Christmas – Banned in Boston!

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Is the War on Christmas a FOX invention? The Pink Flamingo is beginning to think so. Let’s face it, FOX viwers (of whom this blogger was once among their ranks) are increasingly stupid if they believe all the do-do dished out by Roger Ailes.  I swear FOX created the War on Christmas to assimilate decent conservatives into believing in the culture war.  If there is, indeed a culture war, it was invented by FOX, just the way the tea parties were created by FOX.

“…Each Advent in recent years, around the time when those prefab, do-it-yourself gingerbread house kits appear on supermarket shelves, Fox News launches its (allegedly) defensive campaign commonly known as the “War on Christmas.”

Fox News’ “war” is designed to criticize the “secularization” of our culture wrought by atheists, agnostics, liberals, leftists, progressives, and separation of church and state zealots — i.e. Democrats. This irreligious coalition force is allegedly waging a strategic offensive on Christmas, trying to banish the sacred symbols of the season, denying our religious heritage, and even undermining the spiritual rubrics upon which our great nation is built.

Fox News positions itself as the defender of the faith and all things sacred. And Bill O’Reilly fancies himself the “watchdog” of Christmas.

Fox News’ usual targets include shopping malls and stores that replace their “Merry Christmas” greetings with “Happy Holidays,” and state governments that no longer call their official “Christmas” trees by their rightful name, or municipalities that ban any depictions of, or references to, the Christmas season in public places. Those who are attacked defend themselves, often claim that they are really religious too, and the perennial war is on….”

Beltway Confidential

After losing his mind, Tapscott was forced to retract his previous hysteria.

“…Just got a response from the Senate Ethics Committee, which handles franking issues for the upper chamber. Looks like senators can say things congressmen can’t because the Senate franking regulation say this:

“Senators may not use the frank to mail holiday cards. However, Senators may use officially related funds to mail holiday cards to constituents. Holiday cards to friends should be sent with personal funds, not using Senate facilities.

“Senators also may NOT use the frank to ac- knowledge holiday greetings that were sent to them. Senators may express holiday greetings at the commencement or conclusion of otherwise frankable mail.”…”

Do Conservatives even have a brain anymore?

Once upon a time, Christmas was banned in Boston!

“...In Puritan Boston, celebrating Christmas was considered an act of the Devil. Christmas was part of the prescribed worship of the Catholic Church and Church of England, to which the Puritans did not acknowledge, and did not tolerate. From the earliest settlement of the town in 1630, Christmas was not observed. In 1651, the following law was passed by the General Court:

For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals, as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offense to others: It is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing labour, feasting, or any other way upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending, shall pay five shillings as a fine to the country.”…”

You know how FOX worships the Founding Fathers?  You know how the tea parties worship the Founding Fathers?  Well, if you agree with them, then the Great Fox War on Christmas violates the Founding of the US.

What?

“…Following the American Revolution, England wasn’t very popular among the newly independent people across the Atlantic. That goes for any and all things deemed “British”. That included celebrating – you guessed it: Christmas. Our forefathers actually wouldn’t have been doing anything special on December 25. It was so unpopular that Congress was in session that day in 1788! Another 40 years of anti-Christmas spirit would pass by before the animosity would abate enough for Victorian Americans to warm up to the idea of celebrating Christmas. Resurgence of the holiday started out slowly in the 1820s, gaining acceptance and momentum as the decades passed. The federal government finally declared Christmas a national holiday on June 26, 1870. That’s right: it took almost a century for the United States to formally recognize Christmas….”

The Pink Flamingo has repeatedly said that the far right and libertarians are abjectly ignorant of history.  Want proof?  Their alleged War on Christmas is a crock.  If they knew anything about the Puritans, they would know that in New England, Christmas was basically illegal.

Who Forted

The following is excerpted from a book I am writing.  Copyright 2011 by SJ Reidhead – do not use without permission from author.

Nikolaos of Myra was born in 280 died on December 6, 345 or 354, in Demra, which is part of Turkey in Lycia.  He was the Greek Bishop of Myra.  He was known as Nokolas the Wonderworker because of his secret reputation of gift-giving (my kind of person).  He would put coins in shoes of those who left them out for him.  The Dutch called him Sinterkaas, which was a mis-translation of Saint Nikolaos.  In 1087 his relics were sent to Bari in Southern Italy.  He is also known as Nikolas of Bari.

