No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

“One of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans…”

 

Christmas has come back with a sweet vengeance.  People are saying Merry Christmas.  Stores once again use the word Christmas in their advertisement. We no longer languish under Obama’s horrid “holiday tree.”  We have, once again, a national Christmas Tree.

The main reason for all of this, of course, is President Donald Trump.  Yes, as difficult as it is for his enemies to digest, he has added Christmas to his growing list of victories.

Nevertheless, there is still strange resistance to Christmas.  Many love to rewrite history and accuse Christmas of originating from paganism.  This fake news about Christmas is also held by an unlikely source: legalistic Christians.

Yes, it’s true…a lingering religious spirit hampers many believers from rejoicing at this time of year.  They believe Christmas was appropriated from pagans.

That is why in this blog I am going to quote rather generously from an article by Jeremy Lott that nails the origin of Christmas and why you should lose the bah humbug and join the triumph of the skies.  -Mario Murillo

No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

jeremy

, Rare Contributor

In the endless back-and-forth about the true meaning of Christmas or the War on Christmas or whatever we’re calling it this year, one of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans.

Chastising conservative Christians in the Sacramento Bee, former talk show host Bruce Maiman cited the “fact” that “Christmas occurs on a pagan feast day, Saturnalia,” and alleges that “the earliest Christians deliberately moved the birth of Jesus to December 25, making it easier to sell Christianity to the Romans.”

The only problem with this criticism is that it doesn’t make one lick of historical sense.

Saturnalia was celebrated not on December 25 but on December 17 through 23. December 25 was during the throbbing “Oh please kill me” dry-out period between Saturnalia and New Year’s. It was thus a horrible time for sermons or celebrations – and Christmas was always a mix of both.

If you want to understand the calendaring of Christmas, look not to Rome but to Bethlehem – or, more broadly, to Judaism. The Talmud records a tradition that all especially righteous men die on the day of their conception. This figured greatly in how the church father Hippolytus figured Christ’s birth.

The accepted day of Jesus death was March 25 and so, writes religion know-it-all Michael Voll in Cracked, “Jesus’s conception must have also taken place on March 25th. Then basic biology tells us that nine months after conception comes the birth: December 25th.”

As for the very minor pagan festival of Sol Invictus, which people sometimes throw out when you shoot Saturnalia down, Cracked concedes that it did take place on December 25, but there’s an embarrassing rub. Turns out it “wasn’t created in until A.D. 274 (well after Hippolytus did his hump-math) by the Roman Emperor Aurelian.”

According to Voll, this late date for the smallish festival in fact raises the “good possibility that Sol Invictus was created to provide a pagan alternative to the Christian celebration, rather than the other way around. So hey, there you go, Christians: Go find that hippie neighbor and give him a nice, long lecture about stealing your dang holiday.”

Or perhaps, in the spirit of the day, you could just say “Merry Christmas” – and forward him this article.

No, Christmas didn’t take the place of a pagan holiday

No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

jeremy

, Rare Contributor

In the endless back-and-forth about the true meaning of Christmas or the War on Christmas or whatever we’re calling it this year, one of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans.

Chastising conservative Christians in the Sacramento Bee, former talk show host Bruce Maiman cited the “fact” that “Christmas occurs on a pagan feast day, Saturnalia,” and alleges that “the earliest Christians deliberately moved the birth of Jesus to December 25, making it easier to sell Christianity to the Romans.”

The only problem with this criticism is that it doesn’t make one lick of historical sense.

Saturnalia was celebrated not on December 25 but on December 17 through 23. December 25 was during the throbbing “Oh please kill me” dry-out period between Saturnalia and New Year’s. It was thus a horrible time for sermons or celebrations – and Christmas was always a mix of both.

If you want to understand the calendaring of Christmas, look not to Rome but to Bethlehem – or, more broadly, to Judaism. The Talmud records a tradition that all especially righteous men die on the day of their conception. This figured greatly in how the church father Hippolytus figured Christ’s birth.

The accepted day of Jesus death was March 25 and so, writes religion know-it-all Michael Voll in Cracked, “Jesus’s conception must have also taken place on March 25th. Then basic biology tells us that nine months after conception comes the birth: December 25th.”

As for the very minor pagan festival of Sol Invictus, which people sometimes throw out when you shoot Saturnalia down, Cracked concedes that it did take place on December 25, but there’s an embarrassing rub. Turns out it “wasn’t created in until A.D. 274 (well after Hippolytus did his hump-math) by the Roman Emperor Aurelian.”

According to Voll, this late date for the smallish festival in fact raises the “good possibility that Sol Invictus was created to provide a pagan alternative to the Christian celebration, rather than the other way around. So hey, there you go, Christians: Go find that hippie neighbor and give him a nice, long lecture about stealing your dang holiday.”

Or perhaps, in the spirit of the day, you could just say “Merry Christmas” – and forward him this article.

