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Thursday, November 29, 2012

War on Christmas....Bull $h!t

Greetings friends.  First off, I'd like to apologize for the last post.  It goes to show that just like drunk dialing, you shouldn't insomnia blog.  I wrote that while suffering from insomnia due to pain in my knee, and I will re-post a better version of it.  Secondly, Christmas is fast approaching (it's been here for several months going by the displays in the stores) and for those looking to get their favorite bloggers a gift, but don't know what to get them, I would like a nemesis.  They don't have to be anyone fancy like Lex Luthor or Magneto.  It could be the Skrull or The Hand foot soldiers.  I'm easy to please.

Speaking of Christmas, before the season got under way, I began to think that the first person to utter the phrase "War on Christmas" needs to be hit with a can of cranberry sauce.  Up until last night, I had escaped hearing this horrible term.  Then, a local T.V. news personality, Kelly Ogle (I think, there is about a dozen Ogles on different channels here in Oklahoma.  I think all the stations have a clause in their F.C.C. contracts stating that an Ogle must be on their news crews at all times.) said the damn phrase, quoting Fox News (remember them, fair and balanced, kinda like loaded dice).  While Fox News obviously leans towards the Christian ultra conservatives, Mr. Ogle is at least a moderate conservative.  He has a segment on channel 9 called "My 2 cents" where he can basically rant about a topic in the hopes of garnering a response.  Normally, he does lean towards historical "Oklahoman Ideals" meaning the republican side of the issue.  What set me off last night was the whole War on Christmas shtick.  It was played out last year, but just like Christmas music at the malls, it's being played again this year.  Mr. Ogle talked about an exhibit in Germany of Christmas trees that was taken down for fear of offending the Muslim community.  They have put up an electronic holiday tree in its place.  Then he stated "It's called a Christmas tree, get it right" or something to that extent.  People are already complaining about the holidays being influenced, corrupted, or destroyed by other cultures and beliefs.  First off, to Mr Ogle, I would like to say, if you're going to be a stickler about it, a christmas tree should actually be called either a Yule Tree or Weihnachtsbaum, the German word for christmas tree.  The Christmas tree was originally used in Germany in roughly about the 1800's with evidence in the form of woodcuts dating back to the 1400's.  They gained popularity with the nobility in other countries in the early 19th century.  If you want to skip a bit of history, don't worry about the next 2 paragraphs, and you can jump back into the main issue.

Thing is, while christmas trees were gaining favor in the European countries, christmas itself was an illegal celebration in the United States.  The people that banned christmas?  Can anyone guess?  You with the ball cap, and you'd better have enough gum for everyone.  No, not the Jews.  No, not the Muslims, and no not the Buddhists.  No, not the Pastafarians either.  It was the Christians.  The Protestants to be exact.  They felt that christmas celebrations were an excuse for drunken, immoral revelry and they also had a poor view of saints in general. so rather than let people cut loose and have fun, they banned it.  It was banned until 1820 in the U.S. and wasn't a federal holiday until 1870.  This means that unlike today, you were expected to be at work on christmas day. 

The history of Christmas, and especially the (and I love being able to say this about a religious figure) evolution oof Santa Claus (Kris Kringle St. Nick, St Nicholas, Father Christmas, the man has more alias' than a two bit drug dealer) is actually fascinating.  From this point on, I'll just refer to the fat red man as S.C., unless mentioning a specific historical character that is responsible to his make up.  St. Nichols (the "actual" man) was born in Patara, which was a Greek country, on the southern border of modern day Turkey.  (Hint hint, he's probably not white)  He protected poor children from basically being sold into slavery and helped sailors.  To this day, he is still the patron saint of archers, sailors, children and pawnbrokers.  There is also a little bit of a Norse god in our idea of S.C.  Not just any god, but the big bad daddy of all the Norse gods, Odin.  According to tradition, children would leave their boots outside full of food for Sleipnir, Odin's 6 legged horse (can you imagine trying to put horseshoes on that thing?) and as a reward for their generosity, Odin would leave candy or toys for the children.  Dutch folklore has St. Nicholas dressed in a red cape over his bishops alb ( the nearly dress that they wear).  He has an assistant named Black Peter that carries the book of St. Nicholas.  Good kids get candy and toys, bad kids run the risk of being caught by Black Peter, who happen to carry jute bags (think burlap sack) and cane rods for that purpose.  There are also British, Scandinavian, and German traditions in out modern day S.C.  Thomas Nast, the political  cartoonist from the mid 1800's, is the man responsible for the image that we have now of Santa Claus.  His first picture appeared in 1863 in Harper's weekly.  Even though S.C. began as a christian bishop, in out modern times, he has become a secular figure and representation of christmas.

