Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas To All and Peace on Earth

St. Nicholas by Thomas Nast

Mithra, Persian god

Saturnalia, Roman winter solstice celebration

Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas to all those who have visited this blog. May you all enjoy this holiday season and count the blessings of having the love of family and friends to warm your soul.

This blog would not be true to it's stated mission without a look back at how Christmas and the spirit of giving has come to be celebrated worldwide, as a time to pause and wish peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Christmas is now a world wide celebration that reaches far beyond it's traditional Christian roots to be celebrated by people of varied faiths and no faith, as a day of goodwill when gifts and good wishes are exchanged. In the United State, celebrating Christmas during the Colonial and Revolutionary period, was ignored by the mostly protestant population, who because they could find no reference in the Bible, felt it was a pagan ritual adapted by the Catholic Church to attract converts. Truth be known, It seems that they were probably right. The period around the Winter Solstice has always held meaning for ancient Persian and Roman civilizations. The ancient Persians used to practice Mithraism whose major holiday was after the winter solstice around December 25th. Later, Mithraism was practiced by Romans' in the 2nd and 3rd century CE. Many of the rituals such as gift giving and treating all men both slave and citizen as equals during the period of celebration, came from the old Roman ancient winter celebration of Saturnalia.

The early Catholic Church began to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, and incorporated many of the traditions of the pagan rituals to blend and smooth the passage of new converts into the flock. Martin Luther and the Reformation brought a split in how the two main branches of Christianity looked upon the birth of Jesus. In our early history the northern colonies being more Puritan ignored celebrating Christmas, where the Southern Colonies, with large Episcopalian and growing numbers of Catholic immigrants continued to celebrate Christmas. It wasn't until the early 19th century when large numbers of Irish and Catholic Germans came to America that people began to celebrate Christmas as we do today.

Santa Claus or St. Nick who graces the top of this post, became the character we all have come to love as children, when the unlikely author, professor of Classical Literature at Columbia University Clement Clarke Moore penned the poem that has become the classic Christmas story, Twas the Night Before Christmas. Santa Claus, got his description from this line, He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. Using that description, famous political artist Thomas Nast drew the first Santa Claus that became the red suited plump jolly elf, we all instantly recognize as Santa.

Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas in India

Much has been said about the commercialization of Christmas. Point taken, but the practice of giving to others and taking the time to wish goodwill to your fellow human  has ended in the greatest symbol of Christian giving and charity know to mankind to become something noted by billions of people. Jesus, would find the spread of such goodwill and love, as a positive sign his mission on earth was successful.


Kanani said...

Merry Christmas! I recall that in the streets of Boston ...1740, two factions were beating each other up --those who wanted to celebrate Christmas, and those who did not! Christmas Was A Riot!

Merry Christmas!

HISTORYGUY99 said...

Hi Kanani,

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading the link. Our Chistmas today, shows the positive side of diversity coming together to form one.