The Xmas Story Part 7

This is from "Heathen Holidays" by Denise Snodgrass - part7

We will now turn to various surviving pagan customs associated with the celebration of Christmas.

Exchanging gifts.

The exchange of gifts and greetings at or near Christmas time began long before the Catholic Church put their new "christian" meaning to the custom. You have already read how gifts and visits were a part of the Babylonian festival and the Roman Saturnalia and Kalends of January in pagan Rome rich men gave generously to their poorer neighbors during the Saturnalia and at the Kalends of January gifts were even more plentiful.

Gift-giving was an essential part of the pagan celebrations. The church frowned upon it as sternly as upon other New Year customs, and in the first centuries Christians did not give each other presents in the Christmas season, or if they did, it was without ecclesiastical sanction. But the Church, rather than abolishing the custom, simply pointed the gift-giving away from Saturn to the Babe in Bethlehem to commemorate the gifts of the Magi (the three Wise Men) to the infant Jesus!

REVELATION 18:3 "For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. (v. 11): And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: (v. 15) The merchants of these things which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, (v. 23) ... for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Anyone ought to know that Christmas time is the biggest spending time of the entire year and the most profitable time of the year for businesses. Merchants make more money during these heathen holidays than any other time of the year, and the Catholic Church makes it possible.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus was created by merging Woden, one of the gods of the Northland with a Roman Catholic Bishop, who was "canonized" a saint.

Woden was chief among the Northland gods. He came from the near east (Mesopotamia--Babylon) and made his way northward into Scandinavia, where his name was pronounced, Odin. When the Germanics adopted him they acquired some new and more exalted ideas of what a god could or should be. For gradually Odin grew into a very wise god who knew everything that was going on in the world. On each of his shoulders perched a sharp-eyed wag-tongued raven who flew forth to the ends of the earth and came back to prattle everything it saw. Sometimes Odin himself toured the world on his white horse, Sleipnir, who had eight legs to give him greater speed. At other times Odin preferred to hike, wrapped in his blue cloak and wearing his broad-brimmed hat, carrying his wander's staff.

What is amazing about Woden is his capacity for becoming someone else, or for merging with someone else to make a new person. As we trace the roots that Woden has struck into the life of the Germanic peoples, we find him turning up in the most unexpected places. He merged into the legend of a great king who has never died but now sleeps inside a mountain while the ravens fly about outside, a king who will wake up some day, when his nation needs his help to fight off the enemy. But of most interest, however, is the fact that Woden has become Santa Claus by merging in the legend of this Catholic saint.

Who was St. Nicholas? He lived during the reigns of the Roman Emperors, Diocletian, Maximillian, Constantine, late in the third century and into the fourth. When he was still a young man Nicholas was consecrated Arch-bishop of Myra, a seaport town. He died on December sixth. This is his feast day. Varied and numerous legends gathered about his life on earth and his life as a saint after his death. ........

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