aggressively trying to get into the “holiday spirit” by playing julian koster’s singing saw christmas album over and over again. i want to write an (informal blog) essay on THE MUSIC TAPES’ APPROPRIATION OF CULTURAL CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS IN ORDER TO BE AWESOME, or something like that. i consider myself agnostic, but this year i have been getting really into all that other stuff that goes along with christmas, and the music tapes’ holiday caroling shows are pretty much the perfect example of everything i am talking about.
been playing christmas songs all day at work too, all of the days. that’s 21 hours of christmas music this week, you guys. somehow still into it??
Actually, a lot of the symbols of Christmas aren’t very Christian and are actually pagan in nature. Even the date of Christmas itself (December 25th) is based on the date of other Winter Solstice-related celebrations in various pagan cultures. According the the nativity story in the Bible, Jesus was definitely not born during the winter. (The shepherds’ flocks wouldn’t be in out the fields and would instead have been moved into pens until spring.)
Here’s a catchy reggae song (from a pro-Christian/anti-Christmas point of view, interestingly enough) that explains the pagan origins of Christmas: Macka B “Christmas Cancelled”
That said, I’m also an agnostic, and I enjoy Christmas very much. I see Christmas as having a religious component and a secular component. The religious component consists of the story of the birth of Jesus, midnight masses and other Christmas church services, songs that mention the nativity of Jesus, and anything else that depicts or has to do with the nativity story. The secular component is everything else, which includes parties, presents, Santa Claus, decorations featuring non-Christian imagery (snowmen, candy canes, depictions of Santa and reindeer, etc.), songs like “Jingle Bells” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” that have no religious content, and other stuff devoid of religious significance (except perhaps to long-forgotten pagan cultures). It’s definitely possible to indulge in the secular component of Christmas while disregarding the religious component. That’s why American courts have upheld Christmas as a Federal holiday and haven’t struck it down pursuant to the establishment clause of the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”).
So, I personally disregard the religious component of Christmas, with the exception of songs that include religious content, but my listening to those songs is based on enjoying them only for their aesthetic and musical value, and not for their significance as elements of worship. That’s it. Beyond that, I just see Christmas as a great excuse for partying. And it’s also the time of the year when I get to pull out all those great indiepop Christmas compilations (like those from Kindercore and Cherryade).
TL;DR: Christmas is actually pagan as fuck and you shouldn’t feel hypocritical for celebrating it.