Poll: Which winter holiday(s) do you celebrate? And what do you do to celebrate?
I celebrate all the time!
Um...wait...what are we celebrating? :)
Watch this have a poll attached, which I never see, because I access forums from the recent forum posts section, and Josh ignores my whining that polls should show up that way too. Hee. :)
A girl named Becca · 16 years, 2 months ago
Heh. I have the same problem, and if you hadn't said anything I wouldn't have thought to check if this topic had a poll!
Does it? :) (I can't access through forums at work...hence the shortcut...because it's blocked.) I often don't realize lots of polls exist until someone references the results directly in the discussion.
Me...I celebrate Christmas, though not in any religious way.
Okay. I celebrate Chanukka.
My maternal grandmother and that whole side of my family is Catholic. We go to Grandma's for Christmas. But as children it was always made very clear to us that we don't go to Grandmas because we are celebrating Christmas... we go because Grandma and our uncles aunts and cousins celebrate Christmas, and they are our family so we go to be there with them and partake in the celebration. But we are not ourselves celebrating Christmas because we are not Christian.
Happy St. Nicholas day, by the way. ;)
*squee* I get so happy when anyone but my family makes reference to St. Nick's Day. I usually get blank looks, even from Catholics around here. :)
100% dainty! · 16 years, 2 months ago
yeah! we used to put our shoes out at night so "kris kringle/st. nick" could put treats in them!
It sounds more like you are not celebrating Christmas because you are *Jewish*. I am *not Christian* but I celebrate Christmas. Many many non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas, because in addition to being a Christian religious holiday, Christmas is also an American secular holiday.
My observation of Christmas is pretty secular. There are trees, lights, Santas, Snowmen, and presents. There is no going to church or any of that. Until recently there was no nativity scene, but Lisa wanted one, so we hauled it out. I have no problem with it, really, because it is ok to me to celebrate the Jesus myth, in the same way that I would be happy to celebrate the feast of Baccus or Beltain, but that doesn't make me an idol worshipper, or a wiccan.
I am currently having some difficulty with Maria, who is asking all sorts of questions about Jesus lately. I'm trying to separate the historical Jesus from the religious myth, but she's kind of looking for proof of the existance of God lately so she asks for all kinds of *definite* information on the religious aspects of Christianity. I have to keep telling her that "some people believe X, but others don't" I hope she cottens on to the fact that there isn't ONE answer.
Well, it's interesting, I was just discussing this very issue with Jill...
I come from a religious family, on both sides. I can understand and respect people being non-religious and those people wanting to take part in celebrating what has become a very secularized holiday season. I will not and would not tell someone who is not Christian that they should not celebrate Christmas. But, philosophically, I think about it this way: if any of the holy days of my religion became such that people around me began to say "Oh, it's not even really a religious holiday anymore, anyone can observe it anyway they want" I would be deeply offended. That's how I feel about Christmas. If you're not in it for the Christ-ness of it, then perhaps you should be celebrating "the season" rarther than "Christmas" which explicitly means "Festival of The Annointed One (i.e. The Messiah)." If you don't believe in The Christ... well, you know.
So as far as I'm concerned, I do not celebrate Christmas not because I am Jewish, but because I am not Christian. Because I am Jewish, I *do* celebrate Chanukka, which is not the same thing as *not* celebrating Christmas. It's simply something different... not celebrating Christmas is a separate issue.
Make sense? Any of it?
Obviously it is a separate issue. :P
If you hadn't been raised Jewish, however, if you had grown up in a secular non-Jewish family, you probably would have a different view of the role of Christmas. Maybe not, but probably. I figure if the church can adapt pagan holidays to their purposes, then others should be able to adapt Christian ones to non-christian purposes.
Once again the Jews are spared this kind of confusion because they never tried to convert everybody. (Well except for the Jews for Jesus) ;)
Oh, and damnit, Gella I want to see you!!!!!! :D
You may or may not be right... depending on whether that non-Jewish secular family had background in any non-Christian tradition. See, our American view of the garden-variety secular American still has his or her roots in Christianity, separated usually only by a generation or three at most.
