During this time of year, the holidays or Christmas and New Years, have always been a jolly, entertaining time of year of expectancy, of buckle your seat-belts and brace for anything. Sixteen days or so of all things good, sparkle and wonderment, uplifting or mysterious it all was/is possible. Taking time for the less fortunate in a plethora of ways. Reuniting with family around meals, in the kitchen or living room for games, maybe telling stories past or present with traditional beverages and libations for cheer. Most things are fluid, undefined precisely, other things traditional, conventional, predictable, and new. The exception? Young children. Then holiday gatherings are certainly fluid, very undefined, traditionally loud, unconventional, unpredictable, and newly broken. Messy. Pass the broom and dustpan.
There is also a never-ending amount of wishing. Wishing everything was neat and tidy. We wish you this, we wish you that, we wished you’d come, we wished you’d leave! Lots of wishing everywhere, wishing some things were different. Wishing other things and people were all the same, maybe equal. Identical? Wish you were like me, like him or her or it. Or a very popular wish of the last couple of millenia: wishing things were meticulously, undeniably true.
Not the case.
No matter what time of year it is I find things are wonderfully messy. People of all ages are messy. Life is messy, past and present, and near certainly will be in the future. That’s what it means to be human among 7.7 billion other humans. We are all alike, but equally different, from just as many different places and backgrounds. Normality and paradox somehow coexist. Going against this truth will eventually drive you mad. “Life plays and swims in paradox while the kill-joys go mad and the libertines live.” A quote from yours truly on my Favorite Quotes page. But enough with my rambling!
Why do we celebrate this time of year? When and where did this celebration begin? Who should I ask? Or should I not ask and go find out for myself? Ahh, more messy answers from previous messiness. “One is never served so well as by oneself” as Charles-Guillaume Étienne coined. The common version is “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” There is some truthiness to either one, I think. Some will exhort the Golden Chalice exists and certainly can be found! Others will posit no such thing exists. Still others will have no answers of any import. Perhaps it’s wise to saddle both, or maybe all three? HAH! A ménage à trois beaucoup! Oui?
Apologies. Now I’ve slipped into delicious hédonisme and débauche as the French would say with a sly grin.
There are many wrong answers to those questions, mostly wrong… most likely. Yet, if one puts on their forensic hat and goggles, with some persistence, equitable examination without rash simplification and disassociation, 😉 the messy truth can and will be found. It’s not so scary. Much of this messiness is well-known, checked and rechecked. Nevertheless, here are a few starter-fireworks, kindling if you will, sure to light-up and excite your holiday bonfire, conversation, and show:
- Christmas is a multicultural Pagan festival dating back to at least the late Neolithic and Bronze Ages, i.e. 5000 BCE to 600 BCE, as winter solstice festivals.
- The year and precise date of “Christ’s birth” is unknown, but the time of year is estimated by scholars to be in Autumn, not any later than September.
- Earliest Christians from Yeshua’s (Jesus’) The Way Movement never celebrated his birth; it wasn’t until the 16th or 17th centuries CE that Western churches in Europe incorporated popular Pagan winter festivals in December into their Catholic Christ’s Mass or Mass for Christ.
- Several Protestant denominations throughout the world banned Christmas celebrations completely, English and American Puritans, for example. Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Church of Christ are three more examples.
- Our familiar gift-giving charity originated in the Victorian Era (1800’s) and the traditional Christmas tree is Germanic-Teutonic in origin where greenery from outside is brought inside to cheer up the dormant, colorless, glumness of winter.
- Christians of the mid-1st century to 2nd century CE celebrated Christmas in April to May; this greatly bothered the Church Leaders because Jesus’ place of birth, or death, or burial were completely uncertain, speculation and conjecture. Therefore…
- Pope Julius I in 350 CE declared Dec. 25th as the official imperial birth-date of Jesus; it was the same time of Rome’s very popular Pagan Saturnalia festival.
- Nativity stories, plays, and decor are taken from several Pagan celebrations and imagery, like the ideas of shepherds, wise men (Magi), and an illuminating star were all secular in origin.
- In the modern era Christmas has taken on more diverse forms, various rituals, and commercially energized out Rudolph’s cold, red ass; I mean, nose!
- Saint Nicholas was an obscure 4th-century philanthropist and turned into a chimney-diving Santa Claus with elves and flying reindeer, a mingling and mixing of the ancient German king of the gods Odin and his Yule celebration.
- The story A Christmas Carol was a quick-buck publication by Charles Dickens in 1843 turning traditional Christmas scenes into heavy sentimental, heart-grabbing sharing and giving.
- The Advent Calendar of the holidays was once just an unromantic invention by a weary 19th-century Munich, Germany housewife to silence her pestering children who would not stop asking Momma, how many days until Christmas!?
- Yes, now is the time for some good song! Hit play (below), give hugs, find mistletoe, and be of good cheer because it is the most wonderful time of the year!
As it turns out, if truth be told historically, the Christmas holidays actually have nothing to do with the birth of the anti-Semitic Greek Jesus Christ, but instead is a winter celebration and festival of diverse, all-inclusive, ancient cultural Coming Together. A gathering of family, friends, and strangers from many messy traditions and perceptions to form a messier, melting pot of holiday mess! I vote to call the winter celebration Good-mess. Goodmess Eve, Goodmess Day, and have a cheerful Goodmess New Year. Yes? Say Ho ho ho if you agree.
This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.professortaboo.com/contact-me/.