Why do Christians celebrate Christmas?

(103 Posts)
MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 16:42:28

Most people seem to know that Christmas has it's roots in the pagan Solstice celebration, that 25th December was not Jesus' birthday and there is no mention of Jesus celebrating his own birthday in the Bible?

Many people ask me about my beliefs (I'm a JW) but thought I would turn the tables as I am genuinely interested.

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 16:52:42

do you mean why personally or why did it start being celebrated on the 25th in this country?

desmond morris' book- 'christmas watching' is great at explaining why things are as they are. he talks about things like why christmas is done differently in different christian countries, it's pagan routes in this country, why we have christmas trees, why we eat mince pies etc etc.

LorinaLovesSprouts Tue 19-Dec-06 16:54:38

I dont think it matters if Jesus celebrated his own birthday or not. My cat doesnt celebrate his either, but we all make a big fuss of him because we love him

KTreePee Tue 19-Dec-06 16:55:37

Well many Christian festivals are at the same time as pagan ones - they were hijacked by the early Christians who thought it would be easier to "sell" the new religion if the people could still have their parties at the same time as usual!

I read somewhere once that the whole thing about Bethlehem etc was very likely invented to tie in with something in the OT that predicted that that is where the new Messiah would be born, etc. There is no historical record of a census being taken that would tie in, etc (and no reason why people would have to travel away from their home town even if there was...).I think the Christmas story doesn't feature in every book of the bible either.

Personally it doesn't really bother me if the story is true or not, still nice to have a season of goodwill....

sunnysideup Tue 19-Dec-06 16:55:39

Because they needed to root the christian faith into the community and getting in on the good times like the festivals was a good way to ensure a level of interest in the christian calendar, among the great unwashed masses?

SantaGotStuckUpTheGreensleeve Tue 19-Dec-06 17:00:49

Perhaps it's because it's a beautiful, inclusive, uplifting tradition which has acquired so many layers of cultural and spiritual meaning and significance over the centuries, and brings such huge joy to millions of people - unless you're going out of your way to be pedantically joyless, or have a committed religious/spiritual reason not to, I can't imagine why you wouldn't celebrate it, in whatever way you feel appropriate. I don't think it matters whether or not Jesus celebrated his own birthday (he didn't celebrate his own crucufixion/resurrection either) or whether the actual date is historically accurate. Jesus certainly wasn't against the idea of a symbolic commemoration ritual, as demonstrated in The Last Supper.

MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 17:10:38

Dizzy, I mean why personally. So many on here have declared it's pagan roots and I have been thinking about it and wondered (from really an outsider's point of view) why so much effort goes into celebrating it.

Greensleeve, I suppose this is where this discussion is complicated "he didn't celebrate his own crucufixion/resurrection either", well yes so why celebrate Easter? why not just commemorate Jesus death the way the apostles did and the way we were asked to on Nisan 14?

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:16:05

but a lot of people aren't celebrating the birth of christ at christmas or his resurrection at easter. easter is often viewed as a celebration of new life, spring time etc, hence bunnies and eggs and so on. it also coincidently works with christ being re born and possibly the egg shaped stone across his tomb. it doesn't matter really does it? the majority of people like an excuse to celebrate and have a good time.

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:19:17

unless of course you are perhaps meaning christians in the sense of christians who go to church at least once a week? rather than just people in general IYSWIM.

i can very easily look at things from a variety of angles, my dad being muslim and my mother being catholic

MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 17:20:38

LOL Dizzy, yes I do mean Christians who go to Church.

Pruni Tue 19-Dec-06 17:23:47

Message withdrawn

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:25:11

ah, then that's a slightly different kettle of fish!

poinsettydog Tue 19-Dec-06 17:26:50

You might as well ask why do Christians go to church.

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:26:57

desmond morris says it's cos pope julius the 1st in the 4th century decided, on looking at all the evidence, that that would be the official date. he looked at when the census would have been, when the brightest star would have been etc etc. that's just what he decided and that was that.

Pruni Tue 19-Dec-06 17:29:09

Message withdrawn

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:31:19

tis a very interesting read.

MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 17:55:31

Why does Pope Julius decide?

Tommy Tue 19-Dec-06 18:01:58

most religions have some sort of festival of light in the mid winter and of course, the Christian festival is based on the pagan solstice thing. I don't really see why that is aproblem.

