Christians is Bitchin’

Giant Xmas Tree at SM MegaMall, Manila. Pic: Rod Fleming

Christians is bitchin’—again.

Well they do this every solstice, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Personally I find the excessive emphasis on consumption, and the unstated presumption that one will go into debt to buy presents one doesn’t want or need to make other people conned into the same bollocks feel a bit better, a pile of crap. For want of a better word.

So I won’t be doing it. Sorry.

But I’m still up for a bit of Yuletide cheer; after all, we are talking about the one time of the year when the news is bound to be good—the days are getting longer…well…as long as you live in the (currently frozen) Northern Hemisphere anyway. I still find it kinda strange to find the entire Philippines covered in fake snow and sprouting giant artificial Xmas trees for, literally, months, before the big day, but then one thing I have to say about Filipinos, is man they do like to party.

We’ll come back to those trees. But for now what about that bitching? Well, you know, I am a Scot, and all recent polls tell us we Scots are sliding into dastardly non-belief quicker than a Dundee lassie going down the Olympia Flumes, and I live in France, which is already a committed secular state. So nobody gives a monkeys here, it’s all about eating and drinking far too much and regretting it later when that nice Hugo Boss suit refuses to fasten (again).

I don’t thank goodness, live in the USA, where apparently, some people (one imagines them to be mainly of the Christian persuasion) are once again, up in arms because we’ve ‘taken Christ out of Christmas’.

You wot, guv?

We are aware, are we not, that the celebration of the solstice is one of the oldest annual rites that we have record of and pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years? We have heard of Stonehenge, Calainis, Newgrange?…Oh, sorry, forgot. American Christians.

Right, well, it’s like this: The solstice is so called because at this time there are three consecutive days when it is impossible to tell the difference in the declination of the sun (that is, how high it is above the horizon) at noon, even using a modern vernier sextant. So the sun appears to stand still. Sol=sun, stice=still. See?

I know this to be true, I have tried it myself. December the 25th is the first day that the rise of the sun can be observed. Same thing happens at midsummer, the other way around.

Our ancestors thought a lot about this. For those who lived in temperate (now there’s a damn misnomer if ever there was one) zones, the single most important event of the year was that the sun would begin to rise again, and to measure and confirm this they built amazingly sophisticated solar observatories, just like those at, well, Stonehenge, Calainis, and Newgrange, where masonry was erected that allowed only a sliver of light to pass through at dawn on the solstice days. This way, they could observe the direction the light travelled—one way until the solstice, and then the other when the sun began to rise, signifying the beginning of the New Year.

I know it would have helped if they’d had sextants, but apparently the aliens who built these monuments thought it would be easier to levitate 100-tonne stones into place rather than just give the natives a few gadgets to play with. ( /facetious.)

Anyway, the point of all this is that Christ is a damn Johnny-come-lately. Anyone who has studied the Bible knows perfectly well that the 25th of December is not when he was allegedly born anyway. (It’s the Feast of the Passover. Not even a winter festival, but a spring one, jings.) Then there were all the other ‘dying and rising’ gods—and goddesses, no sexism allowed here—who came before Yeshua bar Yeshua.

The thing is, they’re all the same, agricultural deities whose significance is in the farming year. The Romans—who popularised Christianity at point of sword—just made the solstice Yeshua’s official birthday because the Empire was already getting soused and eating too much even then—under the name of Saturnalia.

Come on, I mean ‘Christ’ wasn’t even Yeshua’s name! He spoke Aramaic, and ‘Kristos’ is a Greek word that means ‘anointed one’. Same root and meaning as Krishna—whom some scholars believe to have actually been the model for Yeshua.

So we have a winter festival that has been celebrated for at least 5000 years, or 3000 before certain alleged events in Judah, a man whose actual birthday it isn’t, and whose name wasn’t ‘Christ’ anyway. I mean, ‘take Christ out of Christmas’? Do me a favour and pass me the sherry, petal. Call it what you like, it’s the midwinter orgy. Been that way for thousands of years. And we all have the perfect right to drink and eat too much and enjoy our loved ones without being bitched at about the name we call it.

Oh yeah, I said I’d get back to the tree. Once again, out of luck, Christers. Trees have been sacred to the Goddess as long as we have written accounts, from Sumer on. In pre-Christian Europe, evergreen plants, particularly holly, were a symbol of her everlasting life. The holly’s red berries were thought to represent her sacred menstrual blood, the original source of all life.

To the Norse, the oak tree was sacred to Thor (he of the hammer). When they became Christianised, the oak was replaced by the fir, and this tradition spread throughout Germany, Europe and ultimately over the world. Nope, doesn’t seem to be a lot of Christ in there either.

Anyway, have a nice winter festival whatever you call it, and don’t let religion get in the way.


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