At Christmas time everybody feels merry -- wouldn't YOU rather feel Sabrina?
Every year the cry goes out, "We've got to put Christ back in Christmas," and across the country Christian clergy give sermons like this, "Christians you must be cautioned against feasting to excess, dancing and decorating the doors, I urge the celebration of the festival after an heavenly and not an earthly manner". It's not a new plea. It is a quote from Bishop Gregory 1600 years ago.
The truth of the matter is, Christ does not belong in Christmas. December 25th was not his birthday and originally that day had nothing to do with Christ at all. It was a time of celebration for Pagan and Goddess festivals which were known for their merriment and sexual activities. To put Christ into Christmas required taking the joy out of the celebration. It wasn't easy for the Christian church to put him there and they have had a continuous battle keeping him there ever since.
Sir Isaac Newton, the mathematician who is best known for his laws of motion, says, "The Feast of the Nativity and most of the other ecclesiastical anniversaries were originally fixed at cardinal points of the year without any reference to the dates of the incidents which they commemorated, dates which by lapse of time, it was impossible to ascertain, thus the annunciation of the Virgin Mary was placed on the 25th of March, or about the time of the vernal equinox, the Feast of St. Michael on the 20th of September, or near the autumnal equinox and the Birth of Christ at the time of the winter solstice. Christmas was thus fixed at the time of the year when the most celebrated festivals of the ancients were held in honor of the return of the sun which at the winter solstice begins gradually to regain power and to ascend apparently in the horizon."
If we look at some of the festivals of the ancients, it will shed some light on why Christmas has traditionally been a time for making merry and not a celebration of the birth of the Christian god. Saturnaleia in Southern Europe was one of these early festivals. Saturn, from whom we get the word for the day of the week, Saturday, was the Roman name for the Greek God, Chronus and the Babylonian God, Ninip. Sometimes called the Lord of Death, Saturn was represented by the sun at its lowest aspect at the winter solstice. That's when the earth is cold and most plants are dead, when, it was believed, the sun approached death. Today that's around December 21. The sun overcoming death was seen two or three days later, which because of calendar changes, was once December 25th. Saturnaleia celebrated the sun overcoming the power of winter with hope of spring when life would be renewed. In early antiquity, long before the rise of Greece, a man was sacrificed during the celebration, to save the earth. He was a surrogate, who was to stand in for the king and be the sacrifice for mankind. In death he went to Saturn's domain in the underworld and plead for the renewal of the earth. In later ages Chronus (The Greek Saturn) was replaced by Jupiter, the "Lord of the Carnival", "Lord of Misrule" and various other Lords replace the surrogate of Saturn. The surrogate was treated as a king, given elegant clothes, jewels, good food and women to his delight, just as a king would have. There was great rejoicing and feasting, drinking, making merry and open, sexual activities.
In Roman times the Greek Dionysus became Bacchus and the lord of these festivals. He is best known as a deity of wine. During the Bacchus festivals the everyday rules were turned topsy turvy. The masters waited on the servants. All sexual prohibitions were lifted. It was a time of true good will towards all men. Even dresses were exchanged with men dressing as women.
Another great feast of the December 25, was the Birthday of the Persian God, Mithra, "The Unconquered Sun". Mithra was a Persian savior whom the Jews learned about during their Persian captivity. In Roman year 1060 AUC, that's 307 A.D., Mithra was officially made the Protector of Rome.
Mithra was born of a god and a mortal virgin mother. His birth was witnessed by shepherds, Magi brought him gifts, he preformed miracles, raised the dead, healed the sick, caste out devils and carried the keys to the kingdom of heaven which he gave to his disciples - twelve of them. Before returning to heaven, near the spring equinox, Mithra celebrated a Last Supper with his twelve disciples. In his memory, his followers partook of a sacramental meal of bread marked with a cross, called mizd, which in Latin is Missa, and English, Mass. He was buried in a rock tomb in which no man had been buried and from which he was removed and was said to live again. His ascent into heaven was around the spring equinox at the time Easter is now celebrated.