So it's hard to say.
And yeah, I want to see you too... You know I have an apartment that you can visit, right? ;)
Of COURSE AMERICA still has her roots in Christianity! We are a CHRISTIAN nation, founded on CHRISTIAN principals (such as christians are right and everyone else is wrong and going to hell) by good God-fearing CHRISTIANS. That religious tolerance stuff in the constitution is about tolerating different flavors of CHRISTIANITY. It wasn't meant to let a bunch of godless commie foreigners show up and ruin our beautiful CHRISTIAN way of life. Jeez. Don't you listen to talk radio? You you....jew you.
Yeah, AJ? That shite all came from Europe.
Fluckding European hypocrites.
Ok, I'm confused. What is with the italicized L and D? (and the e for that matter?) I suppose I'm really dense.
I realize jokes are ruined if you have to explain them, but it isn't computing to me tonight. :-\
i was cursing initially, but didn't want to offend Josh's or anyones delicate sensibilities, so I added in extra letters but italicised them so that the cursing was not really in any way obscured.
I was feeling silly.
My postulation assumed typical generic American. Obviously some people's mileage will vary. :)
dirty life & times · 16 years, 2 months ago
my limited exposure to secular nonchristian & nonjewish north americans tends more to agree with you. like for instance, my secular buddhist boyfriend insists on christmas. & you know, christmas is totally celebrated in japan as a secular holiday, having been imported during the us occupation.
Being a non-religious family... it's just a time to gather everyone together, eat good food, and enjoy being together. :)
caroline: tired. · 16 years, 2 months ago
cookies and tree the weekend before, mass on christmas eve, grandparents' house (around the corner) on christmas day. then leftovers at the grandparents' house on the 26th, incidentally my dad's birthday.
Brian Dinsky · 16 years, 2 months ago
"Do you celebrate?"
Yes. I do. I celebrate good times, cmon!
Holy crap, that's so terrible that the 'Post' command box grayed itself out.
K-Lyn · 16 years, 2 months ago
Anyone else part of a Revels production?
I stage manage the Portland one.
And so the shortest day came...
100% dainty! · 16 years, 2 months ago
I agree with AJ. I was raised loosely Christian but I don't consider myself Christian anymore. However, I still LOVE this season because it means time with my family, lots of music that reminds me of growing up, fun memories, relaxing, good food and snow. And magic. And like AJ said, i have no problem observing the Jesus myth because I"m into all kinds of religious myths.
i don't celebrate Christmas religiously. But I don't celebrate it secularly either. I have a very eclectic spirituality; I observe the energy and spirit of love that I feel towards my loved ones at Christmas. Part of this is connected with my Pagan leanings, and my belief that everything has a spirit. I celebrate Solstice.
Holidays and religion and spirituality are all very complicated.
Okay, am I the only one left who celebrates Christmas in the traditional religious way, by actually contemplating the birth of Jesus Christ and talking about Nativity and Advent and going to church and singing the traditional songs and wondering what their meaning is? Because, truth be told, I feel like one of the only ones, nowadays. I mean, I'm not exactly your typical right winger, far from it. I'm a liberal Christian which means I'm always sitting between a rock and a hard place when it comes to my views on the secularization of my regligious holidays. Though I do like the trees and Santa and the stockings and wearing red and green and feeling the "Christmas spirit", I still think that calling Christmas trees "holiday trees" is ridiculous because that's trying to take away the *Christmasness* from that day, even if it's trying to take it away from the part of the holiday that is secular. I think it's great that people of other religions and non-believers (jeez, that sounds so right wing, but you know what I mean) celebrate CHRISTMAS because, deep down under all the secularness, there is a heavy religious undertone and most people who celebrate that acknowledge that in SOME way, even if they don't outwardly display it, if just by thinking "oh, this is some other religion guy's birthday." It does provide some sort of meaning to the holiday, realizing that it's not all presents and hot chocolate.
