Christmas not the only reason to celebrate in winter

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In your “Religions” section, Pastors Skip and Gale Bennett asked, “Have you ever taken the time to think of the fact of why we celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25?” and, “If we did not have Christmas, we would not be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ to one another? We may only be stuck with the possibility of a ‘happy holiday.’”

The fact of the matter is that most educated people now accept the fact that Christ could not have been born on Dec. 25, (a time when shepherds around Judea would not have been watching their flocks) and the only reason that Christmas is celebrated on that date is because there was already a holiday on that date: Winter Solstice. This holiday was celebrated by many cultures, and like many other Winter Solstice traditions, was “borrowed” by Christians because of the importance of the time of year.

The Bennetts ask, “If Christ had not been born, would we have a date on the calendar for Christmas?” Of course we would. Be it the “Feast of Juul” (where we get the term “Yule” that appears in so many traditional carols), Saturnalia (a pre-Christian holiday at the time of the Winter Solstice which encouraged gift-giving and forgiveness) or any of the other pre-Christian Solstice celebrations, this important time of year would still be a time for celebration.

This time of year should be a time for love, tolerance, acceptance, hope, and respect. It should also be a time of knowledge and learning. There is no basis for claiming, as the Bennetts do, that the birth of Jesus Christ is the only reason for this holiday, or the most important reason for it. We are not “stuck” with multiple Solstice holidays. There are many ways and reasons to celebrate at this time of year.

Steve Close

Moses Lake

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