I recently started cleaning up an old computer and stumbled on this gem. I thought I’d share it with y’all, since it was a compilation I put together due to friends’ strong adherence to particular beliefs that I find un-Biblical due to their legalistic stance (“this is what’s right, all else is damning sin!”). As I read it, I was reminded of things I’d forgotten, and I thought some of you, my readers, would enjoy hearing about and knowing these pieces of information.
I give no argument against those who don’t want to celebrate Halloween. I, too, do not celebrate such a holiday. Granted, I may get dressed up on various years and go have fun seeing how my friends have chosen to dress up, but honestly, I don’t care for the holiday. I do, however, take great enjoyment in dressing differently than I usually do, especially in things like Pirate garb. =) Arrrr! =)
That said, I also do not begrudge folks who do not participate in Easter egg hunts. I do not hold them myself, and I do not request to have my children participate in them. However, I’m not one to tell my children to sit by the sidelines if they happen to be around one. I am, however, inclined to teach them the true meaning of the Resurrection and what this time of year is all about; the true timing of the Resurrection, two days after the atonement day of Pesach (Passover).
Now, with that background, let me dig into a few items. First of all, Christmas. Many look at it and derive it from the words Christ and mas, thinking mass like the Roman Catholic Mass. The Roman Catholic Mass is based on the same Latin word, missa. Now, depending on whom you take your Latin translation from, missa can mean a couple things: dismissal (as in “it’s time to go”), sending (as in “I’m sending you to get food”), or a celebration. The last is more a historically-derived context in which Masses were held for particular occasions to celebrate that occasion. The other two are variants around the word depending on whether it is used as a participle or a verb.
It may look like I’m trying to skirt an issue, but in all honesty, I am trying to truly ask the question: is Christmas just a Roman Catholic-derived word, or is it a valid description of the time of celebrating the coming of Christ? The consensus seems to be toward the former, but I would contend that it is equally viable to use the word to describe the later, even if tradition does not agree. In fact, I would even argue that the verb lends an intriguing statement to the word Christmas: Christ sending. A time to remember the sending of Christ to earth?
Another objection I’ve heard revolves around Krampus (look it up, if you want). Krampus derives from pre-Christian days in the Alpines. He was apparently integrated into the celebrations of Christ’s birth by these same groups, juxtaposed with Santa Claus. And there’s an interesting topic!
Santa Claus. Sinterklaas. Babbo Natale. Father Christmas. By all these names, he is the mythological male figure which we have been trained (by tradition or commercialism) to associate with Christmas. But, how many people know that there was once a man with a similar name who did what Santa Claus is credited with doing; giving gifts to good children, and coal to bad children. He is best known as Saint Nicholas, Nikolaos of Bari, Nikolaos of Myra, or Nikolaos the Miracleworker. (And as an added note, coal wasn’t a worthless gift! It kept fires going, so the children could keep warm; they just didn’t get a fun toy/trincate to play with.) There’s a problem, though, with Saint Nicholas. He seems to have flown below the Historical Radar. Saint Nicholas has a grave, a crypt, in Bari, his reported hometown. Here’s the catch, though, there’s little to no historical data on Saint Nicholas. He’s like the Apostle Paul but without any written letters (Epistles) to tack him into history. He moves around a bit, has a history carried on in legend and some folklore. And yet, there’s nowhere to exactly say he existed except the grave that is attributed as his (which a select scientific team was allowed to inspect in the late 1950s, but all they did was verify the bones and determine his approximate height and figure).
So, did he exist? It’s almost a burden of proof to show he didn’t exist. After all, he has a grave and lots of tradition and folklore to tack him down. We have less on people like William Wallace and Saint Patrick (St. Patty’s Day?!?). It seems only reasonable to concede that he did exist. And it seems only appropriate, given the previous concession, to concede that the commercial and traditional characters of Santa Clause grossly distort his true character as a man who, by all accounts, sought to bring the love and compassion of Almighty God to the poorest of mankind.
And for those who may object to the name Santa Claus, the etymology appears to go something like this: Middle Dutch Sinter Niklass (Saint Nikolaos) to Dutch Santa Klaus to American Santa Claus.
Switching back to Easter, many do not realize that Easter parallels another, pagan holiday which involves the goddess of fertility, Ishtar. This is why there are bunnies, eggs, etc. so associated to the holiday. And, like Christmas, it is inaccurate to the time when the actual celebrated event occurred. “Now you’re getting picky.” Yeah! Actually, I am.
Think about it! We celebrate July 4th ON July 4th every year, why? Because it is an important date! We celebrate birthdays, typically, on the date, why? Because it is an important date (to most)! In the same way, don’t you think it’s kind of important to celebrate the dates when our Savior was born accurately?
Now, in the interest of honesty and full-disclosure, I don’t celebrate Christmas on or about 15 October. Nor have I paid attention to Pesach (Passover) enough to celebrate Easter on the proper time. But, I am advocating that it would do us well to do that! As noted above, the true Resurrection day is two days after the Day of Atonement at Pesach. Christmas is based at Sukkot. These festivals form a very static calendar (by the Jewish calendar) and, true to the Hand of our Lord, a beautiful poetry when you read what the festivals are about, then reflect on the fact that Yeshua (Jesus) was born at that time, and when He was sacrificed.
So, all that said, where does this leave us? Well, as I see it, there are three basic paths. First, one could take a very legalistic approach to the above facts and conclude that we should always celebrate Christmas/Easter/Resurrection at a specific time and any variation is sin. Second, we could disregard the facts and determine to be “culturally relevant”, or whatever your personal bi-word is, and celebrate Christmas and Easter with the culture, making mention of “the Truth.” Or, we can take a third stance, which I believe is Biblical; search the Scriptures and acknowledge the facts of Christmas and the Resurrection (and even be amazed by the poetry therein), and yet, celebrate as lead.
In closing, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” – Romans 14:5-9 (emphasis mine)
Vires et Honorem – 1 Corinthians 15:10