The secularization of the season isn't what bothers me most however. It's the commercialization of Christmas has gotten FAR out of hand. People are too worried about what to get Aunt Millie for her present rather than realizing that this is a time to spend with your family and enjoy the season. And this puts a whole new pressure on people when they're out shopping. So instead of enjoying the giving of gifts, people stress out about them. I've been working in a store in the mall for the past few weeks, and this has become so painfully obvious to me, it's starting to take away MY "Christmas Spirit." Although, I'm really trying not to let it get to me.
...Actually, the commercialization of Easter *REALLY* drives me nuts, because that is the most important Christian religious holiday, but that's a whole different basket of eggs.
Well, as one of the "non-believers" (heee! Does that make you a "true believer"? :D ) ... I can honestly say that I don't feel the heavy religious undertone.... for me, it's just all about family, and being together with people you love.
I agree with you completely about the commercialization aspect, though... it's insane. and it does totally make one lose sight of the true meaning of christmas (which we seem to agree and disagree on).
And.... heh... you'll hate me, but, easter is another one we've always celebrated in my family, and never had it be about religion. :)
Oh, I don't hate you. I hate the fact that people are all "Let's sit on the Easter bunny's lap and tell him about the brand new bike we want for Easter!" It's turning into Christmas. THAT bugs me.
Yvonne · 16 years, 2 months ago
Next thing you know there will be Easter trees decorated with Easter eggs. Oh wait...that's the family down the street from my house who hang those plastic pastel coloured eggs on the tree in their front yard every year. It's already happening. :P
See, that's pretty much how I feel about it, except for the part about "non-believers [in Christianity]" celebrating Christmas being a good thing because it potentially brings them closer to the Christian faith (have I interpreted that correctly?). I can completely understand your feeling that way though based on the centrality of evangelism to the whole Christian concept. It's something that our two respective religions do not share for some very complex reasons which, on one end go right back to the split of Christianity from Judaism in Roman times, and on another end go back to the time/legend of Abraham. And that's okay. But basically I feel that religious holidays *should* be religious. Where we differ is that I feel that if one is going to celebrate something else, maybe they should call it something else, because I don't believe in drawing people into religion in that way. Doesn't mean I get offended by Christmas stuff being everywhere or paranoid that the world is trying to convert me (though, on a philosophical level, I might argue that this is in fact ultimately the case) but it does make me sad.
When I contemplate Christmas, I think about the Christian faith and the ramifications of what is being celebrated on the day of Christmas... the birth of the Lord and Savior of humanity. I don't believe in it, but I feel for those who do. It's a huge deal and humbling thought, and it should be a time of great joy and awe who believe in Jesus as Christ and Christ as Lord. Other traditions become associated and mixed and that's fine. Saint Nicholas, for example becoming associated with the Christmas season and as a figure of generosity and the patron saint of Children, along with the legend of the Gifts of the Magii, the resultant tradition of generosity and gift giving etc... it is in a sense (and I have to qualify what I say because of my own beliefs) a beautiful thing and fascinating to study.
I suppose ultimately AJ is right about me not celebrating Christmas. It is because I'm Jewish, and Judaism is such a strong religious and national identity. We are taught from the very beginning that we are different (not better, but different) and separate from other peoples, and that difference is a good thing and does no harm to anyone. We have our own beliefs and our own times for joy and for awe and we don't need to adopt the mores rites and customs of others. Doesn't mean that we live in a vaccuum or that traditions don't sometimes get mixed along the way... but we don't go reaching out for other people's celebrations, unless they are also our own... for example, American Jews observing American Thanksgiving or American Independence Day.
This is turning into something more involved than I planned. This will be a blog post. But meantime, does this make sense?