Also, just because it doesn't say that Jesus didn't celebrate his birthday (and there are stories of his birth which might suggest it was important enough to remember and include) it doesn't mean he didn't!

KTreePee Tue 19-Dec-06 18:08:59

I think apart form the religious connections, Christmas has become a "traditional" time of celebration in this country and many others, mainly because this was once a predominantly Christian country. Many people celebrate Christmas who do not consider themselves Christians. I also know of several Christian sects who do not celebrate it (don't know if JW's do or not btw, not getting in a dig).

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 19:10:19

pope julius decided. and everyone's followed it on. it's just tradition. i'm sure jesus doesn't really mind that it quite probably isn't his birthday.

ParanoidSurreyHousewife Tue 19-Dec-06 19:33:47

For me it is a reminder that God loved the world so much that he gave the ultimate gift - his own son to live amongst us, and to show us the way to salvation, and of course ultimately his sacrifical death and resurrection from the dead. It is less about it being Jesus' birthday, and more about marking this great gift - God's very presence. And reading/watching the nativity brings out so many of the great truths of our faith - God didn't choose to appear to the religious rules of the day, he wasn't born as a prince, but he came humbly amongst us. During Advent I remember the time of waiting for the promised Messiah, and it is a time of preparation as we celebrate the fact of the Lord's presence amongst us through the Holy Spirit.

As for why it is December 25 - frankly I'm not that bothered. I could mark it on any day of the year, and in some respect the facts behind the day are true all the year round. I don't think that it is in any way a spiritual requirement to celebrate it, but as with any religious celebration it helps marks out seasons etc and brightens our world.

Whizzz Tue 19-Dec-06 19:40:30
Jbck Tue 19-Dec-06 22:51:14

Mrsspoon is reminding me of an inquisitive toddler I'd never heard of Nisan 14, thought it must have been an old car or something. Spot the big heathen!

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 13:45:28

Jbck, you could call me an inquisitive toddler but TBH the more years that go past that I don't celebrate Christmas and the more I learn about it's roots and origins the more I want to ask why Christians do celebrate it.

I suppose we have to agree to disagree but it has been interesting (and probably not a question I could ask the Mums at the School gates without getting a clout ).

After reading Whizz's link I'm even more convinced not celebrating is the right thing to do. I knew about the origins of the tree and the mistletoe but don't think I had realised the significance of the holly.

uwila Wed 20-Dec-06 14:36:55

Why do people who aren't Christians celebrate Christmas?

KTreePee Wed 20-Dec-06 15:47:45

Well the more I read about the pagan, etc origins, the more I think it is worth celebrating! Vive la difference!

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 16:40:12

But Mrs spoon, why DO you go to church?

Goodness, you can break down pretty much anything and say there's no point to it.

If you want to pick apart one religious festival, pick apart all man-made customs and rituals.

BaileysMilkshake Wed 20-Dec-06 16:51:12

If this is true I would still continue to celebrate Christmas but rather than a celebration of Christs birth I will think of it as a celebration of his life!

I have been raised to belive it was the day of his birth - although have read other theories, but the whole ethos of Christmas for me is about enjoying the day with family, the family I have been given by God!

I dont go to church very often at all, but consider myself a Christian. When I had DD Christened I was told by our Reverend that you dont have to go to church to worship Christ, as long as you do what you belive to be right and instill good morals in your children. Which I belive I do

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 17:01:51

Poinsettydog, I don't go to church. I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses and we generally meet in a Kingdom Hall (which looks and is run very different to a church). JW's don't celebrate Christmas.

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 17:06:37

poinsettydog, you probably could break down everything and take it to bits and say there is no point to it. My question is one that has been rattling about in my head as I find it difficult to get my head round the mix of Christianity and Paganism.

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:09:27

we celebrate the birth of jesus because it signifies jesus to come.

so its not just the old nativity stuff in school it means much more.

yes the history is well known. however we celebrate christmas which is also at the same time as festivals of other belief systems. this doesn't make it any less valid.

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 17:17:06

If a Christian celebration, why the pagan symbols, the tree etc?

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:26:37

i believe the tree was introduced by prince albert becuase it was a gift or something.

and you know everyone was a monarchist in those days - trend setting etc. so it became fashionaable to have a tree.

Tommy Wed 20-Dec-06 17:29:00

the symbols were there already and they have been taken on by the Church and given Christian meanings - the evergreen of the tree symbolising the everlasting love of Jesus and so on.

