Happy Holiday Thought For The Day

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Not being one to fan the flames of the culture war (honest!), I probably shouldn't bring this up, but it occurred to me recently that with the proliferation of establishment clause lawsuits over "In God We Trust" on our currency, the Pledge of Allegiance, and creches, why has no one brought a lawsuit against the National Christmas Tree?

In a transparent effort to avert such lawsuits, municipalities have begun to call their Christmas Trees "Holiday Trees." However, this ploy won't fly with the Reverend Jerry Falwell and Bill O'Reilly.

I wonder if it would bother Falwell and O'Reilly if they realized that the tradition of decorating trees at a midwinter festival was adopted from the Druids?

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  1. I do not care what they call it, so lang as my dog and I can still use it.

  2. and the Good Vikings had trees too. Its pagan at best. Not Christian in origin. Like all things Christian, it too was absorbed to pacify the pagans into following Rome.

  3. There’s also an interesting coincidence between the late december Saturnian holidays of the Roman Republic/Empire and early Christian placement of Jesus’s birthday on the 25th.

    Not to mention that the stoic writings of Cicero, Marcus Aurelius and others sound a hell of a lot like they inspired early Christians as well. Read Aurelius’s Meditations and substitute “Will of God” in place of “Fortune.”

  4. But you could do a lot worse than those guys as inspirations for your fledgling sect.

  5. I don’t think Falwell and O’Reilly care where the tree came from originally. That’s not the point, this is not about defending Christian theology, it is a fight about tribalism. This is a country founded and traditionally run by Northern Europeans. In the early 20th century when other groups (Italians, Greeks, Eastern European Jews) who did not share these traditions managed to gain political and economic power they were willing to conform to the prevailing WASP traditions, to the point that even Jews would put up Christmas trees and composed most of our Christmas music. In America today the social pressure to conform to the old WASP traditions is eroding quickly and this social change is very threatening to people like Falwell and his supporters. The War over Christmas is just another front on the same Campaign as the War against homosexuals and the War against immigrants.

  6. TWWEBEBEBEBEBEBEET!!
    Personal Foul
    Consecutive O’Reilly posts

    one week Bill moratorium

  7. Someone tell Starbucks that they’re not pulling their weight in the War on Christmas. Everytime I go in there it’s wall-to-wall Christmas tunes. I wouldn’t mind a little mixed in with the usual audio wallpaper but it’s a constant barrage. I wonder how the people who work their keep their sanity. I do like hearing Dean Martin though.

    Don’t forget Santa is just Odin/Woden/Wotan in disguise.

  8. I’d like to see a National Thirty Foot Tall Druid covered with lights and bull’s blood, playing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” on a xylophone made from human rib-cages.

  9. Much of the myth of Christ was borrowed from the myth of Gilgamesh.

    And as was pointed out, the early church switched the celebration of Christ’s birth to match the Roman celebration of Saturnalia.
    (“Keep Saturn in Saturnalia!”)

    Considering all of the various pagan myths from around the world that have been incorporated into the Church — it’s almost as if Christianity has EVOLVED.

  10. The first guy who put some tinsel on a tree must have felt pretty nervous and silly.

  11. Not to mention that the stoic writings of Cicero, Marcus Aurelius and others sound a hell of a lot like they inspired early Christians as well.

    If you read Meditations, you’ll find that Aurelius credited the teachings of the Neo-Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana for his beliefs. Apollonius has had more than a few Jesus-style miracles attributed to him by his contemporaries, and many think he may have been the historical figure behind the Christian Apostle Paul.

  12. To the ancient mind, did “decorating” a tree imply the tree should be female or a drag queen?
    Thoughts?

  13. I wonder if it would bother Falwell and O’Reilly if they realized that the tradition of decorating trees at a midwinter festival was adopted from the Druids?

    Conversely, I also wonder if it would appease those so offended by people following a guy nailed to a cross that the tradition of decorating trees at a midwinter festival has a pagan origin.

