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The Real Story of Christmas
December 17, 2005 11:43 AM   Subscribe

The Real Story of Christmas ...Many who are excitedly preparing for their Christmas celebrations would prefer not knowing about the holiday’s real significance. If they do know the history, they often object that their celebration has nothing to do with the holiday’s monstrous history and meaning. “We are just having fun.”
posted by NorthernSky (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
While this article seems to do a good job of summarizing the adoption of pagan rituals and the appropriation of foreign traditions into the Chirstmas holiday, it's hardly an unbiased piece of scholarship. The references are sparse and from dubious sources. And it gets pretty heavy into Godwin's law toward the end.

Still, there's some interesting stuff presented.

I've always understood that Santa Claus is a relatively modern development in Christian tradition. This article suggests that it wasn't really codified until well into the 1800's. How was Christmas celebrated prior to this? How did, say, George Washington celebrate Christmas with his family?
posted by aladfar at 12:00 PM on December 17, 2005


On the one hand, this is dubious scholarship at best. On the other hand, it's a straight-on atheist/agnostic attack on supposed hypocrisies of Christianity.

On the gripping hand, it's idiotic, because the worst fundamentalist Christians hate the pagan traditions of Christmas with the same passion. I know evangelicals who will excoriate anyone who mentions Santa Claus.

It's the moderate, mainstream Christians, the ones who are tolerant, who are also tolerant of the parts of Christmas that have little to do with Christ.
posted by dhartung at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2005


The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

Most biblical scholars put Mark's Gospel at about 65 AD, but Matthew's has never really been pinned down, I think most figure that it was written some time between 65 and 100 AD. It begins with the genaeology of Jesus (patrimonial lineage from David through to Joseph) and the story of Jesus's conception, the trip to Bethlehem and birth, FWIW. True, no one cares about the date. I seem to recall that most scholars put the actual date of Jesus's birth in either Feb, March or April of AD 3.

The rest of it is a pretty good read, and brought to light some facts I didn't know about (hey, I learned something new today), but to imply that the story of the birth of Jesus is irrelevant is not entirely accurate, though yes, it has relatively little to do with the monster that Christmas has become in modern times.
posted by psmealey at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2005


The scholarship is quite dubious, about that you're right, dhartung. However, this is a jewish attack, not an atheist or agnostic one.
posted by jann at 12:13 PM on December 17, 2005


who cares? It's something to celebrate for those who believe, and Christmas is as good a day as any!
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:13 PM on December 17, 2005


And further, it doesn't address Christians directly, but rather assimilated Jews who have Christmas trees and stockings and exchange presents, saying, "Don't be such a humbug, we're having fun."

Personally, I think the author is being quite a humbug.
posted by jann at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2005


those who believe shouldn't be using their holiday to attack others, either in the past or today. those who believe shouldn't really be indulging in activities explicitly contrary to Jesus' sayings, should they?
posted by amberglow at 12:15 PM on December 17, 2005


Interesting, but:

Many of the most popular Christmas customs – including Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas presents, and Santa Claus – are modern incarnations of the most depraved pagan rituals ever practiced on earth.


Call me a depraved pagan but I'll be giving stuff to my friends, fuck you very much.
posted by iamck at 12:17 PM on December 17, 2005


many women down through history have been smelly sluts. therefore, the true meaning of your mom is skank whore.
posted by quonsar at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2005


I am in the minority as a Christian here, but I wish we could just turn Christmas (that is, December 25) into a winter holiday that EVERYONE would feel comfortable celebrating. That time of year does need a festival, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a secular fun time. Then we Christians could sing our carols sometime in March and then pull out the stops for Easter (or as my conservative bretheren and sistern prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday.)

Either that or simply realize that Christmas right now is really two holidays layered on top of one another. No reason a Jew or a Buddhist shouldn't be able to appreciate Jingle Bells.