I wouldn't worry about it all so much MrsSpoon if I were you!

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 17:32:49

Many parts of a religion are obviously created by man, to provide a structure and a morality that suits human society.

You obviously have an issue with paganism - fair enough. As people have said, it is pretty much accepted that the dates of Christmas and Easter are based on earlier pagan festivals. It's no big secret. You obviously think any pagan foundation would demean a religion.

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 17:34:04

If you despise paganism that much, just come out and say it and then be thankful you're a JW.

liquidclocks Wed 20-Dec-06 17:36:17

Isn't Easter actually based on Passover?

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:36:24

i think prince albert made is fashionable to be honest.

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:36:36

the tree

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:37:14

easter is ont he same festival as passover. and its the most importand christian date.

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:37:44

to christians. to celebrate i mean - easter thqt is

ok- you do know that the day you were born was the day you were born-you have evidence for it, why don't you celebrate your birthday?( genuine question btw)

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:41:40

cos i have a birth certificate and my mother remembers clearly

SantaGotStuckUpTheGreensleeve Wed 20-Dec-06 17:42:24

Easter is also based around an ancient festival celebrating the pagan goddess of Spring, birth and renewal, Eostre (hence oestrogen etc) which explains the significance of eggs/Spring flowers/littl fluffy lambs/rabbits.

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:43:34

which is the same jesus message - new life etc

no sorry custy it was directed at mrs spoon. jw's don't celebrate birthdays and i've never understood why.

MerryMellowmas Wed 20-Dec-06 17:44:27

MrsSpoon What do you do at this time of year, what do you do on christmas day for example

SaggarClaus Wed 20-Dec-06 17:44:46

I'd like to know that too. My BIL is a JW and I daren't ask him.

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:44:55

i understand its just another day for JW.

MerryMellowmas Wed 20-Dec-06 17:45:26

Yes I always wondered about the birthdays too FIL had explained it but I have forgotten

MadamePlatypus Wed 20-Dec-06 17:45:53

easter is also timed to coincide with a pagan spring festival.

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:47:04

still doesn't negate the celebration of the risen Christ.

why is it mrs spoon?

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 17:56:08
PeachyIsNowAChristmasFruit Wed 20-Dec-06 17:57:44

Easter has roots in Paganism yes, Spring and new life and all that. Its all done by moon pahses.

Passover is calculated as :
The Lord's Passover always falls on the first full moon after the spring equinox. The time
of the full moon is calculated from Jerusalem time. The full moon must occur before sundown
there. The equinox always occurs on March 21st of each year. The first "FULL" moon after this signals the Lord's Passover


To get Easter:

Easter Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first official full moon following the official vernal equinox. The official full moon may differ from the real one by a couple of days. To calculate this date perform the following:

Calculate the Golden Number.
Every 19 years the phases of the moon fall on the same dates (or they would do if it were not for leap years). The Golden Number is a measure of how much in sync the phases of the moon are to the tropical year.

Golden Number = ( Year modulus 19 ) + 1
Example: 12 = ( 2006 modulus 19 ) + 1


Calculate the Julian Epact.
The Epact is a measure of the age of the moon for a specific date. For the Julian Calendar (the one created at the command of Julius Caesar in 45BC) the Epact is related to the Golden Number. By convention the Epact is between 1 and 30.

Julian Epact = ( ( 11 * ( Golden Number - 1 ) ) modulus 30
Example: 1 = ( ( 11 * ( 12 - 1 ) ) modulus 30

if Julian Epact = 0 then Julian Epact = 30
Julian Epact = 1 so Julian Epact = 1


Calculate the Gregorian Epact.
To get the Epact for the Gregorian Calendar we need to adjust for leap years, for slight inaccuracy in the calculation of the Golden Number, and add eight to make it the age of moon on the 1st of January. Of course, the age of the moon is always between zero and 29 days so it needs adjusted. However just as with the Julian Calander convention places the Epact between 1 and 30.

