Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas notes

The exact day of the Christ child's birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas.The word “Christmas” translates to “Mass Of Christ”.

Many "christmas traditions" began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their chief god - Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year's festival that lasted for 12 days. The Mesopotamian king would return to the temple of Marduk and swear his faithfulness to the god. The traditions called for the king to die at the end of the year and to return with Marduk to battle at his side.

To spare their king, the Mesopotamians used the idea of a "mock" king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given all the respect and privileges of a real king. At the end of the celebration the "mock" king was stripped of the royal clothes and slain, sparing the life of the real king.

One theory about the evolution of the winter celebrations to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the Roman emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, wanted to incorporate the pagan winter rituals together with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. In this way, Constantine hoped to help both pagans and Christians celebrate together.Constantine can rightfully claim the title of Great, for he turned the history of the world into a new course and made Christianity, which until then had suffered bloody persecution, the religion of the State. It is true that the deeper reasons for this change are to be found in the religious movement of the time, but these reasons were hardly imperative, as the Christians formed only a small portion of the population, being a fifth part in the West and the half of the population in a large section of the East. Constantine's decision depended less on general conditions than on a personal act; his personality, therefore, deserves careful consideration.
Many believe that this is the reason for celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th. It is widely believed today that Jesus was not actually born on, or even close to, December 25th. Eventually, the Roman church became almost completely successful in making the December celebration only about the birth of Christ, replacing any celebrations that were in honor of pagan gods.

It appears as though celebrations have been held for a long time surrounding this time of year. The end of the old year becomes the start of the new year. It seems a great time to celebrate the birth of The One who makes All Things New...Jesus.--be blessed-c

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