Coded gray.

Sunday 21 December 2003

Screenshot The Sims

Pic of the day: "Tomorrow ... the world!!" (Modified screenshot from The Sims.)

Santa worship?

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. It snowed, for the first time since early this fall, when the trees were still green.

I just recently read in the news that we Norwegians don't buy so much more than last year as the merchants had expected, I think it was only 2% more instead of 7% more. Lack of snow was suspected. People don't get into the Christmas spirit without it. (That, and they are not sure they get to use their skiing equipment.)

In the shop windows, it seems most shops around here have a sculpture of a gnome with red clothes and white beard. This "Santa" doll symbolizes Christmas, or "jul" (yule) as it is mercifully still called around here. And Santa Claus is "julenissen" (Yule Nick). An alien anthropologist would probably believe this graven image to be the god of commerce; and they would, I believe, not be much wrong. But seeing our own myths is so much harder than seeing others'.


I am a Christian, of sorts. Admittedly this doesn't say much in a world where more than a billion are counted as Christians, where the murderer and the victim both go to church. (Although here in Scandinavia church attendance is rather low; most still make a trip on Christmas Eve, though.)

Now it is reasonable to assume there is a connection between Christianity and Christmas, namely the shared Christ. But it is not quite that simple. Jesus, whom we call the Christ, never asked anyone to celebrate Christmas. It is supposed to be his birthday, but nobody in the Bible seems to have celebrated birthdays at all. Nor does it coincide with any of the festivals of Israel, the way Easter was aligned with Passover. Quite the contrary, Christmas coincides with popular pagan festivals held in honor of the awakening sun, after the year's longest night. (Notice also how Christianity has adopted Sunday, which Jesus and his disciples is never recorded as celebrating, while they did keep the Sabbath within reason. See a pattern here?)

As a Christian, then, I feel no particular connection to Christmas (or Xmas, as they have begun to call it even in America). I feel no need to "take back the Christmas". It was a pagan holiday to start with, and it is a pagan holiday now.


I do see the Santa worship as a competing religion, though. It seems that all pretense of Christianity is slowly slipping away, and Santa is becoming a cult figure in his own right. I hear it in songs, see it in comic books, and rumors have it that he's in cartoons too. The latest was an AD&D character sheet for Santa ... OK, that's slightly different I guess. But there seems to be a slow process of creating a "secular religion" where people do reasonably good deeds and sing songs in honor of Santa Claus. This is rather ironic, I'd say, given that the good bishop Nicolaos was a Christian himself. His claim to fame, so to speak, was (apart from the usual saintly stuff) giving money so some people could escape slavery. As is good and proper for a Christian, he tried to do it in secret, but evidently it became known anyway. Thus the whole "gifts from Santa" thing.

I have already written down some reflections on the relationship between Santa and the Lord in the form of a short story ... actually, I think this may be the only piece of pure fiction to make it into the journal so far? Feel free to read it here (coded yellow for possible blasphemous content for the overly sensitive).

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago:
Two years ago: Transition
Three years ago: Holiday blues?
Four years ago: Till the end of time
Five years ago:

Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

I welcome e-mail:
Back to my home page.