Gregorian Epact = Julian Epact - 0.75 * Century
Example: -14 = 1 - 0.75 * 21

Gregorian Epact = Gregorian Epact + ( 8 * Century + 5 ) / 25
Example: -8 = -14 + ( 8 * 21 + 5 ) / 25

Gregorian Epact = Gregorian Epact + 8
Example: 0 = -8 + 8

Gregorian Epact = adjust to between 1 and 30
Example: 30 = adjust 0


Calculate the 'Paschal' Full Moon before Easter
Now that we know how many days had passed since the New Moon on January the 1st we can use a simple table to look up the date of the Full Moon after the 'official' vernal equinox.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
12/31 11/31 10/31 9/31 8/31 7/31 6/31 5/31 4/31 3/31 2/31 1/31 31/21 30/21 29/21
16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
28/21 27/21 26/21 25/21 24/21 23/21 22/21 21/21 18/31 ** 17/31 16/31 15/31 14/31 13/31

** if Golden Number > 11 Full Moon Date = 17/3
else Full Moon Date = 18/3

Example Full Moon Date = Thu 13 / Apr / 2006


Calculate the Sunday following the Full Moon.
Lastly we need the Sunday following the day of this Full Moon to obtain the date for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday = Sunday after the Full Moon
Example Easter Sunday = Sun 16 / Apr / 2006

my head imploded after that

mmmmmmmmmm

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 18:03:09

whats that mean? mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

i take it as clitoral stimulation?

it means that i'm a bit about the reasones for not celebrating birthdays.

it all sounds a bit.....joyless to me.

Mincepiedermama Wed 20-Dec-06 18:08:37

What an interesting thread. I didn't know you were JW MrsS. My children on their post dinner high so I can't post at the moment but look forward to revisiting this.

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 18:08:56

"still doesn't negate the celebration of the risen Christ."

exactly

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 18:16:30

pointydog you just killed the thread.

ihave 15 mins of xmas bashing before i have to go get pissed.

no lets not let it be killed!!!!!

Tortington Wed 20-Dec-06 18:22:00

liveth - liveth longeth thread..eth

and so it came about that it was not dropped off the active convos list, and it was not dropped off and they did rejoiceth.

amen.

.

I celebrate Christmas because a baby was born, and he grew up and gave the ultimate sacrifice for me, for all of us. That touches me in a way that I can't describe. I understand that a lot of people get synical about pagan dates and what have you, but at the end of it all I could care less about that. Fussing about that loses sight of that precious babys birth. Even for people who don't believe in Christ I think its special. A time to be with your family in warmth and light, sheltered from the darkness. A season of Charity and Goodwill. Whatever your religion its hard to argue with that.

Tinker Wed 20-Dec-06 19:25:31

"Why do people who aren't Christians celebrate Christmas?"

I don't "celebrate" it, I enjoy it, excuse for good nosh and to drink booze in the morning.

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 19:43:28

custardo, I didn't think you were xmas bashing - I've got confused somewhere along the line or maybe I should stick to .

In fact, this thread generally confuses me.

At least you're going to get pissed.

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 19:44:04

Don't know what that full stop's doing there. I'm all over the place this evening.

christie1 Wed 20-Dec-06 20:04:09

As a regular church goer, christmas is one the most important events after easter to be celebrated each year. Its true no one knows the exact date of jesus birth, but if one believes he was born and is the son of god, then it is very meaningful to us to celebrate this time. But it is more than that, it is a spirit, a hope for good, of what people can be. I think Dicken got it right in the novel A christmas Carol in that chritmas means we turn our hearts and mind to those that need our help, and we try to live good lives no matter how humble, and, even the coldest heart can be moved (scrooge). I know, its a story but I think dickens was inspired by the spirit and hope the christmas season can inspire in people. Yes, it is incredibly commerical (what isn't really) but there is a spirit, people smile more, they feel happier (and not just from too much drinking) and for those who do practice christianity, it is a true celebartion of why we do show up every week to worship. Have I helped at all?

MadamePlatypus Wed 20-Dec-06 20:49:26

paulaplumpbottom, completely agree. I am not a 'christian' (and there is whole other thread I suppose on what a christian is), but the story of the birth of christ is very important to me. I don't believe literally that Christ died for our sins, but for me the story of his birth represents the world stopping for an instant because a baby was born, and valuing what is important. I don't think it is a negative thing that Christian festivals like Christmas and Easter are timed to coincide with older festivals. Christmas is a light in the darkness of midwinter, and Easter is about rebirth.

Mrs Spoon, I can see the JW point of view, but I think the celebration of these festivals represents a basic human need for people to mark the ebb and flow of the year.

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 23:09:36

Not worrying in least Tommy, just nosey!

Poinsettydog, re paganism, I don't feel any need to come out and say I "despise paganism" because ultimately we were created with free will, we choose what to do with our lives including religious beliefs. I don't really have any 'ranking' system going on as far as religions go.

