What Christian holiday resulted from the Roman Catholic Church co-opting a pagan festival that marked the beginning of winter?
Christmas, you say? No—Halloween. That’s right, Halloween is a contracted form of “All Hallows’ Eve,” a Catholic holiday that was moved by the Church from mid-May to October 31 in the 8th century AD to appropriate an existing Celtic pagan holiday called Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.
“Halloween” is yet another Christianized version of a pre-Christian European pagan holiday.
With all the controversy about renaming Christmas trees to “holiday trees” or Christmas parties to “holiday parties” because Christmas is “solely for Christians,” why don’t we see any of this renaming occurring for Halloween-related things? Why does the secular world at large use a Roman Catholic-derived term to denote supposedly secular holiday activities?
Of course, Halloween in modern practice has virtually no associations with the Church whatsoever, although the day that follows it (All Hallows’ Day) still remains a religious holiday celebrated by Western Christians the world over. The only difference between Halloween and Christmas is that Christianity at large has rejected the modern secularized version of the former, but embraced the secularized version of the latter.
Why should we let Christian religious observances or lack thereof of any particular holiday dictate whether we are willing to use terms with Christian etymology? If a group of neopagans started worshipping Thursday because it was named for Thor, would that result in the society at large referring to that day as “Deityday” to avoid any association with their religious observance?
Food for thought. Please share your comments below.
Oh, and Happy Halloween (or happy late-October holiday season to those who are not Roman Catholics or Celtic pagans)!
For many celebrants, Tyr (left) bears as much importance to the Christmas holiday as Jesus Christ (right) does.
Christmas Day in 2012 falls on a “Tuesday”, the English-language word for the second (or third) day of the week named for the Norse-pagan deity Tyr (also called Tiews, Tiw, Ziu and Cyo).
We all call this day of the week “Tuesday” without believing in Tyr—including Christians—so it follows that we can all celebrate Christmas as a joyful winter holiday on December 25 without believing in its namesake, Jesus Christ. Except for some of the music and the nativity scenes, there is nothing about Christmas that is inherently Christian.
It is well-understood that the Roman Catholic Church placed the holiday at the winter solstice as a likely attempt to co-opt the existing pagan holiday of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (birth of the unconquered sun god) to easier convert pagans of the time. Whether the Church intended it or not, this supplantation resulted in the paganization of one of their most holy feasts (Easter, itself even more pagan, is a whole other story).
Below, American schoolchildren sing a bastardized version of Sir Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful
Christmastime” song, with the much-expected but still appalling alteration of the word “Christmas” to “holiday”.
Seriously, who the hell comes up with this stuff, much less approves it? Just like the lyrics to Lennon’s “Imagine” shouldn’t be changed to make them pro-religion, the lyrics to Christmas carols shouldn’t be messed with. Imagine schools changing lyrics to Hanukkah songs to make them generic, or those from any other culture. This isn’t the only example of such lunacy, but it is of particular note that the parent of the girl featured in this video (the uploader) is an atheist, and made this comment in the description:
Caitlyn and her friends sing “Three Little Birds” and “Simply Having A Wonderful [Holiday] Time” (even as a little atheist, Caitlyn thought the substitution for the word Christmas was a bit ridiculous).
The reason behind regrettable decisions like this (in the U.S. at least; this has also occurred in Canada and Australia) is typically a combination of overreaching political correctness and fear of litigation due to a perceived violation of the Establishment Clause. The latter is totally unfounded, as the Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that Christmas music and decoration is fine—even if it is explicitly religious—so long as secular themes are included in the overall presentation. Yes, that means that even nativity scenes are conditionally fine in schools, yet we are seeing completely secular Christmas songs having that offending word removed.
What do you think the driving reason is behind these kinds of occurrences? Is it political correctness? White guilt? Faux-multiculturalism? Fear of ligitation? Add your opinion to the comments below.