(as a complete non sequitur, I was in Thailand seven years ago-in early November-and a small public transport truck drove by, containing a group of Buddhist monks-and the truck was playing the tune "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Quite the surreal moment, that.)
posted by konolia at 12:22 PM on December 17, 2005


IT IS A WAR ON CHRISTMAS!
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2005


Ah yes, dubious scholarship, dubious scholarship. How about pointing us to some legit scholarship instead of letting us know how much smarter you are than the author? By the way, did you know that King King was a remake?
posted by Neologian at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2005


You mean Santa Claus is actually from Turkey?
Well that changes everything.
posted by sour cream at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2005


konolia, if that were to happen, it should not be on Dec. 25th, which is the date of a religious holiday called Christmas. A winter festival or holiday would definitely have to not be on that date which has specific meaning beyond "winter holiday".
posted by amberglow at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2005


W.r.t. the "most depraved" part, the author might want to learn a bit about the Aztecs.
posted by lodurr at 12:38 PM on December 17, 2005


... and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a secular fun time.

Well, I'm an atheist, konolia, and I have a little bit of a problem with it. At least if it's an honest-to-God (or honest-to-Odin, for that matter) religious holiday, maybe it wouldn't distort the world economy the way a black hole warps the space in its vicinity.
posted by lodurr at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2005


Amberglow, my point is that "December 25" is NOT Jesus' birthday and I find it mildly ludicrous that we celebrate it as such. OTOH we could stick the "winter holiday" in mid-January and maybe get to enjoy Thanksgiving before all the Christmas stuff comes out....;-)
posted by konolia at 12:43 PM on December 17, 2005


On the other hand, it's a straight-on atheist/agnostic attack on supposed hypocrisies of Christianity.

Nothing quite like a charge of dubious scholarship from someone who failed both to read the article and to observe the giant JUDAISM ONLINE logo at the top of the screen.

But hey, don't let that get in the way of a good kneejerk. This article may be heavy-handed, but you know, pot::kettle, all that.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:43 PM on December 17, 2005


Lodurr, the merchant class will always find a way to make sure the consumerist culture survives in all its fiscal glory.
posted by konolia at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2005


I've rarely seen a fellow Jew behave like that in public (or private) or on the internet. What a moyshe kapoyer.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2005


Everyone knows that once something means something thousands or hundreds of years ago, that meaning can *never change.*
posted by Coherence Panda at 12:48 PM on December 17, 2005


Its meaning here in the US has already changed--Santa is the star, and God rarely figures into it. The problem tho, is that Santa doesn't visit non-Christian homes nor give non-Christians gifts. Is that going to be changed as well (along with his name)?
posted by amberglow at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2005


How did, say, George Washington celebrate Christmas with his family?

Washington probably wouldn't have. Adams definately wouldn't have. Remember a lot of the US was founded by Puritans, who didn't really believe in holidays in general. The minute Oliver Cromwell took over England, he outlawed Christmas and Easter. Celebrating Christmas was punishable by fine in Massachusetts back when it was a colony. And it didn't recognize it as a holiday until the 1800s.

The only place I can think of that probably celebrated a semi-modern Christmas in Washington's time was New York, because of the Dutch. If there were enough Dutch around they'd have the gift-giving and the trees and some kind of Santa. Virginia may have had something, probably just the meal with the family part, due to a Catholic influence, but in Boston saying "Merry Christmas!" would be like saying "Happy Palm Sunday!" or something. You wouldn't really expect to hear about Christmas outside of church. (at least this is my understanding, I'm not a licensed historian or anything)
posted by queen zixi at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2005


If you're interested in a more scholarly examination of modern Christmas traditions, I highly recommend The Battle For Christmas.
posted by mkultra at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2005


my point is that "December 25" is NOT Jesus' birthday and I find it mildly ludicrous that we celebrate it as such

To expand upon that... The date for Christmas comes from the Catholic liturgical calendar as a day to celebrate the birth of Christ. St. Stephen's Day [the day after Christ's Mass] celebrates the martyrdom of St. Stephen, but that doesn't mean the Church is convinced St. Stephen got rocked on that day. The belief that December 25th is THE day that Christ was born is probably some sort of mis-applied cultural logic. We tend to celebrate the day of our birth on the anniversary of that day, but the assignment of 12-25 as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus doesn't mean that it actually is his birth date. The date mainly served as a tactical move to absorb non-Christian celebrations and make it easier to convert the heathen. Catholicism has always been quite good at that.
posted by sciurus at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2005


Happy Hitlerday everyone!

