I’m on a discord for Paralives-it’s an upcoming life-sim. It’s really nice chatroom most of the time (even though I do get tired of hearing from newbies "is there a release date yet? Or “is there going to be muptle-player mode?, etc”). The only times it’s not nice is if we’re arguing over something-wether it’s disabilities-which the devs ARE looking into, or religions or something. Note: the Devs said they wouldn’t be adding religons but there will be “religious” items like at least the hijab.
Now-There was a little talk on the current brainstorming session (I think it will change on Monday to something else) of town activies. After several people pointed out that religion wasn’t going to be included-- one of the people pointed out there are two versions of “Christmas”-the reglious one and the secular one. Someone else pointed out that the secular Christmas borrows from a lot of pagan relgions so it’s “still relgious”.
Now the point I want to make here is if you think about it almost everything in our daily life is from Pagan religions. Like Weekdays-Wednesday to Friday (not sure about Monday/Tuesday)-are from Norse mythology. Saturday is from Roman mythology.
Some of our months are borrowed from the Roman mythology (Janus=two headed god, and June=Juno) The only months which aren’t borrowed from Roman mythology appered to be July&August which are named after people (note: Sept used to be 8th month)
Sure not everything is borrowed from pagan religion but a lot IS borrowed from pagan religons.
Tuesday comes from Tyr, Thursday from Thor. September used to be 7th month, hence word septem. Octo for 8 (octagonal might be familiar), novem for 9, decem for 10 (You might have heard of decimal system) latin numbers.
To me personally, It doesn’t really matter where something comes from but rather how we use it in the present day. Yes, I’m aware of where things come from, but it’s less important as how things are now.
The word secular literally means “not connected with religious or spiritual matters”. A secular christmas might borrow from pagan stuff, but it in itself is not a religious affair.
As for everything else you mentioned… I think it’s a nice thing to learn about the origins of stuff, but in general… I also don’t think it matters too much.
It is normal that cultures mix and evolve with time.
In Swedish all days except monday and saturday are names after norse gods
Måndag - Moon day
Tisdag - Tyr’s day
Onsdag - Odin’s day
Torsdag - Thor’s day
Fredag - Freya’s day
Lördag - Washing day (Vikings were know to be very clean and vain)
Söndag - Sunna’s day (Godess of the sun)
The months are of Roman origin, like March (mars in Swedish), the god of war.
We still celebrate “jul”, we decorate the house with a fir tree and a goat. We leave milk and porrage on the door step for the farm gnome (which was the inspiration for Father Christmas in modern days) We celebrate Lucia, with singing, candles and baking.
Eastern is all about witches and none about Jesus. Midsummer’s eve is one of the most celebrated days of the year.
Kids believe in faires and trolls.
These are all everyday left overs of paganism, and it’s a part of our history and culture, but has nothing to do with religion anymore
I completely agree. Halloween has both Christian roots (the day before All Saints Day) and Pagan roots (Samhain–supposedly), but for most people today it’s just about costumes and candy and not much else.
That gets more complicated. My celebration of Christmas is entirely secular. However, that doesn’t mean that I can label Christmas as a secular holiday for everyone. Check out the second Q&A here for more about that.
Christmas is a bit tricky and it took me a while to get why. (Or why for me at least). In Finland it’s called ‘joulu’ which comes from Swedish Jul which in its place has roots on Yule tide. The name was old, the customs were… I guess I could call it regular. They were more folk traditions than religional habits. Sure there was religion customs as well but they were not the main thing. So to me “joulu” was the mid winter celebration of heavy traditions and gift giving that I knew can have heavy religion meaning as well.
However what I mean with tricky is when I entered English world. To me Christmas was just translation of word Joulu which doesn’t mean anything particular in the language anymore except that celebration. I read stories about non Christian or non religious people being a bit on the sour side about being wished Merry Christmas before I realised the name alone implies Christ. The name alone invokes idea of it being heavily religious celebration and when having options of others where their name is tied to the religion they come from it stays just as one of them. It’s hard to repurpose it as secular name when it’s literal meaning is so religious in itself.
Language defines lot of attitudes by sometimes not giving an option to not care (gender pronouns being one thing it took me too long to really understand what makes them so grave issue. I understood it’s annoying to be called wrong ones I just didn’t realised how intertwined they are to daily language with gender based languages. Coming from language that doesn’t intrinsically define the gender of third persona I had not the instinct to try to define everyone’s gender I speak of and didn’t understand why others do before I realised the language itself makes it necessary.) Most of the humanity’s world this far has been religious in one way or another so language has developed with those things having been a norm and trying to entirely avoid them will lead to stupid constructs that are more notable than what they try to fix. Its not even that people necessarily wanted to choose being religious, it was just what people knew to be true. Humanity wants explanations and if that weird light ball keeps raising to the sky every day someone needs to explain why. Without compelling evidence against, everyone knows it’s because some dude pulls it on some heaven chariot across the sky. It’s just common sense.
