Even Santa is not what you think

by Ian Silvera

Christmas is a holiday dedicated to a mythical event in the middle-east. Not Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but the birth of Jesus of Nazareth our Lord Saviour and the main idol of the Christian religion.

The exchange of Christmas cards, cheap alcohol, mistletoe, nativity scenes and awkward reunions with unknown older relatives are mandatory throughout the festive period. I am a cultural Christian over Christmas. A champagne atheist. That is, I take part in the Christmas celebrations even though I know that the religious side of proceedings is nonsense.

Christmas is an uneasy mix of cultural events, religious and pseudo-religious beliefs. The use of an evergreen coniferous tree as a festive ornament originates from pre-Christian Europe. The Norse pagans were probably the first to use a Christmas tree this way. There is a debate over the specifics of its origin: the worshiping of oak trees complemented the pagans’ beliefs, which centred on worshipping nature. With the advent of winter, the pagans believed that dark spirits would enter the forests in Europe. In order to combat these magical forces they used mistletoe and holly to ward off the spirits. Moreover, during the winter solstice, when winter is at its darkest, the pagans would make sacrifices to their god Jul, which became Yule. And now the pagan god has a piece of confectionary named after him. And they brought evergreen trees into their houses, in an attempt to promote good spirits.

According to Christian scholars, Jesus Christ was born on 25th December. The story centres on a working-class family in Nazareth – in northern Israel – two thousand and ten years ago. An unemployed virgin, Mary – soon to marry a local carpenter – is suddenly told by an angel named Gabriel that, despite her celibacy, she is pregnant. The baby will be God’s son, and Mary must call the baby Jesus. Mary and Joseph get married and travelled to Bethlehem, Joseph’s home town. The rest is history. Or, rather, myth.

There is nothing original about Jesus’ birth. Immaculate conception was common among the ancients. For example, Horus, the Egyptian god of the skies and son of Osiris, was conceived without sin. Horus’ mother was Isis, Osiris’ wife. Isis was impregnated by divine fire and eventually gave birth to Horus after a journey to the Nile Delta marshlands.  The narratives are strikingly similar; both talk about a supernatural conception and both talk about a journey prompted by an injustice: Isis was running away from her brother, Set.

The other pseudo-religion at large during the Christmas period is consumerism. According to the (American) national retail federation the average US consumer spends about $700 over the Christmas period.

Even good ol’ Santa isn’t free from a marketing makeover. Originally, St.Nicholas wore blue clothing, as illustrated in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Santa’s famous red attire originates from an early twentieth century advertisement by Coca Cola company. Inevitably, red Santa stuck, and here we are today with the red intruder. Who would have thought, Santa wasn’t born red. He’s not really red. He’s just selling Coke.

Ian Silvera is founder of Game-View.net.


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8 Responses to “Even Santa is not what you think”

  1. Stephen W says:

    What is the possible point of this boring asinine blob of an article?

    Just felt like going bah humbug scrooge, did you?

    Just thought it would be a good opportunity to be a smug atheist and share your half-assed analysis of ancient egyptian myth?

    If you’re too dumb to tell the difference between Jesus’ conception and Horus’. Here’s the clue. Isis was already a Goddess any conception she would theoretically be doing would always be miraculous? Mary was an ordinary human girl, who would normally be expected to conceive normally. Also Jesus was conceived and born in recognisable historic locations in a recognisable historical period. And is a recognised historical figure. The myth of Horus is no more than that, an ahistorical myth set nowhere particularly in once upon a time land.

    Also you’ve managed to confuse the immaculate conception with the virgin birth. Try bothering to actually look up terms before you bother write badly informed gibberish about them.

    In other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about and don’t seem to particularly have anything to say either. Please spare the world in future.

  2. Adam says:

    Sorry Ian but it really does seem like the second article in a row you have written that is both offensive and for no discernible purpose.

    Better luck next time.

  3. eileen says:

    Christ’s birth is an historical event. Basically, he was born, lived and died in a period when the the world was in turmoil and evil prevailed. He taught that there was a better way to live and promised to be with his followers until the end of the world. Even if I didn’t believe in him I would still follow his teachings because they are so right. Even if I don’t always agree with things that other followers say or do, Basically, that’s why I’m in the Labour Party, because it’s about a better way to live.

  4. Thanks you all for your comments.

    Adam, I’m sorry that you have found my articles offensive- I presume that you are a Christian? Be that as it may, as a non-theist I feel it’s important to highlight factual issues surrounding ‘Jesus Christ’. Moreover, it’s even more important that people are aware of these facts.

    Eileen, I acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth probably existed, but Jesus – assuming that he did exist- was just another ‘messiah’. Messiahs are a common occurrence throughout religions; often they attribute magical powers to normal people.

