Christmas Clarification

I was looking through the IMDb page for A Charlie Brown Christmas when I stumbled upon the reviews for the special. I was interested how people would take it, since there is a part of the special when Linus quotes the book of Luke from the Bible, and says that the birth of Christ is what Christmas is all about.

Most of the reviews were positive, saying that the Christmas special was part of Christmas, and was so important, and a tradition for their family, etc. At the very bottom, were six or seven negative reviews, which said basically the same thing: Charlie Brown Christmas promotes Christian propaganda by falsely claiming that Christmas is about the birth of Christ, which is entirely false.

Um, no. Let me explain.

Yes, before the birth of Christ, there were celebrations during the period we typically think of as the "Christmas season"--the problem is, they weren't Christmas. They were the Saturnalia, or other Greek, Norse, and Roman rituals which involved idol worship, blatant sexuality, and general drunkenness and debauchery. We do get lots of traditions from these celebrations--Yule logs, Christmas trees, and kissing under the mistletoe, to name a few. They were not, however, Christmas.

Christmas didn't come until many years later. It was originally created as a religious feast by the Catholic Church to celebrate the birth of Christ. Hence the name: Christmas=Christ's mass. Here's where many people tend to get confused. Though Christ was probably born in what we now call March or April, the Church chose to celebrate his birth in December--specifically, the last day of Saturnalia, on the 25th. Why? Because they hoped to shift the general populace's focus from general debauchery and sin to Christ and His coming.  By choosing a day which the general populace was familiar with already for something the Church believed was negative, they hoped to change the focus to a positive one.

Basically, yes, there are winter celebrations which historically have occurred during the month of December, but no--these were not Christmas. Christmas as a holiday--the reason we celebrate it the way we do (and not with naked singing in the streets and mass orgies)--is because of the Catholic Church trying to change the focus to God. Whether you acknowledge that bit of history or not (and an increasing number of people choose not to) it's still not valid to claim that the true meaning of Christmas, and the reason behind it, isn't a religious one. I will never claim that Christmas can only be celebrated by Christians, but I disagree strongly with those who try to claim that Christians have made Christmas into another opportunity to push Christian propaganda.

However you feel about Christmas and the existence of Christ, I do wish you the very best Christmas season, and hope to continue blogging in the new year--hopefully more frequently.

By the way, my sources include (beyond my own knowledge) the History Channel website, and CNN. Googling the history of Christmas should give you some good, legitimate sites to increase your understanding, if you're interested in learning more about this holiday. If you find anything which contradicts what I have said, please let me know! I'm always open to learning more.

Merry Christmas!

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