The Meaning of it all?? (Saternalia)


Jo Canadian
#1
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Christmas of the modern age seems to take many directions. Alot of it that we see is the Bling associated with the need to buy, compete with one another on who has the most/elaborate house decorations, and bicker whether it's an insult or not to actually say merry Christmas. You would start to think that nobody has a clue of what Christmas was really like in the traditional sense. Think back maybe 100 years ago, 200, 400, or 800 years ago, the farther back you go it would seem that there would be more meaning to it. At least back then there was St. Nick rather than the Coca-Cola created Santa Image.

In contemporary times I start to wonder how a child percieves the Christmas season, and frankly I get worried. I'd think having to raise a girl would be worse, seeing that toys and entertainment for them are bent on shopping, spending, and dressing, and trying to look like the sickly lip-injected Bratz doll line. Watching boy ads are no better, although it does take a different direction with the action & the blow-things-up mentality.

So out of curiosity on how a young child growing up amongst all this, I had asked my 4 year old boy what he thought Christmas was all about. I wasn't too suprised in getting the Santa, Lights, and presents response. So I decided to tell him the historical background to this particular holiday. He seemed to take interest in the fact it was a Birthday celebration of some sorts...That explained the presents. He also had some query's about this Jesus fellow who we celebrate this birthday for.

Now not being overly religious, I explained about the significance of this fellow, of what he symbolized to many people and about how he had been killed for the good of people, that's why we celebrated Christmas. Now explaining symbolism and sacrafice to a 4 year old is a little confusing I would guess, he still wasn't sure what all the fruckus was about for a guy that died and what had made him so special. So then I explained who many people believe is his father, and the one special thing he did for him after he died. So I explained that, "After being killed by being nailed on a cross, Jesus came back to life three days later."

He looked at me with shock, eyes wide, and says in awe "Jesus was a Zombie?!?!?"


**sigh**

Merry Christmas everyone

-Jo
 
Summer
#2
ROFL!!!!

Jo, that's priceless. I may borrow your son's reaction to use on a couple of religious-debate sites I'm a regular on... just to stir things up....

 
the caracal kid
#3
did you go into the history of yule and saternalia? did you go into the history of how the church upserped the pagan winter solstice with their "jusus birthday" to aid in the conversion of pagans? did you discuss how if jesus did exist he was most likely born in the fall or spring? Did you introduce how all religions are merely mythologies?

Sorry if that is too much. My parents exposed me to the histories and cultures of the world from a very early age so i never saw christmas as anything other than a rebranded saternalia.

you are correct about toys though. especially the toys that more and more tend to accelerate growing up rather than letting kids be kids.
 
Jo Canadian
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by the caracal kid

did you go into the history of yule and saternalia? did you go into the history of how the church upserped the pagan winter solstice with their "jusus birthday" to aid in the conversion of pagans? did you discuss how if jesus did exist he was most likely born in the fall or spring? Did you introduce how all religions are merely mythologies?

I'm aware of all that, but explaining that to a 4 year old would be Who o o s h !! right over his head. Be rest assured, that when they* understand those concepts better is when they will be enlightened.



*Got three boys in total
 
manda
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by the caracal kid

did you go into the history of yule and saternalia? did you go into the history of how the church upserped the pagan winter solstice with their "jusus birthday" to aid in the conversion of pagans? did you discuss how if jesus did exist he was most likely born in the fall or spring? Did you introduce how all religions are merely mythologies?

Sorry if that is too much. My parents exposed me to the histories and cultures of the world from a very early age so i never saw christmas as anything other than a rebranded saternalia.

you are correct about toys though. especially the toys that more and more tend to accelerate growing up rather than letting kids be kids.


you must not be a parent....

As a christian, my oldest is educated in Christian ways, and as my other 2 sons came to me by marrige and not birth, I share with them bit by bit my beliefs. Mind you I am not a blind follower of religious belief and creationism, but I am insulted by your attack against my faith, and how I choose to educate my boys.
 
Summer
#6
I don't think that was actually an attack on Christianity, just an honest expression of the POV of a non-Christian who has looked at some of the history of the Christian celebration. I mean, even Christians admit that many if not most of the customs of Christmas came from the Pagan peoples who had been converted to Christianity. And most of them also accept that Jesus was more likely born in spring than in winter. At the very least, no one knows for sure when he was born.

And to someone who isn't religious, all religions *are* mythology....
 
the caracal kid
#7
don't be insulted. it is not an attack on faith, it is an exposure of the whole history and i am only speaking from personal experience. for those of faith, the more one knows of their faith, the stronger it can be.
 
manda
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by the caracal kid

don't be insulted. it is not an attack on faith, it is an exposure of the whole history and i am only speaking from personal experience. for those of faith, the more one knows of their faith, the stronger it can be.

