You Tube Video narrated and illustrated)
It being October, the month when the department stores put up their Christmas displays along with an aisle or two of Halloween costumes, where stylish witches hats still are most popular, I was Googling the origins of Christmas.
All agree that December 25 is not the correct day for the birth of Jesus, but it does not matter because it is really the climax of the Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was appropriated by the Church. The festival of Saturnalia began at the beginning of the the astrological sign Capricorn and ended on December 25 on the winter solstice. December 25, being the solstice and thus the day of the birth of the Sun God, was a perfect day for the birth of the Son of God.
A rabbi makes the case that it is a Jewish hate day because many misused Saturnalia as a time to degrade the Jews, since, as St. Nicholas taught, were responsible for killing Jesus. It is not surprising that Saturnalia, given its theme of a Mardi Gras atmosphere, would be expropriated by those with no conscience as an excuse to commit murder and rape, but it was not meant to be that way.
Saturnalia was a time that servants would be treated as masters (reminiscent of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13:1-17) and all would exchange small presents. Someone would be named as the "Lord of the Feast" and would play "Simon says" (This expression originated from Simon Magus who claimed to be the leader of the early Christian Church). This lord could instruct the guest, for instance, to get naked and stand on one leg and all would have to comply.
Perhaps, we all need a week of partying to celebrate the end of the solar and human darkness and, if it was not so cold, to run naked in the streets. Given that it is the Mass of Christ, we should follow the Golden Rule of Jesus, Hillel, Buddha, and Mohammed: "To do to others what you would have them do unto you." "Turning the other cheek" would not be advised as it should be a week of self-expression and innocent-exhuberance, not to encourage a repression of future trauma.
In line with the weakening of Christianity and the replacement of the birth of Jesus with Santa Claus, it dawned on me that the reindeer of Santa Claus were his disciples.
The first six were his trusted disciples:
1-2 Dasher (Peter) and Dancer (Andrew),
3-4 Prancer (Philip, head of the unmarried daughters - Acts 21:9) and Vixen (John Mark, the disciple whom Jesus loved - John 13:23),
5-6 Comet (James Niceta), and Cupid (John Aquila who was married to Priscilla - Acts 18:2)
The last two were actually the superiors of Jesus:
7-8 Donner and Blitzen are from the Dutch "Dunder" and "Blixem" meaning "Thunder" and "Lightning". "Sons of Thunder" are the nicknames of James and John (Mark 3:17) and by the Pesher of Christ, can be shown to be "Thunder" as the nickname of Jonathan Annas, the disciple know as James, son of Alphaeus, with his adversary being Simon Magus, know as Simon, the Zealot/Canaanite as "Lightning" (Luke 10:18).
9 Rudolph, being a 20th-century inclusion, would clearly fit as St. Paul, who was ostracized by the other disciples (reindeer), but whose prominent nose guided Christianity through the fog of the pagan world.
As to the other disciples, they were not so helpful: Judas who betrayed him, Thaddaeus who was Barabbas, Matthew who was a subordinate to Jonathan though later he would take over for him, and Thomas, who was "the doubter" being the disinherited son of Herod the Great.
So let us not spend another Christmas engaging with the news reporters' "War on Christmas" or reading reports of beheadings in the name of religion, but take joy that Santa Claus is coming to town, bringing toys for girls and boys and knowing that they all try to be nice and not naughty. For Santa Claus says, simply, that a joyous life awaits us with the coming of the next Spring and let the festivities of Saturnalia begin, "Ho, Ho, Ho"!