Talk:Christmas

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Former featured article Christmas is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.

Betrothal[edit]

Ancient Jews did not have betrothal, they had marriage (Kiddushin) and consummation of marriage (Nisuin). So, Joseph and Mary were never betrothed, they were married. Whether their marriage was consummated or not is another matter. See [1]. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:56, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Considering that they were not ancient Jews, they were from the fist century and it was common for 100 years prior to that period: See Talmud Kiddushin, Mishna 1:1 and the main article. Walter Görlitz (talk) 02:22, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
What you say above does not make sense. Ancient, as in antiquity or ancient history, means the period before the Middle Ages. The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906, states that "Betrothal or engagement such as this is not known either to the Bible or to the Talmud, and only crept in among the medieval and modern Jews through the influence of the example of the Occidental nations among whom they dwelt, without securing a definite status in rabbinical law." Speaking of Erusin: "In strict accordance with this sense the rabbinical law declares that the betrothal is equivalent to an actual marriage and only to be dissolved by a formal divorce." Therefore Erusin or Kiddushin mean (present-day, Western-style) marriage and they are mistranslated as (present-day, Western-style) betrothal. Tgeorgescu (talk) 02:47, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
What you say may make sense to you, but history is divided into more that "after the middle ages" and "before the middle ages". Ancient Jews in my history books means before the common era. I have seen the Jewish Encyclopedia definition as well. I have no problems understanding that a term common in the 15th century was used in early translations and more recent scholarship may use a term that is more accurate to the word used.
How would you suggest that we translate the word used in Matthew 1:18 "μνηστευθείσης" (http://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/1.htm)? The root is "mnésteuó" (mnesteuo http://biblehub.com/greek/3423.htm). It is commonly translated as betrothed in English (KJV, NASB, ESV) although some modern translations use other words: "engaged" (NET, MSG, WEB) "pledged to be married" (NIV and its variants) "espoused" (KJ21) (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 1%3A18&version=NET;MSG;WEB;NIV;KJ21). You will likely see edit warring over the term so you had better back-up any edits with the Koine Greek and explanation of the term, even if only in a note. Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:22, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
What I said is that ancient Jewish betrothal does not mean the same as modern Western betrothal. The koine may really mean engagement. But that is another argument that the gospel is historically inaccurate, unless there is good evidence that 1st century BCE Jews had engagements before getting their Erusin/Kiddushin. Since apparently Joseph and Mary got married in the 1st century BCE. I know that the way I put it is WP:OR, but maybe there are reliable sources which made this point. Tgeorgescu (talk) 04:17, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
The original word has a meaning and it's not entirely clear what it means in modern English. If you don't want to offer a suggestion, I can't help you. There is no OR at all. Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:15, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

I quote from the article you quoted, Tgeorgescu:1). "kiddushin (commonly translated as betrothal)". Doesn't add "wrongly" translated as betrothal, why? 2). "However, the root word also connotes something that is set aside for a specific (sacred) purpose, and the ritual of kiddushin sets aside the woman to be the wife of a particular man and no other" (emphasis added). That's pretty much looks like betrothal to me...3). "In the past, the kiddushin and nisuin would routinely occur as much as a year apart. ...There was always a risk that during this long period of separation, the woman would discover that she wanted to marry another man, or the man would disappear.." (emphasis added). So, as I see it, there was a long period of being legally married on one hand, but one the other hand living apart in a period of time anything could happent. 4). "Kiddushin is far more binding than an engagement as we understand the term in modern English...Once kiddushin is complete, the woman is legally the wife of the man...However, the spouses do not live together at the time of the kiddushin, and the mutual obligations created by the marital relationship do not take effect until the nisuin is complete" (emphasis added). That is, be married typically or not, true married life begins with the consummation of the marriage (as it's so much, and legally so, happens today). Wolfymoza (talk) 11:26, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

I'm going to ask you again, what English wording do you suggest? Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:49, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
I don't suggest a word, but it could be mentioned that "betrothal" could be kind of a misunderstanding or mistranslation. Tgeorgescu (talk) 17:18, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Then state that. If you want, you could propose your change here and seek input. Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:46, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 June 2016[edit]

please change on history section:

Although the dating as December 25 predates pagan influence, the later development of Christmas as a festival includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra.[51]

to:

Although the dating as December 25 predates pagan influence, the later development of Christmas as a festival includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra [51] a Persian divinity.

