Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Original Meaning of Christmas

Recently discovery! Here is a picture of an early church Christmas celebration:


"The early Christians did not celebrate Christ's birth because they considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday

Wait a minute. Aren't Christian's supposed to be fighting to keep Christ as the true meaning of Christmas. Well I think that may depend on which Christmas traditions you are defending...

Date:

Many cultures had winter festivals long before Christ. The Romans had a festival called Saturna which occurs 8 days before the winter solstice.

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun". December 25 was Mithras' birthday, some sort of sun-god. It seems the Romans love for the sun had some influence on the date we celebrate for Christmas. (Just like Roman sun worship played a role in Sunday being the day for weekly worship.)

Gift giving:

- was part of the roman festival Saturna

Visiting friends:

- was part of the roman festival Saturna

Decorations:

- again people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter (before Christianity)


And then over the past 2000 years different cultures have added the Christmas tree, cards, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, special foods, songs and decorations.

So which Christmas traditions are we defending? I think they are simply a mixture of traditions, some created by the church, and some from various cultures.

Of course not all traditions are wrong. I look forward to spending time together with family, and enjoying some great food together. I look forward to placing special attention to the narrative of Jesus in scripture. And it is great that there is often a special interest in caring for the poor during this season.

I'm not suggesting we need to re-thing celebrating Christmas. I just want to add to our mindset a historical perspective on Christmas and birthdays.

Romans 14:5 (NIV)
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.
I guess in the spirit of Romans 14:5-18, it is not for us to judge others on the basis of if they celebrate a certain day or not.



Some sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia
http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/holidaysfestivals/a/solsticeceleb_4.htm


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2 comments:

Frank said...

Check out "monstrance" on wikipedia. This is what the catholic church uses as an essential piece of equipment for idolatrous worship.

Even in the midst of supposedly worshiping Christ they are bowing before a sunburst.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Frank. Sun Worship or Son Worship? Hmm... which one should I worship. :)