The history and origin of Christmas is riddled with myths. An understanding of the facts will demonstrate that wishing someone a Merry Christmas is politically correct.
The origin of Christmas stemmed from pagan festivals like Winter Solstice and Yule. In the early pre-Christian era, European winter celebrations were very popular and followed pagan rituals that celebrated the darkest days of winter.
The European winter celebrations were later replaced by the creation of "Christmas" in the 4th century by the Catholic Church. Christmas has since risen to it's current popularity where in many countries it's celebrated as a national religious holiday, though in the United States, Christmas is celebrated as a non-religious, secular federal holiday.
Paganism observes the ancient and modern religions that identify with nature as the body of the Divine and include the religions of ancient Greece and Rome, and the Northern European countries. The worship of multiple Gods and Goddesses are common in their celebrations.
Early Europeans observed the shortest day --- Winter Solstice --- to celebrate the worst of the winter being over them as they look ahead to increased daylight hours. During this celebration, they killed their livestock that would not survive the winter and gorged on them from late December through January.
At this time there was the celebration by Scandinavians and Germans of the Yule season which runs for 13 days and begins the night before Winter Solstice. In Germany, Odin was celebrated by many who viewed the pagan God as a fat, gift giving Elf who flew over houses during the night bestowing good tidings on people that were nice and bad tidings on others.
Another tradition during Yule was the burning of the Yule Log from a giant tree that was to protect the house from storms and bring it good luck throughout the year.
Does all this this sound like the modern day celebration of Christmas? You Bet!
No one knows the birth date of Christ, or even what year. Christ, according to many historians was born in the springtime. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see Christ's disciples observing His birthday. The apostles did not honor pagan rituals, and accordingly, preached to other Christians to avoid the pagan rituals.
Many religious scholars believe that Jesus probably was born in the Spring or Autumn, and most likely in the Spring.
During the cold winter months it's doubtful that sheep would be roaming the hills when snow dominates much of the landscape.
Also, during the spring, the Jewish festival called 'Passover' is celebrated with Jews from all over the Roman Empire traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. Because of the heavy concentration of Jews in Jerusalem at this time of the year, it is believed that the Romans chose this time for the taking of a census. Mary and Joseph probably went to Bethlehem for the census, several miles from Jerusalem.
How did this Happen?
In the year In 350 A.D., Pope Julius I declared the birth and celebration of Christ's birthday as Christmas and chose December 25th because it coincided with the popular pagan traditions of Winter Solstice. The purpose was to replace the pagan celebrations with the Christian one. It worked, and it worked extremely well!
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Most Christmas customs, the decorating the evergreen "Christmas" tree, the hanging of mistletoe, gift exchanges, and Santa Claus, all came from pagan winter practices and secular traditions that were celebrated throughout Europe.
Christmas as we know it today, is not only a mix of ancient pagan practices and hundreds of years of adopting secular and religious traditions, it also has a Victorian period influence that affected the practice and acceptance of Christmas.
While Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday in the US until June 26, 1870, on December 6, 1999, federal U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott ruled that Christmas has become so secular that the government does not violate the Constitution by declaring it a federal legal holiday.
Christmas has the distinction of being a multi-cultural, multi-religious and secular holiday. It is celebrated throughout the world, and in the US, over 90% of the population celebrates Christmas. Depending on national and local customs, it integrates sun worship, polytheism, pagan nature religions, Christianity, and other later myths and traditions.
Since Christmas has the distinction of being a multi-cultural, multi-religious and secular holiday --- wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" is about expressing your best wishes for their enjoyment of a day off from work to join in on the celebration of a national, non-religious holiday.
These wishes are therefore politically correct, regardless of whether they are directed to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists.
Christmas is big business and is the most commercialized celebration in the world with many mass-produced symbols, decorations, and gifts manufactured in less developed countries and sold throughout the world.
Many non-Christian religious observers have capitalized on this huge market, especially non-Christian merchants and songwriters who have successfully launched businesses and careers from the Christmas market.
The all-time top 25 Christmas carols recorded and played on TV, the radio, and in the malls, are the works of Jewish songwriters. Some popular songs include; White Christmas, O' Holy Night, The Christmas Song, He's a mean one Mr. Grinch, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, Have A Holly Jolly Christmas, and Silver Bells.
The celebration of Christmas is enjoyed by everyone!
The non-religious celebrate the joyous traditions. The Christians, who believe that Christmas and its rituals solely relate to the birth of Christ, celebrate the religious rituals. The pagans celebrate the rituals of Winter Solstice and Yule. Big business, commercial enterprises, and non-Christian merchants enjoy, the profits from the sale of decorations, symbols, gifts, and Christmas songs.
And what about all the people who each year are given a paid day off from work for having Christmas as a legal holiday, regardless of their beliefs.
Having taken all this in, why all the fuss about changing the greeting "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays"?