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The Myths of Christmas

Thomas Whitley

Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas almost as much as the next guy, but there are misconceptions and flat out lies about Christmas that continue to be perpetuated. For starters, Jesus was not born on December 25. We don't know when Jesus was born, but the best estimates put it in the spring time. Also, the choosing of the date of December 25 is not fully understood either, but the most compelling arguments have to do with "pagan" celebrations and the winter solstice. These are not far-fetched ideas when you look at how the ancient world implemented celebrations. They were often centered around nature or were designed to take over the existing religious celebrations of a group so as to show complete domination by their empire.

Am I saying that we should not celebrated Christmas on December 25? No. I'm simply asking that we realize that December 25 is the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus, not the day Jesus was actually born.

Second, the "immaculate conception" is not the same as the "virgin birth." The doctrine of the "immaculate conception" says that Mary was conceived and born without the stain of original sin. This, then, allows her to be a virgin when she conceives Jesus (a product of a poor translation of the Hebrew for young woman, not to mention a misappropriation of a text that originally referred to Hezekiah). They are two separate doctrines and should not be confused. On a related note, the text of Matthew (1:25) does not support the idea of Mary as a perpetual virgin, as if all of her other children were conceived without her ever having had sex.

Third, the wise men were NOT at the manger. Matthew is very clear that the wise men were not even summoned by Herod until AFTER Jesus was born, meaning that they could not have arrived on the night he was born. Also, the text states that there were three gifts, not that there were three wise men, that is an assumption. So, please, take the wise men out of your Christmas plays. They simply do not belong there.

Fourth, Santa Claus is not real. This may (should) be a no-brainer yet this idea is still perpetuated by many. I believed in Santa when I was young, as I'm sure many of you did, and it didn't harm for life, but it seems to me that if we tell our children a whole host of things are real such as Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. and then later tell them, or they find out, that these things are not real, then what separates these fake figures from other things/figures that we tell them are real that they cannot see, like God. This is even more exacerbated when churches participate in this farce by having "visits from Santa." Aside from this, I simply favor a policy of honesty.

Okay, I'll end my rant now and let you respond. What is your take on the myths I have identified? What myths of Christmas, or any other holiday, have you seen perpetuated?