/liked the history lesson, not the preaching
posted by fatbobsmith at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2005


I would just like to point out that NorthernSky actually used the "godwin" tag for her own thread, which, if I remember the true meaning of "godwin," the way it was originally intended to be observed, actually means that this thread was over before it began.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:04 PM on December 17, 2005


Re. the founders: Not so much of the US was actually founded by Puritans. Not really. Plymouth Colony and a few other small places. Pennsylvania was extrememly conservative, but they were Quakers, not Puritans. The effect was similar. By Adams' day, Congregationalists had gained a good deal of influence in Massachusetts, but they were never in control by any stretch of the imagination. (And indeed, the idea would have been contrary to their ethos.)

Adams was a Congregationalist, and my understanding was that they didn't go in for showy festivals. So if there was a practice of Yule feasting amongst Congregationalists, they would likely not have made a big deal fo it. Most of the rest of the colonies at that time were Presbyterian, culturally English, and so they would probably have practiced a Yule feast of some sort. But its resemblance to a modern Christmas would be negligible.
posted by lodurr at 1:06 PM on December 17, 2005


How about this? If we want truly secular holidays that everybody can celebrate, why not take the equinoxes and solstices? We would get four every year, evenly spaced, and maybe we could have a few extra days off on either side of the winter solstice. Everybody can relate to that; the longest and shortest days of the year, plus the ones exactly in between. Whaddya think?
posted by number9dream at 1:09 PM on December 17, 2005


The scholarship is quite dubious, about that you're right, dhartung. However, this is a jewish attack, not an atheist or agnostic one... And further, it doesn't address Christians directly, but rather assimilated Jews who have Christmas trees

Thanks for the correction. I should have looked more closely. Maybe the better response should be Give the Jew girl a toy ...
posted by dhartung at 1:11 PM on December 17, 2005


I added the Godwin tag after it was pointed out that the linked page Godwins itself at the end, and I agree. I thought this site was interesting though by no means objective.
posted by NorthernSky at 1:31 PM on December 17, 2005


I'm disappointed that the author failed to point out the Norse winter solstice celebration, which required an annual sacrifice to Odin of the hanging of a hundred or more men. Mmmm, gingerbread.
posted by cali at 1:38 PM on December 17, 2005


No holiday is "pure"--even something like Yom Kippur comes about over centuries of borrowing and adjusting from previous traditions. Christmas, however, is about as bastardized as it gets--Roman celebration of Apollo (Sol Invictus), Germanic fertility rituals (tannenbaum), and Saint Nick, who's kind of a clusterfuck of competing folk traditions. It's a few days off from work, which is always nice, but it's getting harder to stomach thinking of all the fundies praying to Jeebus for the Rapture to come.

And again people, I want a watch. A nice one--I promise I won't lose it this time.
posted by bardic at 1:51 PM on December 17, 2005


Cali: Annual sacrifice of hundred or more men?! I think not. The solstice festival wasn't celebrated with full sacrifice every year -- I forget the frequency, but I think it was every ninth year. (Wikipedia says ninth year.) And at most the total of men would have been 81 (9*9), all criminals -- and I don't think it was that many. If I recall correctly, it was just 9 (one per night for 9 nights, commemorating the nine nights on the tree).

The big sacrifice, including humans, would have been only at Upsala, which was the center of the Odin-cult in Norway. (Sweden didn't exist at that time.)
posted by lodurr at 1:56 PM on December 17, 2005


> If we want truly secular holidays that everybody can celebrate,

Secular holidays? Bloody Hell, what would us Satanists do? Why do you hate diversity?
posted by jfuller at 1:57 PM on December 17, 2005


Washington probably wouldn't have

Nah, as a Virginian, he probably did. Christmas in the Southern colonies followed fairly unbroken traditions from England, of the Anglican/pagan flavor, because it was not Puritan Separatists who settled the South. So colonial Christmas in the Southern states did exist. However, it wasn't a gift-giving holiday, and there was certainly no Santa. It was a day for having a large feast, drinking, singing, visiting (paying social calls), maybe having a dance. It helped to kick off the winter social season, which featured a lot of feasting and dancing.

Second The Battle for Christmas. Much more informative than links like this.
posted by Miko at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2005


And at most the total of men would have been 81 (9*9), all criminals

In Texas, they call it Christmas.
posted by bardic at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2005


I kind of miss the old rituals. But threads like these are a close second.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2005


George Washington and Christmas at Mt Vernon.
posted by Biblio at 2:14 PM on December 17, 2005


Cool, Santa's red suit is about the best piece of astroturffing in modern history. :)
posted by jeffburdges at 2:45 PM on December 17, 2005


How did, say, George Washington celebrate Christmas...?