No, it totally makes sense. You did misinterpret what I was saying about bringing "non-believers" closer to the Christian faith. It was more of them merely acknowledging that it was about something Christian. I guess I was unclear about that. I really don't want to "convert" anyone (if one can REALLY be converted from the way they think... if people become a different religion, IMO, it's because they thought in that way to start with).
Hm. I'll have more to say to you when I'm not in a rush to get out of the house.
The thing is historically it isn't about something Christian. Traditionally Jesus was not believed to be born in late December. But that was when the Romans celebrated Saturnalia. It was really a case of the people celebrating at this time of year and the church co-opting the celebration and giving it a Christian meaning since people don't like giving up their traditional holidays. The Romans probably co-opted the holiday from religions older than theirs. Most non-tropical cultures have a holiday at or near the winter soltice. What is going on with the secularization now is simply the same process. It isn't a matter of celebrating Jesus's birth or the Solstice. It is celebrating the celebration. We can each give it the meaning we choose. I guess that's why I celebrate Festivus, to me it is celebrating the artificiallity of it all. That isn't cynical, it is idealistic. I think it is wonderful that people can start acting nice to each other and being generous because the calendar says it is late December.
Whee Festivus everyone.
A girl named Becca · 16 years, 2 months ago
I'm really interested in that idea of "the church co-opting the celebration," which I hear people mention often. I don't really know much about that particular part of history, but it's always seemed more likely to me that it wasn't The Church taking over someone else's holiday to make Christianity more appealing to them, but people becoming Christian and taking their holidays with them. Total speculation, of course, and I'm totally open to being enlightened by someone who, unlike myself, actually knows anything about the subject.
You have the basic idea. People became Christian and brought the holiday with them. Faced with this the Church could have done two things; Fight it as a vestage of paganism, a course they often chose, or accept it and give it a Christian meaning, a course they also often took. They made good decisions from the point of view of spreading the religion. There are a lot of Christians.
When the first missionaries began converting the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to simply provide a Christian reinterpretation for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations themselves to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. The Scandinavian tradition of slaughtering a pig at Christmas (see Christmas ham), and not in the autumn, is probably the most salient evidence for this. The tradition derives from the sacrifice to the god Freyr at the Yule celebrations. Halloween and Easter are theorized to have been likewise assimilated from northern European pagan festivals.
English historian Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("Ecclesiastic History of the English People") contains a letter from Pope Gregory I to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the heathen Anglo-Saxons. The Pope suggests that converting heathens is easier if they are allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while recasting those traditions spiritually towards the one true God instead of to their pagan gods (whom the Pope refers to as "devils"), "to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God".  The Pope sanctions such conversion tactics as Biblically acceptable, pointing out that God did much the same thing with the ancient Israelites and their pagan sacrifices.
meh · 16 years, 2 months ago
First off, I'm one of those "two or more" people.
We'll start with the (arguably) obvious one - Christmas. I'd say that, in a way, I overall celebrate it secularly, but it's not really a commercialized secular thing... I'll try to explain, since everyone's getting all discussion-y.
Raised Methodist (if anyone thinks that makes a difference), although for a lot of my childhood we (possibly because I hated sitting still, and didn't really like being made to dress up, which is odd because now even though I don't have to I retain the mentality that I must dress up if I'm going to church for any reason) were often "holiday people" rather than "every Sunday" people. I'm not... Religion is a sort of sticky subject for me, because I'm not entirely sure that I should call myself a Christian - at least not in most people's sense of the term - but I'm not sure I really fit any other label you might want to slap on me, either. I suppose I feel about religious labels the way some folk feel about labels dealing with sexuality. (And putting those two ideas in the same sentence is probably opening me up for trouble, sorry.)
In any case, for me, most of celebrating Christmas is about celebrating the spirit of giving/brotherhood/etc. A lot of it is about remembering the pure joy and wonder that Christmas held for me as a child, and about a chance to reconnect with family that I can always count on. ("There will always be a Christmas," as my Mother vowed when I was small, just as my Grandmother had once vowed to her.)
