Tis the season to be jolly…. for some.
Christians claim the holiday as the birth of Jesus, a sort of half-man, half-God, whole-God… well, a kind of hybrid (sort of like Hercules). Even though there is no actual record of the time of Jesus’ birth (actually no record he ever existed), it certainly wasn’t on December 25th as now claimed (Unless of course shepherds sit in the snow tending the flock). It was the pagan holiday that occurred on December 25th, a celebration of the Winter Solstice. Whether the peoples at time thought of it as such is questionable. What they were celebrating was the return of the Sun from its winter trek. It was a time of celebration. Christianity, unable to quell the celebrations, co-opted them. Just like a myriad other mythical gods and historic figures, even quasi-historic figures, Jesus’ birthdate was designated to be on December 25th.
Christianity, in its present form, was initiated by edict. It was the Edict of Milan accredited to Constantine I. This was around 313 C.E. (common era). It legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. One might say that Constantine is mainly responsible for the greatest hoax ever committed upon the human race (as it might have otherwise died out). Taking that thought further it could be said that he was responsible for all the suffering, violence, and death that occurred due to Christianity thereafter. After Constantine’s death Christianity became the state religion and was imposed on everyone. Anyone not toeing the line was persecuted as the Christians were persecuted before Constantine’s edict.
Santa Claus. Santa had origins which began perhaps in the 1600’s. He began in rudimentary form under the name St. Nicholas. The modern image of Santa Claus was not due for another 200 years. Around 1863 Thomas Nast began a series of annual drawings modeled after descriptions he found in a poem and other works of Washington Irving.
Christmas today is a hodgepodge of former holidays. It has progressed through the centuries in stages: Stodgy religious celebration to light-hearted celebration to extreme commercialism.
Is there any harm in presenting these myths to children? The Santa Claus story, in my opinion, is just fine as a bedtime story for the holidays, as long as the children are not led to falsely believe that any of it is real. I feel about the story of Christianity, and the image of Christmas they present, in the same manner.