Saturday, December 25, 2004
Merry Christmas!

Forget all the controversy about how to wish some one. I am not Christian. But you know what? I am just not going to mind if some one wishes me a Merry day - and in the process, honours a noble icon like Jesus.

Come on, folks. Let your hair down, and celebrate the Yuletide!

Strangely, I don't remember you to have wished us "Happy Deepavali" :-D

In any case, Merry Christmas to all!

Incidentally I was watching a History Channel program on X'mas, about how initially they never could zero in on a date. (Why they wanted to fiind Jesus' birthdate is a separate storylet)

March 19 was one date and sometime in September was another, until the fierce competition from paganism forced the church to rethink and choose a politically expedient date - December 25. December 25 was the Winter Solistice and Feast of Mitras. Celebrated by most of the middle east (except, Judea of course), this date was chosen to steal the pagans' very holiday from under them and make it Christian.

Seems to have been a very successful plan, don't ya think?!
A hijacked day?

Well... I would not go too far to say that it has been successful. Sure, the Church has been successful, to various degrees, in incorporating the festivities of the surrounding pagan culture in regions where the religion spread. Lupercalia became the Feast of St.Valentine (whoever remembers Lupercalia anymore?).

But not all such celebrations are appropriated. There is reason to believe that Easter does coincide with the Passover, since Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover.

Also, it must be borne in mind that most religions have such tradition of "inheriting" the celebrations of the religions they re(dis)placed.

Sometimes, the earlier, less popular religion adopts the celebrations of the later, more popular religion. Chanukkah is an example. Sure, it is the celebration of the triumph of the Maccabean revolt. But there are aspects of the Chanukkah that date to much later dates, and are of dubious origins. And, they resemble some Christian habits.

For example, Passover, that very Jewish holiday, is suspected to have come from an original Egyptian festival celebrating spring equinox. Deepavali is celebrated by Jains as the day Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana, while it was originally a harvest festival, like Pongal (Makhar Sankaranthi).

And this is not a purely religious thing either. The summer solstice was considered the best time to harvest honey from the hives. It was also considered the most auspicious time for weddings, and the couple were fed dishes with honey, and milk. The most auspicious day, incidentally, was the full moon of June. Hence the name Honeymoon.

So, you see, this kind of "hijacking" has a rich history in human history. One could look at it as hijacking, but one could also look at it as efforts of a religion to adapt in a society without holding itself aloof.

Oh, Belated Happy Deepavali, everyone. :)
Re: A Hijacked Day?

Oh, BTW, whoever remembers Halloween as the day when you pray for the dead, especially those who died of the black death (plague)?

To this day, the Catholics observe it as the All Souls Day... but not many (including Catholics) remember that.... and what's more, many Catholic children go trick-or-treating, not knowing that ritual originated as a way of taunting, or harassing, Catholics in Britain!
History is rife with such coincidences of holidays.

Jains celebrate Mahavir's Nirvana as Mahavir's Nirava, not because it is Deepavali and that they had to counter it (*). In fact, in pre-modern times, I really doubt if Deepavali was even as significant it is today. Now it is touted as the most important Hindu holiday (ask any American who has worked with Indians!).

It is true that many festivals have coincided due to various weather-related phenomenon - celebrating spring, hailing a good harvest etc.

But for Christmas to be celebrated on December 25 does have a documented motive -to hijack the most famous pagan holiday of their times and attribute it to the birth of their Son of God, to superimpose a Christian layer on the pagan layer.

This is a well-known evangelist strategy. Did you know that Porur is now mostly Christian and that did not happen until the 1960's when a Christian prayer meeting was held all night on Sivaratri outside a local temple? This might be a poor example of hijacking but it was indeed stealing another faith's day of prayer, in a sense. If a small group could do that in a small village called Porur, why could the Diocese of Rome not have schemed to usurp an entire holiday to promote their religion?

(*) - But I must admit on the sly that it seems awfully suspicious that Mahavira's Niravana ALWAYS falls on Deepavali day! Do they also follow the same thithi as the Hindu calendar?
I guess we have all been reading Dan Brown a lot lately!!

I always thought that the 25th of December was "chosen" by businesses - big and small - it's exactly a week before the new year - a time when people "get into" a more generous mood than any other - they some how begin to feel that they have to buy before the year ends!!which in turn leads them to go on a spending splurge!!

I guess Santa Claus must be dressed in Green - that would be more appropriate.

Posted by the Scroooge who did'nt care to read Dickens :-)
Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger