Author Topic: Twas The Month Before Christmas  (Read 4805 times)

James_Gale

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2009, 09:36:47 PM »
I frankly wouldn't mind much if secular society would stay out of Christmas and Easter altogether.  Secular forces have pushed "Christmas" into Advent, ended "Christmas" about 6:00 pm on the first day of the season, and (perhaps most annoyingly) extended Easter back into Lent.  But I know full well that secular society will continue to provide distractions.  And the Church most assuredly will survive them.

Of course, most of those trying to eliminate Christmas from public discourse are not motivated by a desire to protect the integrity of Christian beliefs and practices.  On the contrary, many of them are motivated by a desire to stigmatize and marginalize Christianity (and religion generally).  And those of us in the ELCA have learned that you have to stand up to these ideological movements.  If you don't, bit by bit, these movements advance, crowding the religious out of the public square.   

James Gustafson

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2009, 09:59:45 PM »
Brian,

You might to do a little more homework on how the church arrived at its choice regarding the dating of Christmas. It's far more involved than your simple assertion would suggest.

A.A. McArthur in A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship and Edgar S. Brown, Jr. Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church are the primary sources I've used. Both claim that December 25 had been a date for the worship of a sun-god before it was a celebration of the Nativity of Christ.

They need to do their research then, because it was the Winter Solstice - the 22nd, not the 25th.  The reason for it should then be obvious.
The articles indicate that they had the date wrong for the Winter Solstice. My hunch is that by the 25th they could tell that the days were beginning to get longer.
Brian,

You might to do a little more homework on how the church arrived at its choice regarding the dating of Christmas. It's far more involved than your simple assertion would suggest.

A.A. McArthur in A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship and Edgar S. Brown, Jr. Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church are the primary sources I've used. Both claim that December 25 had been a date for the worship of a sun-god before it was a celebration of the Nativity of Christ.

They need to do their research then, because it was the Winter Solstice - the 22nd, not the 25th.  The reason for it should then be obvious.
The articles indicate that they had the date wrong for the Winter Solstice. My hunch is that by the 25th they could tell that the days were beginning to get longer.

I don't really care myself about the Dec. 25th debate, I like Christmas and celebrating the birth of Christ then is as good as any time,  but the explanation that, they “Got the date wrong for Winter Solstice”, they actually say that in the published articles?  LOL  … clearly THAT must have slipped by someone’s fact check editors desk unlooked at, someone should have a red face to claim that the Romans couldn’t tell when the Solstice occurred!  LOL

Since the Julian Calender and almost fifty years before the birth of Christ, the winter solstice did fall on December 25.  The difference between the calendar year and the solar year moved the actual solstice forward about three days every four hundred years when in the sixteenth century Pope Gregory XIII corrected the calendar, giving us our modern winter solstice to the 21st or the 22nd of December.

They got the date wrong…. LOL  ::) :P
« Last Edit: November 22, 2009, 10:16:19 PM by James Gustafson »

jpetty

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2009, 10:08:10 PM »
Oh, I see how it is.  Tell me you've got my back, and then ditch me when the chips are down... ;D

Who told you to "shut up" about Jesus?  Let me know and I'll go beat 'em up.

Well, let's see...

Every time someone manages to preach a 10 minute sermon that doesn't once mention Jesus...(ok, maybe once...)

Every time I am in a small group that sets out to study local art and connect it with the Gospel, and as we are preparing our presentation, I say, "we should have something to say about the Gospel here," and everyone looks at me like I'm crazy.

Every time we read an article for class that belongs in a sociology or anthropology class, and my friend asks, "This is interesting, but what does it have to do with Jesus?" and the professor stares at her like she's from Mars.

Every time a bishop, from the pulpit, declares that "God is SO DONE with Bibles."

Every time "mission" is defined as polite interreligious dialogue whose point is not to bring the Good News but simply to learn how to get along with others.

The "implicit curriculum," in educational parlance, is "shut up about Jesus."  Just sayin'...

And yes, every one of these examples has actually happened...

jpetty, I've read somewhere that boxers soak their hands in brine to toughen them up.  You should probably do that before you go beat up all these people Iowa Katie told us about, whom you committed to go beat up.

Mike Bennett

Well, actually, I'm a pacifist.  The "beat up" part was hyperbole.