  14. I wonder if it would bother Falwell and O’Reilly if they realized that the tradition of decorating trees at a midwinter festival was adopted from the Druids?

    But no one knows who they were, or what they were doing… so why should it bother them?

  15. Much of the myth of Christ was borrowed from the myth of Gilgamesh.

    Not to mention Herecles, Dinoysus, and even Alexander the Great. The god-makes-it-with-a-mortal-virgin-and-sires-a-son meme was quite popular in that part of the ancient world.

    (BTW did anyone see the vignette in a recent Family Guy where a teenaged Jesus calls God to complain about Joseph? “Come on baby, it’s my birthday!” Deliciously blasphemous, I must say.)

    Considering all of the various pagan myths from around the world that have been incorporated into the Church — it’s almost as if Christianity has EVOLVED.

    Of course they has evolved. For instance: The Icthus, that annoying fish insignia you see on the bumpers of fundie’s mini-vans, was the orginal symbol for Christianity before the Chruch decided that a depiction of a method of execution (i.e. the cross) was somehow more appropriate.

  16. At this time of year the conifers on the south shore of Lake Onterio are festooned with owls.

  17. Not being one to fan the flames of the culture war

    They need fanning?

    I’m getting emails from “Christian” groups that want me to boycott stores with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” ads because they’re secularizing the season. I note that that’s a change from the same groups’ efforts in previous years to promote boycotts at stores with “Merry Christmas” ads because they commercialized the season.

  18. Someone tell Starbucks that they’re not pulling their weight in the War on Christmas.

    Funny you mention that… I normally do not frequent Starbucks but have found myself going a lot in the last few weeks. This morning, I think I realized it is one of the few “dining” establishments where I can get a full, unashamed dose of the Christmas season. It’s over the top how much into the “spirit” they get. Listening to Top 40 while reading my paper in the “non-chain” coffee shop just wasn’t doing it for me…

  19. Someone tell Starbucks that they’re not pulling their weight in the War on Christmas.

    What? Selling X-Mas CDs, gingerbread, and Egg Nog Lattes isn’t enough?

  20. saw-whet: are they saw-whet owls?

    Akira:

    When I was a good So. Baptist lad, we were making dioramas for Christmas in Sunday School. my banner on a shepard’s staff was too small for “Merry Christmas”, so I started to write “Merry Xmas”, as I had seen in ads. The Sunday School teacher criticized me for taking Christ out of Christmas. Years later, I learned X (Greek letter chi) was a commonly used symbol for Christ among the early Christians, since they were being persecuted for their beliefs, and that my Sunday School teacher was an ignoramus regarding the history of our own religion. I think of that whenever questions such as the one in Ronald Bailey’s post are posed.

  21. If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.

  22. >There’s also an interesting coincidence between the late december Saturnian holidays of the Roman Republic/Empire and early Christian placement of Jesus’s birthday on the 25th.

    Yeah, this is reflected in Western astrology. Christmas occurs during the Sun sign Capricorn (the goat), which is “ruled” by Saturn. But the figure of Christ is associated with Pisces (the fish). So ironically, Jesus’ birthday supposedly occurs under the sign associated with Saturn/Satan.

  23. First issue is use of tax dollars for tree. Not good, so they “holiday” it. Second issue is prominent use on government property; needs to be nondiscriminatory to other religious displays.

    Christmas is an orgy of consumerism for most people nowadays anyway. These fundamentalist Christians are becoming indistinguishable from Islamists. Thank goodness for the First Amendment; guess the Anti-Federalists had a point.

  24. The Sunday School teacher criticized me for taking Christ out of Christmas. Years later, I learned X (Greek letter chi) was a commonly used symbol for Christ among the early Christians, since they were being persecuted for their beliefs, and that my Sunday School teacher was an ignoramus regarding the history of our own religion.