Sound familiar? The religion was a rival of Christianity in early Rome and was so close in precepts and doctrines that St. Augustine declared that the priests of Mithra worshipped the same god as he did. Like Christianity, Mithra was a sex-negative male religion and its celebration were neither merry nor festive. After Christianity was made the official religion of Rome, Mithra was severely persecuted out of existence. But in name only, its doctrines and celebrations lived on and Mithra's birthday became Christ's birthday.
In the Northern Europe, the winter Saturnaleia festival was called Yule, and was in honor of the god Thor from which we get the word Thursday. They were very similar to the southern festivals, with a lot of feasting. Because Saturnaleia and Yule issued in a new years of rejuvenations, evergreens, the symbols of the earths refusal to die were used as decorations.
One particular item, the Boar comes down to us as a stuffed pig with an apple in its mouth. Originally it was a wild boar, hunted, killed and dressed out as an offering to Frey and Frey, the Norse God and Goddess of love and fertility. It is from Frey that we get Friday.
I find it quite interesting that Christ, who was forced on the world by the sword, has one on day a year named after him, Christmas. While we acknowledge a Pagan god every day of the week.
Another northern custom was the Yule log. The burning of the yule log represented banishment of the old years evil and kindling of the hearth fire. Its ashes were scattered to bring good luck. Since the God, Frey, was often represented as a phallus, the yule log obviously had phallic symbolism. The hearth was the symbol of the woman. It was her home and hearth - her womb which she kept with warmth and love into which the phallic yule log was graciously accepted. The logs ashes were often mixed with animal fodder to bring fertility to the herds. But there was more than symbolism to the Yule log.
In the northern countries the wine bibbing of the Bacchanalian was replaced by wassailing. Both were done to great carousing and revelry. Probably thousands of little children all over sing Christmas carols, "here we go wassailing, wassailing, wassailing" and have no idea what that means. Wassail was drunk from hug bowls. Its basic ingredient was ale to which was added sugar, apples, toasted bread and even roasted crabs. It was more than a drink, it was a feast. It was from this brew and toast that the much later term to "toast" originated.
The tradition of mistletoe is ancient. Of course in our society one is limited to a kiss under the mistletoes, but then a mistletoe belt can be exciting. The modern restrictions were never a part of the Goddess religions. And modern office Christmas parties which start off with a kiss under the mistletoe and end up in a love fest are a return to an ancient tradition. In medieval times it was the lusty ladies who did the kissing. It was part of the reversal of rolls from ancient traditions. A good woman in the 1850's would never kiss a man without the license given by mistletoe.
Mistletoe was considered the Golden Bough that gave access to the underworld. Dry mistletoe is god color. The green plant was considered to be the genitals of the god Zeus. At the time of sacrifice, Druid priests ceremoniously castrated the oak god by cutting off his mistletoe with a golden moon sickle. (Leave it to the Druids to take all the fun out of sex.) The sexual symbolism of mistletoe is thought to come from the white berries which represent drops of semen which varies in color from clear to a thick white.
The holly berry, on the other hand, is said to represent drops of female menstrual blood. Holly was fashioned into a wreath with an opening which represented the female vagina. This was hung on the front door as an invitation to let people know what was waiting inside. The symbolic placing of the Yule log at the hearth of the hostess was followed by the not so symbolic sexual act between guest and hostess. It is easy to imagine that a truly gracious hostess could keep her hearth's fire burning warm for many days from the many yule logs offered by her male guests.
Obviously most of the merry activities associated with Christmas, the big dinners, drinking, exchanging gifts, evergreen decorations, holly, mistletoes, Yule logs and open sex had nothing to do with Jesus but were adopted from Pagan customs.
Perhaps that is why the condemnation and censorship of Christmas has not been from the Jews, Moslems or Pagans, but from the Christians themselves. You see, Christians not only oppose all non Christian religions, they also oppose other Christian religions which do not conform to their particular bigoted doctrines. Unfortunately, with Christians, the way to do away with heresy in the church is to do away with the heretics.
