The true meaning of Christmas.
November 6, 2000 4:52 PM   Subscribe

The true meaning of Christmas. With Christmas just around the corner, i decided to search for the true meaning of Christmas and i may have come up with the answer.
posted by Zool (6 comments total)
Myths surrounding Jesus' birth
posted by lagado at 5:27 PM on November 6, 2000

He seems to be claiming that the reason Santa's costume is red and white is because of this fungus.

Actually, it's because of an extremely clever advertisement by Coca Cola from many decades ago which showed Santa drinking a bottle of coke by a Christmas tree at one of his stops along the way (with the requisite plate of cookies) and grinning. The reason for the colors are very simple: white trim on red background are the Coca Cola corporate colors.

The image stuck, and that's how he's been portrayed ever since by everyone. Not too many ads over the years have been that successful.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:30 PM on November 6, 2000

Regarding Jesus, the miracle of "virgin birth" is the result of the most spectacular mistranslation in history.

The word which was used in the original literally translates to "virgin", but it had a colloquial meaning more akin to "young woman". An almost exact equivalent in modern English is the way we use the word "girl". Technically, a "girl" is pre-puberty, and if a "girl" had a baby, it would be something of an oddity since a "girl" isn't fertile.

But in common use, the word "girl" is commonly used (less now than before because of the lib movement) to refer to pretty much any young woman, especially an attractive one, under perhaps the age of 23. In that sense, a "girl" having a baby merely means she's been having a good time (hopefully).

So it is here. Where the original refers to "born of a virgin" it's using the colloquial meaning and it's no more a miracle than a 22 year "girl" having a baby.

And on this mistranslation, a miracle was born.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:38 PM on November 6, 2000

The Author of The Site Seems to Be Suggesting that Mushroom Use Causes A Rare & Incurable Tic that Prompts Constant Needless Capitalization.

As for Coke creating the image of the red-suited Santa, I believe that's an urban myth - the popular conception of a red & white Santa predated the '31 Coke ad. The ad (by the great commercial illustrator Haddon Sundblom) certainly nailed the image in the popular mind, but this has less to do with Coke and more to do with the exceptional skill of the artist. That was the Santa everyone wanted to believe in, not some Thomas-Nasty escapee from a Dickens book.
posted by lileks at 7:11 PM on November 6, 2000

Red ink was cheapest. That's why Santa wore a red suit long before the Coca-Cola ad. Yet even then, he was a combination of characters: St. Nicholas, Odin, Father Christmas, Krampas, Sinter Klaus and Krist Kindle, to name a few.

More on Christmas and its traditions here.
posted by aprilgem at 7:21 PM on November 6, 2000

Actually, the whole Christmas=Winter Solstace thing is a mistake. The date of Christmas was set by working forwards from what was thought was the date of Jesus' conception. It used to be thought that great men tended to die on the day of their conception and it was thought that Jesus died on March 25. So the celebration of the Annunciation (when the angel supposedly told Mary she was pregnant) was set for March 25 and then Christmas was celebrated nine months later on December 25.

The existing "pagan" practices of celebrating the Winter Solstice no doubt influenced the way Christmas was celebrated by Christians, but the coinciding dates is just a coincidence.
posted by straight at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2000

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