On the very first Christmas after the country was founded? By launching a surprise attack.
posted by Wingy at 2:46 PM on December 17, 2005


Here is an article to help you understand the site.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2005


lodurr—although Sweden as understood today didn’t exist in viking times, Uppsala would still have fallen within ‘Svealand,’ & not Norway.
posted by misteraitch at 3:10 PM on December 17, 2005


Lodurr, thanks for looking that up. I was way off on the numbers/frequency, but my point is that we have tasty little effigies hanging in our living rooms. Surely that's worth a mention in this article?
posted by cali at 3:11 PM on December 17, 2005


if I remember the true meaning of "godwin," the way it was originally intended to be observed,...

Ah yes, the real story of what we now call "Godwin's Law" is a long an terrifying tale of dubious scholarship. The original version was a depraved pagan ritual that involved doing horrible things to Christians.
posted by sfenders at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2005


"The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc."

Perhaps we need to get back to our roots. All this modernism has perverted the true meaning of Christmas.
posted by caddis at 3:18 PM on December 17, 2005


Jeffburdges, that article demonstrates exactly my point. The site is pro-Orthodox propaganda, aimed at "proselytizing" within the American Jewish community. They are trying to use scare tactics, guilt, and polemics to "wake up" secular, Reform, and unaffiliated Jews, so that they will turn away from assimilation, intermarriage, et cetera, and start practicing kashrut, becoming shomer shabbos, reading the talmud, and attending more "observant" religious services. Insulting Christians is more of side "benefit" here. This sort of thing saddens me, as a Reform Jew, in part because I know that as the child of a woman who converted under a Reform rabbi when I was four years old, to them I am one of the second-generation non-Jews on their chart.
posted by jann at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2005


Amusing concept: the 'Real' Story.

Why? Well, one persons 'reality' is another's old tales of yore. The story of Christmas as actually lived by myself and my family hasn't included any hangings or singing naked in the streets for some generations now... so what's real?
posted by scheptech at 4:37 PM on December 17, 2005


Happy Hitlerday, and Goebbels us everyone!

The author's missing the big trend over the last forty years of Christmas: the importance of gift-giving. Nowadays the detail of conversations about Christmas is largely, "where are we going to go" (usual answer: "visit our relatives") and "what are we going to get for people". The shops have been starting Christmas season advertising in October for years. If Christmas still belonged to any one religion, it would be the religion of the Almighty Dollar.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:49 PM on December 17, 2005


what's real?

That which is supported by evidence. Although distasteful to many modern people, perhaps, there is a great deal of historical evidence for celebrations of Christmas that include these traditions. It doesn't make your traditions any less important, but there's no denying that the historic roots of the holiday were real.
posted by Miko at 5:06 PM on December 17, 2005


Metafilter: a depraved pagan ritual that involves doing horrible things to Christians
posted by joe lisboa at 5:23 PM on December 17, 2005


Merry Christmas to all of you Mefites.

Jesus was a great guy, so was Mohammed and Buddha. This is what Jesus would say to you guys:

"Hey, eff me, It wasn't my intent to start some wacky religion that calls for the suffering of untold numbers of innocent humans. I just wanted to set the record straight, we humans are all equal and all deserve love and respect. Go forth and get drunk ye, and hug and love thine neighbors. Peace and goodwill to all men, I say. Go forth and spread love. By the way, water into wine? Damn straight, the drinks are on me, your lord and savior. (I don't even care if you believe in me, that's not the point. Life is short, do good things!"
posted by snsranch at 5:37 PM on December 17, 2005


Seditious lies! The next thing you know, they'll be telling us that Easter has nothing to do with Peter Cottontail and a French Inchworm delivering eggs in April Valley. I mean, really...

More seriously, this kind of demeaning stuff always rubs me the wrong way, regardless of its source or intended audience, especially when the author's so convinced of his rectitude he doesn't bother with simple fact checking:
[Saint Nicholas] was only named a saint in the 19th century.
Huh? Whether or not you're a Christian, it's pretty-well established that his relics have been housed in a Basilica in Bari since 1087, having been taken from an earlier shrine built in his honor in Myra. His sainthood dates back to the days before the schism between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Sheesh.