He is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, bakers, brewers, brides, grooms, pawnbrokers, travelers and students, as well as Liverpool.  I gather that explains the gift that Liverpool gave to the modern world – the Beatles!

Nicholas was a Greek, born in Asia Minor in Patara (Lycia et Pamphylia) a Mediterranean Sea.  His wealthy parents, Theopanes and Nonna were Christians.  While still young, his parents died.  He was raised by his uncle, Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Patara, were  he followed in his uncle’s footsteps. Nicholas was ordained at the age of 19.

“…On 26 August 1071 Romanus IV, Emperor of the Byzantine Empire (reigned 1068–1071), faced Sultan Alp Arslan of the Seljuk Turks (reigned 1059–1072) in the Battle of Manzikert. The battle ended in humiliating defeat and capture for Romanus. As a result the Empire temporarily lost control over most of Asia Minor to the invading Seljuk Turks. The Byzantines would regain its control over Asia Minor during the reign of Alexius I Comnenus (reigned 1081–1118). But early in his reign Myra was overtaken by the Islamic invaders.

Taking advantage of the confusion, sailors from Bari in Apulia seized the remains of the saint from his burial church in Myra, over the objections of the Orthodox monks. Returning to Bari, they brought the remains with them and cared for them. The remains arrived on 9 May 1087. There are numerous variations of this account. In some versions those taking the relics are characterized as thieves or pirates, in others they are said to have taken them in response to a vision wherein Saint Nicholas himself appeared and commanded that his relics be moved in order to preserve them from the impending Muslim conquest. Currently at Bari, there are two churches at his shrine, one Roman Catholic and one Orthodox….”[1]

In 2009, just in time for the Turkish Grinch to spoil Christmas, the Islamic government of Turkey is demanding St. Nicholas bones be repatriated to his home town.[2] It’s a tourist thing.

The life of Saint Nicholas was chronicled by St. Methodius, who died in 847.  “…”Up to the present the life of this distinguished Shepard has been unknown to the majority of the faithful”…”[3]  “…Coming to the city of Myra when the clergy and people of the province were in session to elect a new bishop, St. Nicholas was indicated by God as the man they should choose.

This was at the time of the persecutions at the beginning of the fourth century and “As he was the chief priest of the Christians of this town and preached the truths of faith with a holy liberty, the divine Nicholas was seized by the magistrates, tortured, then chained and thrown into prison with many other Christians.

 …But when the great and religious Constantine, chosen by God assumed the imperial diadem of the Romans, the prisoners were released from their bonds and with them the illustrious Nicholas, who when he was set at liberty returned to Myra.”

St. Methodius asserts that “thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas the metropolis of Myra alone was untouched by the filth of the Arian heresy, which it firmly rejected as death-dealing poison”, but says nothing of his presence at the Council of Nicaea in 325….The governor Eustathius had taken a bribe to condemn to death three innocent men.

At the time fixed for their execution Nicholas came to the place, stayed the hands of the executioner, and released the prisoners. Then he turned to Eustathiujs and did not cease to reproach him until he admitted his crime and expressed his penitence.

There were present on this occasion three imperial officers who were on their way to duty in Phrygia. Later, when they were back again in Constantinople, the jealousy of the prefect Ablavius caused them to be imprisoned on false charges and an order for their death was procured from the Emperor Constantine.

When the officers heard this they remembered the example they had witnessed of the powerful love of justice of the Bishop of Myra and they prayed to God that through his merits and by his instrumentality then might yet be saved. That night St. Nicholas appeared in a dream to Constatine, and told him with threats to release the three innocent men, and Ablavius experienced the same thing. In the morning the Emporor and the prefect compared notes, and the condemned men were sent for and questioned.

When he heard that they had called on the name of the Nicholas of Myra who had appeared to him, Constatine set them free and sent them to the bishop with a letter asking him not to threaten him any more but to pray for the peace of the world. For long this was the most famous miracle of St. Nicholas, and at the time of St. Methodius was the only thing generally known about him….”[4]

“…That’s the questionable legend of Nicholas. But not the end of the story. Even by the reign of Justinian (d. 565), Nicholas was famous, and the emperor dedicated a church in Constantinople to him. By the 900s, a Greek wrote, “The West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. All Christians reverence his memory and call upon his protection.” The West became even more interested when his “relics” were taken from Myra to Bari, Italy, on May 9, 1087. He’s said to have been represented by medieval artists more frequently than any saint but Mary, and nearly 400 churches were dedicated in his honor in England alone during the late Middle Ages….”[5]

            My mother likes to tell about her grandmother Froehlich “Ma”.  Aside from having a rather remarkable genealogy, she had an absolutely warped sense of humor (which I inherited).  Ma never believed that anyone who left her home should do so empty-handed, even if it was just a few home made cookies.  She never went to visit anyone without taking a gift.

