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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How the Christians Stole Christmas

‘Tis the season for complaining. Specifically, ‘tis the season for Christians to chatter and moan about America’s secular culture. “Happy Holidays” has replaced “Merry Christmas,” Kwanzaa is in and Christ is out and as a Catholic, I’m expected to get upset. But it’s hard to do. As Grandpa might have said, after 500 years, a man jest gits tired.

For nearly half of the last millennium, Christians have slowly been chipping away at Christmas. Now, in imitation of Alexander the Great who wept because he had no more worlds to conquer, they caterwaul because they have nearly completed their task. Are they upset because it took so long or because it’s almost gone?

America’s Christians have fought long and hard for this day. Why aren’t they celebrating?

After all, the attack on Christmas began in a most ingenious fashion. Instead of attacking the day itself, the other major holy days of the year were first stripped away. The law of prayer is the law of belief, as the saying goes, and the law had to go.

Thomas More’s character in A Man for All Seasons summarized the situation nicely, “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?… Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s and if you cut them down . . . d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? . . . Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

But the Christians who started the war against Christmas didn’t have the benefit of a good screenwriter, so they didn’t understand the consequences of their actions. The first holy day to be expunged from the Christian calendar, the first law of prayer to die, was All Holy Eve now known as Halloween. The man who murdered it? Martin Luther.

In 1517, he chose All Holy Eve, the vigil of All Saint’s Day, to attack the idea that those who had died deserved any respect or care from those who lived. According to Luther, prayer afforded no one grace. The Reformation literally converted the communion of saints into the coven of witches; every person who invoked the aid of the saints was now guilty of a demonic attempt to commune with the dead.

Not surprisingly, the rise of the Protestant Reformation created an incredible upsurge in demon-hunting and witch trials. Wherever Protestant strength undermined Catholic authority, the upper-class intellectuals of the day would drive secular mobs to burn and hang witches. Protestant ideology transformed All Holy Eve from a day of sanctity that commemorated communion with God into a day of evil commemorating Satan’s power.

It took a few centuries, but the first holy day had fallen. It would not be the last.

Throughout the whole expanse of the year, holy days began to decay into holidays. The most serious assaults were made on feast days whose Masses were celebrated with special joy.

How many people remember Candlemas? It is the Mass celebrating the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Offered forty days after Christmas, Candlemas marks the end of the Christmas season, as everyone used to know:

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall
Robert Herrick (1591-1674), "Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve"

By the late 1800’s, Americans had transformed this most ancient feast in honor of the Virgin Mary into Groundhog Day - a signal accomplishment in the continuing Protestant attempt to separate Catholic Church and state. And the two goals, the destruction of holy days and the separation of church and state, should not be seen as separated or separable.

After all, Martin Luther not only began the attack on holy days; he was also the first to propose the idea of church-state separation. Ironically, Luther’s deep devotion to Mary has gone down the same memory hole that has eaten the holy days, thus no one knows how Luther destroyed what he most loved. But it hardly matters. He is long since dead, and according to his own rules, his aid cannot be invoked by either side of the debate.

Meanwhile, the destruction proceeded apace. Michaelmas, the Mass offered on September 29th in celebration of St. Michael’s victory over Satan, became the day to settle rents and collect accounts. By the late 1800’s, it too had been stripped of all the celebratory hospitality that had marked it as a major feast of the Catholic Middle Ages.

Childermas, the December 28th Mass commemorating the Feast of the Holy Innocents slaughtered by Herod, was not replaced by another event so much as it was simply overcome by the commercialization of the holiday. It slipped into oblivion. America had won the war against nearly every major Mass in the liturgical calendar.

Indeed, between 1700 and 1776, not a single Mass was celebrated in New York City - it was illegal. And, if it had not been necessary for American Protestants to employ French Catholic military support, priests would not have been present to celebrate Mass in New York during the Revolution either. The Mass had long since been stripped out of Protestant society like meat from the bone.

Candlemas, Childermas, Michaelmas and now Christmas. Is it any wonder that a population who opposed any celebration of the Mass would eventually oppose the Mass celebrating Christ’s own birth?

Catholics complained when Protestants stripped the Mass out of Christmas. Now Protestants complain that atheists will strip Christmas out of the calendar.

But what, exactly, is the problem with obliterating all reference to Christ’s Mass? Isn’t this what America has been working to accomplish for 200 years?


Tim said...

What? No mention of Easter and the Spring Festival?

Tracy Fennell said...

Then we'll have a Festivus for the rest of us!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The Trial of Strength between Protestants and atheists will be held in the old manger at noon. Bring your own beverages...

A Real Catholic said...

Good points.

God Bless!

ertandberni said...

