An article donated by Alton C. Thompson
Let's Rename Christmas!
The alleged purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth, centuries ago, of Christ. However, there are three problems with this:
The oldest of the four canonical gospels — that of Mark — makes no reference to the birth! That suggests that for the writer of that gospel, there was nothing noteworthy about the birth. That, in turn, suggests that the stories of the birth in the gospels of Matthew and Luke are pure fiction!
The “Christ” in “Christmas” is a title given to Jesus; it's not a part of his name.
- As a title, “Christ” is an inappropriate one for Jesus. Here's the meaning of “Christ”:
"Christ" comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning "anointed one." In the Greek Septuagint, Christos was used to translate the Hebrew nשִׁי (Mašíaḥ, messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed." This title was allegedly adopted from the term for the tradition of anointing the Egyptian pharaoh during their coronation or marriage with oil drawn from the fat of messeh, who was the sacred crocodile or crocodile star in the spells. The same anointing ritual may be traced to earlier Mesopotamian Mušhuššu.
But Jesus was not Messiah!
Judaism rejects the idea of Jesus being God, or a person within a Trinity, or a mediator to God. Judaism also holds that Jesus is not the Messiah, arguing that he had not fulfilled the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh nor embodied the personal qualifications of the Messiah. According to Jewish tradition, there were no more prophets after Malachi, who lived centuries before Jesus and delivered his prophesies about 420 BC/BCE.
Given that Jesus was a Jew, how Jews think of “one of their own” has great importance!
There are not only embarrassing facts about Christmas, however, there are ironic ones as well:
1. Christmas is commonly thought of as a religious holiday—and. specifically, a Christian religious holiday. But the Christian Bible does not support that claim! “Religion” is defined in just one place in the Bible, in James 1:27; here’s that definition:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 1
In Biblical terms, then, what “religion” involves is behaviors; not ritualistic behaviors, however, but behaviors having the intention of helping other human individuals in need of help (as modeled, e.g., by the Samaritan in the famous parable in Luke 10:25 - 37.
I should add that according to this definition of “religion,” Christianity itself—with a few exceptions, such as the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers? — fails to qualify as a religion!
The keeping “oneself from being polluted by the world” in James has special relevance for this essay, for if anything characterizes Christmas, it is “worldliness”! Here’s a definition of “worldly”:
"of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs."
The gift-giving that is such an important feature associated with Christmas has, it’s true, a Biblical basis -- i.e., the Magi in Matthew. However, no evidence exists in support of that story.
What should be obvious is that the reason that Christians embrace the Magi story is that they (us USans, 2 at least) live in a capitalistic society.
Capitalists believe that the government does not use economic resources as efficiently as private enterprises do, and therefore society is better off with the free market determining economic winners and losers.
Here’s another description of capitalism:
Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
A society, then, that claims of itself that it is a capitalistic society:
a. Especially values economic activities, rather than people.
b. Assumes that there must be both “winners” and “losers.”
c. Devalues losers as human beings — so that one should feel no obligations toward such individuals. 3
Given the above points, the gift-giving associated with Christmas in a capitalistic society is not motivated by any desire to help the gift recipient; rather, it has two purposes:
a. To demonstrate that one is a “winner” in the society.
b. To keep the economy “humming.”
The Christmas holiday is by far the biggest shopping holiday in the United States, United Kingdom, and many other countries around the world.
Some estimates for spending over the Christmas season during 2018 exceed $1 trillion in the United States; shoppers in the UK spending over £2 billion.
From decorations to presents, to parties, to cards, many shoppers will save all year for the spending they use on the Christmas holiday.
Given that Christmas doesn’t even involve lip-service to the teachings of Jesus -- focusing, rather, on an obligation to spend, thereby helping keep the economy afloat -- there’s good reason to use the word “blasphemy” with reference to Christmas!
Because of the various problems associated with Christmas, identified above, I will not go so far as to suggest that we abolish the holiday. But I will suggest that we at least rename it! Here’s my suggestion:
That is, twelve dollar signs, one for each month in a year. After all, the “king” that’s worshiped in this country is not a person -- dead and long gone (i.e., Jesus) or alive -- but, rather, the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR!
Why not, then, be honest, and recognize that fact by renaming Christmas as I suggest!
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- This definition means, then, that the “sheep and goats” passage in Matthew 25:31 - 40 is describing religious behavior (that of the “sheep”) and its opposite, irreligious behavior (non-behavior, actually), that of the “goats.” It’s significant that this passage reflects Job 29:12 - 16.
- A “USan” is a citizen of the United States; as there are North, Central, and South “Americans, with us USans being North Americans, labeling ourselves as simply “Americans” is presumptuous!
- Our society is best described as “socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor”!
Original posting: 2019-DEC-09
Author: Alton C. Thompson