Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I would like to send Holiday greetings to all my readers from around the world!! Of course, most people know the origin of the Christmas Holiday, the birth of Jesus Christ, in about 2 BCE, whom the Christian Church has proclaimed Son of God, and center of the religion of Christianity. The early centuries of Christianity did not recognize this holiday or even the importance of Christ and his life story to the Christian religion. It was not until the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the proclaimed religion of the roman Empire in the 4th century CE that Christianity spread. Then multiple edicts from the Roman authorities over centuries changed the face of Christianity so that it probably would not be recognized by Christ himself should he appear again.
With my research in genealogy over the years I have read about, thought about and written about Christmas traditions and memories of more modern times. In the United States, as I learned, Christmas was not always a heart-warming holiday as we think of it today. We know that the Puritans in New England didn't begin to celebrate Chritmas until the late 1800's because it was regarded as a Pagan holiday and because of the rowdy nature of the celebrations in non-Puritan circles. Cromwell in England had outlawed Christmas celebrations because they were "papist", i.e. too Roman Cahtolic. In other areas of our country, Christmas was a man's holiday and consisted of revelry and rowdiness, and bawdiness. The Victorian Christmas as we know it combined English and German customs when Prince Albert of Germany married Queen Victoria in 1848. The Holiday first became civilized in England and the observances brought men home to be with their families. Also at Christmas, society moved towards taking care of the "lowly" and powerless, i.e. presenting gifts to servants on Boxer's Day, (the day after Christmas), to the poor, and last but not least to the little children. Decorating the house, Christmas trees adopted from German pagan custom, family gatherings, and emphasizing the meaning of Christmas are really relatively modern day interpretations of the holiday. In this country, Christmas in the South first became a warm family holiday following in the footsteps of England and Germany. Finally through the years those warm customs overtook the Puritan ethic in the north of the country and slowly the Christmas of today developed. Of course now many people think that the Holiday has outgrown its britches, so to speak. The commercialization and tremendous growth of gift giving and spending has become important to the economy but many feel it has outshown the real meaning of Christmas.
Aren't we lucky that these traditions have become the source of modern memories? Currently I think that most countries, at least most that we have visited, no matter their religious practices know of Christmas and love the festivities. Also from my SpiritMindBody group study of spiritual traditions from around the world, almost all religions share traditions of their own that provide that warm, homey feeling of family and memories.
So no matter your spiritual tradition, worldview, or belief system, I would like to wish you all the warm feelings in the Spirit of Christmas. May you all enjoy happiness, good fortune and health during this season and into the New Year of 2011.