Naranji (talk) 12:37, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

X mark.svg Not done It's linked to Mithra, but I will update it to link to Mithraism, as that's the Roman variant. While it was based on a Zoroastrian, not necessarily Persian, god, the Roman form diverged. It was quite distinct as it was absorbed into the Roman pantheon. Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:13, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

Time for a rewrite?[edit]

With 11,000 words of main text, this article is in need of serious culling. No doubt many readers come here to answer the question, "Why is Christmas on December 25?" so this issue needs some attention. The scholarship in the last thirty years has all been debunking the Sol Invictus theory and arguing in favor of the Incarnation-on-March-25th-plus-nine-months theory. As far as sources go, New Catholic Encyclopedia recommends Susan Roll's Toward the Origin of Christmas (1995) and Thomas Talley's On the Origins of the Liturgical Year (1991). In popular works, you often see the theory that the holiday is based on Saturnalia. I don't believe there is any scholarship to support this idea. This is what I am working on. Pandas and people (talk) 03:46, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

Not too long. There is a reference supporting the idea and there is evidence that it is based on that date, although I'm not sure it is, nor does it need to be, scholarly evidence. If you feel a rewrite is required, feel free to give it a try. Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:15, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
The problem is not so much the word count as the going-in-all-directions aspect of the article. My idea is to give it some focus. I'm working on something in my sandbox. So far, I have a lead and an early history section. Tell me what you think. Pandas and people (talk) 11:32, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
The variety of content is not a bad thing. Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:49, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree with User: Pandas and people that this article needs a serious re-write but probably for different reasons. Maybe however, we can find some common ground. In days of yore, before artificial light was affordable, Luna months were important to the people of the time. But `lunar months don't synchronize with the solar year. There is pretty conceiving statistical evidence that Gerald Hawkins showed that Stonehenge (built many millennia ago) was a way of keeping the Luna and Solar calendars aliened. At the end of the winter solaria the sun 'suddenly' traveling north, due to the parallaxes effect upon the observer. That date is (on modern calendar), either the 25th or 26th of December and can be witnessed by all by just hammering a few stakes into the ground and looking at the sun. Even the Venerable Bede noted this common practice of observing the sun's move in his writing, at a time when he was using a different and Luna calendar which caused his date of 'Christ birth' to drift. Because the the year is not exactly 365 days, the actual date that the sun disc has 'observably' moved north can differ by a day, over a period of four to five years. (this is simple astrophysics) John Dee expanded this and campaigned for a calendar reform because the Popes reformed calendar did no take this into account and was only true for 400 years (it was easier than tying to write out the exact algorithm in roman numerals -try it and you will see what I mean). Yet, the pope still moved the date of 'Christ birth', to the 25th as it made more sense. Astronomy was not advanced enough then to determine the exact date of equinoxes and add nine months. Were talking about the 1500's. When our calendar wasn't even fixed to Christ Birth on 0 BC but was actually fixing the date of the new age of Aries. Ecclesiastical scholars may pontificate all they want but computers provide a continuous astronomical time line. Even down to the three "μάγοι" from the east representing the conjunction of the three planets over `Bethlehem'. Why – if they so-much profess to offering the truth, why do the priests of the modern day church go out of they way to mislead the young and foolish?--Aspro (talk) 18:32, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
I’m not sure about all that, but I do agree with the part about Christmas being placed on December 25 to correspond with the date of the winter solstice. The current version of the article repeatedly stresses that solstice celebration represents a continuation of pagan tradition. Patristic writing is full of strong condemnations of pagan festivals and rituals, so this theory turns the Church Fathers into hypocrites. Augustine’s Christmas sermon explains that Jesus came into the world when it was darkest, and that afterwards the light began to increase. So you can explain a solstice date without reference to paganism. Saturnalia was on December 17. It was not a solstice festival. The Roman solstice festival was Bruma. It doesn’t seem to have been all that important as a holiday. Pandas and people (talk) 09:52, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Generally more important as you move north, day lengths vary more and the seasonal differences become more extreme. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:21, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Egypt was the land of solar worship. Egyptian solstice (January 6, now Epiphany) was the start of the planting season. In the North, nothing much happened on the solstice. If you are thinking of Yule, that was created in the ninth century to compete with Christmas. Pandas and people (talk) 21:50, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