As for Christmas for the first two hundred years Christianity did not celebrate the birth of Christ, or for that matter any birthdays. Like the Jews, Christians considered birthdays a part of godless astrology and took no interest in the date of birth. It is not surprising, therefore, that the New Testament said nothing about the actual day of Christ's birth. Nor was it important as early Christians were expecting the return of Christ shortly and they were more concerned with his second coming than with his first - 1900 years ago, Christians were expecting Jesus to return any day. That was a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, "Jesus is coming".
If I knew it would take a man 2000 years to cum, I wouldn't have sex with him. You would think that after nearly 2000 years, Christians would realize that Christ isn't coming. He isn't even breathing hard. There is something obviously wrong with a religion which keeps promising - or threatening - an even which doesn't happen. But Christians are survivors, if a doctrine proves to be false, they simply change the doctrine and after a few years everyone forgets that the church once taught silly fables or scientific falsehoods.
Sometime after 200 years after Jesus had "ascended into heaven" and still had not come, that people began to get restless about the validity of the religion. In order to appease the rising discord the church began celebrations of the events in the life of Jesus, Christmas being one of them.
The Apostles preached that Jesus would come like a thief in the night. To keep the faith alive Christians began to set the time for the second coming. The first definite date which was widely accepted,was the year 1000, which was not as far off as it sounds. The year 1000 was from the founding of Rome not from the birth of Jesus. Since Jesus was coming any day, the early Christians never even considered changing the calendar, that would happen when Jesus returned. The Roman year 1,000 AUC equates to 247 A.D. Shortly after Jesus did not come in 247, we find evidence of the first Christmas celebrations being held in the catacombs of Rome.
Centuries later there was a lot of debate over the actual date on which Christ is supposed to have been born. Some of the first dates advocated were March 20, April 20 & 21, May 20, January 1, 6, and Sept 20.
The Jewish historian, Dr. Cassel, of Germany claims that Christmas was adopted from the Jewish Festival of the Dedication of the temple on December 20 which was instituted by Judas Macabees in the Roman year 589 AUC or 164 B.C. That is unlikely as the Christian churches have never used any Jewish dates for its celebrations. On the contrary, Christianity abolished Jewish tradition and considered the Jews to be the killers of Christ. Even more obvious is the fact December 25 was just after the winter solstice in the second century A.D. The solstice did not fall on December 21 until long after Christmas was well established in the Christian churches and the calendar was changed.
December 25 became the date for the birth of Jesus under the rule of Julius I, a fourth century bishop or Rome, Those who opted for a spring birthday cited Luke's gospel which mentions shepherds and sheep in the fields a night. This is something which is obviously not done in mid winter, when there is no grass for the sheep to eat.
The year of Christ's birth has been equally confused. Most people assume the time of A.D., anno domminun started in the year in which Christ was born. But of course there was no one around watching with a calendar to say to the world, "this is the beginning of year one of a new era. Everybody set your calendars". As already mentioned, during that period time was recorded from the founding of Rome.
W.E. Dawson sorts out some of the confusion in Christmas, its origin and Associations, "Dionysus Exigus, surname the Little, a Romish monk of the 6th century who died A.D. 556, fixed the birth of Christ in the year of Rome 753..." Dawson explains that Jesus was not born in A.D. 1 but in B.C. 5 or 4 and that Dionysus first introduced the date in his, Cyclus Paschalis, a treatise on the computation of Easter. Prior to that time, computation of events was counted from the foundation of Rome, Anno Urbi Conditas, AUC. That was in the year we now refer to as 753 B.C. Dionysus did not die in A.D. 556, but in 1409 AUC as there was no B.C. or A.D. at that time. Christians may have obtained political power, but not enough prestige to change the calendar.
