While glitter balls are neatly stored away in paper boxes and with Santa Claus’s reindeer awaiting next December’s carnivalesque Xmas celebrations, a moment of contemplation presented itself. What was this party all about???
Xmas was a Pagan custom to celebrate the solstice, the return of the Sun on 25 December. Over the centuries, little candlelights in fir trees, Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Gods are not born, only humans, so the early Church had a big problem with Xmas celebrations; “was Jesus a human, or a god?”
In 245, Origen of Alexandria, a scholar and one of the founding fathers of Christianity commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays. Around 303, Arnobius, another prominent Christian, ridiculed the idea of celebrating birthdays of gods. Gods were eternal and did not get born. The god-human controversy ensued into a huge theological bloody conflict between those who held Jesus for a god and others who insisted he was a human. Finally in 381, the Creed of Constantinople affirmed that Jesus Christ was: “the only begotten Sun of God.”
It took another ten years, and had taken in total more than seventy years of legal and theological wrangling, before emperor Theodosius elevated Jesus to God, in 390-391. Therewith banning all those who held Jesus for a “man who was born,” followed by extremely bloody persecutions. That should have been the end of Christmas celebrations of baby Jesus.
But celebrating the winter solstice by converted pagans with raucous, drunken, carnival-like parties prevailed. The celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within certain Protestant groups due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical. The Pope of Rome, at wit’s end, decided to solemnize the Nativity Day somewhat, and in the 18th and 19th century it became the tamer family-oriented and children-centered festival of today, though still with heavy Medieval over eating and drinking.
So here you have it in a nutshell, true celebrations of Jesus’ Nativity Day was developed only 400 years after his assumed birth date and still remains against Church doctrine; “Gods are not born.” But is gets even sillier with several Xmas cards I received, that proclaim, ” A King was born.” The implication is clear; some human being was born to rule the world. It sounds very much like the bloody gospel of ISIS, nowadays. I am a democrat and wish to be ruled by a parliament, not by a king. Even a king, who inherited his position from a bloodline, even though bound by a Constitution as the Dutch do, is for me an unbearable thought.
Therefore I conclude that Xmas can only be a debauchery of over-eating and drinking to celebrate the mid winter solstice.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker - Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle.