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Separation of Christmas and Jesus?

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I believe firmly that we should not be encouraged to celebrate pre-packaged holidays just because some political, social, religious or commercial entity wants us to. For example, Mothers Day was originally a post-Civil War call for forgiveness, unity and peace for mothers of veterans, but was commercialized by Hallmark and American Greetings Inc. during the 1950s in order to boost sales of cards, gifts, ornaments and trinkets of every type and variety. Today FTD spends millions making sure you'll feel stultifying pangs of guilt if you don't order flowers on this oh-so-extra-ultra-special day.

St. Valentine's Day has a most ironic origin, it was designed to steal the thunder of the more popular Lupercalia, a pagan 'festival of 'romance' held each February 15. The church officially declared February 14 a holiday in "honor" of a priest they themselves had beheaded on the same date many years earlier, for conducting illegal weddings against the wishes of the presiding "warrior pope" who wanted men to stay single so they could be more easily steered into the military.

And alas, Christmas. I invite comment here because there are differing opinions surrounding the origins of Christmas, the so-called holiest day on the Christian calendar. From what I know, the message of the Christian faith was delivered for centuries at the tip of a plunderer's sword, practicing the exact opposite of what it was supposed to be preaching and synthesizing it's holidays to induce lemming-like behavior. For example, Jesus Christ is said to have actually been born during summer, March or September, but changing the "observed" date of his birth to December 25th effectively waged a public relations war against the wildly popular Saturnalia, or winter solstice festival, in which the masses uproariously celebrated nature and the harvest season.

Today, the modern American Christmas celebration typically consists of each family terminating (murder is such a harsh word) a young tree, dragging it into their homes where it dries out and dies, even though we've had declining air quality and timber shortages for decades and have widely forgotten about the many tree-planting initiatives made popular in the past. Then we string our houses up with electric lights, leaving them on all night to signal to our neighborhoods and communities how deepy we adore Christmas. This increase in demand, no matter how modest is again the opposite of the use-only-when-really-needed mindset we need to be teaching our young in the face of dire energy use shortfalls facing them. We also decorate our homes with all kinds of cheap, disposable paper and plastic decorations, which, though getting cheaper, still fill up bags and bags of garbage by January, out on the curb next to the discarded tree, and ultimately end up stuffing our rapidly shrinking landfills along with the mountains of discarded wrapping paper wads, injection-molded plastic packaging from Barbie, mounds of styrofoam, perfectly functional "fat" TV sets, and a few petrified fruitcakes.

Not to be a Scrooge, but the only reason we jump through these hoops is because our well-meaning parents and grandparents indoctrinated us into doing the same things they did when there weren't energy and waste management crises. Using a bit of wisdom here, are we prioritizing handed-down holiday tradition over our own children's well-being? You tell me if your community has more or less vacant landfill space then it did 25 years ago. I'd say it was a safe bet you were moving massive piles of unecessary crap from your local dollar store into your nearest dump every yuletide season.

We need to re-evaluate the inertia of things we do in these routines and teach our kids to spot and deconstruct the subversive all-points advertising campaign encouraging us to spend every last cent buying into this media-hyped Christmas frenzy every year. There is nothing at all wrong with visting family and friends, gathering and gift giving, being creative, generous or compassionate on the days we all have off of work or school together, but let's not fool ourselves as to who is behind the Christmas "warmth", pushing it out at us earlier and earlier every year - the American economic engine that sells us what we need and then "markets" all the things we don't need.

If Jesus was, as accounts say, a devoted pacifict who renounced worldy possessions for a life of relection and preaching his gospel of peace, love and enlightenment, why do we celebrate his birth by a prolonged period of overeating, insanely increased commerce and glorification of materialistic gratification? Seems very un-Jesus like to me, to teach our kids at young ages that the way to recognize Jesus' birth comes through shredding gift wrap to get to nifty gadgets.
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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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