As for the game (sorry my ramble) I think avoiding yearly celebrations entirely will make it rather bleak but maybe go with general celebrations not exactly rooted to any one tradition but happy mixture of the less religious parts of the many. Many MMOs do it now with more or less their game world based celebration names. To celebrate grand occasions is built in to us, and in general certain parts of year count. Look at traditions that are more about “have fun with other people” and “be kind to others” that is, that have fair moral value and skip the obviously religionally worshipping ones. Name it to something neutral more tied to the occasion like “mid winter night” or “spring flower tide” and you have something to be joyful for everyone.
But the “secgular” aspects of christmas come from pagan times. Like even the date of Christmas comes from Pagan. It was originally was the festival of Saturnilia. I know that I think its the misltoe which comes like Wooden’s day (Wednesday) and Thor’s day (Thursday)-come from Norse. I think Yule log in Britian at least comes from the Celtics.
Kinda curious now, and I’d like to know what the secular Christmas people think of this scenario:
There is a holiday in Islam that is similar to Christmas: Mawlid an-Nabi, or just Mawlid. It celebrates the birth of Mohammed. During Mawlid, people distribute charity and food, children and scholars recite poetry, and processions may go through the street or fairs are set up.
Suppose you are asked to participate in a celebration of Mawlid. You distribute charity and food, listen to (and perhaps recite) poetry, and you take part in a colorful procession through the streets. There is no mention of Mohammed or Allah, only the festivities that have sprung up around his birthday. Would you consider that particular celebration of Mohammed’s birth to be secular?
If you do not believe it would be secular, what would you say is the difference between that and Christmas being secular?
And the hamburger originated in Germany, but is still considered American cuisine. Point is, things change over time. Christmas is one of those cultural things that has changed. The history is good to know, but it doesn’t make Christmas pagan for those of us who celebrate the secular Christmas.
I don’t know enough about the various celebrations of that holiday to answer that question.
I disagree that Christmas is truly secular for this exact reason.
There are many parts of “Christmas celebrations” that are really winter celebrations, like snow, candles, sleigh bells, wearing sweaters, feasts with family and friends. But the parts about Santa, putting a tree indoors*, Dec 25, many of the carols/songs, and all the Jesus stuff is very religious. I have never seen a truly secular Christmas because it still takes place on Dec 25 in the context of Christmas. But you could do something Dec 31 or Jan 1 for New Years with winter stuff and it could be secular.
I don’t think paganism is really relevant to the question of “secular Christmas” because paganism is not a major institution interested in spreading and embedding a cultural event from which they can profit financially and with soft power. If Christmas is removed from its religious roots, it’s easy to sell a happy winter holiday to cultures averse to Western religions= bigger market for Christmas material and more receptive to other Western ideas. It’s like going for the culture victory in Civ. Ancient pagan roots coopted centuries ago don’t matter because the essential question is the same: “How can we celebrate Christmas where it is not celebrated?” No one is asking how we can celebrate winter solstice.
*I read that having a tree is also part of traditional winter celebrations separate from Christmas in maybe Russia? So that would be an exception
There is no Jesus stuff for many of us. the 25th of December is just a day that we celebrate family. Christmas doesn’t have the deeper meaning for secular Christmas that it does for religious Christmas.
Yes but my point is that choosing to tone down the religiosity of a religious holiday does not make it a secular holiday. It still has a religious context that people who are not culturally Christian reject. “Secular” Christmas is practiced by people whose families descended from practicing Christians—and now it is sold to non-practicing Christians as part of cultural imperialism.
It doesn’t have a religious context, thats my point. They share some traditions, the date, etc… but they are technically two very different holidays. Same goes for Easter and Halloween. The easter i celebrated is about Chocolate, and my halloween is very different from All Hallow’s End.
Yes, i know the origin of these holidays, and the traditions… but the version of them people like me celebrate is very removed from these origins.
“Pagan” is quite a loose or Christian-centred term. It’s had various meanings but generally is “not one of us”, but including official Roman religion (though the word appeared in this meaning afterwards) in which Roman emperors usually became gods when they died is casting the net wide. Another specific meaning was “polytheistic” that is believing in more than one god, and indeed the Romans had many. But I’m saying “pagan” isn’t even one big tent.