"The things I like about Christmas aren’t related to the
Christian story at all. The winter solstice, or the shortest day of the
year, in terms of daylight hours, was an important date in many ancient
traditions. This is now considered the first day of winter, but it also
marks when the days will begin getting longer, a welcome event for farming
communities and people who don’t like to come home from work when it’s
dark. It’s the day that the sun starts moving higher in the sky again,
thus it is unconquered, or Sol Invictus. Winter festivities around the world
included Roman Saturnalia, full of gift-giving and merry-making (ancient eggnog
anyone?), Roman new year celebrations , which helped to give us indoor greenery
to celebrate life amongst the cold, and Scandinavia, which gave us the Yule log.
Later, as Christianity became more established, they threw their holiday into the mix as to not be forgotten, and to reaffirm Jesus as the “unconquered son.”
mixed popularity in colonial
Since Christmas was so heavily steeped in pagan tradition, it was rejected by the
Puritans who settled the “New World.” Christmas had
America but fell out of favor, along with other English customs like tea time
and Doctor Who, after the Revolutionary War. In this era, Christmas continued to
be celebrated in various forms in Europe where the Christmas tree and Santa Claus became part of the holiday.
reinvented in 19th century America
Christmas as we know it was
as a peaceful family holiday that focused on children. The practice
of putting a Christmas tree in the house and giving presents to children from
Santa were incorporated at this time, and the holiday grew up to be one of
goodwill towards all mankind. It was declared a national holiday in
So really, when you look at it, axial tilt is the REAL reason for the
season, and we have a rich, complex history of traditions that have been
invented and reinvented over the years to surround that. I think that as
long as you don’t get wrapped up in cynical, crass commercialism, it can be
the most wonderful time of year!"
Yes! I am allowed a another legal holiday to spread good cheer - much like I do for Independence Day or Valentines (I take that back, I'm a grump during Valentines). I love the tree, the lights, the presents - heck...why not!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Reason for the Season
Let's just keep things straight during this crazy month. I snatched this from another favorited blog Noisy Astronomer