Excersus XXI: The Reason for the Season
Of course, Yule isn't the only winter celebration that Christmas elbowed in on. The weeklong celebrations of the Saturnalia, the December 25th celebration of the birth of Sol Invictus - and those are just in Rome. The Winter Solstice is a natural time to have a massive celebration of the closing year and to thank the friends and family who got you through it with gifts and a big damn party. I don't blame the Catholic Church for wanting to plop a holiday down there - the cosmological, meteorological, and social significance is such that you'd be a fool not to do SOMETHING around that time, and since the evidence for when Jesus was actually born is sketchy at best, you might as well plunk his birth right down in there. Fair enough - sometimes you just have to pick the best random day you can and settle on it. I don't know the day Terence was born, but I'd like to celebrate That he was born, so, heck, I'll make March 11 his birthday and celebrate. If you're around, drop by!
No, I'm not upset that Christianity dropped Jesus in the middle of the pagan winter celebrations - it's the "Jesus is the Reason For the Season" smugness that gets me. As if nobody ever celebrated anything in winter before Christmas, as if we're all utter bastards and hypocrites for daring to give gifts to our loved ones during this time if we aren't Christians. In this instance, Christianity is the houseguest who arrives, takes over the master bed, and then looks at you with astonished outrage if you ask for one of your blankets back to keep warm through the night. Christianity, December is not your bed - you can put your baby down here if you want, but there Were, Are, and Will Be other people here too.
Happy Yule! Glorious Natalis Invicti! Mighty Saturnalia! And, for the latecomers straggling onto the scene, Merry Christmas to you!
- Count Dolby von Luckner