It is presumed that Jesus was born during the time of Herod the Great - a fact which is now disputed by many scholars. Only Matthew mentions the event and it is believed that Herod was named at a much later time in order to fulfil the scripture, "Out of Egypt I have called my son", because, according to Matthew, Herod ordered the death of all male children up to the age of 2. - also causing the crying of Rachel, to fulfill another scripture. The problem is, the killing of infants never happened. No historian has ever mentioned the killing of children by Herod, not even Josephus. Josephus wrote with such contempt of Herod, mentioning his petty bickering and other murders that if there had been any hint of such an atrocious act as killing children, Josephus would have jumped on it. One would think that the Jews, would have recorded the murdered of their children by their arch villain, Herod, who wasn't even Jewish. But only Christians hold it as a fact.
In Greece and the East, historians reckon their time from the year of Seleucids monarchy of Syria in B.C. 312. This means that the Council of Niece was convened by Constantine, not in the year 325 A.D. as historians relate, but in the year 1085 AUC of the Roman calendar and 635 of the eastern calendar.
This led to much confusion as church scholars set about rewriting history to make everything B.C. and A.D. It wasn't until the 16th century that the Church realized that it may not have chosen the right year for Christ's birth.
In addition to the confusion about the day and the year, early Christian celebrated the birth of Christ with a bit of ambiguity. There were those who considered it to be a very serious religious holiday and an important festival, while others opposed the celebration which they consider too worldly and Pagan.
The first record of Christmas being celebrated is found around 250 A.D. when persecution forced Christians to meet in the catacombs below Rome. One of the worse persecutions came at a Christmas celebration in 303 of the Christian era, when a multitude of Christians assembled in the temple at Nicomedia. Emperor Diocletian had the town surrounded by soldiers and set it on fire. Reportedly about 20,000 Christians were killed. Persecution soon came to an end after that. In 1063 AUC (306 A.D.) Constantine, who later convert to Christianity, became Emperor. Seven years later he issued the Edict of Tolerance which legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. It was during this favorable time that Pope Julius declared December 25 as the Feast of Nativity. It may well have been a ploy to gain converts from Mithra. Later in 1145 AUC (388 A.D.) Emperor Theodosioau I outlawed Paganism.
Now isn't that a sad commentary on human nature. When the persecuted Christians came into prominence and power, they began persecuting other religions without the slightest compassion or remembrance of how they would have liked to have been treated when they were not in favor. What happened to their Golden Rule? The same attitude exists among Christians today. Once they gain political power, they attempt to suppress other religions and to impose their beliefs on others.
During that period the Christian Church became linked to the government in power. To insure a union of Church and state, coronations of kings were often religious affairs. Many important political events were given added blessing and significance by being performed on Christmas day. Clovis I, King of the Franks, was baptized in a ceremony on Christmas Day 1249 AUC, 496 of the Christian era. That was one of the first steps toward the foundation of the French nation. It was the important political support of the bishops which helped Clovis to become ruler of all of Gaul.
King Arthur whom legend has made bigger than life, was supposed to have ruled somewhere around the year 500. It was on Christmas Day that he miraculously pulled the sword from an anvil which was taken as a sign from Jesus that Arthur was the rightful King of the vacant English throne.
On Christmas day in 800 Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III as a reward for helping the Pope against factions that were trying to remove him.
Christmas was first celebrated in Norway in 995 by King Olaf who was able to convert his Berserk to Christianity. You've heard of the phrase "going Berserk." King Olaf had fierce bands of warriors who were called Berserks. These guys were so fearless that they did not wear armor. They didn't have to stop to dress up but were ready to battle at a moment's notice, so when you go berserk, you just charge in and let it flay.
