Now it is common knowledge that Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25th and that after the Roman’s adopted Christianity as their official religion they just took advantage of the extremely popular Pagan Winter Solstice celebration to commemorate the birth of the Christ child, but after a little research into the subject, I realized that there are quite a few popularly accepted beliefs that just aren’t true.
Actually, a lot of what we believe to be factual about the Christmas story comes from 19th century carols instead of the Bible. Matthew 2 talks about “wise men from the east.” Following a star and looking for the King of the Jews, they make it to Jerusalem, where they have a run-in with King Herod. Next stop is Bethlehem. There, they find Jesus—whom Matthew describes as a “young child,” not a baby—with his mother in a house. Not a stable and no mention of a manger. Many believe the Wise Men didn’t deliver the gifts immediately after the birth. It could have been a couple of years later.
Not a word indicating there were three of them, either. That idea comes from Matthew 2:11 wherein it details the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. No camels, no flowing capes, no sparkly crowns. Nothing to even indicate that they were kings at all. In fact, most scholars figure they were astrologers which would explain what they were doing running around in the desert following a star instead of managing their own kingdoms.
Have you ever heard someone say, “People who call it Xmas are taking the Christ out of Christmas.”? Some Christians get downright defensive when this so called abbreviation is used, but as it turns out it isn’t an abbreviation at all. The first letter in the Greek word for “Christ” is chi. And in the Roman alphabet, chi is represented by the symbol: X. What that means is that Xmas is an entirely justifiable replacement for Christmas that goes all the way back to the beginnings of the faith itself.
If you think that there are no discrepancies in the secular version of the holiday, you would be quite mistaken. For example, we’ve all heard names tossed about like Father Christmas or Kris Kringle for the guy typically portrayed as an overweight white dude who wears a fur lined red pimp suit and drives an awesome ride powered by magical reindeer, but who was the real life inspiration for the modern day Santa Claus? The lovable and jolly character that sits around in North American shopping malls encouraging youngsters to sit on his knee for a photo-op is derived from the legend of Sinterklaas, a charitable figure from The Netherlands. Sinterklaas is assisted by some candy-tossing dude, named Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete) and not a bunch of industrious elves. Sinterklaas himself is based on Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Amsterdam, sailors and children. Saint Nicholas, who is an actual historical figure revered in Christianity, is depicted to look even less like the Americanized Santa than the Dutch Sinterklaas. That is, he isn’t heavyset and he doesn’t have a predilection for red-and-white outerwear. He’s Greek, thin and looks pretty much like most other saints.
Here’s a shocker: According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, every single one of Santa’s reindeer, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a Dudette. It has also long been believed that the leaves of the poinsettia plants are poisonous when ingested by humans or even our pets. This is simply not true as poinsettias are nontoxic to humans and animals. Note: Don’t try this to impress your friends at a holiday party. It won’t make the eggnog sit well and don’t ask me how I know this.
The truth is that it’s not the stories, legends or myths that matter this holiday season. What really matters is spending the holidays with beloved friends and family and all the joy, love and general feeling of good will toward your fellow dudes that the season can bring, so my wish to you is that you have a Grateful Holiday however you choose to celebrate it and a Dudely New Year