Keep Saturn in Saturnalia

The same friend of mine who sent me the abysmal poem below also sent me an invitation to celebrate Baby Jesus' birthday this coming Saturday. Plastered across the top of the message was the entreaty: "LET'S NOT FORGET THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS!"

I couldn't agree more. But just what is "the real meaning of Christmas"?

It might have something to do with today, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. After this, the days get longer, until we hit the Summer Solstice and they start getting shorter again. We no longer celebrate the summer and winter solstices or the spring and fall equinoxes. But our ancestors did. For millenia, people used the apparent turning of objects in the sky as a calendar for marking times to reap and sow, even attributing personal characteristics to some of the objects that moved overhead. Two of the most popular were the moon and the sun, each of which describes its own cycle in relation to the earth and Milky Way.

Another popular one was the planet Saturn. In Roman mythology, Saturn was a great agricultural god related to or perhaps derived from the Semitic god Kronos. He used to have a holiday around this time of year, celebrated throughout the Mediterranean, called Saturnalia, which this year comes on Saturn-day. It involved all sorts of familiar fun activities: eating, drinking, gift-giving, fucking. Lots of parties. Slaves got to boss their masters around, and a fool, the Lord of Mis-rule, was appointed to run things for a week. At the same time, Mithraists would sacrifice a bull to appease the sun god Mithra (sacrificial animals were often identified with their respective gods, like the "Lamb of God," Mithra, or Jesus) and bring in the new year in the form of a new-born baby who came forth from a cave.

It's no shocker that the Catholic (read non-Gnostic, non-heretical) Christians moved the celebration of the sun's rebirth—or the rebirth, or birth, of the god Jesus—to the 25th of the year. But long before Santa arrived they forgot about the holiday's connection to the heavens. They'd misplaced Christ in Christmas.

Which is not to suggest that Christ ever had a place in Christmas or that Christmas ever meant anything in particular. Christ, the sun, is born every year at this time, which you can take literally or metaphorically. One thing we can agree on: While there may be no place for the "meaning" of Christmas, we can say that until recently it had little to do with either shopping or corporate banking credit. So very well, deride shopping if you like; few of us will quarrel with you. Most of us are sick of Bing's crooning from Halloween on. But remember that if the meaning of the holyday has anything to do with some New Testament nonsense—even if that's just a metaphorical promise of Spring—it's a recent addition. Keep Christ in Christmas? Nigga, please; Jesus is an interloper. I'd rather put Saturn back in Saturnalia.


Anonymous said...

What a typical statement from a communist, atheist, Muslim homosexual. I hope you burn in hell for making this up. Everyone knows that the the Three Wise Men decorated the first Christmas trees around the manger as sort of makeshift mobiles for the baby Jesus. The Gold, Frankin cents, and Mer were the first Christmas presents, dumbass. And how do you know Jesus didn't just happen to be born on the same day as that other satanic stuff? Lots of people were born on the same day I was! Maybe he was born that day to make people forget about that other stuff.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my G-d. Let me quote...."communist, atheist, Muslim homosexual" What do these four things have in common? Nothing. The post directly above is representative of what is wrong in mainstream America. People are so afraid of differing opinions, that they try to put labels on people in order to justify or explain why someone believes what they do. The poster above was so confused and/or scared, that they used four separate labels that have nothing to do either with each other or the original Blog post.

I may not agree with the author of "Saturnalia" (although I do like the cars) but I don't think he is a Communist, a Muslim, or a homosexual. In fact, there is nothing in his post that would indicate any of these things.

If you feel that the original post is wrong or morally reprehensible, then say so. Don't try to hide behind meaningless incongruous labels that only highlight your own ignorance.


Anonymous said...

I think it's hilarious that someone who can't even spell "frankincense" or "myrrh" would call someone else a dumbass. Some people just can't help but flaunt their ignorance.