If, as jann points out, the intent is to guilt non-Orthodox Jews over to the author's camp, I think he's making a common mistake of the cloistered by failing to understand his audience. To me it seems his approach only works if the reader believes that fairy tales and past intent are more important than what something is popularly understood to mean today and within one's chosen culture and he might consider that people who take a less-fundamentalist approach to religion would be people who feel just the opposite.

If, on the other hand, he's writing to reinforce a sense of self-satisfaction, then it's probably a job well done. I'm sure he's got a few buddies who feel just as good about the article and themselves as he does.
posted by Opposite George at 6:05 PM on December 17, 2005


/s/his relics/relics purported to be his/

Don't wanna be making the same mistakes this fellow does...
posted by Opposite George at 6:30 PM on December 17, 2005


I'm with konolia. Why not let everybody have a nice winter holiday? What the hell, people?

Put whatever you want on it, but Xmas/Solstice marks that magical time of year when the sun finally starts hanging around a bit longer each day, meaning the cold miserable winter is on the way out.

(On the south side of the globe, they're having the Longest Day of the Year fun at the same time ... does that help explain the beach madness / race riots in the Sydney suburbs? Will it get worse down there when the summer solstice arrives in Australia?)

Anyway, it's a seasonal holiday. It has as much to do with Baby Jesus as it does Thor or St. Nikolas or Coca-Cola or the Yeti. We humans always have a big party when the days finally quit getting shorter. Enjoy it however you like, but please -- and I'm talking to you, Bill O'Reilly -- stop pretending it's all about worshipping an alleged Baby Jesus with no actual connection to the winter solstice.
posted by kenlayne at 6:30 PM on December 17, 2005


what's real?

That which is supported by evidence. Although distasteful to many modern people, perhaps, there is a great deal of historical evidence for celebrations of Christmas that include these traditions. It doesn't make your traditions any less important, but there's no denying that the historic roots of the holiday were real.


Ok, the article's pretty silly in it's overt slant. And Bill O'Reilly, or at least the man he plays on TV, is a kook but consider this 'supported by evidence' reality: nobody hangs people for Christmas.

My point is the author's title lies in claiming to encompass the entire 'reality' of Christmas. How about the spin-free: 'Historical Antecedents for the Christmas Holiday'.
posted by scheptech at 11:37 PM on December 17, 2005


It has as much to do with Baby Jesus as it does Thor or St. Nikolas or Coca-Cola or the Yeti.

Well, not exactly Yeti related, but does this count?

Maybe if we all celebrated Life Day, all of this bickering would cease...
posted by Opposite George at 2:19 AM on December 18, 2005


many women down through history have been smelly sluts. therefore, the true meaning of your mom is skank whore.

quonsar wins
posted by slimepuppy at 3:25 AM on December 18, 2005


A nice read about the Saturnalia.
posted by funambulist at 3:35 AM on December 18, 2005


Annual sacrifice of hundred or more men?! I think not.

Well actually it's not clear it happened during the Saturnalia either, or in which period... I don't know, and I am no history geek, I just don't recall human sacrifice being mentioned as a part of those traditions. Perhaps I only heard about the fun part. Sorry, I meant, depraved!

And that "forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city" in 1446? Is that true? Or is it mixing up with the antisemitic attacks that occurred at Easter with the medieval passion plays?

(From the tone of the article I guess there isn't much point bothering, but I'm just curious about those bits, does anyone know?)
posted by funambulist at 3:58 AM on December 18, 2005


It was a day for having a large feast, drinking, singing, visiting (paying social calls), maybe having a dance. It helped to kick off the winter social season, which featured a lot of feasting and dancing.

And if there were church services involved (in Catholic- or Anglican-influenced areas of the colonies), one common Puritan pastime was to throw stones at the windows in protest.
posted by holgate at 4:59 AM on December 18, 2005


The winter solstice -- the shortest night and longest day of the year, or vice versa, depending on whether you live in the north or south -- is the best time for a winter break. Also, the word solstice is fun:
c.1250, from O.Fr. solstice, from L. solstitium "point at which the sun seems to stand still," from sol "sun" (see sol) + pp. stem of sistere "to come to a stop, make stand still"
Whenever the holiday comes, it should be longer than a day. People should be guaranteed two weeks off at least once a year to forget work. So how about a mandatory two weeks (or more?) off with at least one of those days being the winter solstice?

