Don’t Light Any Candles This Christmas, It’s Pagan.

With all this talk of “war on Christmas” and fighting over nativity displays, it’s refreshing to read a rational discussion about the origins of this holiday published on a Christian site, ChristianPost.com.  What I took away from the article is that “Christmas” does not belong just to Christians, it belongs to human beings.

The season is partly Christian and partly Pagan.  One person thought the emphasis on lights and color has a Pagan origin, the celebration of solstice.  Pagan life was filled with festivities and celebrations.

The defeat of darkness and victory for light was cause for celebration. Candles also symbolized the defeat of darkness.

In secular literature, there is doubt about the birth story.  The Biblical writers closest to the time of Jesus did not discuss where he came from. The birth story came up later.

If the birth story was meant to be inspirational fiction,  it is easy to see how a new birth would be an attractive metephor for  new light.  To the extent that is what happened, the substitution of new birth for new light was very successful indeed.

Historically speaking, then, “Happy Holidays” is just as legitimate a greeting as  “Merry Christmas”.  I think there are folks who just need something to grouse about until the days get longer and they cheer up.  The “war of Christimas” fits the bill.

Perhaps, lighting a few pagan candles will cheer everyone up.

 

 

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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11 Responses to Don’t Light Any Candles This Christmas, It’s Pagan.

  1. entech says:

    This time of year has a significance that is probably even older than the pagans. When man first noticed the pattern – the days get shorter and it gets colder, then after about the same time period its starts getting warmer and the days start getting longer – it had to have some significance attributed to it. Then the position of the sun would be correlated, all very important for a culture developing agriculture. Earlier, when hunting was the main occupation the phases of the moon were important, need to know when nights are going to be bright or dark to hunt and avoid being hunted.

    It is no coincidence that so many festivals are held at significant times, solstices and equinoxes and the next full moon after a certain solar event. They inevitably became part of developing religions. This doesn’t mean that religious festivals are wrong but it does throw a huge amount of doubt on their veracity as having divine meaning.

  2. Henry says:

    Merry Christmas, Jon! Should I modify my candle burning practices so as not to cause stumbling of your weak conscience? I’ll promise you I will do it away from your presence.

  3. Brad Campbell says:

    Merry Christmas to all.

    I read this blog from time to time and notice that the same 4-5 people comment on here. Do you have jobs? Or are you all retired? Posts come at all hours of the day. If you are still working….wow, what job do you have that lets you sit at a computer all day and post messages…..

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Brad 12:27 And, a Merry Christmas to you my friend.

      The commenters here have explained a little of their lives and why and when they are on here. The rest of the visitors, and the systems of searches, are a mystery to me. I check the number of people who open the blog at various time during the day. After I post in early evenings, about 100 people have opened by when I go to bed. By the time I’m up the next morning, 100 more have opened it. Then, during the day, it’s an additional few hundred, varies widely. Who these people are, why they open the blog and whether they read it or just fly by, I have no idea.

  4. entech says:

    Hi Brad, seen a comment or two of yours.
    Me: retired and a couple of years passed the three score and ten. I live in a completely different time zone so that would account for some strangeness – for example it is almost midnight here and by the time I post this it will be Christmas day here but still the morning before in Fargo. confuse it more because the times are listed in GMT, UTC Zulu or whatever or whatever you want want to call it.
    And I do spend a lot of time at the computer, read here a couple of times a day, sometimes reply with whatever comes of the top of my head, sometimes do a hour or two research. It is very good that so many universities post their lecture series on Youtube, that can take a lot of interesting time, and there is a lot of good stuff available – I remember the days when people said that television was going to give so much, all it seems to give is soapies and reality shows and I really wonder whose reality they think they are showing at least the Internet is so big and varied you can ignore most of the stupidity.

    So between computing, going out for lunch when the weather is nice and up to Indonesia for the winter I wouldn’t have time for a job, wonder how I fit it all in when I did.

    There it is, now into Christmas here so compliments or complaints of the season however you take it.

  5. Bob says:

    I work, but my job allows me, only sometimes, to be on the computer. So sometimes I get to comment during the day, but usually its on the fly and there will be lots of spelling and such mistakes because I have to do it on the fly.

    I want to wish doubters, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, anti-theists, and all supernaturalists a very Merry Christmas. I hope all the lights in your life are burning brighter than ever.
    Peace and Happiness to all.

  6. I am a Pagan then…I love to light the CHRISTMAS candles at my house.
    The customs are for ALL PEOPLE in spite of origins.
    I think of the scripture on John’s gospel which declares ” In Him (Jesus) was life and
    the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1: 5
    I am sorry that so many are still Darkness and choose not to comprehend it.

    • Henry says:

      No you are not Pagan. The Judeo-Christian candle lighting practices goes back to the early time period of the OT. Menorahs are documented at a very early date. My question would be, what do the Pagans have for documentation on their early candle lighting practices? Who is copying who, if that is indeed important to the pagans and atheists?

  7. p.s. to first comment: candles— to Believers— symbolize the Light of the World as elucidated in John’s gospel.

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