This poem tells how King Olaf got the berserks to convert to Christianity:
At Drontheim, Olaf the King, Heard the bell of Yule tide ring, As he sat in his banquet hall. Drinking the nut brown ale, With his bearded Berserks hale and tall. O'er his drinking horn, the sign He made of the cross divine As he drank and muttered his prayers, But the Berserks evermore Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor over theirs. Then King Olaf raised the hilt of iron, cross shaped and gilt, and said "Do not refuse; Count well the gain and the loss, Thor's hammer or Christs cross, Choose. On the shinning wall a vast And shadowy cross was cast From the hilt of the lifted sword, And in foaming cups of ale The Berserks drank "Was-hael" To the Lord."Was-hael" translated "to the Lord," from which wassail comes, was their acceptance of Christianity. As long as the Berserks had their cups filled with ale, they didn't care whose lord they toasted.
On Christmas day 1066 William the Conqueror took the English throne with the Pope's sanctions and rewarded his followers with generous Christmas presents he got from plundering the people he had conquered. In 1095, Pope Urban initiated the first crusade to stop Moslem persecution of Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. (Moslems, incidently, were considered to be Pagans by the Christians) The Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 and celebrated Christmas in Bethlehem the next year by crowning Baldwin of Edessa, King of Jerusalem. It was significant that I, a religious prisoner, was released from jail on Christmas day 1991, the same day the USSR gave up its power to the Commonwealths.
Throughout the middle ages from 1100 to 1500, Christianity was the dominant religion in Europe, but Christmas celebrations remained the same ancient festivals with the same merriment, eating, drinking, gambling, singing, dancing, wrestling, hunting with a new name. There was, however, one new addition, tournaments. The grandest tournaments for testing knights valor were held on Christmas day. The tournament was followed by sumptuous feasts and nights of dancing. The tournaments were not mock battles, but the real thing, real swords, real lances, and real killings. But loss of life and limb became so frequent, "hardly fitting for the birth of Christ", that the Church issued an edict denying Christian burial to any knight slain in jousts. That really didn't have an immediate effect because most rulers were not really Christians. Christianity was a political power not a religion to them. Gradually the weapons were blunted and tourneys became more ceremony and less killing. These were eventually replaced by stage plays.
Stage plays in the middle ages were not limited to the traditional Nativity plays. The plays of William Shakespeare were very popular and staged for Queen Elizabeth during her 45 year reign. Christmas day was often used for many play openings. These were huge extravagant productions. The works of Ben Johnson in particular his masques were the rage in the reign of King James I, after Elizabeth. The costumes of the characters in the plays had see-through bodices, leaving little to the imagination. These plays shocked Puritans - the forerunners of modern Christian fundamentalists.
The reformation had begun with Luther posting his objections on the church door in 1517. Luther was not a Puritan, he enjoyed Christmas. He would naturally enjoy the story of a poor pregnant girl having to give birth in a stable in the straw (straw was used not just for eating, but for sleeping on and as a litter box, cattle being not house broken) Luther had very little compassion for women. He considered God to have designed women for one sole purpose. "Men have broad and large chests and small and narrow hips and more understanding then women who have but small and narrow chests and broad hips to the end that they should remain at home, sit still a, keep house and bear and bring up children. If women get tired and die of bearing, there is no harm in that, let them die as long as they bear, they were made for that".
Legend has it that Martin Luther invented the Christmas tree. You are probably familiar with the story that he was out in the woods and saw an evergreen tree that was set around by stars, and cut down the tree and brought it home and attached candles to the branched to give the same effect. You may not be so familiar with Martin Luther's way of warding off the devil. To quote from the Encyclopedia of the Occult, Esoteric and Supernatural, "Formed by the expansion of the gluteal muscles, buttocks enable a man to stand perfectly erect, and exist in no other animal. They are the hallmark of the human being and are regarded as a special gift of God. It was commonly believed in Europe that the devil had no buttocks and that though he could assume any shape even human, he could not simulate the buttocks. When he appeared before his followers at the sabbath gathering he wore a head where his buttocks should have been. Exposure of the buttocks was hateful to the devil, as it reminded him of his deficiency. And such exposure was used to exorcise or banish the malice associated with the evil eye and witchcraft. Martin Luther tormented by visions of the devil and by nightly suggestions inspired by him, knew of no more effective means of self-defence than exposure of his own hind quarters to the prince of darkness".