Here is the miracle God wants to do for you this Christmas season

 Christmas

Here is the miracle God wants to do for you this Christmas season.

By Mario Murillo

It is the darkest time in American History.  We yearn for peace, wisdom and safety.  We wonder about our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Our bodies succumb to weakness and pain from the raging stress of this age.

We cannot find the words for what we yearn for.  What is that miracle?  It is a work of unshakable emotional well-being.  We want an uninterrupted flow of God’s power, grace and love. How do we get this?

I want you to see three things God did and one thing you must do.  We begin with the meaning of Christmas.

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This year, defining Christmas is an emergency!  I do not fear for Christmas.  On the contrary, only the Gospel has as much power as Christmas.  Christmas will endure and impose its wonder on an angry world.  All of the rocks thrown at Christmas, all of the railing against it and all of the intellectual assaults on it, will bounce off and only reinforce its supernatural nature.

Christmas must be defined for our sake. As I surveyed the Word of God, three verses captured me and told me the clear meaning of Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

These verses should weaken our knees beneath a weight of eternal gratitude.  Christmas means this: God the Father gave His Son.

The human race was beyond helpless; cursed with an unlimited tendency for evil.  Human history horrifies.  Our story of one unending night of agony, ages of nothing but darkness.

There was only one who pierced the blackness.  His words came and they came to stay.  He kicked Satan’s teeth in and chained him to a twilight existence.  Left with only partial use of his powers, Lucifer awaits the certain doom sealed by the Cross and the Resurrection.

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How do I make the miracle of Christmas my daily strength? These three verses tell us something of unimaginable wonder: Christmas is first and last God the Father giving His Son.  He is the ultimate giver.  Eternity cannot calculate the depth, width or height of His supreme sacrifice.

Let me repeat what I said before.  There are three things God did and one thing you must do.

1. Jesus is a gift to you from the Father. “For unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6 begins not by telling us what was given but to whom it was given.  Jesus is a gift to you from the Father.  You must personalize the miracle of this gift.

Religion says God only rewards those who always do right.  That leaves us out.  But Christmas says, “He is a gift to you in all of your failings and the gift is given without condition.  You will never be without Him.”

My friend Lionel Rodriguera once sold a house in Southern California to a working class family.  He helped them find a loan; he closed escrow and gave them the keys.  A few days later he went to check on them.  He found them living in the garage.  They told him that they did not believe the house was theirs and huddled in the garage out of fear that the real owner would show up.  The hardness of life had given them a permanent sense of unworthiness.

How many of us are emotionally living in the garage because we do not accept that we are the owners of a great salvation? You are free to roam in all of the rooms of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is a permanent gift to you.  In a world where things are constantly being taken away, how amazing is it to know Jesus will always be there.

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2. You were worth the sacrifice. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus said this about the value of a soul: “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” 

A Giacometti sculpture sold for $101 million at an auction in New York City.  To me it is ugly.  I wouldn’t have given a hundred bucks for it. The point is that no one knew its value until the auction.

Likewise, the angels did not know the price of a single human soul until the Father gave his Son.  The darling of the universe crucified?  Heaven bankrupted for humanity? The value that God placed on the human soul stunned and baffled the angels.

Psychiatrists say we need to feel valuable to someone.  It is one of the deepest needs of mankind.  Christmas is booming to you, “Look at how valuable you are to the Father!”

3. How will He not? Once there was a millionaire widower who only had a son. With all of his wealth and power he still could not prevent his son from going to war in Korea.

His son was killed and the father could not be comforted.  He began a downward spiral until he lived in the shadows.  A year later a package arrived at his mansion.  It contained a perfect portrait of his son in uniform.   With it was this note:  “I am a young painter from Korea who befriended your son.  I painted this so that it might bring you some degree of comfort.  Thank you for your sacrifice to my country.”

That portrait hung over the mantle of the great hall of his estate until the day he died.

Soon the massive home was the site of a great auction.  Art treasures, antiques and vintage cars drew collectors from everywhere.  Two items were auctioned off.  The third item was the painting of the son.  No one bid on the painting because the painter and subject were unknown.

The silence is broken by the long time gardener of the estate who happened to be there as a bystander.  “I only have a hundred dollars to my name, but that boy was like my own son.”

With that the auctioneer began to pound the podium with his gavel. “This auction is over!” The stunned audience demanded to know why.  The auctioneer announced, “The Will states that whoever buys this painting gets the entire estate.”

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Likewise, whoever gets the Son of God gets the entire estate.  Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?   How will God withhold anything you need?

So what do you do for your miracle?  Psalm 116:12, 13 says. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. 14 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.”

Drink deeply from the well of salvation and call on God from a heart full of confidence of the mighty Christmas gift.

Make this the Christmas where the miracle of what God the Father gave us and gives us every day sinks into our soul so deeply that it neutralizes the power of fear and dread completely.

Mechelle and I want to wish you and those you love the merriest of all Christmases!

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