"Candles and Holly Berries""And now to Rome, as always in December, came the Saturnalia."
"Io! Saturnalia!" was the call that ushered in, and the greeting that echoed through, the holiday season. This gay carnival of thanksgiving was in honor of Saturn, the kindest and most provident of gods. "Io! Saturnalia! Io! Io!"
Merrymakers sang through the streets in red pointed caps.
Every child would want a doll and every household would need candles. The makers thereof were busy ahead of time in preparation.
Evergreens and holly branches, with their red berries, were brought in to grace the buildings.
Gifts were selected and wrapped for family and friends. After a family dinner of roast pig there came the exchange of gifts.
Many tiny masks of Bacchus (the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility) were hung on small fruit and olive trees.
(Excerpts taken from Augustus Cæsar's World and paraphrased.)
What modern-day holiday comes to your mind as you read about the Saturnalia?
Christmas, of course!
I hear Christians, this time of year, lamenting the lies that children are told concerning Santa Claus. It is indeed lamentable.
The clause that follows this lament always stirs my heart- "We know that Jesus is the reason for the season!" It does not stir my heart with joy but sadness.
How can adults blindly follow the myth of Christmas, year after year, continually passing on to the following generation a belief that Jesus is indeed the reason for the season? Traditions are very strong.
I was taught from a young age that Jesus is not the reason for the season. Christmas is a pagan holiday.
A few years ago, as we studied ancient history, this truth was more deeply etched in my mind and heart as we read about the Saturnalia.
This was a holiday to worship a god of the people's making and it was practiced long before the time of Christ. This is why you read about "Christmas trees" in the Bible. (Jeremiah 10:3-4)
People say it couldn't be the Christmas tree because it was before Christ. Well, surprise! Do the research. It is the very same holiday.
The apostles and early Christians did not observe Christ's birth, but his death, as was customary for great people in that time. This He also implored them to do. (Luke 22:19)
The only purpose I see for Jesus in this season is to help people make it through. This season is not about Jesus, but about family. About gifts. About traditions. About food and festivities.
The spirit is not one of giving but of getting. One family decided that for Christmas one year they would only give presents to needy people instead of exchanging them among themselves. The children (who were not young) said, "Let's not do this again!"
The same thing that "Santa Clausers" say, Christians repeat. "It's for the children. Let's not spoil their fun." To be honest, I don't recall ever receiving a Christmas gift and I never felt cheated in the least.
Our young son once chose a "Christmas" song at some other time of year and the song leader made some remark about it. Something like, "Oh, a Christmas song! Hmm. Well, we could sing it." Some twittered. Like, just don't sing songs of Jesus' birth "out of season".
Yet no one knows the time of Christ's birth. Only, we do know it was not in December because shepherds would not have been in their fields at this time of year.
So we limit songs of Christ's birth to one month when there's no possibility of that being the month wherein He was born.
What if we sang only songs of the Resurrection the whole month of April?
Or, for a month before that, we would sing only songs of Jesus' crucifixion and death? (This would, in reality, be more scriptural than singing of His birth for a month.)
Then we would leave it at that. Don't sing these songs any other time of year.
Anyway, you get the drift. I'll let you do the further research. How did Christ-mass come to be?
Why are you celebrating it?
What is the "Spirit of Christmas"?
Why are there more suicides this time of year?
Why are Christians exhausted and left feeling "high and dry" when January comes?
Today I am thankful for...
...parents who taught me the truth.
...the calm of not celebrating Christmas.
...the wisdom God will give, if we only ask. (James 1:5)