Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas

While the Christmas season is still in full swing, Christmas proper and the holiday season in general has started to come to a close. It seems an appropriate time, then, to examine Christmas, its worth, and how we are to regard it in the world today.
Naturally, Christmas has a severely religious connotation. The name it self contains the word for the central figure in America's most popular religion. But is Christmas really all about a baby born more than 2000 years ago?
Christmas has lost, for the majority of America, its religious significance. People attend church more out of a misplaced sense of obligation and tradition than in order to worship their Lord. In fact, the traditions we hold on to the strongest are not religious at all; Santa Claus is a creepy old guy who gives gifts, Christmas trees are reminiscent of the pagan solstice tradition, and most modern Christmas carols are totally secular.
Why, then, do we celebrate the holiday? Is it simply out of tradition? Should celebration be reserved for those who truly follow the religion? Christmas has transformed into a new type of holiday, one that is not necessarily concerned with the religious meaning that started it, but rather that has translated the meaning behind the religious into the secular world. Christmas is about a cheer, goodwill, happiness, giving and receiving, friends, and family. It is about being together and celebrating life. While it might be cliche, Christmas is a time to revel in the enjoyment of being alive, and to enjoy the people and things you have to share it with you.

Merry Christmas, and I apologize for an unusually sappy post. Regular, darker blogging will continue soon.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey RC,
If you want to read a great philosophy blog with which you will generally agree, check out Will Wilkinson at http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle
- Dingel

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In essence, this decline in terms of religious significance in terms of the christmas season reminds me of the Roman Empire, in that, if I recall correctly, and I may not, that such observation of religious celebration has become an obligation. To clarify; I recall reading of the Roman gods in terms of the state and that it was a sort of a state obligation to pay tribute to the gods, that one engaged in the festivals from an obligation to the state most of all, even if one enjoyed the celebration, one did not neccessarily privately believe in the gods or at least all that was taught. I think in the same way one might understand the change in the meaning of christmas, that it has become sort of an unofficial state tradion, that is to say that it is an institution based from the people, epecially being that the U.S. is a democracy and thusly that one almost feels a popular obligation to at least celebrate the season, though only so far as the popular manifestation of the holiday. Peace on earth and such have become the almost true notions of the holiday, and have evolved far further from the original origins of the holiday and celebration. If anything, one also finds ties in this celebration in a variety of pagan holidays, ancient celebrations closer to human nature, and thus it has remained including the new year celebrations. Saturnalia became the twelve days of christmas which became christmas itself, a time of celebration, when the master and the slave exchange place, that is, a time when people feel the neccessity to become equal in the process of celebration, the reflection upon the humanity of all others. If anything, this could be considered a natural evolution of christmas according to the nature of at least western civilization, reflective of the peoples who spawned this holiday. Either way, the birth of Jesus is a rather arbitrary and unknowable day, so the season is more about symbolism and his teachings than anything else, and christmas, at least to a certain extent, is very representative of the slave morality which spawned it, and perhaps even to an extent the master morality which coexisted during its growth. I divulge; I'd say that christmas has reverted to its humble origins as an alteration of pagan traditions, and all the better, for christianity has always tried to stifle the most interesting spirit, that of pagan revelry and enjoyment. This is the spirit of christmas, the true pagan spirit and celebration of life, as opposed to blind waiting for an afterlife.

11:32 PM  

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