Happy Holidays! Smashing Annoying Anti-Christmas Myths

From Steve Pauwels:

Too often a bogus account bubbles up and gains a foothold in the population’s received version of things — and thereafter pitilessly refuse to go away. There’s the “President-George-H-W-Bush-Amazed-by-a-Cash-Register-Scanner” legend; there’s the twaddle about exploding Super-Bowl spousal abuse and the “pay gap” bedeviling women. All phony — but popularly believed — claims.

Apparently, certain, oft-repeated “facts” about “the most wonderful time of the year” are not exempted, either: things everyone “knows are true” about Christmas, which just ain’t so! Some are merely irksome; others downright corrosive, targeting the very heart of the joyful and sacred celebration.

It’s far past time to stuff these down the Grinch’s throat.

So, with no further ado …

Myth 1: Christmas is a ripped-off pagan festival: Saturnalia, the Roman “Sol Invictus” or winter solstice — my whole life I’ve heard it clucked nearly axiomatically: “Y’know, the church chose December 25 for Christmas Day to compete with pagan observances of [fill-in-the-blank] being held at the same time of year.” This charge, unsurprisingly, is a cherished article of secularist narrative. What’s really agitating is when supposed believers dutifully and uncritically parrot it.

Imagine my shock when I was informed this tidbit is almost certainly specious.

Space constraints forbid an exhaustive debunking , but suffice it to say: any historical evidence for swallowing this bah-humbug against my favorite holiday is emptier than Santa’s workshop December 26. I highly recommend Mark Shea’s mind-blowing essay on the debate — he actually crafts a doughty case for the conclusion that, in some cases at least, the Christmas-dissers get things exactly backwards (heathens echoed the church, not the other way around.) A brief,  2013 column by Eric Erickson is also handy. For that matter, Wikipedia’s article on the subject offers an unexpected drubbing of this lazy, but widespread, holiday-trashing hokum.

Myth 2: Christmas is off-limits because it’s become overloaded with pagan or “worldly” traditions: Christmas trees? Wreaths? Gift giving? Demonized facets of the season all?

It’s possible — even probable, in certain cases — some beloved holiday earmarks evolved from non-Christian elements.

At this point, it’s also largely irrelevant.

Consider: lots of spurious religions encourage prayer, fasting and meditation; they endorse the notion of corporate gatherings and holy writings. Curiously, true religion — faith in Christ — mirrors all of these practices, as well. Is the church off the beam because Christ-less systems reflect these similarities? Should Bible people abandon them because their non-Christian rivals say, “Me, too!”?

Clearly, no.

So, for example, what about the Christmas tree? A nature worshiping abomination? Offshoot of the Vikings? Or,  as I’ve heard it stated, a late-night brainstorm of Martin Luther? Perhaps a compounding of medieval mystery play’s “Paradise Tree” and the “Christmas Pyramid” popular around the same time?

Who knows for sure? Who cares?

Culturally, living trees and evergreen foliage enjoy a hardy, longstanding  — and BIBLICAL — heritage as symbols of God’s eternalness, of everlasting life. Idol worshipers, undeniably, have made use of the imagery — but so have followers of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. (Note: Genesis 21:33; Isaiah 41:18-20; 60:13; John 12:13). A bedecked conifer in the parlor or festive wreath brightening the front door has roots, in part at least, in a biblical motif.

Similarly, while it’s undeniable the modern concept of the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New-Year’s-Day stretch has become heinously clogged with materialism, stress and crass commercial manipulation, there’s an honorable solution for that regrettable situation: determinedly keep the holidays minus all of the nonsense.

The ages confirm: human beings manage to misuse, abuse, sully everything they touch with their sin-soiled fingers. The majority of the time, the preferred response should be not withdrawl or abstinence. Rather, it’s doing worthy things the proper, God-honoring way.

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