with you on these sentiments….Besides, Jesus Christ wasn’t even born on Dec. 25th!

  • Lottie

    Yep! Assuming, of course, that he was born at all.

    Have you seen The God Who Wasn’t There? I would love to and can’t find a copy and don’t have a credit card to get it online.

    Dear Santa… πŸ˜†

  • Terra

    Oh yes a tree, the whole nine yards… Minus church, prayer, and other things of the like… Didn’t seem like it would be fair for all the kids my children knows to get presents and stuff and for them to be excluded…

  • Postman

    Hark! Do you hear what I hear?

    It’s Baby Jesus crying because he just found out He wasn’t an only child.

  • Terra

    I am lost postman, I thought it was always known that Jesus wasn’t an only child? (Joseph [or “Joses”], Simon and Judas [Jude]), and James… Oh and at least 3 sisters (but you know woman aren’t as important so we don’t really hear about them…)

  • Lottie

    Terra: My sentiments, exactly (re: the tree and presents and stuff)

    Postman: If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then this really ought to make him squall.

    And to add insult to injury, he now knows that his brother is part smurf?

  • Terra

    ROFL, I love the Smurf. Why didn’t I get a smurf for a brother or sister? πŸ™‚

    Oh and I forgot Simon.

  • Postman

    Terra,
    Sure, but those guys had a different father from a later marriage.

  • saintpaulgrrl

    “Have you seen The God Who Wasn’t There? I would love to and can’t find a copy and don’t have a credit card to get it online.

    Dear Santa…”

    Maybe Santa is listening, Lottie… πŸ˜‰

  • Lottie

    What a day it’s been for me! First, Gawd acknowledged my existence and now Santa may be listening to me. Both, for the first time in 42 years.

    . πŸ˜†

  • Terra

    ROFL!!!

    We all know that Joseph was a man of Gods word, and we know that if in reality that kid wasn’t his, he would have done his Godly duties and punished Mary… πŸ™‚

  • Lottie

    I know we’re all just shooting the breeze here, but that’s a good point, Terra. Wouldn’t Jospeh have had her stoned or something similarly brutal?

  • efilyzarcym

    OMFSM….there is SO much to comment on. Let’s see….
    1) Lottie, I meant to let you know that I HAD watched “The God Who Wasn’t There” and quite honestly, the parts you posted were the best parts of it. You might be disappointed with it once you are able to see it – – so, I would for sure suggest renting vs. buying.

    2) This post was fabulous!!! I have tried to talk to people about this very subject…..most of the time, if they are christian, they just tune out and their eyes start glossing over. Perhaps at some point, I will just give up trying to get people to think. UGH!!

    3) I HATE this time of the year…I HATE christmas….mostly because I feel it is “forced upon me.” Now, before I get anyone who says, “you have choices,” I agree…however, I feel a certain indebetedness to my parents who helped us out of a tight spot four years ago. (When my daughter started using drugs and we were pretty close to destitute (is that spelled right?), my parents gave us $2500 to move cross country….it is the unspoken string that is attached.) Perhaps, at some point, I can change my attitude; however, now I choose not to.

    4) Really good point Terra. πŸ™‚

  • Lottie

    Hey, Heidi! Glad you liked the post. I know what you mean about people tuning out, though. I’ve received a lot of hits on this, and I wonder how many have read all the way through.

    As for The God Who Wasn’t There, I can’t find it anyway, for rental or for purchase. I think they don’t like that heathen stuff in my neck of the woods. Ha! But I’m dying to see it.

    I can also relate to feeling obligated to other people. I’m estranged from my family, but society in general puts a certain amount of pressure on people, especially through our kids. Hmmm… I’m not quite awake enough to go into that, but it’s a topic that just might be worthy of its very own post.

    Thanks for commenting. It’s always good to hear from you.

  • Postman

    Lottie,
    I Netflixed, (we Americans can turn anything into a verb), TGWWT. So if you use Netflix, no problem.

  • Lottie

    Postman,
    I know this will sound terribly unAmerican, but I don’t have a credit card. 😦

    (I started typing “postcard” instead of “credit card” πŸ˜† )

  • Terra

    First things first LOTTIE what do you mean you don’t have a credit card? no debit card either? OMG, I think my heart is going to fail… Not having a credit card is totally going to kill our economy! πŸ˜‰

    I have a theory about the birth of Jesus. See the other interpretation for the words that expressed the “virgin birth” are also “unwed birth” However, the second one acknowledges that Mary broke the law so they (the Church) decided that a virgin birth was better. Also as your post pointed out, it was something people were ignorant about so they would buy it.

    I have no doubts in my mind as to who the father of Jesus was. If I am wrong on that one, the other option was that she had sex with someone else and Joseph forgave her (which if they were to be married would be in his power to do as her wrong would be his right to avenge.) The second option actually would explain a lot about the character of Jesus, and his willingness to forgive those sins. Either way Joseph is the father as your father is the one that raises you not the one that gives you DNA. Either way the father wasn’t “God” unless you believe in god in the traditional spirit where we are all his children. (Which if you read beyond the bible, to the other teachings that weren’t put into the bible this was what Jesus claimed. He said he wasn’t god, and god was his father in the same way that god is the father of every person on earth…) paraphrased of course

  • Lottie

    Terra,
    I know. The recession is all my fault! πŸ˜†

    Interesting stuff about Jesus. Now I feel like reading up on all that again. It’s been a while.

    Thanks for the refresher… πŸ˜€

  • Terra

    LOL I am glad someone enjoys it. I think my family feels my biblical obsession (and my obsession with Jesus) boarders on unhealthy. I find all the different interpretations to be fascinating though. I am currently reading a book about the bible and homosexuality, and it hypothesizes that the bible isn’t against homosexuality in the terms that we think of today. When I am done reading it I plan on doing a summary. It is quite interesting, and thus far I can’t fault the logic completely, although there are a few leaps of faith…

  • Lottie

    I find it fascinating as well. Maybe we’re both sickos. LOL (just kidding)

    I’ll look forward to your summary. That should be really interesting.

  • Postman

    No credit card, Lottie?! There’s only so much Gawdless, heathen, pinko communist horror that I can take in one go.

  • Lottie

    See? I knew it would change things…

You must be logged in to post a comment.

%d bloggers like this: