December 20, 2010

Nina Totenberg: "I Was At – Forgive the Expression – a Christmas Party at the Department of Justice...."

Brent Baker at NewsBusters does not understand why Totenberg said "forgive the expression." In his headline, he uses the same quote I've used in my headline, but he puts the ellipsis 5 words before I've put mine.

Have I made my point or do I need some more words?
More words. I don't get it. I'm as confused as Baker purports to be.
More words. Like Baker, I'm itching for a battle in the War on Christmas.
Say no more. You're hostile to Christianity. Like Baker, I get it.
Say no more. I understand the problem that Totenberg acknowledged with a friendly light touch.
Say no more. I understand the problem that elites like you and Totenberg like to trump up.
  
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: I can't say "say no more" without thinking of this.

102 comments:

bgates said...

I don't think somebody who works for government-funded radio ought to be using words so closely associated with Jesus, like "forgive".

James said...

Or the word "Christmas"...she should have said "holiday" party.

Lincolntf said...

I'm very disappointed in Mrs. Seinfeld.

madAsHell said...

Will Rogers never met Nina Totenberg!

My German studies tell me:

Totenberg - Dead Mountain

traditionalguy said...

The theme today seems to be surrendering. If even Christmas Holy-day celebrations are allowed to be considered conduct unbecoming an educated person, then the war is over because we have surrendered. My advice to Christians is don't let them shut you up, and then you will easily win again.

former law student said...

Christmas Day is a Federal government holiday on which the DOJ does not work?

Make sure to put your flag out that day, by the way.

edutcher said...

If she feels she has to excuse herself, she shouldn't have gone.

Lincolntf said...

Nina Tottenberg is a - forgive the expression - bigoted scrunt.

AJ Lynch said...

Once upon a time, back in the olden days, a reporter's job was to afflict the comfortable.

Clyde said...

My mother always told me that if I couldn't say anything nice about someone, I should say nothing at all.

Here is what I have to say about Ms. Totebag: " ."

ricpic said...

"I was at a Taxpayer Funded Party at the Department of Justice" would be "Forgive the Expression" honest.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"Have I made my point ..."

1) Nina Totenberg is a Jew. What is she doing at a party celebrating the birth of a man that that her elders tortured to death and don't even recognize as the son of God?

2) The Department of Justice is part of the United States government. What is the government doing holding Christmas parties? Why are our precious tax dollars being spent to hold parties?

3) Nina Totenberg is a government employee. What is she doing at a party on our fucking dime? Get to work you fucking bitch.

Yes, Ann, I think you made your point: Nina Totenberg is an idiot who should be fired.

MadisonMan said...

I can't say Say No More! without thinking of this.

Salamandyr said...

This country has certain civic religious traditions that align with Christianity, owing to the fact that Christianity, of one kind or another, has been the dominant religion of most of the population since founding.

If you have a problem with the occasional "In God We Trust", "We are endowed by our Creator", or heaven help you a "Christmas Party", then I invite you to find another fucking country.

As for my atheist self, I'll stay right here, the occasional public religious expostulation creates a feeling of bonding with my fellow citizens.

Scott M said...

It really doesn't matter, does it? By the time she catches wind this has become a blogosphere issue, she will have a trite spin regarding her intended meaning.

MayBee said...

For anyone concerned about fairness, there was - Forgive the expresssion- an Iftar Dinner at the State Department.

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/09/129232.htm

Hoosier Daddy said...

A liberal who openly professes disdain for a Christian holiday?

Color me shocked.

JAL said...

You missed:
"Say no more. We know who Nina Totenberg and her culturally diverse and tolerant crowd are."

That's my pick.

And maybe there was a space limitation for the guy who elipsed too soon?

Big Mike said...

A couple years ago I was a guest at a -- forgive the expression -- Bar Mitzvah.

k*thy said...

MM, you beat me to it. //smiling//

MadisonMan said...

I thought Totenberg was making a wry observation. A joke, if you will.

But then I realized that people were dying in the streets of Madison during this War on Christmas, and that the churches were in flames. That's when I realized: So Not Funny.

Jay said...

Um, Christmas is a federal holiday.

The word "Christmas" is not offensive to 99% of Americans.

Totenberg is a parody of today's "progressives"

Jay said...

By the way, I was talking to a teacher this weekend who works in a public school in Maryland.

They are not allowed to discuss "Christmas" with the class and they time off is referred to as the "winter break"

Lovely.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I thought Totenberg was making a wry observation. A joke, if you will.

Possible but its so hard to tell nowadays.

Lincolntf said...

"I thought Totenberg was making a wry observation. A joke, if you will."

You watched the video and that was the impression you got? That's hard to believe. Which of her gestures, tones or words was meant to inject levity?

Scott M said...

Which of her gestures, tones or words was meant to inject levity?

The hair. Anything she says, given that, is ironic or satire. Unless, of course, she thinks she looks good. Then it's just all tragic.

chuck b. said...

"I can't say 'say no more' without thinking of this."

Funny. I think of a different Nina--Nina Garcia. Can't find a clip to link to, but she said "I will say no more" after giving some designer a particularly harsh critique. It instantly became one of my go-to phrases.

AJ Lynch said...

If there was no Christmas tradition, I wonder if schools and businesses would have created the concept of a long winter break?

What did they do in Russia when it was called the Soviet Union?

AJ Lynch said...

I wonder if Nina or NPR staff get off from work for a long Christmas break?

Scott M said...

"Say no more" without a Python reference? Scandalous...

Paul Zrimsek said...

At this tolerant season I'm willing to overlook the occasional breach into what should ordinarily be a wall of separation between NPR and state.

Karnival said...

Nina Totenberg is, forgive the expression, "a journalist".

MadisonMan said...

having now watched the video -- I always pictured Totenberg in my mind as someone with dark hair, for some reason, not a blonde -- I still think it's likely she's trying to inject levity.

Martha said...

Well---forgive the Establishment Clause--- the U.S. Supreme Court has a giant beautifully decorated CHRISTMAS TREE nestled among the court's majestic columns decorated yearly by the Supreme Court clerks.

SEE: http://www.uschscatalog.org/Prod-31-1-838-29/Supreme_Court_Christmas_Tree.htm

Hoosier Daddy said...

I still think it's likely she's trying to inject levity.

It would work better coming from a conservative if levity was the goal. When it comes from a lefty it's just reinforcing the 'I can't stand anything remotely resembling Christianity' theme.

Hoosier Daddy said...

In related news, I just listened to Bruce Springsteen's 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and can't think of anything more ear shattering except a Bob Dylan Christmas special.

Scott M said...

When it comes from a lefty it's just reinforcing the 'I can't stand anything remotely resembling Christianity' theme.

Not necessarily, HD. It could simply be the lefty "I'm PC to the point of near paralysis in real-world situations." That one is far more common and levity unto itself.

bgates said...

What did they do in Russia when it was called the Soviet Union?

In Soviet Union, winter breaks you!

Scott M said...

In Soviet Union, winter breaks you!

See...this is exactly why I don't believe the common scientific belief that zombies don't exist. There are a number of them doing shows in Branson, Missouri.

former law student said...

the U.S. Supreme Court has a giant beautifully decorated CHRISTMAS TREE

Bringing a conifer into a building and decorating it has no basis in the Christian religion that I can see -- let me know when the Court puts up a Nativity scene.

MadisonMan said...

It would work better coming from a conservative if levity was the goal.

Humor comes from all. Believe it!

LL said...

Hoosier Daddy wrote: In related news, I just listened to Bruce Springsteen's 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and can't think of anything more ear shattering except a Bob Dylan Christmas special.

I judge the success of my Christmas season if I can avoid 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' by Bruce Springsteen. I can't stand it. I would rather listen to an endless loop of 'Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart' by George Michael/Wham! than that song.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Bringing a conifer into a building and decorating it has no basis in the Christian religion that I can see -- let me know when the Court puts up a Nativity scene.

True. But at least they have a Christmas (or if you will, Holiday tree), unlike many public buildings today where even Rudolf the Reindeer and anything remotely and secularly related to Christmas is banned.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

In related news, I just listened to Bruce Springsteen's 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and can't think of anything more ear shattering except a Bob Dylan Christmas special.


It can't get worse than THIS GACK




Sorry about the advertisement in front. Couldn't find a clip without an ad.

Ann Althouse said...

"Which of her gestures, tones or words was meant to inject levity?"

It's the subtle smile of a person with a dry sense of humor. Apparently, you want someone wetter.

"The hair. Anything she says, given that, is ironic or satire. Unless, of course, she thinks she looks good. Then it's just all tragic."

The hair always makes me think: Dr. Zira.

Scott M said...

AA out-geeked me. I had to look that one up! LOL, well played.

MadisonMan said...

There's a huge tree in the State Capitol here in Madison. It has usually had a train running around it -- haven't been there this year to see.

I think of it more as an advertisement for the State's big Christmas Tree industry than a Christmas tree, however. It is usually a gorgeous tree.

Deb said...

I still think it's likely she's trying to inject levity.


I laugh at everything they say on NPR, on the rare occasions I happen to be listening, so I really can't tell the difference.

wv: materol. What Nina should take regularly to wipe that ironic expression off her face.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Former law student said...

the U.S. Supreme Court has a giant beautifully decorated CHRISTMAS TREE

Bringing a conifer into a building and decorating it has no basis in the Christian religion that I can see -- let me know when the Court puts up a Nativity scene.

FLS:

Then you don't know history.

The Christmas tree originates deep in the Middle Ages, in Germany, as part of celebrations of December 24--significant not only for being Christmas Eve, but also being the "feast day" assigned, in the Roman Martyrology (i.e., the complete calendar of saints in the Latin-Rite Church) for the patriarchs, Adam and Eve.

Such feasts throughout the year occasioned "mystery plays"--i.e., plays that presented part of the mystery of faith, and the play for Dec. 24 was no different.

The tree was decorated with apples and discs of bread--revealing that those Germans were engaged in good, profound, Christian theology: with the coming of Christ, the tree that brought death (the forbidden fruit) was now the tree of life (i.e., cross => Eucharist).

This is the origin of the Christmas Tree. It's profoundly Christian.

Over time, these plays came to an end; the trees began being set up in homes, and so forth down to the present. I read somewhere they are still, in Bavaria, sometimes called "paradise trees" but I can't recall where I saw that now. All this, fyi, you can find in Encyclopedia Britannica.

So, I'm afraid you're quite wrong. The bringing of a "conifer tree" in, etc., very much has a deep basis in Christianity. That it lies long in the past, and is mostly forgotten, doesn't change the facts of its provenance.

Kirk Parker said...

AJ,

"What did they do in Russia when it was called the Soviet Union?"

Same thing they did before it was teh CCCP, and they do now that it's Russia again: drink vodka. Oh, and sometimes also pretend to work.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Nina is--forgive the expression--a ninny.

Christy said...

Totenberg spoke as a clever girl to fellow progressives. Baker at NewsBusters called her on her rudeness. By reinserting "at the DoJ" into the quote, Althouse pointed to the amusing irony of progressives believing there is any justice from Holder's department.

Guess all 42 reception rooms at State were booked.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Journalists, lawyers and academics are the bitter enemies of every day regular Americans.

What is good for them is bad for us.

They are the elitist termites gnawing at the foundation of our Republic.

The only thing worse than a journalist is a lawyer

Trooper York said...

Also the only thing wurst than brat is liver. Just sayn'

Christy said...

Jeremiah 10:2-4: "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (KJV). Emphasis added.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Christy:

You're kidding, right?

That's talking about building idolatrous images of deities. Read the rest of Jeremiah (and Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy...).

No one in Jeremiah's time was interested in decorating a "holiday tree"--so how odd would it be for Jeremiah to say, "thus saith the Lord..." and have everyone scratching their heads, saying, what's that about? And Jeremiah says, "oh--my notes from High Command say that's not for you; it's for some folks 2,500 years from now. Sorry to confuse you."

Jeremiah's words were for his time: and they weren't hanging ornaments on trees, but they were building idols.

Scott M said...

What's really hysterical is my three-year-old is occasionally in the room watching Futurama reruns with me.

We were in the car talking about going to see Santa at the mall and, out of nowhere, she said, I shit you not, "Santa is big, mean robot". My wife isn't letting me live it down, but one of her favorite sayings is straight out of Zap Brannigan's mouth, so she's got bupkis to stand on.

Scott M said...

(she didn't say, "I shit you not", for those of you that are quotation-challenged).

WV-amberr - an alert for missing twin children.

grandrants said...

"I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas Party at the Department of Justice...."

And I believe we ought to — forgive the expression — defund NPR.

Lincolntf said...

Nina Totenberg, a staunch opponent of Christians, seems to have quite a subtle wit. Some would say undetectable.

Roger J. said...

Ms totenberg (dead mountain indeed) has long since healed up and haired over.

AllenS said...

I just returned from the VA clinic. My doctor, a woman from India said to me at the end of my appointment: "If you celebrate Christmas, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas." Isn't that wonderful?

Lincolntf said...

Good for her! I say it, and people ALWAYS appreciate hearing it. I think it reminds them of the days before banning Religious expression was the primary cultural goal of the dominant political class.

Good times, good times...

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"The hair always makes me think: Dr. Zira."

While the face always makes me think: Dr. Zeus.

John0 Juanderlust said...

re Ham's #1. That sounds like Inquisition reasoning.
Besides, Romans did the deed and Jesus was a devout Jew. I think that portion of your comment is the sort of thing that fuels misguided conflict. It is off base.
The woman in question appeared to be embarrassed, as if it were beneath her to be at an event such as a Christmas party, as if the idea was in some way an affront to the intellect. Not the affront that government employees worrying about their take should be, of course.
It is shocking that this woman actually has a job. She obviously considers herself an entitled elite.

Paul Sand said...

I think Eleanor Bron should play Nina Totenberg in the movie.

Freeman Hunt said...

Was Juan Williams invited?

AJ Lynch said...

I will never forget what my niece [who went to a private school in Wash., DC.] said at her older brother's graduation..."everyone at the school hates America". The commencement speaker was I think William Raspberry, a longtime Beltway pundit, and two of his granchildren also attended that school.

So I am agreeing with Trooper's statement about media elites, academics and liberal lawyers who see nothing good in America.

AJ Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hombre said...

"Hussein" wrote: Nina Totenberg is a Jew....

I don't know about that, but many Americans who call themselves "Jews" have sacrificed their Jewish identities to secular progressive ideology and are hell-bent on making real Jews look bad.

Here, Tottenberg looks like an ignoranus* because she's a p.c. leftie, not because she's a Jew (if she is a Jew).

* Courtesy of WaPo.

Shanna said...

The Christmas tree originates deep in the Middle Ages, in Germany, as part of celebrations of December 24--significant not only for being Christmas Eve, but also being the "feast day" assigned, in the Roman Martyrology (i.e., the complete calendar of saints in the Latin-Rite Church) for the patriarchs, Adam and Eve.

The druids worshiped trees, Yule logs came from Vikings, and December 25 is the birthday of Mithras, not Jesus. Most of our Christmas celebration comes from pagan tradition, so I don’t know why people worry so much about this one way or the other.

AllenS said...

We celebrate Christmas because that's when little baby Jesus was born.

Lance said...

I can't say "say no more" without thinking of this.

I thought you were going to link this.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Shanna:

Druids and Vikings and pagans all ate food and drank water; so I surely hope you aren't contaminating yourself with those questionable practices!

What is your source for claiming Dec. 25 was Mithras' birthday?
Mithraism is certainly an ancient religion, but much of what is written about it, in relation to Christianity, is nonsense; and much is muddled for lack of care to history. This looks like a reasonable attempt to unravel some of the facile nonsense that gets put out: http://christopherbutler.wordpress.com/2006/10/07/jesus-is-not-a-mithras-redux/)

And how can you possibly know--and assert affirmatively--that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25? One may reasonably suggest other dates, but I'm truly impressed that you can know--for a fact--that Dec. 25 is the one day on which Jesus was definitely not born. Do share more, please!

Gene said...

former law stuiden: "Bringing a conifer into a building and decorating it has no basis in the Christian religion that I can see

Well, you're right. And that raises the question: if Christmas trees are not really religious, why are so many non-Christians hostile to them? It would never occur to me to object to a menorah. Actually, I'm happy to see anyone celebrating traditions these days. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas at our house. Works for our family.

Christy said...

I'm confused. My point was that the adornment, and,now that I think about it, adoration, of trees predates Christianity. Whether the tree was crafted to look like Baal, a family totem pole, or Yggdrasil doesn't negate the point.

Gene said...

Nina Totenberg was smiling when she said "Forgive the Expression." I don't think she was so much dissing Christmas as signaling to her non-Christian audience that she hadn't gone over to the dark side.

Scott M said...

I don't think she was so much dissing Christmas as signaling to her non-Christian audience that she hadn't gone over to the dark side.

Please deconstruct that sentence and let me know how it's not a dis against her non-Christian friends' dark side.

The Crack Emcee said...

Salamandyr,

This country has certain civic religious traditions that align with Christianity, owing to the fact that Christianity, of one kind or another, has been the dominant religion of most of the population since founding.

If you have a problem with the occasional "In God We Trust", "We are endowed by our Creator", or heaven help you a "Christmas Party", then I invite you to find another fucking country.

As for my atheist self, I'll stay right here, the occasional public religious expostulation creates a feeling of bonding with my fellow citizens.


Ditto.

Shanna said...

And how can you possibly know--and assert affirmatively--that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25?

Well, obviously I wasn't there, but the people who picked that date didn't do so because it was Jesus's bday either. Pretty much nobody thinks it was anywhere close to dec25. I've always heard March as more likely, although the internet also lists September as a possibility. Very, very unlikely it was December. So why did we pick that day? It wasn't picked out of a hat.

My source for Mithra's bday as Dec 25 is the history channel, plus a bunch of internet websites that I just checked. (Mithra's birthday was celebrated December 25 and he was called “the light of the world.”)

Do you disagree that christianity borrowed heavily from traditions already in place and co-opted them for this holiday? Or at the very least that new christians in europe brought their own traditions and sort of made them fit? Because pretty much everything I've read says otherwise.

The Crack Emcee said...

Shanna,

The druids worshiped trees, Yule logs came from Vikings, and December 25 is the birthday of Mithras, not Jesus. Most of our Christmas celebration comes from pagan tradition, so I don’t know why people worry so much about this one way or the other.

Or why you would bring it up in this way - it doesn't matter, right?

AllenS said...

Having done a lot of geneology work, I can tell you that way back when, your birthday wasn't recorded, what was recorded was your baptism. Which has nothing to do with this conversation. If you haven't been baptized, you can't go to heaven.

Larry J said...

AJ Lynch said...
If there was no Christmas tradition, I wonder if schools and businesses would have created the concept of a long winter break?

What did they do in Russia when it was called the Soviet Union?


Showing my age, I remember an old Artie Johnson skit on "Laugh In" where he was playing a Soviet official. He was asked if they celebrate Christmas in the Soviet Union and replied, "No, but we celebrate New Year's Day. On that day, people only work half a day - 12 hours."

Kylos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

I don't get it...I didn't see the difference in the ellipses, but I understand perfectly the writer's snark at Nina's snarky put down.

If George Carlin were alive, would he add "Christmas" to his list of forbidden words?

Shanna said...

Or why you would bring it up in this way - it doesn't matter, right?

I just think it's silly to freak out about Christmas as a purely religious holiday, because it's such a mix of random pagan traditions including the general celebration of winter, secular stuff like santa, and Christian celebration's of Jesus. I think also think that mix of pretty old traditions is what makes it such a good holiday. Yes, it's called "Christmas" which has Christ in the name, but the actual holiday itself is about a lot of things.

Salamandyr said...


If George Carlin were alive, would he add "Christmas" to his list of forbidden words?


No, he wouldn't, because Carlin was as blinded by political correctness as just about every other media figure.

I like Carlin, but equal opportunity offender he wasn't.

shirley elizabeth said...

"And how can you possibly know--and assert affirmatively--that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25?"

My assumption has always been that Jesus was born in the spring - hence the shepherds being out with their flocks at night, which wasn't a year-round necessity. They had to be there to be witness to the birth of the first-born lambs, those eligible for sacrifice according to the law of moses (thus they were called on to be witness to Jesus' birth as well).

That's just my understanding. Could be inaccurate.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Shanna:

There certainly are arguments for our Lord being born at other times of the year, but it is not true that there is no good reason for the Dec. 25 date.

Nor is it necessarily valid to assume the date was picked arbitrarily.

Remember, a lot of this is from polemics that have been in wide circulation for centuries now. Some from rationalists (e.g., seeking to show how Christianity relied heavily on paganism). And some from Protestants (seeking to show how Catholics were too pagan).

All that has become part of "conventional wisdom" and even influences scholars; but if you dig, you'll find out quite a bit more scholarship that debunks all that. But the thing is, the average man in the street says, as you did: "well, what I've always heard is..."

Your comment about a "they" who "picked" Dec. 25 as the date of Christ's birth reflects that sort of assumption--that it was simply arbitrary; as opposed to what I think did happen (and we have evidence for this): the feast was celebrated locally in the eastern part of the empire, and this practice gradually spread to Rome.

While there isn't overwhelming evidence to support Dec. 25, there is some. For example, there are those who point out that Zachariah had an encounter with the archangel while serving in the temple, and that was (for reasons I cannot recall now) likely September. If so, and Elizabeth conceived shortly thereafter, that leads to a June birth for their son John--who was six months older than Jesus.

The Church doesn't usually make a thing about any of this, because it's not worth arguing about--but that silence is prudence, not due to a lack of something to say.

As far as other influences from pagan culture, there certainly is some, but not so much as many suppose. I've already pointed out how the Christmas Tree is not derived from paganism at all, despite what many suppose.

c3 said...

Lance;

I can't say "say no more" without thinking of this.

Love it but...

whats it like?

Clearly a violation of DADT

blake said...

No, he wouldn't, because Carlin was as blinded by political correctness as just about every other media figure.

No one who has seen his bit about saving endangered species can believe that.

I like Carlin, but equal opportunity offender he wasn't.

No, he was a strident atheist. But not cookie-cutter leftist.

E.M. Davis said...

I would rather she went to a Justice Party at the Department of Christmas.

KLDAVIS said...

The intended Youtube video link was this one, right?

former law student said...

From science.co.il:

The rainy season extends from October to early May, and rainfall peaks in December through February.

Shepherds would be pasturing their flocks during the rainy season, when fresh green things would be sprouting. Wolves would be roaming at night, trying to pick off a sheep, thus shepherds would be watching over their flocks at night even when lambing is yet to begin.

prairie wind said...

Scott M: "I shit you not" is one of my favorite expressions. It seems to have fallen into general disuse...or maybe I need to hang around my brothers more. I'm not shitting you.

Throbert said...

What did they do in Russia when it was called the Soviet Union?

They put up a fir tree with decorations and lights on it, exchanged gifts, and their version of Santa Claus -- called Ded Moroz, "Grandfather Frost" -- would show up for the kids. (Yes, the Russian name for Santa sounds remarkably similar to the English words "dead, morose" -- but it's merely one of those uncanny coincidences.)

Plus, there was an elaborate, artery-clogging potato salad called Oliv'ye (from the French name "Olivier"), and imported mandarin oranges or tangerines as an indulgent treat to remind everyone of warmer weather, and (of course) mass quantities of vodka.

However, all this associated with New Year's Eve, rather than Christmas -- not because of Soviet atheism, but because in Russian Orthodox tradition, Christmas had always been a solemn holy day where you went to church for a stamina-testing Mass that lasted longer than those ¡Súper Sábado! game shows on Mexican TV. So New Year's was the "festive" holiday long before the Bolsheviks showed up.

From what I gather, the only change nowadays is that in cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, some Russians may use the Western-calendar Christmas on Dec. 25 as a convenient excuse to throw "pre New Year" parties -- but apart from that, the big festivities are still centered around New Year's Eve.

Darrell said...

The Jews around the time of Christ had been debating a theory that a prophet--especially a great one--died either on the day of their birth, or the day of their conception. The focus of the Church was, initially, solely on the death and resurrection of Jesus. About a hundred years later, people started to ask to celebrate the birth of Jesus as well, and some had been doing it already using various dates. The Pope of the time asked Church scholars to come up with a likely date. One was drawn to that aforementioned debate. They could figure out the day Jesus died because Passover can be calculated.
If they used that day of the year as his Birthday, then we would be "celebrating" Good Friday and Christmas on the same day---too confusing. So they went with the "day of Conception" option. If you add 280 (normal human gestation) to the date in March when Jesus was crucified, you'll arrive at December 25th.

Just because most people at the time in that area were born in the Spring (or later) doesn't mean that no one was born in December. Historian working in the area have found that many were, based on information on grave markers and death records. The March birth premise probably is based on that same theory (only with the day of his Birth being the same as the day of his Death.)

Darrell said...

Btw, the birthday of Mithras wouldn't be on the same date every year because it would have been based on a lunar calendar. The dates each year would vary as the dates of Passover, Easter, and the Muslim holy days, for example, do.

PatCA said...

I have this vision of the DOJ employees racing around the office destroying all evidence of a "Christmas" party, while the ACLU elves are racing around drafting their complaint.

Throbert said...

Btw, the birthday of Mithras wouldn't be on the same date every year because it would have been based on a lunar calendar. The dates each year would vary as the dates of Passover, Easter, and the Muslim holy days, for example, do.

NB: The dates of the Muslim holy days do vary from year to year, but they don't vary in the same way as the dates for Passover and Easter. The Muslim religious calendar is purely lunar, and any given date on their calendar (such as the 1st of Ramadan) advances by 11 days each year relative to our Gregorian calendar.

But the timing for Easter and Passover is "lunisolar," being based on the dates of full moons with respect to the spring equinox -- which is defined as a particular point in the Earth's orbit around the sun. So the dates for Passover and Easter wobble back and forth from year to year while remaining tethered (as it were) to the equinox on 21 March.

At any rate, does anyone today even know with certainty what calendar Mithraism used? Records of the religion and its rites are incredibly spotty.

dick said...

I wonder if anyone has bothered to check when the census was taken in the year that the law went out that a census was required. That would pretty much tell you about when Jesus was born since it was during the period of that census. Seems to me you can come close just from that and since the Romans were pretty good about record keeping you should be able to find that out if you had access to the records of the time.