Let me start by saying, yes I am a Christian. I do believe in God and I do believe the Son of Man died for my sins. I believe in all things good; I believe in sin and I believe we will answer for our wrongs on the day we face our Creator. I also believe in Santa Clause!
I struggle with my Christianity and my addiction to Santa Clause every year as most of society celebrates the birth of Christ on such an obvious pagan holiday. We celebrate Christmas with our beautiful Christmas tree front and center, with our Santa’s on display and gifts beneath our tree. We gather round with friends and family on the first Sunday of December for what my family has fondly dubbed Christmas Tree Day and it is by far my most favorite day of the year. We call it Christmas; we do not say Happy Holidays, we do not decorate a holiday tree and we never write “Merry X-Mas”.
It began as the Winter Solstice, which over the years became a celebration of different gods; for our purposes we will focus mainly on the Saturnalia . The Saturnalia was the most popular of Roman holiday’s; it was a time in which families gathered in celebration, gifts were traded and large feasts were had. It was a time when restrictions were released and public gambling was allowed. It was a time when slaves were permitted to use dice and were given the day off from their work. It was a time when they (slaves) were treated as equals, were given their master’s clothing to wear, and were waited on at meal time. It was a time of honoring the sun-god, the god of seed and sowing. Quite simply, it was a time when social order was inverted and drinking, singing naked and frenzied clapping hands were all a part of the grand celebration which gave homage to the longest night and shortest day of the year.
Saturnalia was officially celebrated on December 17th, however the merriment would continue a full seven days through the 23rd of December, though celebrations could continue until the 25th of December as this day signifies the end of the three-day period of solstice – meaning “sun stands still”. What a delightful time of year, so much so, even the Christians were caught up in the festivity of it all. Given the fact evidence suggests the Winter Solstice was celebrated during the Paleolithic Age, it could not be in recognition of the birth of the Son of Man. This fact did not go unrecognized by the Church and there were many failed attempts to turn Christians away from joining this yearly observation riddled with pagan beliefs and songs written in vulgarity. Though the Church could not agree Christ was actually born on December 25th, since none of the recorded dates coincide , they did finally concede to recognize the final day of the pagan holiday as the day of His Birth.
And so it came to be, in the year 354 AD, the Winter Solstice was first marked on a calendar as natus Christus in Betleem Iudeae: “Birth of Christ in Bethlehem Judea.” and would come to be known simply as Christmas in years following. All of this just so we could ease our minds of the guilt carried by celebrating another god, other than The One I Am. The earliest English depiction of Christmas comes by way of an anonymously written carol which dates from circa 1458 AD and reads as follows:
Goday, goday, my lord Sire Christëmas, goday!
“Goday, Sire Christëmas, our king,
for ev’ry man, both old and ying,
is glad and blithe of your coming;
Santa Clause enters the picture when his name is first mentioned in American press in the year 1773. He is the product of Saint Nicholas, Sinterklass and Father Christmas merging into one. He is the perfect combination of the Christian based gift giver and pagan folklore to cause a corporate explosion of indulgence and, the rest as they say is history.
Yes, I am a Christian and yes, I love Christmas. Though I do not celebrate Christmas as the Birth of Jesus Christ, I do believe in Him and the Gift He brings to all of those who choose Him as their Savior. I applaud the Church and Christians from days of yore for having the insight to incorporate the Birth of the Son, into the pagan celebrated birth of the sun-god, through acceptance and the power of marketing. (Acceptance – if you cannot beat them, join them.) So thank you to the pagan’s of yesteryear, for celebrating in such high fashion our ancestors could not help but join in. Thank you to my Christian forefather’s for changing the path of the celebration so we all may enjoy the merriment and thank you to my fellow American writers of 1773 for inventing Santa Clause and bringing joy to so many children over the years.
I do Pray you had a very Merry Christmas and the New Year will treat you all very kindly!
©Kesia S. Miller
January 03, 2012