3,100 BC seems pretty early to me. Stonehenge#Function_and_construction Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:10, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Augustine’s Christmas sermon is virtual a direct copy of the Egyptian Unconquered Sun, so it is very much pagan in origin. The days are already getting longer after the 'shortest day.' The important point is that the sun only starts to move north on the 25th/26th of December. Also, the importance of any festival was depend on the local climate and farming practices. The church hence adapted importance according to local traditions. This is evident the further north one lives. For instance: In Canada, Thanksgiving is celibates early than in the US because the agricultural year ends earlier. In Italy (surrounded by the climatic modifying effects of the Mediterranean sea) it was the 24th of November. This is all about the new church adopting the local calendars and imprinting their own interpretations upon them (and often ruffling up a few feathers along the way when they became too patronizing). For the feast of the nativity. Sermon 191 St. Augustine even states that Christ (note: doesn’t call him Ἰησοῦς the person) was born of a virgin mother, exactly the same as the Egyptian story of the cycle of the calendar. It is pagan through and through and no amount of theology is going to overturn astrophysics and climatology.--Aspro (talk) 15:28, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
The statement "mislead the young and foolish" is bias at best and ignorant at worst. Christians took over the holiday and gave it a different meaning. I don't know why that is misleading anyone. Walter Görlitz (talk) 17:13, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Ignorance! That is -if you don't mind me saying so is the pot calling the kettle black. The new church displaces the local learned men and by the third generation everybody believed that it was the new church that had enlightened them. Delve in to politics’s and economics to understand the process. The church of Rome had by the 1500's re-established the way that the Roman Empire bled Europe of its economic wealth. Italy then enjoyed the renascence period, were there wealthy could afford to patronizes talented men - to just spend their time painting pretty pictures, sculpture and design exotic buildings for them. It was about that time too, that many princes of Europe got the hump because the Popes were beginning to re-establish themselves as Emperors at Europe's expense. This is not about religion per sa but the power-wars that the clergy used to pull the wool over the eyes of their sheepples (err.. mean flock). You must have University near you – get a library visiting card and do some reading. After all, your comment suggest that you see ignorance as a bad thing. You made it sound as if I made an evil comment but if you read the new testament in Koine Greek you will see that ἁμαρτάνω actually means missing the mark and so one of us has to have missed the mark, more than the other. --Aspro (talk) 19:36, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
I can see you're full of vitriol too. No sense in trying to explain things to you since you believe know it all. I'm sorry to have trod on your misconceptions. Feel free to fix the fence and send me the bill. Walter Görlitz (talk) 21:49, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Calm down. Belief means to accept something without proof. Historical, astrophysical and other data shows that religious orthodox 'beliefs' don't add up and so are inventions of the church. Once, people believed that fossils where placed in the rock by the devil. Do you today believe this too or have you moved on. Have notice too, that you just give very short replies (acidic) to much fuller explanations above that encourage the reader to see the bigger picture. So please, if you ever come across other people full of vitriol, be sure to take the plank out of your own eye before attempting to taking the specks out of another’s. Don't bother to reply as you're attempting to introduce wasteful Begging the questions. When I was young, some priests tried to come on strong about putting 'belief' before faith (vitriol ?). Now, they can't do that to me...but that doesn't mean we don't get on very well -like a house (church) on fire. There is a lot of common ground for us to discuss and ponder upon (especially over a bottle of good port). It's just that after their training, some (not all) come out thinking they have to stick to the same old stories, despite their own reservations and doubts about the 'belief' bits. --Aspro (talk) 14:41, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
And for the record, I have no doubt that the effort of the early Constantine Christian leaders was to replace dies natalis solis invicti, which was part of the sol invicta cult, with a Christianized version of the festivities. It was this festival that used to attempt to supplant Saturnalia. But you keep believing what you want. The fact still remains that more than 1500 years later, it doesn't matter. The celebration of Christmas has outlasted either celebration by more than three times their life. Walter Görlitz (talk) 22:04, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Well, I'm sure sorry I brought this subject up. As far as the Sol Invictus theory goes, it was debunked long ago by Steven Hijmans: "December 25 was neither a longstanding nor especially important feast day of Sol...In fact there is no firm evidence that this feast of Sol on December 25 antedates the feast of Christmas at all."[2] Pandas and people (talk) 05:19, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

