This is in Exile in Exile


The Mother Of All Pagan Holidays
Part One

By Reb Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © December 29, 2010 (last updated December 17, 2017)

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         'Tis the season to debate Christmas, Falalalalalalalala!

This is: Part 1: The Mother of All Pagan Holidays
Go to: Part 2: The Birth of Y'shua ben Yosef
Go to: Part 3: The Real Reason for the Season
Go to: Part 4: The Dark Truth About Santa Claus
Go to: Part 5: Saint Nicholas and the Nicolaitan Heresy
Go to: Part 6: A Christmas Song

The Mother of All Pagan Holidays

Each December Christians battle equally devout Atheists, people of other religions and people who just enjoy watching them squirm over the public face of the Christ Mass: Christmas. Many Nicene Christians feel they are being unfairly attacked by anti-Christian Grintches for celebrating the birth of Jesus. Some of them have very thin skins when it comes to this holiday! If someone innocently says: "Happy Holidays" sincerely wishing them well but wanting to be inclusive of all the winter holiday traditions, or to merely be politically correct, the greeter is frequently chastised with an acerbic, "Its 'Merry Christmas' not 'Happy Holidays' -- Jesus is the reason for the season!"

But is he really?

Almost every religion and culture observes holidays around the Winter Solstice including we Jews. We observe the eight days of Chanukah. Unlike Chanukah, which remembers an ancient miracle, Christmas is based firmly on the practices of its Pagan predecessors. "Jesus" didn't enter the Yuletide festivities until much much later. He certainly is not therefore the reason for these ancient yuletide observances.

Besides, what's wrong with wishing people a "joyous holiday" instead of specifically saying:

You get the idea.

These are but a few of the annual Winter Solstice celebrations. Why is everyone supposed to wish people a "Merry Christmas" when they may not observe it? When for them the birth of Christendom may be anything but good news? "Happy Holidays" says, Whatever is bringing you light and joy during these cold winter days I wish you the best! How is this a bad thing? I don't get it .

... Even if they're celebrating Festivus (celebrated on December 23)!

Regardless of one's religious affiliation, we should not be "afraid of nor depressed by Christmas" and yet this public celebration of lights, family, hot chocolate, and presents causes a real sense of dread and depression in far too many people each year, Jews and non-Jews alike experience this. Why make it worse? True, it is the merging together of various Pagan rites and traditions in celebration of the winter season in the name of grossly misunderstood Jew. True, it has in many cases affiliation with various ancient gods, most long ago forgotten. BUT it is much more than that. It is also, and today mostly, a secular celebration of life and peace (we wont discuss its greed aspect here). In the dead of winter we hold out faith in the coming a Spring (both literally and figuratively). What's wrong wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with joy, as as such. Seeking joy and happiness, spending meaningful time with friends and loved ones, having family get-togethers... there is nothing to fear in such events! Christmas lights are often beautiful, They make the dark days brighter. They remind people that even in the midst of the darkness there is still light, and love, and joy. even in the darkness of of the world today.

             Be Happy! Be Joyful!

Of course, as Jews we do not enter into the religious aspects of the holidays, but there is nothing wrong with being happy and sharing public attempts at secular joyfulness! Choose Life, not depression!

"It is a great mitzvah to be happy always!"

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us:

Make every effort to maintain a happy, positive outlook at all times. It is a natural human tendency to become discouraged and depressed because of the hardships of life: everyone has their full share of suffering. That is why you must force yourself to be happy at all times. Use every possible way to bring yourself to joy, even by joking or acting a little crazy!"
Likutey Moharan II, 24

"The main reason why people are far from God is because their minds are not settled and they do not pause to consider the purpose of their existence. But when a person is happy, his mind becomes settled and he is able to understand things clearly."
Likutey Moharan II, 10
If one is settled in his/her religious beliefs and practices those of the other nations will not be seen as a threat. Allow the others to celebrate and allow their joy to be your joy. Think, "While I do not celebrate as you do, I am happy to see your happiness! Thank you for sharing your joy with me!"
"Joy is the world of freedom - "for you shall go out with joy " (Isaiah 55:12). Through joy we become free and leave our exile. When a person maintains a happy, joyous attitude, his mind and thoughts become free and he is no longer in exile. He can then direct his thoughts as he wants and settle his mind so as to focus on his goal and draw close to God."
Likutey Moharan II, 10 "
"Sometimes a group of people happily dancing together take hold of someone who is standing miserable and depressed on the outside. They pull him into the dance circle despite himself, forcing him to rejoice with them.

Similarly, when a person is happy, his pain and sadness may move to the sidelines . But a higher level is to pursue the sadness itself and "pull it into the dance circle," turning it into joy.

If you truly set your mind to it, you will find that even amidst your worst troubles and suffering there is always a way you can turn all your sadness into joy. True joy is when you forcibly transform your very sadness and depression into happiness."
Likutey Moharan II, 23
             So.... Be Happy AND correctly understand this holiday:

By design, Americans enjoy a religiously diverse society with people of many different religious and secular backgrounds and beliefs. Even though Christianity remains the largest religion in the US, in no sense is the U.S. a Christian country anymore. This annual brouhaha is really rather silly! As if tensions weren't already rising to the boiling point in this country we have to throw this annual nonsense into the pot! Christmas is a very stressful time of year! Falalalalalalalala!