"You obviously think any pagan foundation would demean a religion." I suppose the answer to this is yes I do think this. Surely Paganism and Christianity are polar opposites, I just don't see how the two can be gelled together.

Custardo, I haven't and won't read your link. There is a vast amount of rubbish written about Jehovah's Witnesses, particularly on the internet . However do not take this as naivity, Jehovah's Witnesses are encouraged to question their beliefs and research and study them for themselves not just blindly believe.

Liquidclocks, I get a bit hazy about Easter, never understood it when I celebrated it nevermind now, but the rolling of the eggs is supposed to symbolise the stone being rolled away from the mouth of the tomb that Jesus' body was in. However the eggs, rabbit etc come from pagan fertility celebrations. We celebrate the passover (last supper) which happened before Jesus died and he specifically asked us to keep doing this in rememberance of him.

We don't celebrate birthdays is that the only two birthday celebrations spoken of in the Bible were held by persons who did not worship God. (Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21, 22, 24-27) The early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. The custom of celebrating birthdays comes from ancient false religions.

Although it does make me sad sometimes to think that people think this means we never have a party for our children or we never surprise them with presents because we do, usually 'just because' rather than for a particular reason.

Someone also asked what we will be doing on Christmas day. I'm not saying for a minute that this is what all Jehovah's Witnesses do but certainly we take full advantage of the day, view it as a bonus holiday day, if we are up early enough I'll make pancakes, crispy bacon, maple syrup and we'll sit down and eat that, then watch the TV, usually go out late morning for a walk, either end up at the park or get in the car and go to the beach for a walk, come back about 2pm, might open a bottle of wine, get the chocolate out for the kids, then I make a roast dinner, might play a board game, this year have bought a big jigsaw to do over the holidays with the kids. Put the kids to bed and sit down and watch the TV with DH, cue more chocolate and wine.

In addition to this over the next two weeks I am throwing three dinner parties because most of our family and friends have time off so it's a natural time to catch up with everybody (hence I am as anxious as the rest of you on www's x-mas shopping thread), going to my Mum and Dad's for the day, my Mum's coming to stay and we are going to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Beginning to panic that I may run out of time to make the butterfly cakes that DS2 saw on Big Cook, Little Cook today, that I promised to make him and also the caramel shortbread that I for some reason have a need to make at this time of year.

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 23:20:51

The two are gelled together by man's desire to make sense of life.

POlar opposites suggests you think paganism is evil.

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 23:26:09

You are putting words in my mouth again Poinsettydog, I have already said I don't have any sort of 'ranking' system going on in my head but Christianity and Paganism are very different and I find it hard to see how you can mix them without diluting one or the other.

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 23:26:52

Are you usually Moondog BTW?

Pruni Wed 20-Dec-06 23:30:10

Message withdrawn

poinsettydog Wed 20-Dec-06 23:34:29

no, I'm not moondog! Crikey, I'd better pack it in.

I should butt out. I find this an irritating religious quibble. Can you tell? Nothing personal.

I'm not a christian or pagan either.

SaintGeorge Wed 20-Dec-06 23:39:33

I don't think Paganism and Christianity are polar opposites at all.

One may pre-date the other, the wording and the names may have changed but ultimately the intent is the same.

Pruni Wed 20-Dec-06 23:44:02

Message withdrawn

Tortington Thu 21-Dec-06 00:17:01

sorry spoony wasn't JW bashing with the link - although the link wasn't all good stuff. it explained about the birthdays which someone was insistant on asking about continuously and got on my huge tits.

am not pissed btw. not through lack of trying.

MrsSpoon Thu 21-Dec-06 00:26:40

LOL Custy, I took a brief look at the link and homed in the nonsense.

poinsettydog, LOL you're not MD then, thought it might be MD's xmas name.


"I find this an irritating religious quibble." - No prob, as often the case on MN one person's irritating quibble is another's genuine question/interest. Baby pasta anyone?

Better go DH is badgering me to sing Karaoke.

Tortington Thu 21-Dec-06 00:28:59

kareoke is def against sensible humanistic sensibilities

why wasn't i invited?

MrsSpoon Thu 21-Dec-06 10:28:21

I am hoarse and very tired this morning, don't think DH realises it's not the holidays yet.

