Monday, December 12, 2005

Politically Correct

Is it a Christmas tree, or a holiday tree? Once again, in America, a raging debate echoes through the land. Should the United States have an official Christmas tree, and officially proclaim Christianity as it’s official religion? Perhaps we should call it a Holiday tree so that all religious doctrines are honored! Maybe we can all meet at the mall and have it out once and for all!

As usual, the Christian sect has decided that it is just another jab of political correctness, an ideal whose time has passed. After all, aren’t the religious traditions of the majority more important than the spiritual dignity of the few? Isn’t that how Jesus wanted it? Steam roll over those who see things differently! Make them outcastes and shame them all! Does that sound like something Jesus would say? Is it the message we want to send?

Political correctness is one thing, but even if we were being historically correct, it would not be called a Christmas tree. If it were true that Martin Luther King had actually been it’s inventor, then a Christmas tree it would be! History, however, tells a different tale.

Ancient Egyptians worshipped evergreens, bringing them into their homes as a symbol of life‘s triumph over death. That is what the Winter solstice means to most ancient cultures - Life triumphing over death!

Each winter the Romans celebrated Saturnalia to honor Saturnus, the God of Agriculture. They would decorate their homes with lights and evergreens. They exchanged gifts which symbolized prosperity, happiness and a lighted path to journey on.

Druids used evergreens in their winter solstice rituals. Evergreen trees were placed German and Scandinavian homes as a symbol of hope for the spring in the late middle ages.

The time of year to celebrate Christmas is also not correct, historically. Historians and Theologians seem to agree that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th! The Catholics chose to change Christmas from Jesus' birthday to December, because they felt it would be easier than trying to convert the pagans who insisted on celebrating the winter solstice. So, the original reason for the season historically is the coming of spring.

The reason for the season - Winter Solstice. The sun dips to it’s lowest point on the southern horizon on December 21. The days following the solstice would have been filled with celebrations and light when the sun began to climb north once again. Life triumphs over death! It’s such a familiar message. Isn’t it repeated in nearly all religions? Especially Christianity!

I guess the thing that bothers me most, is that religious zealots feel so comfortable with denying the dignity of their fellow humans. Draped in religious right, they ostracize and undermine the spiritual bonds of entire peoples. Why is it so important to have only one religion? Why shouldn’t god have the right to express itself in many different ways?

This year, we should think hard about the meaning of the holiday. It’s not about the mall, it’s not about one religion over another. It’s about giving, and the best thing you can give another is their dignity.

I found my Christmas tree history facts on the following web sites:


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