A Quick Word on Christmas

Posted: December 25, 2010 in Atheism, Australia, Religion
Tags: ,

This entry being written on Christmas might be of interest to some but it should not be surprising. Last night the annual ‘Carols by Candlelight’ event was televised across the country; I sat and watched some of it and it spurned forth a number of questions and lines of thought.

The first thing that struck me was the amount of lies being communicated throughout the evening, and even the entire festive season for that matter, especially aimed at children. Nothing that is built upon a lie is good. Ends do not justify the means, especially in this case. So why persist in the nonsense that is ‘Santa Clause’? It certainly sets a bad precedent in terms of trust between parents and child; if a parents lies to a child about what is considered an important time of the year then what else is false? There is absolutely no reason that a parent cannot say that Christmas is just a celebration where people try to be as kind to each other as they can. There is no need for the lies and falsehoods. Whatever shape they may take.

But Santa is probably the least of the falsehoods of the time. ‘Carols’ was full of songs praising the greatness of the Judeo-Christian deity and the supposed events surrounding the birth of their messiah figure. Sadly such events have no evidence to support them and quite a bit against them have ever happened. This mixing of songs with a televised national event strong implies that the events covered in the songs are true, that they really happened. This, of course, is nonsense.

Why is it nonsense?

We have a remarkably good record of astronomical happenings and are able to use what we know to figure out what happened in the past. No giant star hanging in (or shooting through) the sky back then for shepherds to follow.

No census would have taken place and the idea of one which required people to go back to their town of birth is ludicrous. Especially when you consider that the Romans really did not care much about the Jewish people living in their provinces at the time. They certainly might have taken a census of the Romans living in the land but not anyone else.

Ordering a mass execution of all male babies would have created a huge stir and mess of all sorts; social, political and certainly logistical. Yet no one has any mention of it anywhere.

And so on and so forth. There are plenty of more reasons but I am sure you get the point by now.

Now you take a lot of the fundamental aspects of the season and you will see a lot of things that simply do not belong in a Christian festival. The Christmas tree belongs to a pagan winter solstice festival that predates Christianity by millennia, as does the date itself. The cross with a circle in it has its origins with the Celts. Things which have been introduced later such as eggnog, mistletoe, Santa, cards and so forth come from a range of sources both commercial and religious – yet they are all embraced. The incorporation of non-Christian aspects into what some claim to be the greatest Christian annual event certainly raises large question marks about the whole thing. It does seem rather clear that the celebration incorporated the date and trees to appeal to the Pagans they wanted to convert over, as an example. That does not speak of truth and historical accuracy; that speaks merely of convenience and political number grabbing.

That is not to say that Christmas should be abandoned. That would be naught but another case of foolishness. If anything, it has evolved into a time of year when most people on the planet take the time and make the effort to be really nice to each other. It lets people unwind after a hard year of work, and it gives people an opportunity to catch up with people they might not have seen for months.  These are grand things indeed and are well worth holding onto.

But I think we have gotten to the stage where, like humanity in general, Christmas has outgrown religion.

To finish off, there is an Australian comedian called Tim Minchin and he has created a song that rather nicely sums up what Christmas is really about.

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