But at the same time... Although I'm often unsure how much I strictly-speaking believe... As many years as not, I go to a Christmas or Christmas Eve service (sometimes Methodist, sometimes not) somewhere. And while at one point it was in the spirit of being nice to my mother that I went, now when I go, I find that I do focus on what sermon is being offered. I reflect on what the holiday means to me. What the story means. In a way, it lets me reconnect with all the parts of Christianity that I can love, and respect, and enjoy. The Christmas service - the whole holiday - seems (for me) to strip away the parts that frustrate me, and most of the parts make it hard for me to follow the same path as the flock, as it were.
Er, but I'm getting off topic. Along with that, it gives me time to reflect on what parts of my own (confusing as they are - especially to try to explain) beliefs come directly from my upbringing in the church. And I take the time to go beyond that, and to reflect and respect how deep the meaning of the holiday runs for those who have the kind of rooting in the Church that I don't have.
(And I keep collecting holiday dates - this year I'm celebrating on Orthodox Christmas too. Long story.)
As for the second (or more!) - Solstice. Although I'm not sure I'd say I "celebrate" it, more that I "observe" it. For some reason it's Solstice that, on a personal, symbolic level, resonates. I don't usually pay attention such that I really do anything other than say "Oh yeah" to Summer Solstice or either Equinox. But I mark the Winter Solstice. When I can manage it (I usually manage to be nastily sick on at least one winter holiday - one year they didn't even wake me up on Christmas), I'm up before sunrise for Solstice, and I greet the sun with flame - nothing like a proper bonfire, but a candle. If it's not so cold I can't breathe outside, I take the time for a meditative smoke facing the rising sun, I think about the symbolism - both what I know of different Solstice traditions in various cultures and the symbolism I've come to ascribe to it myself. And if it's at all possible, at some point on Winter Solstice, I include salmon in a meal. (It's the fish of knowledge, you know.) Failing that, the source of Salmon's mythological knowledge - hazelnuts!
"As for the second (or more!) - Solstice. Although I'm not sure I'd say I "celebrate" it, more that I "observe" it. For some reason it's Solstice that, on a personal, symbolic level, resonates."
See, I can definitely see that, because there is something.... "magical" about it... for lack of a better term. Something concrete and real that is a neat phenomenon.
I might be an atheist by belief but I'm still Jewish and part of me is feeling guilty for not voting for Chanukkah. I feel bad that it only has 2 votes. For my mother's sake I'm going to light the menorah this year, I might even say the blessings (I'd say baruches but that looks like a terrible transliterations). I'm a good enough Jew to feel guilty about being a bad Jew.
Paul · 16 years, 2 months ago
I thought the catholic religion owned the intellectual property rights to guilt? (apologies to those of the catholic faith-I am just kidding-well sort of.)
Jesus was a great defender of the less fortunate and I think he would object to the materialistic and power hungry church that has grown using him as its symbol. The catholic church on the whole tries to do good but in the end ultimately sells out to preserve itself. It sacrifices the well being of those less fortunate to preserve its wealth and survival, otherwise they would not close parishes in poor communities that lose money.
If I could have one wish for this holiday season is that religion be used to unite people rather than divide them. It may be a negative or false view but it seems as if throughout history religion has been the cause for some pretty horrible atrocities and wars. The elite have used religion to motivate the masses to kill and plunder another religious community that rivaled their own.
renita · 16 years, 2 months ago
nah, when the christians split from the jews we agreed to split the guilt in half, however a miracle occured, because when the two groups took the guilt back to the temple and the church (respectively) they discovered that both had a full serving of guilt... plus some! like the loaves and fishes only different.