            If you think I don’t like receiving gifts, you are crazy.  But, giving them is much more fun.  There are those self-righteous souls who want to put “Christ” back in Christmas.  If they were going to do that, they would be celebrating His birth some time in March or so.  December 25 corresponds to the general celebration of Saturnalia in ancient Rome (December 17-23).

            Saturnalia was a festive occasion in ancient Rome.  It was a time of gift giving, visiting friends, parties, giving candles and a school holiday.  “…The greeting for the holiday was, a “Io, Saturnalia!” — Io (pronounced “e-o”) being a Latin interjection related to “ho” (as in “Ho, praise to Saturn”)….”[6]  As in Ho Ho Ho!

            Many believe the early Christmas celebration coincided with Saturnalia in order to blend in to the point where Christians could celebrate the Birth of Christ without being persecuted for it.  The Catholic church argues against it, but according to the Julian calendar, the highlight of the festival occurred on December 25. The duration of the celebration changed over the years.  When Julius Caesar added two additional days to the month of December, he decreed that Saturnalia be celebrated on the same day, but not the same date, which clears up some of that confusion.

            One of the reasons the early Christians may have chosen the date they did was because the Roman courts were closed.  No one could be punished for damaging property or injuring anyone during the festival.  An enemy of the Roman people was chosen – the Lord of Misrule.  Each community selected a person who they would force to indulge in food, drink, and physical pleasure during the week.  On December 25, that person would be murdered, to keep the forces of darkness at bay.

            According to one legend, the early Christians seriously wanted to take away the criminal aspects which included murder, human sacrifice, rape, drunkenness, and carousing.  The best way they knew how was to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25.  Unfortunately, many of the traditions, with the exception of rape and murder have remained tradition, which explains the eggnog and the office party.

            “…The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.”[7]

            Unfortunately, during the days of anti-Semitism, it was used as a time to mistreat the Jewish population of Rome. “…Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city.  An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators.  They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily….”[8]

            When Saint Nicholas’ bones were removed to Bari, he took the place of a female deity called the Grandmother or Pasqua Ephipania.  She would fill children’s stockings with gifts. When his “cult” spread into German he replaced Wodon or Woton, who had a long white beard and road a flying horse one evening during Autumn.[9]

            During the reign of Diocletian, who was really into persecuting Christians, Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned.  According to one source, the prisons were so full of Christians, real criminals – murderers and thieves were released.  Bishop Nicholas was released in time to attend the Council of Nicaea in 325.

            Within two hundred years of his death, Nicholas was venerated.  As the patron saint of sailors, his story was spread, as were the numerous churches named after him in sea ports.  In the 6th Century Justinian built a church honoring him.  St. Chrysostom also wrote a litany to Saint Nicholas around that time.  There is no formal formal date of canonization for him, because of the early date of his life.

            The very real identification of Saint Nicholas with Christmas comes from New Yorkers who were trying to promote pride in the former colony’s almost forgotten Dutch Roots.  John Pintard, patriot and entrepreneur, revived the tradition in 1804, to promote Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of New York City, and the New York Historical Society.  In 1809 Washington Irving joined the Historical Society.  That year, to honor the New York Historical Society, he published the Knickerbocker’s History of New York.  His version of Saint Nicholas was rather elfin with a clay pipe, and came down chimneys to bring gifts. From then on, the New York Historical Society did everything it could to promote Saint Nicholas. In 1823, Clement Moore wrote his famous poem.[10]

            The rest is history.

            What’s a Christian to do about all of this?


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas.

[2] Jonathan Head, Turkey Seeks Return of Santa Claus’ Bones, BBC, December 28, 2009.

[3] http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=371.

[4] http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=371.

[5] Olsen, Ted, The Real St. Nicholas, Christian History, August 8, 2008.

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia.

[7] Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687), p. 35.  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997, p. 4.  http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm#_ftn5.

[8] David I. Kertzer, The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001, p. 74.

[9] http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm#_ftn5.

[10] http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/origin-of-santa/.

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