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Religious information, holy days & Jesus' life

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Jesus' birth and Christmas: Origins,
practices, conflicts, commercialization, etc.

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Some background material:

The term "Christmas" is really an abbreviation of the Old English "Cristes mœsse" (Christ's Mass). Some have criticized the use of the abbreviation "Xmas" because they think that it is a secular abbreviation of "Christmas." Actually, the word "Christ," which means Messiah or annointed one, is a Greek term. "X" stands for a Greek letter "chi" equivalent to the first two letters in the English word "Christ."

December 25th is not the actual anniversary of Yeshua of Nazareth's (Jesus Christ's) birthday, as many people believe. According to references in the Bible, it seems that he was born sometime in the fall. But the original reason for the season is the 23.5º tilt of the earth's rotation axis. This produces the seasons, and in particular the Winter Solstice about DEC-21. Ancient people observed the daylight hours gradually shortening. They feared that the lifegiving sun would dissapear. So they held rituals about that time of year to encourage the return of longer days. The Roman Saturnalia was one of the the wildest. Numerous Pagan and other religions had similar holy days. Christianity adopted and renamed Saturnalia; the rest is history.

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T'is the season to be in conflict:

There has been a lot of conflict in recent years between:

  • Those who favor the inclusive "Happy Holidays" greeting, and recognize all non-Christian and secular celebrations in late December, and

  • Those who want to maintain the traditional "Merry Christmas" and restrict recognition to Christmas exclusively.

The conflict, economic boycotts, and anger seem to have reached a peak about 2005, and dissipated in recent years. However, an upsurge in meanness appears to have happened in 2011.

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A response to the over-commercialization of Christmas:

There is also a lot of concern over the commercialization of Christmas, and the immense amounts of spending that this involves. An evangelical Christian congregation decided to resist spending by having their members intentionally downsize their Christmas family budget. They gave half their usual budget to charity. This concept was picked up by a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Rochester, NY. The result each year is a positive experience for parents, for the children, for one local charity and for one international charity. See: http://www.uua.org/

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Topics in this section:

bulletChristmas stories, as interpreted by conservative & liberal Christians (Please read first)
 
bulletAbout Jesus' birth (the year, month, prophecy)
 
bulletIn which town was Jesus born?
 
bulletWas Jesus born in a home, stable or cave?
 
bullet Why and when did the church select DEC-25 as Jesus' birth?
 

Beliefs about Christmas:

bulletA liberal analysis of the myths surrounding the birth of Jesus
 
bulletA conservative Biblical analysis of Christmas

Christmas objects:

bulletThe Christmas star

bulletThe Christmas tree


Celebrations:

bulletSecular and other religious celebrations near Christmas time

bulletFestivus: a celebration "for the rest of us"

bullet Conflicts about the celebration of Christmas (The "Christmas wars." Sadly, this is a big section)
 
bulletResolving conflicts over Christmas displays
 
bulletWiccan/Pagan/Neopagan celebration of the winter solstice/Yule near Christmas time

bullet A story by Rabbi Allen S. Maller: "Christmas and Chanukkah, Hanuka, Chanukah?"

bullet An article by Jim Wallis: "Starting the 'Christmas Tithe'."

Useful links to information about Christmas::

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The History Channel has a videos, photos and a speech about Christmas, including its history, its traditions. the origins of Santa Claus, etc.

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Elspeth M posted a very helpful article to the EngagedLeadership blog to help executive leaders minimize conflicts at Christmas time in a multi-faith workplace.

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Useful links about Christmas cards, trees, decorations, etc:

bullet

DigiPrint Christmas  has very attractive Christmas card designs that they ship worldwide. They donate a percentage of sales to charity.

bullet Christmas Farms "... is dedicated to providing the freshest, highest quality real Christmas trees, wreaths and Christmas garland conveniently delivered directly to your home."

bulletChristmas-wishes.com has a broad range of Christmas and seasonal cards that you can send free to friends and family.

bulletChristmas Wrapped Up has a selection of over 3,000 tree and home decorations.

bulletEcard4all.com also has a wide selection of free Christmas Ecards.

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Christmas Gift Baskets Send Christmas Gift Baskets and have them delivered in time.

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The History Channel has a videos, photos and a speech about Christmas, including its history, its traditions. the origins of Santa Claus, etc.

bullet

Lynch Creek Wreaths sells high quality Christmas wreaths, centerpieces, holiday garlands, Christmas holly, fancy gift cards, etc.

Site navigation:

Home > Religious information > here

Home > Christianity > Beliefs, practices, etc > Holy days > here

Copyright © 2000 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-DEC-30 (not the best of timing)
Latest update: 2013-AUG-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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