With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to forget what it's all about. Our culture has taken a holiday that was originally a religious celebration and turned it into a commercial frenzy consumed with presents, mythical benevolent men who come to Earth bearing gifts and good tidings, Christmas specials, and cookies. But during this holiday season, make a commitment to remember that it's not about ribbons and candy, and to reflect on the most sacred of Christmas traditions and remember why we have Christmas in the first place, and thank the right people for this most joyous of occasions.
I'm speaking, of course, of the mythical dying and resurrecting Godmen of the various Pagan religions of the Mediterranean in the millennium B.C.E. Osiris of Egypt, Dionysus of Greece, Mithras of Persia, Adonis of Syria, and all the others of that age who aren't listed here, but are every bit as influential in the formation of the holiday that we know as Christmas. These Gods who became mere mortals and descended to Earth under the humblest of conditions, born on the 25th of December in caves or stables in front of not royal audiences of kings and nobles, but animals and shepherds. And why did they do this? To save us from our wicked selves, by dying for us by being hung on a cross or tree at Easter time, only to rise again three days later with the keys to Death, Hell, and the Grave, then ascend to heaven with their promises to return as our final judge during the Last Days. And who we still remember to this day when we drink wine and eat bread, symbolizing the blood and body of these mythical figures who have shaped our lives in such a profound manner.*
So this year, before you open your presents and eat your Christmas cookies, take a moment to think, and whisper a "Thank you" to these Pagan traditions and Godmen who gave us this holiday we have all come to take for granted.
*To help you in your remembrance of these remarkable Pagan traditions and how they've shaped our lives today, I would highly recommend the book "The Jesus Mysteries" by Timothy Frekke and Peter Gandy for everyone on your shopping list.