But yes, I would absolutely defend Katie's right to advocate for and defend her religious beliefs.  It's coercing others to ratify those beliefs--like getting store clerks to say "Merry Christmas" (especially when they probably have all along anyway)--that I don't go along with. 

I'm the one right behind you going, "You go, girl!"

iowakatie1981

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2009, 10:29:45 PM »
And they say chivalry is dead... :P

Oh, I see how it is.  Tell me you've got my back, and then ditch me when the chips are down... ;D

Who told you to "shut up" about Jesus?  Let me know and I'll go beat 'em up.

Well, let's see...

Every time someone manages to preach a 10 minute sermon that doesn't once mention Jesus...(ok, maybe once...)

Every time I am in a small group that sets out to study local art and connect it with the Gospel, and as we are preparing our presentation, I say, "we should have something to say about the Gospel here," and everyone looks at me like I'm crazy.

Every time we read an article for class that belongs in a sociology or anthropology class, and my friend asks, "This is interesting, but what does it have to do with Jesus?" and the professor stares at her like she's from Mars.

Every time a bishop, from the pulpit, declares that "God is SO DONE with Bibles."

Every time "mission" is defined as polite interreligious dialogue whose point is not to bring the Good News but simply to learn how to get along with others.

The "implicit curriculum," in educational parlance, is "shut up about Jesus."  Just sayin'...

And yes, every one of these examples has actually happened...

jpetty, I've read somewhere that boxers soak their hands in brine to toughen them up.  You should probably do that before you go beat up all these people Iowa Katie told us about, whom you committed to go beat up.

Mike Bennett

Well, actually, I'm a pacifist.  The "beat up" part was hyperbole.

But yes, I would absolutely defend Katie's right to advocate for and defend her religious beliefs.  It's coercing others to ratify those beliefs--like getting store clerks to say "Merry Christmas" (especially when they probably have all along anyway)--that I don't go along with. 

I'm the one right behind you going, "You go, girl!"

George Erdner

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2009, 10:58:43 PM »
Is anyone aware of any day out of all 365 that wasn't celebrated as a holiday by some culture or civilization at some time in history? Given the number of polytheistic religions with their huge pantheons of gods, goddesses, demi-gods, and events related to all of those deities, how can anyone be sure that any date on the Christian calendar wasn't previously used by some other religion?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2009, 11:10:21 PM by George Erdner »

Weedon

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2009, 11:03:35 PM »
Didn't Thomas Tally right an article that rather put the nail in the coffin in the myth that Dec. 25 was chosen to replace a pagan Roman feast day?  I seem to recall reading that some years ago.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #36 on: November 23, 2009, 12:16:55 AM »
Didn't Thomas Tally right an article that rather put the nail in the coffin in the myth that Dec. 25 was chosen to replace a pagan Roman feast day?  I seem to recall reading that some years ago.
And even if he didn't and the date really was chosen to replace a pagan festival, wouldn't the claim that it showed Christians being syncretic still be stupid?

Richard Johnson

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #37 on: November 23, 2009, 01:08:03 AM »
Didn't Thomas Tally right an article that rather put the nail in the coffin in the myth that Dec. 25 was chosen to replace a pagan Roman feast day?  I seem to recall reading that some years ago.
And even if he didn't and the date really was chosen to replace a pagan festival, wouldn't the claim that it showed Christians being syncretic still be stupid?

Yes.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #38 on: November 23, 2009, 01:13:04 AM »
Didn't Thomas Tally right an article that rather put the nail in the coffin in the myth that Dec. 25 was chosen to replace a pagan Roman feast day?  I seem to recall reading that some years ago.
And even if he didn't and the date really was chosen to replace a pagan festival, wouldn't the claim that it showed Christians being syncretic still be stupid?
How many Christmas symbols are found in the biblical stories? Wreathes, tree, candles, poinsettias, etc.?

What about the eggs and lilies and bunny at Easter? In fact, what about the name "Easter"?

While not always an accurate source, Wikipedia does use Christmas and Easter as examples of Christian syncretism.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 01:25:11 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2009, 01:17:54 AM »
Since the Julian Calender and almost fifty years before the birth of Christ, the winter solstice did fall on December 25.  The difference between the calendar year and the solar year moved the actual solstice forward about three days every four hundred years when in the sixteenth century Pope Gregory XIII corrected the calendar, giving us our modern winter solstice to the 21st or the 22nd of December.