But still many Christians honestly believe that if non-Christians don't like being bombarded from loud speakers with songs like "Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Joy to the world, the Lord has come;" if they have a problem with Old Saint Nick breaking into people's houses by night; if they don't like coerced kisses under strategically placed sprigs of mistletoe by people they have no desire to be kissed by, if they dislike the rampant and all consuming greed of the socially mandated 'gift' giving... well... then they just don't love Jesus, the sinners! Besides, no one says they have to gather around O Tannenbaum (an idol Torah specifically forbids) or yon Virgin anyway! If celebrating the birth of the "Prince of Peace" in whose name some of history's greatest evils were done so alienates people, if it promotes overwhelming greed and avarice in children and adults alike, if it replaces G-d's priceless love with material objects crafted by sinister elves hiding in the snowy hinterlands, if it causes millions of people to suffer annual bouts of depression and displaced anger, if the observances result in frequent legal challenges, and occasionally leads to bankruptcies, crimes, and broken marriages... well so be it! 'Its a holly jolly time of year' so 'have a cup of cheer' and shut up! Just celebrate Jesus' birth (in the wrong season and with biblically condemned traditions) and be quiet about its origins and symbolism!

To its credit the Church of England once tried to stop this Pagan farce. Consider the following:

In January 1645 a group of ministers appointed by parliament produced a new Directory of Public Worship, which set out a new church organization and new forms of worship to be adopted and followed in England and Wales. The Directory made clear that Sundays were to be strictly observed as holy days, for the worship of God, but that there were to be no other holy days - 'festival days, vulgarly called Holy Days, having no warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued'. Parliamentary legislation adopting the Directory of Public Worship, initially as one of several forms which could be followed in England and Wales, but then as the only form which was legal and was to be allowed, abolishing and making illegal any other forms of worship and church services, therefore prohibited (on paper at least) the religious celebration of all other holy days, including Christmas. In June 1647 the Long Parliament reiterated this by passing an Ordinance confirming the abolition of the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun, though at the same time parliament said that the second Tuesday in each month was to be kept as a non-religious, secular holiday, providing a break for servants, apprentices and other employees.

During the 1650s parliamentary legislation was passed to reinforce the structure that had been put in place by the end of the 1640s. Specific penalties were to be imposed on anyone found holding or attending a special Christmas church service, it was ordered that shops and markets were to stay open on 25 December, the Lord Mayor was repeatedly ordered to ensure that London stayed open for business on 25 December, and when it met on 25 December 1656 the second Protectorate Parliament discussed the virtues of passing further legislation clamping down on the celebration of Christmas (though no Bill was, in fact, produced). Legislation was passed to ensure that Sundays were even more strictly observed as the Lord’s Day, but the holding of a regular monthly fast on the last Wednesday of the month, which had never proved popular or been widely followed, was quietly dropped.          Source.

So, A Few Relevant Questions For Today's "Bible Believing Christians":

Why do so many Christians, who claim to honor, obey and practice a biblical religion, choose to engage in and promote customs and holidays that the Bible so clearly and unmistakably condemns? I'm not judging the non-Christians from whom these practices were taken, please don't misunderstand me. But those Christians who so vocally demand that everyone else must conform to 'biblical truth' (as they interpret it) the rest of the year -- who so adamantly deny equal rights to others based on "what the Bible teaches" and so on -- why, during December, do they lead the way in celebrating the Mother of all Pagan Holidays?! What's up with this?

Also, Santa and Paganism aside, why do Nicene Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus at the one time of year we know for a fact that he was not born? Probably he was born during Sukkot as I believe most likely, or perhaps in the Spring or Summer... but according to the Gospel accounts he absolutely was not a Capricorn! So, why celebrate his birth in December?

Is "Jesus the Reason for the Season?"

Absolutely not! At best he was a manipulated afterthought by Pagan Rome to preserve Saturnalia and other popular Pagan traditions. This is the topic of this study.

O Tannenbaum - Weihnachtslieder zum Mitsingen | Sing Kinderlieder

Nana Mouskouri - Oh Tannenbaum ( Christmas special )

What's wrong with Christmas? Let's face it, the winter holidays can be fun times to gather together and share our joy with others. Christians today do not observe the day in honor of Saturn, Dionysus, Sol Invictus, Woden, or the other Pagan gods and goddesses from whom it was derived. Why bring all this up?

One reason is because those who condemn the rest of us to eternal torment for not embracing their "biblical belief system" need to remove this annual mote from their own eyes (Matthew 7:3)! Christmas is clearly the Mother of all Pagan Holidays, and yet "Bible believing Christians" not only observe it, they force their anti-biblical traditions on the rest of us! Christmas has no biblical basis!

We need a more balanced perspective on these things I think. The US and EU are no longer Christian areas in any serious sense. Assuming that everyone you meet will share your religious holiday observances is presumptuous at best. Most people in the West are essentially Agnostic Secularists now, regardless of the labels they use in polls. Comparatively few people in the West actually observe Christianity or any other religion in their daily lives.

At the same time, we have certain cultural norms. Having someone say "Merry Christmas" is not going to infect you with Paganism! So chill out! Why get so perturbed about it? Better to reply, "Thank you. May you have a wonderful celebration." Give them the benefit of the doubt. They are probably just being friendly. Why be snarky about a friendly greeting?

We should however have an accurate understanding about the holiday's origins and practices since they so impact us all. Armed with such knowledge we will be empowered to decide whether or not, and if so how, we will observe these winter festivities without compromising our own religious and/or ethical beliefs.

This is the goal of this study: Not to bash Christmas nor Christians, but to take an honest look at this holiday, its origins, and its observances. What you do with the information is your call. No judgments are intended by me.

   Continue to Part Two

Go to: Part 2: The Birth of Y'shua ben Yosef
Go to: Part 3: The Real Reason for the Season
Go to: Part 4: The Dark Truth About Santa Claus
Go to: Part 5: Saint Nicholas and the Nicolaitan Heresy
Go to: Part 6: A Christmas Song in Exile

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