    Moreover, Jesus’ teachings were not original. The so called golden rule- one should treat others as one would like to be treated- that many people claim Christianity introduced- pre-dates the Christian era. Confucius- the Chinese philosopher- originally coined the term ‘golden rule’ as far back as 550 B.C.

    Although the Labour party can trace its roots to the trade union movement and Christian teachings. I find the idea of celestial dictator- God- appalling and this religious claim is in direct contradiction to the Labour party’s democratic values.

    “Also Jesus was conceived and born in recognisable historic locations in a recognisable historical period. And is a recognised historical figure. The myth of Horus is no more than that, an ahistorical myth set nowhere particularly in once upon a time land”

    Stephen, just because Jesus is said to have been born in historical locations doesn’t make the nativity or his existence a true story. For instance, any fictional character could be said to have born in recognisable historic locations- Spiderman was apparently born in New York- this doesn’t make Spiderman real.

    I’m sure if I explained the story of Jesus’ birth to you- if you were an ancient Egyptian- you would claim ” The myth of Jesus is no more than that, an ahistorical myth set nowhere particularly in once upon a time land” In other words , most people’s religious beliefs are culturally relative.

  5. Matt says:

    I’m sure, in the interests of balance,you are planning an equally venomous attack on the Prophet Muhammad. May I suggest before publishing it you arrange a safe house and a new identity for yourself.

  6. Adam says:

    Too true Matt – I’m looking forward to a similar article for each and every religious festival going – and all the consumer ones too!

    I do hope you didn’t celebrate Christmas Ian – no turkey, no tree, no presents, no time off. Please let us know.

  7. kev lees says:

    Some months ago I was given a message from a supreme place that I know as God; the message came as I was sitting on my vicars front door step, following an appointment that was made with my vicar and now he was late for. I was texting my girlfriend with some stuff that was popping into my head. A number of issues were discussed with her over text before he arrived and finally let me into his study. I discussed my problem issues with my vicar and he gave me his spiritual answer. Amazingly, as he spoke his answers, it was apparent that the earlier texting to my girlfriend were the same answers that my vicar was giving to my questions over my problems which I had gone to talk to him about. I offered out my mobile phone to show my vicar my earlier texts to my girlfriend, he looked over them and smiled. Each time we spoke of a problem issue that sat with me at that time, the vicar answered and I showed a text to highlight that the question had already been text and answered and the vicar was simply confirming Gods Word to me on the door step. Finally, the vicar said, its like a catalyst? I held out my phone once more and show him a couple of lines of text to my girlfriend 20 minutes earlier; it read…God’s love is a never ending Love, a catalyst to change. My vicar hovered over this last text for a good 4-5 minutes and smiled. For me, this was confirmation that whilst waiting on the vicar’s door step, God knew what I had gone for and had already answered my questions. The vicar simply confirmed Gods presence. The articles relating to Christmas are simply a masking of ignorance to what is truely a Spiritual realm out there within our communities. God shines a light which shines into the dark. The Light can shine in the dark, the dark can’t shine in the Light. Ian, let he who has ears, hear, let he who has eyes, see. Regards and God bless.

  8. Stephen W says:

    “Stephen, just because Jesus is said to have been born in historical locations doesn’t make the nativity or his existence a true story. For instance, any fictional character could be said to have born in recognisable historic locations- Spiderman was apparently born in New York- this doesn’t make Spiderman real.”

    I never claimed these facts did make the nativity story entirely true. I merely pointed our the clear historical differences between the christmas story and a myth such as the birth of Horus. Obvious differences accepted by almost all historians who accept the historicity of Jesus, but obviously consider the story of Horus a myth. And obvious differences you seemed clearly ignorant of or unwilling to admit.

    “I’m sure if I explained the story of Jesus’ birth to you- if you were an ancient Egyptian- you would claim ” The myth of Jesus is no more than that, an ahistorical myth set nowhere particularly in once upon a time land” In other words , most people’s religious beliefs are culturally relative.””

    No I wouldn’t, because unlike you I would not be in the business of rejecting clear and attested historical events for no better given reason than ideological prejudice.

    And just to point out the ludicrous nature of your example. Would these be the same ancient egyptians who accepted the myth of Horus? Or the ancient egyptians who were one of the first countries to accept the story of Jesus and convert to christianity en mass? Seems in actual history the ancient egyptians were among the people in the world who actually accepted the story of Jesus.

    And cheap appeals to relativism are just that. Cheap appeals. Of course people’s religion is culturally relative, all people’s beliefs are influenced by their culture. This has absolutely no relation to whether they are true or not. Your seemingly ill-informed atheism is just as culturally relative and influenced as anyone’s religion. Are you willing to accept this fact?

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