Of course, then as the christian churches split it sometimes reoccured sometimes not, the first split, of the catholic and orthodox churches, they split the guilt and repeated the process.
however, in the splits in the church thereafter, the guilt did not get passed along. no one really knows why.
and i have to disagree the closing of parishes equaling the pursuit of wealth etc. as someone who has worked in the archdiocese i know how hard the church works to keep churches open.
the fact is, there are property taxes and utility fees, churches are not exempt from them. if you can't pay the electricity, it is illegal to hold services in the building. most dioceses have programs in place to to support churches that aren't making it, but yeah, if the costs are too great, sometimes there isn't enough money to keep supporting it. it's not that that church wasn't making money, it's that they don't have enough to subsidize it.
I know for a fact that most of the diocese in north america run in the red, there are only a handful that run in the black.
Paul · 16 years, 2 months ago
Thats interesting that most of the churches in North America run in the red. So where do they get the money from to balance the books? I thought they did not have to pay property taxes as well as income taxes.
Here is one church that did not fund its poorer parishes:
renita · 16 years, 2 months ago
i didn't say that most churches run in the red. i said that most dioceses run in the red.
and you're right about the property taxes, i misspoke. it's not property tax-- that is exempt. but there is some form of city fee that is taken into account when determining parish budgets. at least in bc.
as for the article, it seems to be about one particular cardinal. I'm not saying that the catholic church is perfect, or that all priests are or that all bishops and cardinals are.
but even the cardinal that the article is about lent 4 million dollars to 18 struggling parishes. the bishop who preceded him taxed wealthier parishes to keep inner city schools and parishes open.
but boy oh boy. are there some issues there. O.o eep.
Alright, I don't mean this to be inflammatory, and it's probably the wrong forum.... but.... what makes the whole jewish folks only marrying other jews..... etc.... different from people who won't date folks of another religion or race?
and, why do I get the feeling I'm going to totally regret posting this? :)
*blink* What does that have to do with anything, Nate?
I mean, I could get into this conversation with you if you really wanted to, but where did it come from? Did I miss something in the article?
ok then ;)
So... first of all, separate this from race. This is not a racial issue, nor is it comprable.
Lets frame this is terms of religion. People who feel strongly and are passionate about their religions are presumably so for a reason, presumably for a reason more substantial that "I was born with it." If you are going to marry someone, there needs to be fundamental compatibility and agreement on certain things. Presumably you will not often find a biologist married to a hard-core advocate of creationism because it constitutes a fundamental incompatibility between beliefs and potentially values that would be very nearly insurmountable in marriage.
The issue of inter-religious marriage in Judaism, as I see it, is similar. If you care about the religious aspect of Judaism, it's going to be hard sharing a household with a spouse who doesn't. Now, we all know that it happens, and that it happens often. There are, for instance, intermarriages within my own family. But they require certain compromises that most people who feel really strongly about their Judaism and their Jewish identity would likely be unwilling to make. For example, it is not, in my mind, unreasonable for a Jew to not want to have a Christmas tree in their house, nor is it unreasonable for a Christian to want one. It is not unreasonable for a Jew to want to keep a kosher home, and it is not unreasonable for a non-Jew to want bacon with their breakfast.
For someone like one of my uncles who has decided as an adult not to keep kosher, not to object to his children celebrating Christmas, and is okay with having a wife who (while I do love my aunt dearly) will participate half-heartedly and with a certain degree of ridicule in family rituals such as the Passover Seder and sets that as an example for her children, my cousins, this is a set of compromises that are not such a big deal to him.
But I can tell you from my end, were I to marry, I would want to marry someone who would share my customs which have their roots in a fundamental value set based in such principles as discipline, awareness, iconoclasm and education (and more), the values and customs which I would want to instill in my children. Even if I fell in love with someone who wasn't Jewish, I doubt I would want to marry them unless they could participate fully in the customs and rituals which are important to me and shared the same values which I value so greatly in my own life and in the life of my family, and frankly I don't think I would fall in love with someone who didn't share my values. And, if that person could handle that, then that person could probably handle conversion.
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