In the north, I'd love it if the celebration included minimal lighting, to celebrate and enjoy night without the constant light pollution. Instead of seeing Christmas lights going up each winter, it would be great if lights (and Muzak) were turned off for the holidays, home decorations were closer to wartime blackout stuff than Christmas lights, and everyone could see the heavens just by stepping outside and looking up.
posted by pracowity at 5:13 AM on December 18, 2005


How about the spin-free: 'Historical Antecedents for the Christmas Holiday'.

Oh, I totally agree - the linked article is just terrible, not to mention inflammatory.

As to human sacrifices -- sacrifice was part of Roman Saturnalia, as it was on most holidays. But most citations point to the sacrificing of animals at the altar, not humans. The notable exception (and, I would guess, the source for the linked page) is Sir James George Frazer's study of mythology, The Golden Bough, in which he suggests that there was an ancient tradition of human sacrifice.:
... In the King of the Saturnalia at Rome, as he is depicted by classical writers, we see only a feeble emasculated copy of that original, whose strong features have been fortunately preserved for us by the obscure author of the Martyrdom of St. Dasius. In other words, the martyrologist’s account of the Saturnalia agrees so closely with the accounts of similar rites elsewhere which could not possibly have been known to him, that the substantial accuracy of his description may be regarded as established; and further, since the custom of putting a mock king to death as a representative of a god cannot have grown out of a practice of appointing him to preside over a holiday revel, whereas the reverse may very well have happened, we are justified in assuming that in an earlier and more barbarous age it was the universal practice in ancient Italy, wherever the worship of Saturn prevailed, to choose a man who played the part and enjoyed all the traditionary privileges of Saturn for a season, and then died, whether by his own or another’s hand, whether by the knife or the fire or on the gallows-tree, in the character of the good god who gave his life for the world.
Frazer's assumption here has not been supported by subsequent research - anthropologists have not found other citations or field-collected evidence of human sacrifice at Saturnalia.

Activities like running naked through the streets, though, have been collected often enough to be considered part of the tradition of Misrule. Misrule at Christmastime is found in many primary sources regarding pagan celebrations, and was still a strong element of European customs right up to the 16- and 1700s, coexisting with Christian conceptions of the holiday.
The idea of Misrule -- inverting the normal order, turning social hierarchies on their heads, flip-flopping moral codes -- is today more commonly associated with Carnival festivals (including Mardi Gras). But it was strongly associated with Christmas in Northern and Western Europe at least into the 1600s.

Of course, in pre-Christian times as well as post-, traditions varied significantly across Europe according to local custom.
posted by Miko at 5:25 AM on December 18, 2005


Sorry. Here's the link to the full text of The Golden Bough, which I messed up above.

Pracowity, I totally agree. No one in a non-essential job actually works during the last two weeks of the year anyway, even if they're at their desks. And the desire to celebrate, feast, and enjoy candlelight and firelight at the darkest time of the year is universal (at least in non-equatorial zones). I could go for a two-week holiday involving sitting by the fire, feasting, looking at the stars, playing some music, and maybe drinking some nice bourbon.
posted by Miko at 5:29 AM on December 18, 2005


running naked through the streets

...as distinct from chasing people through the streets. Hope that's obvious, but maybe not. OK, I'm done now.
posted by Miko at 5:30 AM on December 18, 2005


Miko, thanks for adding that.
posted by funambulist at 8:39 AM on December 18, 2005


One thing about the 'why jews don't believe in jesus' part of the site that confused me : He says that unlike other religions God revealed himself to the whole jewish nation at Sinai. But I thought Moses went up the mountain suspiciously on his own for a week and then came back with the ten commandments (And then they massacred all the people worshipping the golden calf)?
posted by leibniz at 3:18 PM on December 18, 2005


40 days, not a week.

Oh, and all Israel saw the glory of God on that mountain and it scared the heck out of them. They told Moses to go on up there, they'd happily wait for him.
posted by konolia at 4:36 PM on December 18, 2005


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