It just seems that you are attempting to undermine everything that holds importance to Christians. I know full well that Jesus was probably born in the spring, but, and not that I agree, a more recognised date was settled upon, so that the pagans would be converted more easily. Still, as this was the date chosen, I educate my children in this manner. Frankly, a date is completely arbitrary to me, as long as the birth is recognized and celebrated, and not lost among the rampant consumerism, or overzelous actions to be politically correct. I myself do not fault or ignore other faith, or m=push my own upon them, as a matter of fact I have spent personal time and taken courses to study different religions. I just feel that the governments are going to far when we're told to wish someone "happy Holidays". I myself would much rather someone wish me a happy Haunnakah (sp? eep!), and offer them my Merry Christmas. I have also fasted for Ramadan with friends.

Anyhow, i ramble. There seems to be a lot more that pisses me off this Christmas, and this was just one of the many things.
 
the caracal kid
#9
sorry.

i was only interested the history of christmas, not jesus. i always thought christians celebrate jesus year-round given he is the cornerstone of the faith.

i agree with you that the rampant consumerism does not reflect any of the traditions christmas was founded on very well.
 
Summer
#10
Manda, it isn't governments generally who are telling people to say "Happy Holidays".

That said, think about this: "Happy Holidays" simply means that you're wishing someone happy MULTIPLE days, like both Christmas and New Years, for example, or Hannukkah and New Years, or multiple take-your-choice holidays when the person doing the wishing ISN'T sure what you celebrate and would prefer for reasons of personal embarrassment not to wish you the wrong one. It certainly isn't meant as a slight to Christianity.

And if you're aware that the date of Dec. 25th was chosen because of the Pagan conversion factor, I can't see why you wouldn't eventually teach that to your kids.

Noting these truths about Christianity doesn't "undermine" it. It's simply the truth. Just as noting the truths about other religions doesn't undermine them, either. Anything that could actually be "undermined" by the truth doesn't deserve to stand, anyway.
 
manda
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Summer

Manda, it isn't governments generally who are telling people to say "Happy Holidays".

That said, think about this: "Happy Holidays" simply means that you're wishing someone happy MULTIPLE days, like both Christmas and New Years, for example, or Hannukkah and New Years, or multiple take-your-choice holidays when the person doing the wishing ISN'T sure what you celebrate and would prefer for reasons of personal embarrassment not to wish you the wrong one. It certainly isn't meant as a slight to Christianity.

And if you're aware that the date of Dec. 25th was chosen because of the Pagan conversion factor, I can't see why you wouldn't eventually teach that to your kids.

Noting these truths about Christianity doesn't "undermine" it. It's simply the truth. Just as noting the truths about other religions doesn't undermine them, either. Anything that could actually be "undermined" by the truth doesn't deserve to stand, anyway.

I don't teach my kids this because it's simply going to confuse them, they'll learn bit by bit as they grow. I think it's important to hear the basics first. And considering although my central belief is That of Christianity, it doesn't mean that I don't adopt or borrow from other religions that foster kindness and peace. I have to point out that I am more spiritual than Religious, I think Church is nothing but a gathering to gossip about who's cheating on whom,and who has nicer clothes.

And yes, I am aware that the government is behing the PC thing, but how could I be embarrassed for wishing someone a merry Christmas, if it is what I celebrate? I wouldn't. Nor would I be offended if someone wished me something else.

And I did not say that the truth is undermining the belief, it was the particular manner in which Caracal wrote it, and partially how I read it that was what I found offensive. Stop getting your hackles up Summer, i don't want to argue, just to point out what and how I read. Jo and are are too busy trying to keep the kids calm today to enter into this.
 
Summer
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by manda

I don't teach my kids this because it's simply going to confuse them, they'll learn bit by bit as they grow.

That's why I said "eventually". Perhaps you missed it.

Quote:

And yes, I am aware that the government is behing the PC thing,

Actually, what I said was that it is NOT the government. And I stand by that statement.

Quote:

but how could I be embarrassed for wishing someone a merry Christmas, if it is what I celebrate? I wouldn't.

Ah, so because YOU wouldn't be embarrassed by that, it means that no one else could possibly be? It's all about how YOU feel, and nobody else matters, eh? Nice.

Quote:

Nor would I be offended if someone wished me something else.

Again, this isn't about how YOU feel. I was explaining why some people might choose to use "Happy Holidays". Not talking about YOU. But of course, there are some Christians who often feel that it is, in fact, all about THEM at this time of year, and everyone else's feelings be damned. Funny thing is, up until this thread, I'd have never taken you for one of them.