Opening[edit]

Christmas is by definition a feast on December 25, as you can see from Merriam Webster and American Heritage. IMO, the phrase "observed most commonly on December 25" is unnecessarily weasally. It wrongly suggests that there is a "real date" of Christmas that is something other than December 25. Before anyone says, "What about the Orthodox?" They also celebrate on December 25, but using their own calendar. Pandas and people (talk) 12:03, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

American Heritage and Merriam-Webster are both American sources, and with Christmas being on Dec. 25 in the federal U.S. calendar, we'd expect them to define it as such. Orthodox churches—but also Dec. 24 celebrations—have always been the reason for the current wording, and from arguments here before it seems that the current wording was reached as a compromise to avoid a word salad in the intro explaining all the dates it is celebrated in Orthodox and other churches. And yes, as you've stated Orthodox dates are still all geared around Dec. 25 in accordance with the Julian calendar, but Wikipedia refers to the Gregorian calendar when listing dates of celebration, so that's irrelevant here. Additionally, many countries in Northern Europe celebrate primarily on Dec. 24 instead of Dec. 25, which is also a factor in the wording. If it's between the current consensus and a word salad explaining the various dates (which we've now condensed to the infobox and a section below), I'll go with the current consensus. — Crumpled Fire contribs 12:55, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
The weasel words are to make room for those who celebrate on Christmas Eve, not those who follow a different calendar system. Walter Görlitz (talk) 14:16, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
The opening is supposed to be in line with what other reference works do, not the misconceptions of Wikipedia editors. Pandas and people (talk) 18:01, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
Could you put the attitude away? I'm quite tired of it. It's in no way constructive. If you insist on continuing, I will request a topic ban. Either make constructive suggestions or don't bother commenting. Walter Görlitz (talk) 06:25, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Maybe you could try not acting like you own the article? Pandas and people (talk) 11:00, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Deal. Easy on my end since I simply offer commentary. Walter Görlitz (talk) 14:08, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Oh good. I'll go right ahead and rewrite the opening. Oh, and do you think you could cut it out with the threatening summaries? Pandas and people (talk) 15:45, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
As long as the opening is factual and based on the current content. I will stop the threatening summaries when you start behaving with respect to other editors and belief systems. Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:40, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Let's go back to basics. Before anyone had clocks, the day ended at sunset. Remember, that the first part of the day of God's creation of the world started in darkness. Each new day started off in darkness. Even in modern day Europe, people like to finish work early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve so that they can get home and prepare. The women-folk do their last minute household preparation and their men-folk go down the Pub and meet old friends, then all meet up for Midnight Mass at the local church. It is like, when a woman goes into labour today, family and friends excitedly spread the word by mobile of the 'expectation' that a new one is about to enter their world and the first dawn of Christmas finally heralds such a delivery of a new Son/Sun. So the calendar on the wall may say that the 24th is the 24th until midnight, yet the celebration of Christmas still starts on Christmas Eve in the Christian world – just as the pagans did it.--Aspro (talk) 20:32, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
PS. Christmas isn’t about the 'feast' but the birth. When most people worked on the land they broke their fast (breakfast) with the main meal of the day, to give them the energy for the rest of the day. Dinner they ate like a pauper and supper like a church mouse. There are numinous studies to show this age old wisdom. Here is just one: [3]. So the 'feast' did not start until breakfast time on the 25th but the 'feast' is not a necessary part. During the second world war many families in Europe celebrated Christmas despite not having any food to feast upon. By all mean edit WP but please, lets don't add over simplified, unexamined vernacular beliefs. --Aspro (talk) 21:48, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Christmas is about the celebration of the birth. Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:40, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Verily. It is about the celebration of the birth of a savior, that will in the coming year, provide sufficient bounty to feed one's family during the following winter months (way before supermarkets had been invented).--Aspro (talk) 13:50, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Ah well, it's the end of August. Time to start "Crimbo" shopping for "Chrissy" presents. Doubtless next week I'll hear my first massacred carol and bang my head on tinsel in a shop. Sarcasm aside, I do know one individual who has already purchased and wrapped all her presents and written her cards. When we saw her in early August we were given a bag to keep until Christmas. :-( Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:23, 26 August 2016 (UTC)