Apologies…I originally posted this as a separate page instead of a post. I’m moving it here because I’m putting up the follow up tonight:
It’s that time of year. The time of year when we start thinking about that guy. Which guy? Well, it’s an election year, and January primaries are just around the corner, so maybe that “guy” is your political party’s hoped for nominee for president. But let’s say it’s not an election year. That narrows it down. Now we’re down to two contenders for public attention. The first choice should be the only choice. He’s known by several names: The Babe of Bethleham, Jesus Christ, The Savior, Immanuel, The Prince of Peace. But it’s rather strange that we celebrate his birth at this time of year. It says the angels went to the shepherds with news of the savior’s birth. They were out in the fields with their sheep. It would be very unusual for shepherds to be spending a December night in the fields with their sheep. This would be a springtime activity. Well, wait, you say. There must be a good reason we celebrate Christmas in December. You’re right. There is. It’s the same time as the Winter Solstice. And there’s this ancient Roman holiday that fell right at that time of year. It’s called Saturnalia. There’s not room in this blog post to explain it all, but look it up sometime. It was a celebration filled with eating, drinking, the lighting of candles and giving of gifts. Start with the article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia Oh, more about this in the next blogpost, but here is a picture (also from Wikipedia) of a Pileus, the type of hat everyone wore to this festival. But wait, you say. We give gifts at Christmas time because the Wise Men took Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to Baby Jesus. My Nativity scene proves that!
Uh…back up. Jump from Luke over to Matthew chapter 2. The Wise men visited the “young child” (it says ‘young child’ more than once. It never says baby.) And Herod killed all male children from two years down to birth in an effort to destroy what he perceived as a threat to his throne. The wise men came significantly later.
So far: We’re celebrating at the wrong time of year, and we’re not finding any valid reasons to justify going to Walmart at midnight on Thanksgiving.
Have a look at my blog tomorrow. We’ll have a closer look at that “other guy” who, one may argue, takes over the #1 spotlight at this time of year.