I know it was a bit of a tangent, but I think it was worth it.  Back to the "War on Christmas" bullshit that I started out on.  The Christians have actually been waging their own war on christmas by trying to have Santa Claus removed from christmas.  They feel he is taking the Christ out of Christmas and convoluting the "reason for the season".  And I have heard several people use the old Santa/Satan comparison.  You know, they both have the same letters in their names (but I don't recall C L A U S being in conjunction with any form  of satan), both wear red outfits, and one person actually said both have little children sit on their laps. (WTF??????)  The thing is the christmas holiday was originally incorporated by the christians to entice the pagans to follow their beliefs.  From what I've gleaned from several sites and researchers, if Jesus did exist, and was born when the bible says he was, he was born in the spring or early summer.  (The shepards with their flocks in the fields?  You don't pasture sheep in the winter, and you really don't stand out their all day watching them in freezing weather.)  The three wise men, (I really want to make a three stooges joke, but I'll be nice) which are a staple in every nativity scene, didn't find Jesus until he was 5.  Almost every aspect of the holiday, outside of the name, comes from pagan rituals.  (Sorry, another tangent, back on task.)  I don't know why the christians are claiming that there is a war on christmas when I saw christmas goods for sale back in September.  They had this stuff out before Halloween for fucks sake.  (By the way, I'm not against christmas, I enjoy the holiday, and my family, meaning my wife and son, does celebrate it in a secular fashion)  I have already been hearing the music on the radio (these, for the most part, I don't care for, I was made to sing them every year at every family gathering as a child) and seen ad flyers for christmas sales.  I can't blame Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, athiests, agnostics, Shinto, or other cultures for being pissed that the American christian version of christmas seems to last for 3 FLAMIN MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!!  I have personally seen ( and I know this is an anecdote) someone of the Jewish faith say Happy Chanukah and get yelled at by another customer to "Get it right, it's Christmas, not some made up holiday!"  Personally, if I walk into someones house or business this time of year, and I see a menorah on a table, even though I am an atheist, I simply think "Cool", because it gives me a chance to learn about a culture I didn't grow up in.  I don't get upset if someone says Happy Kwanzaa.  Hell, half the time, I'll say it back.  I really don't even get too perturbed about the crosses, and mentions of the bible and Jesus everywhere.  Most people that I know of different faiths don't have a problem with the displays.  Normally the people that raise the most hell about christmas displays are politically correct folks that are trying to keep from offending anyone. 

So as I try to tie all these various topics together in a coherent manner, I have come to realize that, in a way, there is a war going on.  It is a war by christians trying to dominate and sublimate other cultures and beliefs out of an almost inferiority complex, which stems from the "persecution complex" that christian leaders seem to instill in their followers.  If they want to follow their own edicts and "love thy neighbor" (which seems to happen way too much in some circles), they should give equal exposure to other traditions that other cultures have at this time of the year.  Or at least proportional to their respective faiths.  Remember, contrary to the tirades of certain leaders, we are NOT a christian nation.  We are the melding pot of the world, made of of many cultures, beliefs, faiths, and non faiths.  E pluribus unum, From many, one.  So the next time you hear someone say that there is a war on christmas, simply agree, nod your head, and say "Yup, and the Christians started it."

Okay kiddos, I'm going to wrap this one up before I stress myself out too much.  If anyone has a comment, you know what to do, leave one in the comment section.  Thanks for hanging with me on this rant, and as a special holiday gift, everyone gets 5 cool points, and if you leave a comment, you get 20.  These can be used at most bars and pubs, just let them know how many you have, and they'll let you know what you can get.  Until next time, be good, be skeptical, and have fun!  Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas (or Xmas if you're from Futurama) Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Chanukah, or whatever holiday greetings you feel appropriate.  And feel free to tell me about your holiday traditions, either personal or cultural.  I'm always interested in learning about other traditions.  And if you're a secular humanist, how do you either celebrate or deal with this time of year?

The Skeptical Okie

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