Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas History

I am trying, very hard, to enjoy this Christmas season.  You may already know how I feel about Christmas.  Or, at least, Christmas gifts and Christmas shopping.  I turn into Scrooge every season.  I like the pagan roots of the holiday--the displays of lit Christmas trees and lights and ornaments break up a long winter and make it festive, but the mandatory gift-giving and required cheer annoy me. There's a lot of pressure around this holiday.  And there's a lot of stupid.  Either an overeager shopper pepper sprayed other shoppers on Black Friday, or she did it to keep them at bay and keep from being trampled.  Given past Black Friday debacles, I wouldn't be surprised if it was option two.

And I think to enjoy the holiday, I need to step back from it a bit.  Not participate in all the chaos around it.  Not beat myself up that I don't have decorations up or lights up or that I don't have the Christmas spirit, whatever that is.  Just enjoy the season, give the gifts to the few people on my gift list, and indulge in having people over for dinner and walking around to see the many, many Vegas style Christmas light extravaganzas out there.  (Unlike some people, I get a kick out of those.  I don't have the patience to do it, but if you do, Godspeed and good luck and I will enjoy the cheer that is your Christmas Vegas Display.  Thankfully, not everyone is as bitter and lazy as I am about these things.)

I avoid the stores on Black Friday.  I do what little shopping I need to do either before or after, and I strive to keep things simple.  Because here's the thing: Christmas was not always considered to be that big of a deal, holiday-wise, or it was considered decadent and verboten

No, really!

Did you know that Congress was in session on December 25, 1789?  That was the first Christmas under the new US Constitution, and no one was about to recognize a day that was seen as a more European cultural thing.  When the British separatists first arrived in the Massachusetts Bay, they outlawed the celebration of the holiday.  It was against the law to celebrate the holiday in Boston until 1681.  The Puritans under Cromwell's rule in England called it "an extreme forgetfulness of Christ, giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights."  (I am starting to rethink my Scrooginess.  Because wow, Christmas being sinful! That's an attraction right there.  Though a bit ironic.)

Christmas was not a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1870. 

We did not use Christmas trees to celebrate the holiday--that tradition (a German one, from pagan days) didn't get popular in the U.S. and the U.K. until Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had one.  (Queen Victoria, ever the trend-setter, also popularized the white wedding gown.  Before that, no one got married in a gown worn only for a wedding, let alone a white one.) In fact, at the beginning of the 19th century, what passed for a Christmas celebration would have been unrecognizable to us.  It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that the traditions we associate with the holiday took hold.

And yes, I know, it's fun--opening presents and singing carols and having a great old time.  I agree.  But I'm pretty sure that running ourselves into debt and clobbering each other to get the best door buster sale is proving the Puritan's fear of the holiday right and destroying the merriment  associated with the holiday.  It is most certainly not something Jesus would do.  That dude was not a shopper, from what I gather.  Nor was he much of a pepper spray aficionado or a trampler, for that matter.  I've read both the KJV and the Douay-Rheims versions of the Bible, and I've seen no reference to him either shopping, trampling, or pepper spraying.  Not even in the Apocrypha.  Not even for really steep, below-wholesale-price discounts.

1 comment:

  1. I don't understand people spending so much over Christmas, even though I've done it myself in the past (minus the trampling and pepper spray)! We just need to enjoy the time we can spend with our loved one and stay out of the huge debt!

    Also, I nominated you for the Liebster Blog award on my blog today! :)