Christian fundamentalists need to get over the fact that Jesus wasn't white or born in December
Ah, Christmas. The traditional celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and if you don’t acknowledge that every five seconds, Glenn Beck will come to your house and force you to listen to his new CD. Oddly, most historians think Jesus wasn’t even born in December and the majority of us don’t believe in a white Jesus. This doesn’t stop hardcore fundamentalists from beating us over the head with “Keep the Christ in Christmas!” over and over again from about October until their lips fall off, and planting giant nativity scenes filled with white Mary, white Joseph, white baby Jesus, white shepherds and white wise men all over the place.
First, the actual celebration of Christmas began when Roman emperors like Constantine converted to Christianity. Prior to this, during the month of December, Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice and Saturnalia. Very few people believe Jesus was born in December, but there are many different dates proposed for his actual birth. Some historians place Jesus’s birth in March while Clement, a bishop of Alexandria, thought Jesus to be born in November, and yet others think Jesus was born in September.
December 25th was chosen as the “official” date for the Christian celebration to replace the Pagan holidays. In other words, Christian leaders picked the date fundamentalists now use as a battering ram, a marketing ploy to sell books, and a reason to boycott retailers. Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. Or the 24th. Or in December. Oops.
Jesus also wasn’t white. I know, this will come as a shock to right wing Christians who think Jesus looked exactly like (and thought exactly like, but that’s another article) Anders Brievik. Jesus was Middle Eastern, which means he looked like this. He had olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes. He did not look the way artists have represented him throughout the ages.
Since no one ever painted or drew Jesus when he was alive, artists have had to dip into their imaginations quite a bit. Throw in the fact that we are influenced by the world around us, and you end up with a Jesus who’s looked everything from German to Russian to Greek to Hispanic. Hispanic is actually closer than the others when you think about it.
So what’s the big deal with Christmas? Why do fundamentalists demand that we “Keep the Christ in Christmas” when he wasn’t there in the first place? Am I allowed to reply “Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia?” I think we should do that. Look, I’m a liberal Christian, and I believe Jesus did actually exist, and he told us to to love one another. I also believe that if Jesus came back today, fundies would nail him back up on that cross faster than you can scream socialism. Because the Jesus they believe in isn’t the actual guy.
Our Yuletide tree is up, I’ve got Christmas music programmed into my Pandora channel, but I understand that Jesus is not really the “reason for the season.” Even though I know that, I still try to do what he might do during this time of year. Donate to charities, give to those less fortunate, be a better person. The difference is I try and do that all year long. Fundamentalists don’t even try in December. If they did, they certainly wouldn’t use what they consider their second most important holiday (after Easter) to continue to hate, demean, promote bigotry and bully people who don’t believe what they believe.
Peace on Earth. Can we try that? Not “Say Merry Christmas, or I’ll hit you over the head with my Bible.” Just a little peace, a little love, a little joy. And Elvis holiday music.