Quote:

And I did not say that the truth is undermining the belief, it was the particular manner in which Caracal wrote it, and partially how I read it that was what I found offensive.

It was, as far as I can tell, ALL in how you chose to read it. I saw nothing offensive in what Caracal wrote.

Quote:

Stop getting your hackles up Summer, i don't want to argue, just to point out what and how I read.

Actually, my hackles were not up when I first posted in defense of Caracal. I was actually trying to promote peace on the thread. OTOH, they most DEFINITELY are up now, after your responses to me. If you don't want to argue, then please stop promoting argument.

Quote:

Jo and are are too busy trying to keep the kids calm today to enter into this.

Then why are you even ON this thread? If you're too busy to "enter into this", then it would stand to reason that you'd be off dealing with those kids rather than posting here, wouldn't it? And I wasn't aware that you spoke for Jo. Should I have been?

Sorry, but I've got my own stresses today, and it isn't making me feel like giving selfishness and rudeness a free ride.

Though to be honest, this will likely be my last post for several hours if not for the entire day, as I now have to go finish shopping for a dinner gathering.

I do with you a Merry Christmas, since I know that is what you celebrate, and a Happy Holiday season in general to everyone else including you - as I'm going to assume that you also celebrate New Years.
 
Dexter Sinister
#13
The meaning of it all? Well, we've just finished cleaning up around here from a Christmas dinner we shared with our best friends, who are Jews. December 25th also happens to be the first day of Hanukkah this year, so they brought a small menorah over and lit the first two candles on it as the ritual requires, and the candles burned down in the centre of the table as the meal progressed. I took a photo of them standing in front of our Christmas tree holding the menorah.

As a child I recall many Christmases when we had strange and exotic guests. My father was an academic, and there were always unattached foreign scholars visiting the university, so he made a point of bringing a few of them home for Christmas dinner every year. I've had Christmas dinner with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, at least one of whom I remember was a strict vegetarian, with people from Pakistan, India, China, Japan, France, Britain, Nigeria, South Africa...

I remember an Arab who was so enchanted by the stuffing in the turkey (a dish to die for, he called it) that my mother wrapped the leftover portion in tinfoil and sent it home with him. For the vegetarian my dad prepared a casserole of eggplant, onions, tomatoes, celery, and spices, which was such a success that its leftovers too got wrapped in tinfoil and sent home with the guy. He really couldn't understand why anyone would choose to eat meat when such an ambrosial meal as he got was available. I recall people expressing incredulity that the huge golden brown thing that came in to the dining room from the kitchen on a big platter (dad always carved the meat at the table) was a bird. I played checkers and crokinole and word games and card games with these people in long social evenings after the meal, and my father presided over it all grandly and generously as patriarch, senior scholar, and all around good guy. The home I grew up in was multicultural long before it was fashionable, and I think this is probably the single most important lesson my parents taught me.

I'm not a Christian, so that aspect of Christmas means nothing to me. But I've long felt that that's not really what it's about anyway, not even for Christians. It's about the recognition that we can be better than we are, that our behaviour doesn't match our ideals, that we have to reach higher, and farther, and harder, and do better. That's how I've come to understand Hannukkah too, the Festival of Lights, from my Jewish friends. They also keep inviting this unrepentant old atheist over for their Seder meals, which are celebrations of endurance and survival, and reminders of the duty of charity. The Seder ritual requires, among other things for example, that you treat the stranger among you with charity and compassion, with the reminder "because you too were once strangers in the land of Egypt." It's a powerful and moving ritual even without the religious content.

That's also what Ramadan is about. They're all of a piece, Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan, they're all about the same thing. They're about standing outside yourself, seeing the bigger picture and your role in it and what you can do better. And they're about being careful of the people you meet. All those people whose paths crossed mine only once at Christmas dinners, most of whom I never saw again, nevertheless left a mark on me. Ships that pass in the night leave a wake that can be permanent.

So, be nice to each other, respect each other, care about each other, help each other. That's the meaning of it all. As far as I know, that's all there is in this life.
 
zenfisher
#14
Sounds like you had a pretty balanced upbringing Dex. I too see it as a time for friends and family to gather and put the worries of the world behind them. To enjoy some of the simple pleasures life has to offer.
 
Summer
#15
Dex, that was a beautiful post! Spot on, as well. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience growing up in such a household... you are fortunate indeed!
 
jimmoyer
#16
Excellent story, Dexter Sinister.

Right on.

Carl Sagan spoke of the human race as an orphan
child looking for its parents (God?) and that it has not
found its true religion yet, but it is learning some
wisdom along the way.
 

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