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David Hines

David Hines
December 17, 2003


Merry Christmas!

No, I make no apology for the greeting. If the holiday holds no meaning for you, it is merely another non sequitur, such as "ethical politician." Wish me a happy Kwanzaa or Hanukkah; though I am of neither Jewish nor African heritage I shall accept the greeting in the spirit offered. I shall not interpret it as egregious proselytization requiring judicial remedy. Good will toward men ought not be an issue for litigation.

George Washington didn't lead his men against Hessians celebrating Sparkle Season; the attack took place on Christmas Eve. This is a matter of history, not improvable by festal revisionism.

Contrary to popular thought, the term "Xmas" does not remove Christ from Christmas. Chi was always used as a reference to Christ, being the first letter of the word in Greek. Early Christians would have had no trouble recognizing the meaning. In our post-literate age, few make the connection.

Christmas is an amalgam of various traditions. The tree and mistletoe derive from pagan Germanic practice. The Roman Saturnalia contributed gift-giving. Otherwise, that holiday has been displaced to New Year's Eve. The Old Year is a thinly veiled personification of Saturn, replete with his trademark scythe. The excesses of the Saturnalia are continued by many in the form of heavy drinking and perhaps uncharacteristically licentious behavior.

Christians reinterpreted pagan traditions, adding their own significance. Originally, one purpose was to lure the pagans to the Church by pre-empting their practices. The result is a rich tapestry with ancient roots, holding deep emotional and spiritual significance.

Secularists wish to repeat history, reinterpreting Christian tradition. In this case the goal is the removal of the spiritual appeal, to be replaced by Pavlovian consumerism. Hear the Sparkle Season bells, and salivate for material items. We shall be allowed to celebrate the holiday in a gluttony of energy-intensive lights and credit-intensive purchasing, so long as we don't add any spiritual implications.

If consumerism is the only meaning of the holiday, is there really any point in celebrating it? Perhaps there is: one day, designated by forgotten and outlawed tradition, on which to get good will toward men out of the way for another year.


Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician. Observation of politics began as a toddler, since the polls were in his parents' store. He developed a keen interest in history when permitted some independent study time in junior high school.

With a wide range of interests, he is accused by friends of possessing more useless information than any other of their acquaintance. He has officially studied music and psychology, and unofficially nearly everything else. Like many a Mensa member, he can usually be found hip deep in books. Detractors can blame the thin air of the Rockies, where he once lived, for the dearth of brain cells.

Dave can be contacted at david.hines@verizon.net


© Copyright 2003 by David Hines
http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/hines/031217


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