Studio 60 And The Christmas Myth
Last night's Studio 60 was, once again, showing signs of improvement. The "culture war" was played down a bit, the inshow sketch was kind of funny and the music was awesome. I would love to get an MP3 of the New Orleans brass quintet's O Holy Night. That was beautiful.
The "discovery" of the facts about Christmas was the one part that rang false with me. I've spent enough time in various universities and then hanging out on the Web to know that one of the favourite intellectual pastimes is the debunking of Christian holidays. I also know that writers are curious people who have a special perversity. We love good stories, but we also have to know the facts at the root of any tale. I find it hard to believe that a room full of writers had no idea that our red-n-white Santa was created for Coca-Cola in the 30s. Haven't they gotten the cans of Coke at Christmas? Two or three years ago each pack included "Santa Facts", as the Coke company tried to reassert their ownership of Sinterklaas. I also find it equally hard to believe that the same room full of writers hadn't heard the following:
::The translation of Isaiah that some say was "virgin" could also mean "young girl of marriagable age"
:: Jesus was not born on December 25. We don't know his actual day of birth, but it was most probably in either October or March.
:: Jesus was most likely born in 5BC, not 0 AD.
:: The Bible doesn't say how many wise men followed the star.
:: The Star of Bethlehem was most likely a comet
:: Jesus was not white.
:: The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, not Jesus.
Now, for me these are all things I've known since long ago. There are a few other Christmas factoids that Studio 60 omitted, which I think are interesting.
~The wise men did not visit Jesus at the stable for his birth. By the time they got there, He and his family had already moved into a house. Jesus was also a young child at the time. He may have been as much as two or three years old by the time they got there. And no camels were mentioned.
~The wise men were what would now be called astrologers or wizards.
~The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were prophetic in nature.
~The angels who appeared to the sheperds did not sing. Rather, they spoke.
I know we're getting into the time of year where everybody likes to fight over who owns Christmas and bicker over the true meaning of Christmas. The fact of the matter is that for thousands of years, people in the Northern Hemisphere--Vikings, Celts, Goths, Gauls--celebrated a festival of the returning light. Immediately following the winter solstice, as the days once again grew longer, they partied. They honoured what they understood as bringing the light--whether it be the moon, the sun, the stars or the rotating earth.
December 25 was not always when we celebrated Jesus' birthday. But this time of year has always been when we celebrated the Returning Light. As a Christian I believe that Jesus is the promised Light. So combining the pagan festivals with Christian meaning makes perfect sense to me.
Ironically, were you to look at the Jewish calender and time it close to Christ's actual birth--March or October--there are two festivals in Judaism that could have been remade to celebrate Christmas. Purim, in the spring, is where Jews celebrate their deliverance from destruction. Sukkot, in the fall, is where Jews celebrate the bountiful provisions of G-d. Any way you slice it, Christ's birthday is covered. He is the Light, returning to the sin-dark world. He is the deliverence from destruction. And He is God's most bountiful provision.
So party on, everybody.