DizzyBinterWonderland Thu 21-Dec-06 12:43:50

mrs spoon- so on christmas day you'll be eating tasty food, spending time with the family, going for an afternoon walk, watching tv, drinking wine...sounds like christmas to me

Tortington Thu 21-Dec-06 14:27:31

that doesn't constitute xmas in itself

Jbck Thu 21-Dec-06 15:48:09

MrsS hope I didn't offend you I have just logged on as I was away for lunch yesterday which stretched to very late & very drunk. I just found it funny that every answer you got prompted another question like a toddler would do. It is a very interesting thread & I wasn't disagreeing with you in the slightest. I am not religious at all, I enjoy the social aspect & seeing friends and family but was completely unaware of an awful lot of stuff that's come up.
Right now I'm wishing that a hangover is one tradition I didn't have to experience.

poinsettydog Thu 21-Dec-06 17:21:28

Well now I have this image of your dh forcing you to do karaoke every night. Just the two of you, was it? Does he do this every Christmas?

poinsettydog Thu 21-Dec-06 17:22:47

Thread title: We've Been Married 10 Years and We Don't Do Karaoke Anymore

MrsSpoon Thu 21-Dec-06 21:56:11

No, you didn't offend me at all Jbck, sometimes it does us good to think like a toddler (even although it is annoying ).

LOL PD, just the two of us, although probably some of our friends who are unfortunate enough to visit us over the next couple of weeks will get dragged onto the mic too.

Not just an x-mas tradition an any time of the year tradition in our house. I get made to play pool too but he draws the line at darts because I cause so much damage to house.

MrsSpoon Thu 21-Dec-06 21:56:59

PD, we've been married over 11 years now and still singing, don't know quite what that says about our marriage but it's noisy anyway.

belgianmama Thu 21-Dec-06 22:25:11

I think every culture must have it's special days which make us focus on our family and loved ones. In this country its holidays like Christmas and Easter. I think it is something every culture and religion needs as all humans are drawn to such rituals. I'm sure JW will have their own celebrations, which we do not have and they will be based on their own reasons, which we might not understand.
For me the historic reasons behind celebrating christmas are not as important as the actual meaning of it. So whether we celebrate christmas on the 25th dec or 6th jan, is not as important as what it means to us who celebrate it.
We'll never know what Jesus really would have wanted us to do, as he is not here to tell us, but I think that he would see that the celebration is a cause of much good that was inspired by his words and actions, such as all the charity donations people give at this time, families coming together,...

nearlythree Thu 21-Dec-06 23:03:55

I celebrate Christmas because it's about te greatest gift of all. A tiny baby who was to grow into the most amazing man. A man who would die because he wanted to show us how to live.

I'm one of those who believes the Nativity stories to be apocryphal. Nevertheless, they have meaning for me, and this year dd1 is old enough to really enter into them. she has spent the last week watching a Nativity dvd, reading her Bible story book, and talking about the Nativity story far more than Father Christmas. This is all down to her, I lead where she follows and never force her to practice our faith. It's a cliche, but I'm really seeing the magic of it through the eyes of a child.

I'm with STG on the similar intent of paganism and Christianity. And what can possibly be wrong with having beautiful things from the astonishing God-created natural world in our homes as part of our celebrations?

(My uncle who is a JW started to lay a new patio one Christmas day until his neighbours complained about the noise from his cement mixer! )

madamez Thu 21-Dec-06 23:10:05

As a thoroughgoing humanist ahtiest, I clebrate 'christmas' because it's a good excuse to have a party in the dismal depths of winter. And a midwinter festival is something rooted deep in most if not all northen hemisphere civilisations -and I have indeed drunk some red wine tonight because it is the solstice - the shortest day of the year. Any excuse...

PeachyIsNowAChristmasFruit Fri 22-Dec-06 10:16:40

LOL at the any excuse! (we had the boys up early today to see the New Sun- I was dressed up as a Pagan for our Uni RE get together last week, ythey've been curious ever since).

