How DID ”Christ” Get Into ”Christmas” Anyway?
Vol: 159 Issue: 23 Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Every year at this time, the war on Christmas heats up with one side freaking out about Santa Claus violating the alleged ‘separation clause’ and the other side bearing signs saying, “Remember to keep the “Christ” in Christmas.”
Well, much as I hate being a bubble buster, let us dispose of the main issues first.
“Santa Claus” is not a religious figure. Neither is he necessarily a Christian. Indeed, Christians are more likely to use the nickname “Satan Claws” to refer to the jolly old elf than they are to mistake him for a religious icon.
America’s Santa Claus is really a Dutchman. New York City was originally settled by the Dutch, who named it “New Amsterdam”. It was originally founded as a Dutch fur trading settlement in what is now Manhattan.
In 1664, the English conquered the area and renamed it “New York” after the Duke of York and Albany. The Dutch briefly regained it in 1673, renaming the city “New Orange”, before permanently ceding the colony of New Netherland to the English for what is now Suriname in November 1674.
Some area names are still reminiscent of the Dutch period, most notably Flushing (Dutch town of Vlissingen), Harlem (Dutch town of Haarlem) and Brooklyn (Dutch town of Breukelen). The Dutch also brought Sinterklass, a mythical figure modeled after the Dutch patron saint of Amsterdam, St. Nicholas.
Before moving forward, let’s set the WayBack Machine to the 4th century Roman Empire, led by the Emperor Constantine, to provide some historical context and background.
Legend says that Constantine saw a vision of a cross in the sky on the eve of battle, together with the words, “in this sign conquer”.
Constantine ordered his soldiers to paint crosses on their shields, and when the battle was over, Constantine’s forces held the field. Constantine then converted to Christianity, and in 313 he issued the Edict of Milan, declaring Christianity the state religion of Rome.
The problem facing Constantine was that the Romans already had a pantheon of gods, with temples in every city in the Empire. Constantine could not afford to put down a religious rebellion, so instead he worked out a religious compromise.
Roman coins minted for almost a decade after the Battle of Milvian Bridge still bore the images of Roman gods and goddesses. Then Constantine began to incorporate the pagan temples and symbols and trappings into the Roman state version of Christianity.
Gradually, these gods and goddesses were incorporated into Constantine’s new religion, reinvented as Christian ‘patron saints’.
The statues of Babylonian gods Nimrod, Semiramus and Tammuz became statues of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus. Statues of Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love, became statues of Mary, Queen of Heaven.
The Mesopotamians, who believed in many gods, held a festival in support of their chief god, Marduk, because they believed that he battled the monsters of chaos at the beginning of each winter.
The Babylonians celebrated each new year with a 12-day festival, called Zagmuth. It is from this festival that the 12 days of Christmas is believed to have originated.
The date of December 25th comes from Rome and was a celebration of the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god.
The feast of Saturnalia was cause for much wild excitement and celebration. Gift giving and merriment filled the temples of ancient Rome, as sacred priests of Saturn, called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession.
In pre-Christian Germany, the evergreen tree was used in worship and celebration of the yule god, also in observance of the resurrected sun god.
The evergreen tree was a symbol of the essence of life and was regarded as a phallic symbol in fertility worship. During the winter in ancient Scandinavia there would be a certain amount of days where the sun would not shine.
Upon the return of the first sunlight, the Scandinavians would hold a festival called the Yuletide.
A Yule log would be burned in a special fire, and everyone would gather around the fire and hold a great feast. To remind themselves that the spring and summer would surely return again, people in some areas of Scandinavia would tie apples to tree branches.
Both holly and mistletoe were hung in doorways of temples and homes to invoke powers of fertility in those who stood beneath and kissed, causing the spirits of the god and goddess to enter them. The holly wood was used by witches to make wands.
The legend of St Nicholas, or Sinterklass, parallels the pre-Christian worship of the Germanic god, Odin. Odin and Sinterklass shared a number of attributes, such as traveling through the air astride a mythical horse, together with a staff of mischievous elves that help Sinterklass in his annual visits.
During the Reformation, Protestants renamed the bringer of gifts from Sinterklass to the Christ Child, or Christkindl — which was corrupted into the English, “Kris Kringle”.
In 1821, the book “A New-year’s present, to the little ones from five to twelve” was published in New York. It contained Old Santeclaus, an anonymous poem describing an old man on a reindeer sleigh, bringing presents to children.
