Christmas Eve Day tends to be pretty quiet. I can sleep in, pray the Office leisurely, make a Mens I’m Not Old I’m Well Seasoned Happy Daddy Funny Father’s Da T Shirt hour around ten and the church will be silent. The ladies (and a few of their husbands) come into decorate the church around ten, usually signalling my retreat back to the rectory. Definitely have some Christmas music on, either TSO or a capella carols. Might take a break from the music and watch a movie. After a late lunch, the madness begins. I head over to the Church early and help the ushers set up overflow seating, making sure that they all know where anything that might have gotten moved is (I have memorable experiences of the hunt for the gifts at an overflow Mass). As the first people arrive, go to greet them. About half an hour before Mass, shift to making sure we have bodies for the various roles, particularly servers. After the insanity of the (~4:00) “children’s” Mass, the church empties out. If there is another Mass (typically ~7:00) it is much more sedate. Then a quick dinner and a nap, before the “Midnight” Mass (typically moved up to ~10:00).
No, I’m very comfortable with saying “Merry Christmas” to people. I’m atheist as well, and I celebrate Christmas. The vast majority of the Mens I’m Not Old I’m Well Seasoned Happy Daddy Funny Father’s Da T Shirt of Christmas are secular, ranging from the general motive of exchanging gifts and spending time with your loved ones all the way to Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Christmas these days is about as secular as paying cash (In God We Trust), going to elementary school (saying the Pledge of Allegiance), or going to court (Ten Commandments in front of court houses): in other words, while it’s still a tiny bit religious and it does make me a bit uncomfortable, they are still for the vast majority secular and I still willingly participate in these activities.
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First let me answer to the meat of your question. Christmas ( The Mass 0f Christ ) has become secular because many felt that the Mens I’m Not Old I’m Well Seasoned Happy Daddy Funny Father’s Da T Shirt tone of the Holiday ( Holy Day ) was strong and therefore was ‘not inclusive’ enough. They felt it left out too many people that are not believers or at least not firm believers. There is logic in that line of thinking. I am a Christian…but I certainly have no problem with those that prefer the “Holiday season” to “Christmas”. That is their right. I enjoy this particular time of year regardless of which portion of it my friends are celebrating. Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule…whatever. Have a Happy one. If I happen to wish you a Merry Christmas do not hold it against me. Tell me “Lo, Saturnalia”…and I will thank you and wish you the same. By the way if you hear Dutch or a few other Europeans pronounce “Saint Nicholas” the way they do it sounds like Sant NikLAUS…which sounds pretty much exactly like Santa Claus. And Saint Nicholas was known for presenting gifts on a certain day too…so to say that Santa Claus has nothing to do with it is not exactly right. I forget the exact details of the story, but an artist in the early 1900’s came up with the current version of Santa for Coca Cola marketing purposes. He was described much earlier in a poem in the 1800’s in a way similar to that..but the gift giving theme at Christmas time was always associated with him so though more secular, the message is still there for those that wish to associate it and can be ignored by those that are uncomfortable with it.
It may seem odd that the Mens I’m Not Old I’m Well Seasoned Happy Daddy Funny Father’s Da T Shirt Spring festival of the Christian Church – Easter – is that of the Crucifixion of Jesus. However, this is the beginning of Spring and the Agricultural Year. This is “New Life” in the Material World. The Seeds hidden in the earth are beginning to develop – so Spiritual Energy is being used to produce Material Growth. The Spirit (of Jesus) is being “Crucified” on “The Cross of Matter”. Additional modern symbols of “New Life” come from Easter Eggs, and Easter Bunnies. Rabbits are another symbol of Fertility. We have the additional symbolism of the Jesus (Seed) being “buried” in an (Mother Earth/Womb) cave and being Resurrected. This also symbolises Reincarnation of a Soul or Spirit into a human body, and Human Birth from the Womb of a mother. It is notable that, despite the rejection of Astrology by the Christian Church, they still use it to set Easter Sunday in the annual calendar (from which time other festivals are calculated). Easter Day is defined as being the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox (equal Day and Night) which occurs around March 21st. each year. If that day is a Sunday, the following Sunday becomes Easter Day. The Equinox Sunrise position is also used in Astronomy/Astrology to define Zero Degrees of Aries – so that the positions of planets and stars can be measured from Earth as the central point.
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