What Exactly *IS the Spirit of Christmas?
Posted by Patrick on 24 Dec 2009
People kill me. That is, I am often astounded by the things people say without having a clue what they are actually saying. Sprinkle in a few teaspoons of Winter and the zest of 1/2 a December, and you’ve basically got a recipe for a Christmas holiday filled with piping hot idiocy. One thing I hear people say all the time – and I literally mean *all the time – is that they are in, trying to get into, aren’t in, or wish they could be in this thing, this psychological state of existence that they always call “the Christmas spirit”.
If I ask someone, “What *is the Christmas spirit?” I generally get some rote story about how it’s a season of giving and goodwill to all or some cockamamie random noise resembling that. That’s all well and good, but if I ask that same person, “So, shouldn’t you have that frame of mind, like, all year instead of just around the end of December?” most people answer, “Well, yeah, but it’s Christmas, and that’s different.” Have you ever argued with a 9-year-old that your peanut butter sandwich is bigger than theirs and gotten the “nuh-uhhhh(!) mine’s bigger” treatment? It’s the same argument, just on adults with marginally more intelligence than the 4th grader.
So, generalizing, the argument is, “Be a good person all year, but during the holidays, be in the Christmas spirit”. Baffling. I sought to figure out this so-called spirit of Christmas, and maybe learn a little bit about how to elevate my goodwill towards humankind to some higher eschelon of awareness that evidently only surfaces as a year draws to its undeniable close. eHow.com evidently possesses a 12-step program (ok, 11) for how to get into this alleged spirit, but their most important tip is to “shop early”. I love how the difficulty of executing the article’s advice is rated as “Moderately Easy”, since the concept is evidently foreign to so many. So, according to this article, I’m going to be enlightened by doing some shopping, by donating some ching to a Christianity-based charity that (allegedly) runs with shady financial disclosures and (most definitely) discriminates against homosexuals, by decorating my house in an evil palette clash of red and green, and by exercising my fiduciary duty to not go broke?
Well, that can’t exactly be true. So, I continued my search. The article said I should decorate my house; maybe some of the traditions that Americans follow will be the correct path. Let’s see. How about a Yule Log? CERTAINLY a Yule Log would be a Christmas Spirit thing to do, right? Well, actually the yule log has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas at all – it was actually a druid/pagan ritual method of warding off harmful spirits that might come out during the extended darkness of the Winter Solstice. Christianity actually adopted the yule log as part of its own muddled traditions to try to gain more converts as the religion infected most of Western Europe. (yes, I said infected). So, that can’t be it, it has nothing to do with Christmas.
OH I KNOW, how about a Christmas tree?! Everybody knows that Christmas trees are what Santa puts presents under – boy oh boy it just wouldn’t be Christmas without one of those. Any good Christian that wants to celebrate the birthday of Jesus would have one, right? Well, honestly, bullshit. Even the Christian Bible says in Jeremiah 10:2-4 that you shouldn’t cut down trees – and though devouts will argue that it is out of context, it says what it says. But still, a tree for Christmas? Borrowed from Pagan tradition? Yes. Did Pagans cut down a tree and take it indoors? No, that would be against their fundamental values. Chopping down a perfectly good tree and fancying it up didn’t start until really around the 16th century, and of course that was done by Christians – Protestants, specifically, like Martin Luther. Environmental warfare is the key to the Christmas spirit? Doesn’t seem quite right. Maybe it needs salt.
How about “Happy Birthday Jesus”! I guess Christians really do need something to hang their hat on if they’re seriously doing up birthday cakes for Jesus. Wow, you people are really off your rockers, let me tell ya. While it is true that people give a rats to celebrate such a thing, why do they do that? Or, more importantly, why does history suggest that there is no accurate knowledge of his actual birthday and the Roman church arbitrarily chose 12/25 when his birthday is astronomically closer to May 14th? Happy Birthday my ass; that tradition didn’t even start until AD 336, so there were centuries of it not being celebrated – why start now? Oh, cake! Is it lemon cake with chocolate frosting? I’m in. Seriously, is this the Christmas spirit manifesting itself? Do I need to call up my Costco bakery and get a full-sheet Jesus cake to get my festive on?