Put the “Mind” Back in “Your Own Business”

Pagan Yule was around long before “Christmastime” and was centered around the winter solstice…  So I really wish everyone would stop trying to bully other people into saying “Merry Christmas,” if they don’t want to.  If you celebrate Christmas and wanna say “Merry Christmas”, more power to you, but trying to force others to “put Christ back in Christmas” is just as bad as others forcing trying to force you to say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  As for Jesus being the “reason for the season,” no; the reason for the season is a physical, seasonal change in the position of the Earth relative to the Sun.  There is nothing in the bible that says Jesus was born in December, or more specifically, December 25th.  In fact, there is speculation because of some astronomical and cultural references, that he was born in the summer.

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History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. (source)

A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons:

First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8)

The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.

Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4)

Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.

Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then . . . to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism.” (source)

 

Not everyone is Christian, but we all deserve a “happy holiday.”  That is all.

Have a "cool Yule..."  Or a "Merry Christmas..."  Or... whatever!

Have a “cool Yule…” Or a “Merry Christmas…” Or… whatever!

Related articles:

https://alienredqueen.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/have-a-very-secular-christmas/

http://backporchtheology.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/the-war-on-happy-holidays/

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Have a Very Secular Christmas?

So, I’ve been giving this some thought really probably ever since I had my child, but more so now that she is growing up and coming to an age where she’ll be able to anticipate the holidays and internalize some of the associated traditions and ideas.  As my regular readers know, I have what some might call a “crisis of faith.”  My heart wants to believe in a loving God, but my intellect and reason just don’t accept it.  And contrary to what some may say, wishing doesn’t make it so.

I am acutely aware of how my adult perception of Christmas and its origin has changed in relation to the hopeful magic of childhood Christmases past.   I was never what I would call “strong” in faith, but now that I have pretty much decided where I come down on the organized religion issue, I am unsure how exactly I want to represent Christmas to my child.  It’s certain that I do want to celebrate with my family in some way.  To me, right now, Christmas is mostly about family, togetherness, and love…  But why should we celebrate that in December instead of all year round.  I am fine with objectively explaining to my daughter, when she is old enough to understand (she is turning three next month) the reasons why the majority of people who celebrate Christmas do so (“Jesus is the reason for the Season” and all that jazz) but I do not feel inclined to raise her in a religion or even in a belief in a supreme being.  A large part of me feels that indoctrination of young children is wrong because it sets them at a disadvantage for later autonomous decisions regarding religion.   For example, had I not been taught as a child that I was supposed to believe in God, would I be so uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t believe?  

Then there is the “Santa question.”   We believed in Santa as a kid, and it was fun and relatively harmless, even when we found out he wasn’t “real.”  And yet,  I find I am loath to lie to my kid, even if it is a fun and harmless lie like Santa.  And yet regardless of what I tell her, I wonder how many of my friends and relatives and even random but well-meaning strangers  will thoughtlessly ask her if she’s “excited for Santa” this holiday season…

So I am left with the question of how I want to present the winter holidays to my child.  The only reason Christmas is even celebrated in December is because of Christianity’s attempts to combat or counterbalance the pagan holidays and rituals of excess practiced during that same season. (source 1, 2)  Basically, Jesus was not born on December 25th, and there is no date given in the bible for his birth, although certain astrological references lead some scientists to believe he was actually born in the Summertime.

Do I take a more naturalistic or pagan approach, celebrating the time of year and nature’s cycles, and then maybe meld into it my feelings of family and tradition?  Would it make some people feel better if we celebrated the holiday but didn’t call it “Christmas?”  Guess it’s a good thing it’s only the end of July… then again, wasn’t Jesus born in the Summer? 😉

This is the optimal idea...

This is the optimal idea…

...and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

…and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

(Click here for more on why Christmas may be celebrated on the 25th of December.)

Totally Not in the Path of Totality

Stargazing-Events

You may have seen this picture going around Facebook or some other social media site, the one of the “must see” astronomical events of 2013.  It just so happens, gentle readers, that this year my birthday falls on the date of the annular solar eclipse (at least according to this particular chart–  NASA has the date listed as May 10.)

You’ve probably heard of solar eclipses, although maybe you’ve never been lucky enough to see one first-hand.  They are predictable events, but do not occur at exactly regular intervals.  Wikipedia defines an solar eclipse occurring when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun.  This can happen only when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy.

In short, eclipses occur when the Moon’s orbit crosses the Earth’s orbital path.

However, the Moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular.  It’s elliptical (think of an oval.)  A total eclipse occurs when the Moon is on the shorter side of it’s orbit, and so it’s apparent size relative to the sun is large enough to completely occult the sun.  Conversely, when the Moon is on the longer side of it’s elliptical orbit, it appears smaller from Earth, and only partially occults the Sun, leaving a bright and visible ring of Sun around the outer edges.  This is an annular eclipse, also known as the “ring of fire” (calm down ladies, this is a different ring of fire.)

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire

annular_eclipse_diagram.635

It should be noted that the ability to view an eclipse depends on your position on Earth at the time of the eclipse.  The path of totality, the path the Moon’s shadow traces upon the Earth, is not very wide.  The predicted path of totality, that relatively small part of the Earth where one will be able to witness this amazing event, is a 106 to 139 mile -wide track that traverses Australia, eastern Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Gilbert Islands.

So… it really doesn’t matter if it happens on my birthday or the day after; I won’t be seeing it from here!