Reason for the Season

With Christmas celebrations on the brink of extinction in Texas, the Texas House intervened yesterday by passing the “Merry Christmas bill” to ensure public schools remain a welcome place for Jesus Santa.

Santa’s attorney — and lobbyist for the religious-right group Texas Values — was at the Capitol to whip votes and remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas. Check out this Twitter post from Jim Henson of the Texas Politics Project:

The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate.

6 thoughts on “Reason for the Season

  1. Well, this year I hope they don’t try to marry Christmas and Chanukah together too closely. Chanukah will be long over before it’s even time for the 12 days singing to begin! Wonder what other holidays they can misuse!!!

  2. This bill is wonderful because it is so stupid and so perfectly characterizes the obsessions of Texas legislators. Christmas is the name for the winter solstice celebration in countries where Christianity is the majority religion. Many ancient cultures, whose religions would be called pagan today, celebrated the winter solstice for a variety of compelling reasons. They still do. Almost all the symbols and customs we associate with Christmas–tree, holly, lights, singing carols, yule log, giving presents, celebrating, taking special notice of the poor, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, etc.–are pagan and winter solstice (i.e. astrological, the most popular religion in the world) in origin. The solstice continued to be celebrated for 450 years into the Christian era before the Church was finally able to co-opt it for itself by claiming that Jesus was born on the solstice to associate him with the various newly-born or re-born gods said to be born then. The only “evidence” for Jesus’s birth in the Gospels says he was born in the springtime.

    What’s really ironic is that Hanukkah, explicitly mentioned in the bill, is the only winter solstice celebration (among Christmas, Kwanzaa, Sankranti, Brumalia, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (celebrating the virgin birth of Mithras), Saturnalia, Yule, HumanLight, etc.) that has nothing to do with the actual solstice although it is celebrated near that time. Like Muslims, ancient Jews did not religiously revere the Sun as sacred, holy, or god-like, so the winter solstice was unimportant in Jewish traditions (although the full moon nearest the spring equinox, a different astrological holiday, has much religious significance).

    Courts allow religious displays on secular public property, including public schools, when they are part of a multi-religious or overall secular group of displays. I encourage schools to set up Christmas or Holiday Trees with lots of tinsel and lights to celebrate the rebirth of the light after weeks of lengthening nights since they are 100% pagan religious in origin, although that association has been lost in our Christianized Western society. We display such a tree every winter solstice in our secular humanist household and we call it the Christmas tree because that is the name our culture uses for the holiday and the one we used as children; it’s just tradition. But we grew up and stopped believing in the holiday’s mythical origin.