They got the date wrong…. LOL  ::) :P

From the Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, under "Worship (Seasons)"

In Rome, Emperor Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) had fixed December 25 (the winter solstice according to the astronomical calculations of that time) as the feast of the sun-god. By the time of the conversion of Constantine the day was no longer identified with the birth of the day star but with the Sun of Righteousness. Scholars claim that the date of December 25 is connected with the erection by Constantine of a basilica around the tomb monument of St. Peter at the site of the sanctuary of Mithras, the Persian sun-god.

From A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship, under "Christmas"

In Egypt in 1996 B.C. the calendar recorded the winter solstice as being on January 6, but by the time Alexandria was founded in 331 B.C. the inaccuracy of the calendar meant that the solstice was on December 25. The dates of the Christian festivals of Christmas and Epiphany are both linked with the winter solstice, transmuting celebrations of the pagan world. It is at Rome in the early fourth century that we find the first evidence for Christmas. In the year 274, the emperor Aurelian introduced in the imperial capital the festival of the Invincible Sun. Natalis Solis Invicti, on December 25. At some point before 336, the church must have established on this date the commemoration of the incarnation, the birth of the Sun of Righteousness.

I haven't seen you quote any resources with your view.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 01:22:09 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles_Austin

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2009, 01:48:54 AM »
I usually tell parishioners that we celebrate "two Christmasses."
One involves the secular hoopla. It's fun; you can't avoid it; it begins the day before Thanksgiving and it is packed with all that "stuff" that ranges from office parties, through shopping sprees, winter carnivals, store decorations, "Christmas specials" on television, etc. etc.
The other involves a pious Advent, the eucharist on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, carols sung by people who believe the words they sing, the festivals of St. Stephen, St. John and Holy Innocents, and the days leading up to Epiphany.

Steven Tibbetts

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"Calculating Christmas"
« Reply #41 on: November 23, 2009, 02:41:13 AM »

Christians were syncretic when they adopted the pagan holiday to the sun-god as the day to celebrate the nativity of our Lord.

Dr. William Tighe, Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College, begs to differ in his article, "Calculating Christmas."

He begins,
Quote
Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

Read the rest here.

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Charles_Austin

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2009, 03:10:53 AM »
Amazing dynamic here.
The dust-up over how Dec. 25 got to be Christmas - an essentially no-big-deal issue - took off and flew higher than it should.
Why?
Because Pastor Stoffregen was the one who mentioned it.
If Pastor Stoffregen says "Good morning!" to someone; does that automatically mean it's a lousy day?

J. Eriksson

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2009, 06:33:36 AM »
Few comments:

The stores here were playing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" the day after Halloween.   You have it lucky they hold off to Thanksgiving.
Charles your  post about 2 Christmasses was pretty good.
People have always commercialized something that is important to the 'psyche' of their culture... witness the religious trinkets dug up at temples in Greece etc.   I will worry when Christmas is NOT commercialized.
The Emperor of Japan who is the 'sun-god' has his official birthday on the winter solstice and the current occupant of the Throne has his real birthday on Dec 22.   I contend that at the height of the emperor cult approximately  70 years ago,...the Imperial Household bureaucracy fudged the day they reported he was born on.

I don't care how many pagan festivals or festivals to the god of money were/are celebrated around the winter solstice.  Like all of you, I WILL celebrate the birth of the Lord of Light, the Son of Righteousness, the Prince of Peace on December 25th.  I consider it impossible not to celebrate the coming of the one who is the Light of the World, who came to redeem humanity from the 'perennial constant seasonal effective disorder of the soul on or about the shortest day of the year. 

Cheers to the historic Collects and other Propers for Advent and Christmas,

Best to all
JamesinJapan
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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Twas The Month Before Christmas
« Reply #44 on: November 23, 2009, 06:37:41 AM »
The interesting thing about the interesting article by Tighe is that it has no footnotes.  This a recent tendency (which I cannot footnote), to assert things without showing their sources.  (not that I necessarily doubt what is posturalted or could serious persue the citations) but someone should or be given the opportunity to test veracity....  and of course this is of less weight than many of things put forward as biblical background, isogogics, interpretation and so forth.    Harvey Mozolak
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