In other words, Martin Luther was not only the first reformer of the Catholic Church, but he is the first recorded man to moon the Devil. Now you know where that cute custom comes from. After Luther came the Calvinist. They were much more dour. Other protestant groups broke off, each groups seems to be more extreme. The Puritans were greatly opposed to the jovial Christmas celebrations. When the Puritans came to power in England in 1653 under Oliver Cromwell, in addition to banning the plays of Shakespeare and other cultural and social events, Parliament declared that on the day "Commonly called Christmas, no observance shall be had, nor any solemnity used or exercised in Churches in respect thereof". Christmas celebration were interrupted by soldiers and practitioners carried off at gun point to be charged with High Parliament Treason. Yes, that's right, celebrating Christmas was made a crime. This was not done by the Jew or the Moslems or some other religious group, but by Christians, themselves. Laws were passed to compel people to work on Christmas day, under penalty of fine and prison. But that was in England, you say, that would never happen in American.
In general the American colonies followed their European roots with Church of England, Lutherans and Roman Catholics celebrating Christmas, while the Puritans, Baptists, Presbyterians and Quakers opposed not only Christmas but also the churches that celebrated Christmas. In colonial New England, celebrating Christmas brought a 5 shilling fine in Massachusetts. Even after Cromwell and the Puritans were ousted from power in England 1660, still in American the Puritans of New England continued the laws against Christmas. In the American southern colonies, which were not settled by Puritans, Christmas was celebrated as usual with great merriment and festivities.
The passage of the Bill of Rights in 1791 with its separation of Church and State helped take a lot of political animosity out of the Christmas celebrations. From the end of the early 1800s on Christmas became less of a theological battleground and became more family. This had nothing to do with America's leaders, but rather the great influence of England's Queen Victoria whose long reign set the moral values for England and America and placed more emphasis on a family Christmas. It is interesting that there was no 19th century American Era, but rather it was the Victorian Era.
In American the most popular figure associated with Christmas became Santa Clause, not Christ.
The original Santa Claus was St. Nicholas, a Catholic 4th century bishop who is the patron Saint of sailors, children, marriageable maidens and pawnbrokers. That may seen like an odd assortment, but legend has it that Nicholas once gave 3 bags of gold as dowry for 3 daughters of a poor man. These 3 bags became stylized as 3 gold balls which became the pawnbrokers emblem. St. Nicholas soon became associated with the Dutch, Santa Klaus, for whom children would put out wooden shoes to be filled with gifts by Santa Clause. The wooden shoes were soon replaced with stockings.
Our modern Santa Claus came almost totally from the poem, "A visit from St. Nicholas", more commonly known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas", written by Professor Clement Clark for his family, but published later in 1823. He described Santa Claus like this, "His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow and the beard on his chin was as while as the snow. The stump of a pipe he held right in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite to myself."
This image was first captured by Thomas Nast in 1863, and has been followed with some modification since then.
J. Golby in his book, The Making of a Modern Christmas writes, "The new Santa Claus, Father Christmas was in fact an amalgam of the American, Dutch and English traditions... Indeed, if Santa Claus was part St. Nicholas and part a Father Christmas descended from the Lord of Misrule with antecedents going further back to Saturnaleian, the latter characteristics were the more prominent. It is significant that Moore failed to mention the Nativity in his poem: Santa Claus was a fitting figure to preside over a modern Saturnaleia, the Saturnaleia on an increasingly organized, humanitarian, family centered and child loving civilization. Within a few decades this kindly and merry figure had been established without any great publicity or controversy at the very heart of the emerging Anglo-American Christmas."
The jolly poem by Moore was the beginning of a famous case of Censorship of Esquire magazine. In 1940 the U. S. Post Office officials contacted Esquires editor Arnold Ginrich to tell him that a poem scheduled for his December issue was unacceptable for the mail.