In Colombia we do celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents, but to be honest, it is most significant in our society as the our version of April Fool's day.

Roy G Biv said...

I want to follow what has been shown to us in the Holy Scriptures. Even the parts of Joh the Baptist telling everyone who thinks they are rightesou that they must repent of their false beliefs. Is there a list of real Bible based events/festivals we should recognize ?? [Yes I come form a long line of Protestants who really do want to know God's will, not our English Church traditions]

Dave said...

Roy G Biv:

Catholics (and other Christians) have a long list of Bible-based festivals. And as far as saints' days and so forth go, we remember our brothers and sisters who hae gone on before us -- our Cloud of Witnesses.

chris_tkd said...

Steve, firstly, and most important, it is FEATS of strength, not the Trial of Strength. Sheesh.

Secondly, and of less importance and interest, I'd also mention that Protestantism's inherent fostering and support of superstition can be seen in the several examples. Previously, 13 represented Christ and the Apostles but the English reformers changed it to be unlucky. A rabbit's foot was substituted for carrying a Rosary. Walking under a ladder also used to be a way to remind one of the Crucifixion (since it was thought a ladder would have been used to put Christ on the cross and take him down).

How odd that "Bible based" Christianity would foster such practices all the while denouncing Rome's "superstitions." By their own standard they seem to be in some hot water, no?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

So Feets of Strength would be right out then?

And I had completely forgotten about the rabbits' feets/ladder/13 silliness.

You know, the more I consider how Protestant America has screwed up the culture, the more I'm amazed America has gotten anything right at all.

chris_tkd said...

[i]You know, the more I consider how Protestant America has screwed up the culture, the more I'm amazed America has gotten anything right at all.[/i]

As compared to, say, Europe?

The fact that the Founders, as well as the majority of American Christians up until the early 20th century took seriously the concept of providence, especially as it relates to this country, I think acted as an innoculation against secularism (which is why Chesterton could say - rightly - that America was a nation "with the soul of a church"). While Europe jettisoned the idea America held fast for some time. It's an idea that can be traced back to St. Augustine in [i]The City of God[/i] and has roots in St. Paul and the Gospels. With the rise of the American school of thought that includes figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Dewey and Richard Rorty, however, it's easy to see why the States are going the way they are. There's no room for contemplating the design of God for man, let alone the nations, when you take up Emerson's "doctrine of the soul."

Papito el Bandito said...

I truly fail to see how a post of this nature further's the Kingdom of God. I will continue to pray for all God's Roman and Protestant Christians that they will one day put down their war of words and find Christ's love and compassion for each other.

As we fight, Satan laughs in delight.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Well, God is Goodness, Beauty and Truth.

This is the Truth.

Would you prefer I pretend that it is by demons that he casts out demons?

Anonymous said...

just as a response papito.
who basically just said if your religion is fucked, practice it anyways.
pertaining to the post, it was interesting. i agree with some of the things they said, one of the bigger more overall points i got was edging towrds saying that the old testament is the best. which is pretty much true. if judiasm and islam thinks its holy, we should pay more attention to it. not the bible 2.0 and 5.2.7 and all the other version.

Ekkman said...

Many Protest-ants celebrate Chirst mass which is sad. The Roman Catholics serve a dead Christ or at this time of the year a little baby in Mary's arms. Even though they kill Jesus all the time all over the world at their sacrifice of the mass. But the real Jesus is calling Roman Catholics to him and many are coming out of their false religion to a relationship with the Lord of glory.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Wow - so you believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, Ekkman?

Sovereignty Soldier said...

It is so sad to see so many potential Christians so misled! One only needs to open their King James Bible and read to know that a relationship with Jesus is personal and NO amount of works or self inflicted punishment will atone for your sins. You do not need Mary to intercede on your behalf, nor do you need a man claiming to be the voice of God on earth. Jesus purposely never once called Mary "mother", yet you people do. She was "blessed" as the Bible says-no more! You should look into the story of "Semiramis, Nimrod, and Tammuz" and the early Roman church history. Also let us remember Revelation and the references to the city on 7 hills (Rome). Rome who killed those faithful to the Bible and Jesus, chased them into the hills and drove them to live in catacombs beneath the earth. Rome, who killed our Lord and Saviour-remember?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Jesus also never called anyone a Christian, so I guess you aren't one.

As for the KJV, it's missing a lot of books. Catholics wrote the Bible. The KJV is the Reader's Digest Condensed version.

Richard Simpkins said...

"Jesus never once called Mary 'mother'"

How could you possibly know that? Do you think everything Jesus ever said was recorded in the Gospels? If so, then he must have been VERY quiet the vast majority of the time. He did live some decades, you know...