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Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 12:29amSanction this postReply
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Beautifully done, MH. It gave me great pleasure to post *and* sanction this.

Linz



Post 1

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 12:34amSanction this postReply
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BAH!

Sorry...ahem...

I like what your getting at, but I think we have a ways to go as a society to celebrate the unknown ideal of Christmas. I still see too much self-sacrifice in the gift giving ritual.

When I first learned that Santa was not real, I felt guilty that my mom was spending so much on presents that she really could not afford, and that Santa was getting the credit. To this day, she still insists on giving me a gift, even though I don't celebrate it (she doesn't quite understand Objectivism, or my atheism, for that matter.) I don't mind that she wants to give me a gift, I love getting and giving gifts for birthdays, or even for no real reason other than you thought of someone.I just don't like the idea of gift giving because of a calender date. Too many in my family feel they need to go and get everyone a gift, and go broke in the process.

And working in retail just confirms my humbuggery, as I have dealt with too many customers ringing up their credit cards, frantically trying to beat the calender. And then I get to watch those same gifts come back next week as unwanted returns.

I like your ideal, Matt, I just see too much selfless giving still to accept that what we have is close to that.

Maybe next Christmas...:)





Post 2

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 4:22amSanction this postReply
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MH,

Merry X-mas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for a brilliant article.

"...the early church moved the festival to late December (or early January in some countries) to coincide with pre-Christian pagan winter solstice festivals that already took place around this time of year (in the northern hemisphere)."

I can clarify your point here. I heard this on the radio last week.

Initially, the Catholic Church put Christmas in January, while trying to discourage the pagan feast in December. However, because the "Christ Mass" was so lacklustre it never managed to overshadow or overtake the pagan feast.

Therefore, reluctantly they eventually succumbed and integrated their Mass celebrations into the Pagan Winter Solstice celebration.

However, by this time the Roman Catholic Church in the east had broken away from the west and would give rise to the Orthodox Church. Therefore, the Orthodox Church never moved the date from January.

By the way MH. Do you know how the expression "X-mas" evolved?




Post 3

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 5:49amSanction this postReply
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Lindsay, Joe, Marcus,

Thanks for the comments

Joe,

I don't see gift-giving as something sacrificial - you exchange gifts with people to value in order to symbolise that mutual shared value.

Marcus,

Thanks for that tidbit about early January - I wasn't aware of that. I do know Eastern Orthodox Churches always have and continue to celebrate on January 6th, I had though this was due to a difference in calendars but I'll research the point and see if there's any connection. 

And as for Xmas/ X-Mas - I guess you're referring to the fact that the term is actually perfectly acceptable Christian usage and has been for centuries? That's basically due to X being the first letter of Christ in Latin for anyone who's bothered :-)

Personally I don't worry too much about the terminology - even "holiday" comes from "holy day" after all.

MH




Post 4

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 5:57amSanction this postReply
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That's a very nice essay, MH. Thanks for the historical perspective, and thanks especially for this sentence:
Perhaps the day will come when, partying aside, communities full of Objectivists will come together for some form of secular ceremony in celebration of living another year.
I hope I'm around when that day comes :)

Merry Christmas to you, too! 




Post 5

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 6:14amSanction this postReply
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Regarding this sentence:
Perhaps the day will come when, partying aside, communities full of Objectivists will come together for some form of secular ceremony in celebration of living another year.
In the meantime, Objectivists can locate nearby freethought and atheist groups who do this now.  Although Winter Solstice has Pagan roots, these groups use the occasion to remind themselves and the general public about the roots of the Christmas holiday.  We can use the occasion to remind ourselves of the knowable laws of nature and of our ability to employ reason to apply these laws to our advantage.

Great article, sir!


Luke Setzer




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Post 6

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 8:40amSanction this postReply
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Nice piece, Matthew.  We celebrate Christmas around these parts, we share gifts among loved ones, and joy and food and drink, we put up a tree, we decorate it and the rest of the house, and we even put up a gorgeous family creche and village that have been around for 50+ years---all part of the creative aesthetic of the tradition that we continue to appreciate for its beauty and for its symbolism of birth and renewal.  The return of the light indeed as the Winter Solstice is celebrated today.
 
BTW, the Russian Orthodox celebrate Christmas on January 7th; the Greek Orthodox celebrate Christmas on December 25th.  There are different reasons for this having to do with both culture and the Julian vs. Gregorian calendars.  All Eastern Orthodox denominations, as far as I know, celebrate Easter at the same time (which may or may not coincide with the Western Easter).
 
Here are a few links for you:
 
Russian Orthodox
Russian Christmas
Greek Orthodox (Greek Christmas on Dec. 25th)
Eastern Orthodoxy and Orthodox denominations

(Edited by sciabarra on 12/21, 9:00am)




Post 7

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 10:28amSanction this postReply
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Derek, Luther, Chris,

Thanks for the compliments, and Chris thanks for straightening me out regarding the Orthodox Church :-)

MH




Post 8

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 10:43amSanction this postReply
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Matt:
"Joe,I don't see gift-giving as something sacrificial - you exchange gifts with people to value in order to symbolise that mutual shared value."

Matt, the above is a great ideal, and yes, it does exist. I exaggerate, and last night I was feeling especially humbuggy, your piece just hit me at the wrong time, sorry.





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Post 9

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 6:50amSanction this postReply
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The Christmas before last my girlfriend at the time and I celebrated "Capitalistmas" and had a nice big gold (glitter painted) dollar sign adorning the top of our tree.  Why not celebrate the very system that has brought us the peace and prosperity and long healthy lives we enjoy today. 

Michael




Post 10

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 - 3:59pmSanction this postReply
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HA HA!

You celebrate Capitalistmas too!

My brother and I like to go out to the malls during the start of shopping season (day after thanksgiving in america) and we buy ourselves coffee, cakes and we watch the joyous commensement of consumerism.  We drink of our wonderously traded coffee and eat of our cakes and watch others buy buy buy!  Its awesome to see all these people in the malls every year.

though we have no tree or such we take part in the joy of buying with our own hard earned cash.

~E.




Post 11

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 12:56pmSanction this postReply
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Joe,

No problem :-)

Michael and Eric,

Interesting comments...maybe one day everyone'll call it capitalismas :-)

MH




Post 12

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 - 8:46pmSanction this postReply
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MH,

I hope we find a better name or shorten it up, its difficult to say in passing.

~E.




Post 13

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 8:26amSanction this postReply
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Call it Winterfest. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere it might serve to cheer us up during the Dark Months and relieve some of the symptoms of SAD.

Bob Kolker




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