Is paganism the diametric opposite of Christianity? we were discussing this (as my bestest mate on the course came as a Vicar (we also had Muslim in a Burkha, two Hindus and Mogul Princess so we were very inclusive) so we made an odd pair...) I say not, because at least they believe in deities/ a deity, I think its Atheism. he disagrees (and gets better grades than well, anyone) [

nearlythree Sat 23-Dec-06 10:06:16

Intersting, Peachy. I talk to a lot of pagans (to use the term loosely) on here and am struck by our similarities. I've said before that pagans praying to different 'gods' or 'godesses' as part of the same deity isn't really different from how Christians pray to God as Father, Mother, Son, Light, Shepherd, Creator etc. I believe there is something in either Daniel or Samuel (my OT is very shakey) about not contacting the dead, but o/wise I don't see what could possibly be wrong with it - such as celebrating our natural world. I'd say that the opposite of Christianity would be Satanism? The worship of all that is dark? With atheism I think you have to look at the individual belief of that person - are they humanist, secularist, whatever - sometimes humanism can come very close to Christianity esp. the 'radical' type espoused by Don Cupitt and John Spong.

nearlythree Sat 23-Dec-06 10:16:57

I also meant to say that I think that the reason Christianity has got so het up about paganism down the years is that for most of our history paganism was its main 'rival'. By turning it into something to be feared the Church could stop its followers going back to the 'old ways'.

PeachyIsNowAChristmasFruit Sat 23-Dec-06 11:05:44

I have to say my Humanism comes close to, and initially from, Chrsitianity. It also bears a resemblance to Buddhism though.

The pagan system is not dissimilar to Hinduism- they have three Gods, (Brahma,, Vishnu, Shiva) that come from ne almighty 'source' of all- Brahma. This is known as the Trimurti, not at all disimilar from the Trnity. Lao, we did a portion of the Vedantic texts the other day that contained a genesis story not at all dissimilar to the Bible.

One of the big fascinations of my course is how interlinked it all is.

(BTW, for any scholars out there- I do know the argument about Hinduism not existing, but as far as I an see in my unacademic way, Hinduism seems to be the root, shivism etc the worship systems).

nearlythree Sat 23-Dec-06 11:23:00

Exactly, Peachy. And you don't get Christians being warned off visiting Hindu temples, do you? Which makes me think that the Church's dislike of Paganism is less about the welfare of its members and more about protecting its power.

PeachyIsNowAChristmasFruit Sat 23-Dec-06 11:39:53

The Hindu temple we visited (rather Ashram) was incredibly welsmoing, we all aprticipated. Some Hindus consider Christ as a manifestation of a deity though, and have imahges of him on their altars. The Mosque, Synagogue, Buddhist retreat all very welcoming, and the Jain and Sikh places of worship even fed us. JNot a question raised. We've had no inite from any Christian places of worship, Obv we've all been to them anyway so that could well bre it, that simple. Would be nice though- just doesn't feel welcoming.

Now me, i think any religion that teaches love and tolerance is OK. However, as I am doing my dissertation on Religion and Slavery i think I'll find a lot of examples where it doesn't happen

nearlythree Sat 23-Dec-06 13:32:29

I shouldn't think it has even occured to the Church to invite you - they don't seem to have grasped that, whilst we are still a Christian country of sorts, we are no longer a church-going one. They probably assume most of you come from a Christian background - they haven't yet grasped that many people from such backgrounds nevertheless view the concept of visiting a church or cathedral in the same way that they do a trip to a temple or mosque.

Interesting, although about the slavery dissertation. Obviously Christianity doesn't have a great record on this - hardly surprising when you read Paul - but then it was also Christians that were the driving force behind the abolition movement.

I think most religions preach love and tolerance. It's people that don't.

PeachyIsNowAChristmasFruit Sat 23-Dec-06 14:19:15

Yes, its that pro / against history that amde me choose it as a topic. There's also loads of slavery in Islam (and pre-Islam) and also Judaism of course.


I agree that most religions preach love, its just peolpe don't seem to be able to focus on that aspect of the message, which is sad. Whether you believe in Christ as Messiah or not, his message was fanatastic (and radical). Its a shame more peole cannot focus on that.

JBeth Tue 13-Nov-12 20:55:10

I agree it has pagan origins but all those associations have lost their significance today. So I think it is really down to conscience how far you take Christmas now. I see it as a national holiday. I'm a passionately committed Christian but don't go to church at Christmas. Our Christmas is a quiet day with a few gifts for the children. But I have friends who are evangelical Baptists and they only go the church service with no tree or gifts etc. Others of their church, have nothing to do with Christmas at all while others have a huge vulgar affair and go to both church and a week of parties. Our heart motive is everything when it comes to doing right as a Christian.

exexpat Tue 13-Nov-12 21:04:42

ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT

JBeth - no one else has posted on this thread for nearly six years. If you want to discuss Christmas, it might be a better idea to start a new thread somewhere.

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