    I don’t mind ignorance so much since it’s an easily curable affliction. However, it’s willful ignorance(i.e. “I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.”) that bugs me. You’d would think the faithful would put a little effort into research before they open their cake holes on such matters, or at least admit their wrong when someone points an error out to them. I bet if you pointed out the facts behind the origins of “X-Mas” to that teacher, they’d deny it entirely.

  25. (satan clause)

    Eh! You no-a fool me! There-a aint no Santee Claus!

  26. O’Reilly with historical perspective?

    This is the pundit who condemned the “war against Christmas” by invoking the horror that the founding fathers would have felt at seeing Americans secularizing such a sacred holiday.

    Neglecting, of course, that Christmas was seen as a “British” holiday by the newly independant Americans, and not widely celebrated by any, including the founding fathers. In fact, it was even illegal to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts until the 18th century (the Puritans disdained the holiday and banned it in England when they were in power). I believe that it was also illegal in Philidelphia for a number of years after the revolutionary war.

    In any case, O’Reilly can’t tell real history from platitudes, or from his own asshole, for that matter.

  27. What occurred to me was that Christmas is a national holiday. Hanukkah isn’t, Ramadan isn’t, etc. etc. Does this not indicate that we are a “Christian nation” to onlookers?

  28. But no one knows who they were, or what they were doing…

    No we’re not gonna fucking do Stonehenge!!!

  29. No we’re not gonna fucking do Stonehenge!!!

    How about Atlantis, or Atlanta for that matter.

  30. Does this not indicate that we are a “Christian nation” to onlookers?

    You know, that’s a good point. It certainly flies in the face of the conservatives who claim that “…the First Amendement was only meant to keep the government from starting a ‘Chruch of America.'”

    A hypothetical “Church Of America?” The Christian Right? At this point, I say the difference is moot.

  31. linguist,
    I agree, but how do holidays get started in the first place without a little emotional investment?
    It’s a Catch-22.

    I wish all holidays could be nameless and guaranteed to be either on a Friday or a Monday.

  32. I wish all holidays could be nameless and guaranteed to be either on a Friday or a Monday.

    Totally agree. Well, I think this is one slippery slope we won’t have to worry about. It will stop right about the time that people realize they’re about to lose a paid holiday! 🙂

  33. Someone tell Starbucks that they’re not pulling their weight in the War on Christmas. Everytime I go in there it’s wall-to-wall Christmas tunes…

    Here in Las Vegas there’s a ClearChannel affiliate (106.5) that plays nothing but Christmas music from Nov. 22 through Dec. 25. I would not be surprised to find comparable stations throughout the country, especially if they carry the Delilah show.

    How do I know this? My wife prefers that station.

  34. Shawn Smith – I would feel pity for you but we owls care little for your human ways.

  35. The ACLU should be suing the government to have a National Wicker Man erected in DC.

  36. “Does this not indicate that we are a “Christian nation” to onlookers?”

    An argument could be made that the legal holiday exists for pragmatic reasons, not for establishment reasons, and if another religion gained enough adherents in the US its holidays would likely become legal holidays too.

  37. Here in M’waukee I think that 3 stations are on all-Xmas music. One is taking heat from the fundies because they haven’t been playing any religious holiday music yet. The stick in question is normally an oldies rock station, so their ur-carol would be Brenda Lee singing Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, rather than Jim Nabors doing O, Holy Night, but they say that they will start playing the godly stuff as Dec. 25 approaches.

    The sensible solution is to place community trees on private property, such as the Rockefeller Center tree in NYC.

