Many people find history boring, which is something that I do not quite understand. They dismiss past people, places, and occurrences as something not needed to know. But, they are wrong. When we ignore the historical past, we can repeat some of the past's negative happenings in our present. Moreover, learning from the past by studying it should not be considered boring or a joke, but one of the few things that can lead us to a better life. In our time, history is aided by the scientific disciplines of archaeology anthropology, and entomology. These three sciences give the 'color commentary' to many historical periods; they help bring the past back to life. And these disciplines shine light into some of history's darkest corners.
There is a postulation held within the social sciences that it takes only three generations for a population to forget its culture and folkways. When massive social change is forced upon a man, he unwillingly (in most cases) swallows it and practices his native social ways in a more private manner. His son is born into the change and does benefit from his father's practice of some of the old ways. The problem is that the new order has taken root and suppresses the native culture. By the time that the grandson is born, he will experience nothing but the new, foreign social order. What survives in memory becomes known as folk-lore. A classic example of this is the Christianization of southern and northern Europe and the creation of the Christian festival known as Christmas.
Centuries before the supposed birth of Christianity's founder, the pagan south celebrated the feasts of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus. Both of these holiday feasts were held usually between December 20th and the 25th, and involved gift giving, merriment, and the celebration of the re-born Sun.
In the heathen north, the folks celebrated Yule, a twelve day festival centered around the Winter Solstice. And guess what? Yule featured gift giving, merriment, and the celebration of the re-born Sun. It's now a good time to mention that there were several pagan/heathen gods supposedly born on or about December 25th to a virgin, lived, suffered and were killed, only to rise from the dead on the third day as the savior of men. We know this because of history that is backed up by the sciences of anthropology, archaeology and entomology. It is not a fairy-tale, wishful thinking, an attempt at state building, or any form of blasphemy (oh please!). It is historical fact backed by solid science. But in order to survive and then thrive, Christianity grafted on to itself the previously mentioned festivals (and many more) and made them their own, while at the same time doing its best to suppress the festival's origins and practices. They had a much harder time suppressing native customs in the heathen north.
If you enjoy burning a Yule log and decorating a fir tree, thank those ancient heathens. If you like all the holiday greenery - the ivy, the holly, and the mistletoe, do likewise. If you enjoy the gatherings, the eating, the drinking, singing, and other good things that come with this season, don't thank the Church, thank those ancient heathens. And if you take your kids to see Santa, understand that Santa too, has his origins in the heathen north, and not coca cola.
Copyright @2012 Terry Unger