In 1873 Congress had passed the Comstock Act which prohibited mailing any lewd, obscene, licentious matter or any information or article related to contraception or abortion. (Sounds like the same approach in not allowing federally funded medical facilities to educate women on abortion doesn't it?) Later in 1879 Congress authorized the Post Office to divide mail into four classes. One of the qualifications for a magazine to get the cheaper second class rate was that the magazine, "must be originated and published for the dissemination of information of a public character or devoted to literature, the sciences, arts or some special industry". The Post Office was given the authority to determine who qualified for the cheaper rate. The postmaster general in 1940, Frank Walker, was a strong Catholic. the Post Office contacted Esquire after reviewing the poem, The Knight before Christmas, and said it had to be Changed.
Here is the offending poem:
"Twas the month before Christmas And all through the flat There wasn't a sign of a cane or silk hat; Poor Doris was lounging In her silken bed With visions of mayhem In her pretty head When on her penthouse roof There arose such a clatter She sprang to her feet To find what was the matter, When in stepped a gent Who was all dressed in fur And he started at once Making passes at her He drank of her scotch And he drank of her charms And he held her enslaved In his two manly arms Resistance from Doris Was not very strong And somehow the moments Just drifted along Then just as the dawn Started lighting the sky He sprang to his feet and he kissed her goodby And she heard him exclaim as As he started to leave Just rehearsing, my dear, I'll be back Christmas Eve." The Post Office rewrote the last lines of the poem as follows: "When in stepped a gent Who was dressed all in furs Whose false face revealed A stray husband of hers. She gave him a drink and a casual hug While wondering whether To pardon the lug With Christmas soon coming temptation was strong to let bygones be by bygones Although it was wrong But long before dawn would start lighting the sky He sprang to his feet And he kissed her goodby..."
The Post Office changed the lover into a stray husband; enslaved in his arms, became a causal hug; and the stray husband couldn't even spend the night, "just as the dawn" became "long before dawn". Rather picky, picky on the Puritanical side. The magazine had already been printed so Esquire had to black out the page and reprint the Post Office version in white over it. At first Esquire tried to accommodate the Post Office censorship, but it got to be just too much. They decided to fight back. Ultimately the case worked its way up to the Supreme Court with Justice William O Douglas writing the unanimous decision in favor of Esquire. The Post Office could not by denying cheap mail rates, drive a magazine out of business when they could not refuse to mail it because it was not obscene just what they considered not "good" taste.
It appears that America may have embraced Santa Claus and merged him into Christmas instantly - while the Church has been struggling to put Christ in Christmas for 2000 years - and even though the old custom of Saturnaleia is still alive and well, there are many Christian out there who oppose not only the customs, but even the way people write about them.
Thomas Harvey says in, The Book of Christmas, "The natural tendency of time to obliterate ancient customs, and silence ancient sports, is too much promoted by the utilitarian spirit of the day; and they who would have no man enjoy, without being able to give a reason for the enjoyment which is in him, are robbing life of half its beauty, and some of its virtues. If the old festivals and hearty commemoration, had no other recommendations that their convivial character, the community of enjoyment which they employ, they would, by that account alone, be worthy of all promotion. We love all which tends to call man from the solitary and chilling pursuit of his own separate and selfish views, into the warmth of common sympathy, and within the bands of a common brotherhood."
The most positive nature of Christmas is not its celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it's rejection of Christian dogma and the opening of the day to all religions as a celebration. The day is not far off when Jesus will only be a minor god among the Gods in the celebration, when our new year is no longer reckoned from the date of his birth, but from the date when the world united in an organization of peace. In the twilight of Christianity, it is time the world stopped fighting to keep Christ in Christmas where he never was to begin with, and restored the festivals to the ancients celebrations of joy and love. Real love, where the holly wreath, like the one on my door, is an invitation for any man to come and put his Yule log in my hot eager hearth.
Unfortunately for the western world, all the joy and merriment of Christmas came from the goddess religions, leaving Christianity with the exclusive claim of making religious observance a punishment, one of bondage and discipline.