Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thoughts on Christmas

By Anna Arnett

Many years ago I played a small part in Gilbert Fine Art's production of the musical, "Scrooge." Tonight I recall the exuberance with which we sang, "December the twenty-fifth, my dear, December the twenty-fifth. The finest day in all the year -- December the twenty-fifth." And you know what? It really is. Not that it's the actual date on which the Christ-child was born, but it's the day we celebrate the fact that he WAS born. Why on December the twenty-fifth?

It's been years and years since I researched this, and I've discovered that on many subjects I have develoed a very creative memory that loves to slip in little changes here and there. So, if you want to know the real facts and just the facts, go look it up for yourself. Meantime, here's how I remember history.

To celebrate the beginning of winter, or rather the lengthening of days, the pagans of northern Europe had a gala celebration. Why it was on the 25th rather than the 21st, I have no idea. It didn't even celebrate the coming of warmth It amazed me as a child, and it still seems to me that the shortest day should be the coldest, and the longest day the hottest, though experience has taught me otherwise. But be that as it may, the pagans loved their December celebration. They brought in a yule log, decorated, feasted, and partied in the most pagan of fashion. They probably danced and sang, and it wouldn't surprise me if they hung mistletoe to encourage kissing.

When Charlemagne, or however you spell it, declared that all should become Christian, those stubborn pagans refused to give up their celebration. No problem. Their new Christian leaders merely proclaimed a change in name. They could keep their date, but it would from now on be called Christmas, and a midnight mass would herald the beginning of the celebrations.

And what difference does it make? If a thousand years is as a day to the Lord, then I can't imagine even He would get upsetover the timing. However, I do recall that He scoldd the Brother of Jared quite soundly for going four years without praying,and I wonder if he also went without saying prayers. Is that possible? sometimes I think so.

Besides, being born ought to precede dying and being resurreced. NO? So, let's celebrate with joy and thanksgiving, prudence, self-control, and love.

If this is full of typos and doesn't quite make sense, blame it onto my falling asleep at the computer for a short nap between sentences. I don't think I could keep my eyes open long enough to catch any errors anyway.

So with Clement Moore, I'll merely say, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight."

3 comments:

  1. Anna, I love your post! A couple of my family lines have been traced back to Charlemagne...Now you have me very curious about that man.

    Interesting you should mention celebrating with self-control...it is so hard to not eat all those goodies!

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  2. Anna I too love your post. I LOVE history and I too researched a lot about religion. You would be surprised how many supposedly Christian things started out as Pagan.

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  3. Having a history degree means I find all of this terribly exciting and interesting glad to know I"m not alone.

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