Do you have a Christmas tree in your home? If so, then you are celebrating an ancient ritual called Yule or Jul, dating back to prehistoric Germanic and Celtic pagans. You are honoring the Spirit in the trees. Isn’t it fascinating how Christianity absorbs and incorporates earlier pagan rituals into its celebration of Jesus’ birth? It has done this many times in history with other cultures and celebrations such as; the winter solstice, Saturnalia, etc.
Jesus was probably not born on this day, contrary to what some Christmas carols say (Mary’s Boy Child, Jesus Born On This Day, etc…). The actual date is unknown. The early Church leaders aligned it with the pagan solstice celebrations, either to blend in or take advantage of the parties, I’m not sure which. Jesus, being Jewish, celebrated Hanukkah, which is itself aligned with the winter solstice, coincidence?
The early Protestants did not celebrate Christmas. The Puritans shunned almost any celebration but the early Quakers had different ideas. Quakers believed that peace on earth and good will towards man should be lived every day, not only one day a year. Every day is Christmas day. What an idea….
Every human being is a child of God with a measure of God’s Light. War and other instruments of violence and oppression ignore this reality and violate our relation with God. Let us keep primary, therefore, Friends’ concern for removing the causes of war. Let us seek, through God’s power and grace, to overcome in our own hearts the emotions that lie at the root of violence. At every opportunity, let us be peacemakers in our homes, in our communities, and in our places of work. Let us take care that we who declare against war do not nourish the seeds of war in our possessions. Friends are urged to support those who witness to their governments and take personal risks in the cause of peace, who choose not to participate in war as soldiers nor to contribute to its preparations with their taxes. Let us support in all possible ways the development of international order, justice, and understanding.
Finally, dear Friends, let us follow steadfastly after all that is pure and lovely and of good report. Let us be prayerful, be watchful, be humble. Let not failure discourage us. Let our whole conduct and conversation be worthy of disciples of Christ.
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, Faith & Practice, Advice on Peace and Reconciliation.