    Kevin

  38. Xmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

  39. Kevin. poor Cheesehead Kevin.

    Having the promised land just a short way down 94 must be so close yet so far…. 🙂

    (in my pool i have the packers winning on sundae, but then again, i picked the bears to win only six)

    does this mean that you’ll be listening to WTMJ now? (best call sign. ever)

    and dammit. now “rockin'” is in my head. grrr it’s not as bad as “feliz navidad”, of course.

    feliz navidad
    feliz navidad
    yo n’ soy marinaro
    soy captian
    soy captain
    feliz navidad
    feliz navidad
    and bingo was his name-o

  40. Not the Druids, the Germans. And since we’re not inflaming the culture wars I won’t mention the Nazi fondness for Woden, Thor etc. and leave parnanoid connections to others

  41. The Icthus, that annoying fish insignia you see on the bumpers of fundie’s mini-vans, was the orginal symbol for Christianity before the Chruch decided that a depiction of a method of execution (i.e. the cross) was somehow more appropriate.

    Actually, this is a persistant myth. The actual icon was ruthlessly swindled from Pagans as well. It started it’s life as a symbolic representation of either the vagina or the god Bacchus (depending on who you talk to) but the good St. Augustine, never one to let sex get in the way of a good story, pointed to the symbol and was all like “nice fish! Uh, Jesus=fisher of men! Convert or I’ll bash your skull in with a rock.” His justification for this was the fact that if you acronym the following Iesous Chreistos Theou Uios Soter or Jesus Christ the Son of God the Saviour (for those of you who aren’t, in point of fact, well versed in things useless) you get ICThUS. So, they like totally had every right to use it, he said in exactly those words. The early Christians didn’t really have symbols, first and foremost because outside of a few abnormal reigns they weren’t persecuted any worse than any other fringe group, making it unnecessary, but also because if you are being persecuted, there’s little that’s as fucking stupid as making the symbol of another God your method of identification. Can you imagine how that would go?

    Christian-Greetings, fellow Christ-lover!
    Pagan-What now?
    Christian-The fish. Aren’t you a Christian?
    Pagan-Ummm, no, I’m a Bacchus-worshipper.
    Christian-Crap. I’m getting fed to the lions, aren’t I?
    Pagan-Oh yeah.

    Not that it matters, since Christmas is really little more than pseudo-Pagan Popery. If these people were half as good at this whole Protestant thing as they claim to be they wouldn’t touch Mithrasmas with a ten-foot pole.

  42. Wait, clarification: Egyptians used the crossed-anchor in their catacombs, but wearing this or using it in public would have been like wearing coffin jewelery. Plus the Egyptian Christians were Gnostic, which is why they don’t use the anchor so much anymore these days.

  43. Shem,
    Which came first?:
    Iesous was here.
    or Kilroy was here?

    “Tag” much do you?

  44. As you gather around the secular gift-giving holiday conifer, we wish you all a merry secular gift-gving holiday. And Happy Christmas to the real Christians as well, few as you are.

    We’ll be celebrating Mars Day (which isn’t even a “real” holiday and is at the wrong time for the true apers of all things Roman, but for those of you who are also inaccurately anachronistic pagans, the proper greeting is “have a glorious Mars Day”) on the winter solstice.

    QFMC cos. V

  45. These Druids you speak of … were they libertarian Druids?

  46. “At this time of year the conifers on the south shore of Lake Onterio are festooned with owls.”

    Comment by: saw-whet at December 2, 2005 12:36

    Man, that’s got to be really cool! Can one actually see them? I had never heard an owl ’til I moved out of the city years ago. Funny thing though, I knew exactly what it was just as soon as I heard it. I live way down here in Texas in part of what used to be a pine forest. At certain times of the year I could hear them outside the window at night, way the hell up in the hundred foot tall pines around the yard. I don’t hear them nearly as often as I used to. They have probably moved on; sometimes I think that I should as well. And for the rest of you all, no, they don’t go “who who”.

  47. “At this time of year the conifers on the south shore of Lake Onterio are festooned with owls.”

    Comment by: saw-whet at December 2, 2005 12:36

    If you want to see owls here on the south shore , e-mail me.

    saw-whet
    fmgillette@peoplepc.com

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