It was followed up by the 1823 poem, “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore. An 1863 Harper’s Weekly reprint featured a drawing of a fat man with a long white beard by cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Clement Clarke Moore invented the eight tiny reindeer and named them in his poem. The ninth, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer was invented in a 1939 booklet written by Robert May and published by Montgomery Ward.
The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and, despite its popularity, it is not in the public domain, but is under license owned by the company. The song was written by May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, and became a hit for cowboy singer Gene Autry in 1949.
Department store Santas were invented in Massachusetts in the 1890’s.
In the 1930’s, the Coca Cola company adopted “Santa Claus” as its trademark, creating the image of the modern American Santa Claus that morons like the ACLU now claim is a “religious” figure.
In the Left’s knee-jerk, blind hatred of all things Christian, it now insists on banning Santa Claus as a religious figure in most schools.
Not because Santa Claus is a fraud, but because in their confusion, they think that he is a Christian icon.
Before you get all angry at Santa Claus and start tearing down your tree, tinsel and decorations in order to return to the true meaning of Christmas, there IS no true meaning of Christmas.
As noted, Christmas has nothing to do with Christ’s birth — Jesus was most probably born in the spring or fall, based on the Bible’s identification of the shepherds tending their sheep atop a hilltop, rather than down in a valley where they would normally be during the winter.
The Bible mentions the birth of Christ because the babe in the manger would grow up to become the Savior of the world. But it wasn’t His birth that saves us. He was born a helpless baby, like the rest of us.
At His birth, He had not made a Name for Himself. He had done no mighty works. What the Bible celebrates at His birth is what He would accomplish with His death.
“A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
If there is a true meaning of Christmas, it is that it began the process that would culminate thirty-three years later with His death and Resurrection.
In the most literal sense, the true meaning of Christmas is that it is the beginning of Easter.
Historically speaking, Jesus wasn’t the reason for the season. The reason for the season was Roman politics. So, what do we do about Christmas?
Should Christians celebrate it? I can find no reason why they shouldn’t.
Even though Christmas is a Roman invention and Santa is a Dutchman reinvented as a pitchman for Coke, the world sees them both as representatives of Christianity.
They aren’t representative of Christianity at all, but the enemy (and his idiot minions) think that they are. And anything that bothers the enemy is ok by me.
In recent years, there has erupted a war on Christmas. Why it that? Because while Jesus was never the reason for the season historically, for Christians, He is the reason for the season now.
So at Christmas, everybody hears about Jesus in some form or another, thanks to the war on Christmas, and Satan hates that.
His invention of Santa Claus backfired — Santa was supposed to become the reason for the season, crowding Jesus out of the picture, but instead, even his own minions equate Santa Claus with Jesus Christ.
Instead of kids forgetting all about Jesus and focusing on Santa and Rudolf and presents Christmas trees and all the trappings, every year at about this time, a war erupts over Christmas and Santa Claus and Rudolf.
Once again, Satan’s reach has exceeded his grasp. Instead of it being exclusively dedicated to greed and selfishness and capitalism, every year a battle erupts over the “reason for the season” — which always takes the focus off of Satan Claws and his minions and puts it back on Jesus.
The harder Satan tries to remove Jesus from the picture, the more central He becomes, which is not only as it should be, but also very instructive. Satan made the same mistake two thousand years ago.
“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8)
So in essence, the war on Christmas is a war between Satan and his minions, not a war between the forces of secularism and the forces of Christ.
So should Christians celebrate Christmas? What does the Bible say?
“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:6)
The war on Christmas is intended to side-track Christians but instead, it just keeps rolling back over on the secularists. The more that the ACLU tries to turn Santa Claus into a religious icon, the more ridiculous and desperate the enemy appears to be.
“For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romas 14:20)
There is no sin in celebrating Christmas as the Lord’s birthday. If one is regarding it to the Lord, then one is honoring the Lord and there is no sin in that.
Christians celebrating Christmas makes the enemy very angry, or he would not be fighting against it so hard. So this year, I’m going to celebrate it as hard as I can.
Thank You, Jesus, for stepping out of eternity and into space and time to take on the form of a mortal man. This Christmas, I will reflect on the kind of love that took, knowing that He knew what awaited Him at the end, before it ever began.
And, knowing how mad it makes the enemy, I’m going to enjoy it even more than usual.
Don’t let the enemy steal the liberty procured for you at the Cross. Be happy before God this Christmas, knowing that He wants you to be.
“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. “(Romans 14:22)
And may God bless us, every one!
Originally Published: December 21, 2011
Featured Commentary: Born of the Virgin Mary? ~ Wendy Wippel