The War on Christmas is going to be with us again all through this holiday season, and Kirk Cameron has put himself right at the forefront. As I reported here earlier, Cameron is going to be saving Christmas this holiday season with his new film, “Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.”
Having just finished with efforts to steal Halloween from Celtic Pagans, where it is known as Samhain, (pronounced ‘Sowin’), Kirk the Grinch wants to prove once and for all that Christmas is 100% Evangelical Christian and that Jesus was born on December 25.
That, insists Cameron, is the only reason Christmas is celebrated on that day. Even though early Christians had a lot of other ideas as to when Jesus was born, like January 6, March 28, April 2, or April 20, or even sometimes in November.
Except he is wrong. The Christians closest to the event tell us so.
He either doesn’t know any better, though he insists we’re the ones who don’t know anything, or he just likes to lie, even though his Bible says that’s a BIG no-no. Here, I’ll even toss you a clue: It’s a commandment, Kirk. Check it out.
The Christian Post tells us that, “In his first release since ‘Unstoppable,’ Cameron aims to ‘put the Christ back in Christmas’ this holiday season by attempting to debunk disparaging theories surrounding Christmastime.”
The fact – and it is a fact – that Christmas is celebrated on the Pagan holiday of December 25, is hardly disparaging, since facts cannot be disparaging. They can only be facts. It’s lamentable that Kirk Cameron feels insulted by facts, but there is little we can do but to tell him to pull up those big boy britches and soldier on.
Cameron told the Christian Post that, “I’m making ‘Saving Christmas’ because I love Christmas, I love everything about it.”
Everything but the facts, apparently. He is upset that “a lot of people who really want to put a big wet blanket on the celebration,” with their pesky old facts.
Facts, for Cameron, are “Kool-Aid.”
Of course, Cameron has a long history of playing the victim, claiming to be the one being stoned even as he throws stones at gays, for example.
According to Cameron, even the Christmas tree is in the Bible. Except for the fact that trees were a symbol of Paganism – because, you know, we Pagans dig trees – we might believe him.
The ancient Heathens used to “worship” trees not because they symbolized a particular god (though trees, like rainbows, could connect this world to the “upper” world) but because they were symbolic of growth and life, and evergreen trees, which did not wilt and die in the winter, seemed to continue to live miraculously. The Heathens brought offering to the trees – fruit and candles, “dressing” the tree in a manner similar to how classical Pagans decorated the statues of their gods. But this Heathen practice was done in honor of Odin, whose time this was with his Wild Hunt through the skies.
There is plenty of evidence that Cameron is wrong. As I have also pointed out before, religioustolerance.org tells us that:
In 1851, Pastor Henry Schwan of Cleveland OH appears to have been the person responsible for decorating the first Christmas tree in an American church. His parishioners condemned the idea as a Pagan practice; some even threatened the pastor with harm.
So the Bible has Christmas trees? Why did it take 1,851 years from the day Jesus was allegedly born, for somebody to put a tree up for him, only to be accused of being a Pagan?
Cameron likes not only trees but all the other trappings of Christmas, telling The Christian Post that these include “roasting chestnuts, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying Christmas stockings, stories, trees and food.”
The very things which the Puritans banned. In Puritan New England you could not sing carols or dance, put on a play, to eat mince pies and pudding, and you especially could not drink, and trees were especially considered Pagan. You know, because the Bible says so.
Cotton Mather raged that “the feast of Christ’s nativity is spent in reveling, dicing, carding, masking, and in all licentious liberty…by mad mirth, by long eating, by hard drinking, by lewd gaming, by rude reveling!”
The Puritans knew, if Kirk Cameron does not, that Christmas did not originate as a Christian holiday, and so they saw it – properly – as a Pagan holiday and disapproved of it. December 25 was only celebrated because in 350 CE – three hundred and fifty years after Jesus was born – Pope Julius I ordered Christmas to be celebrated on December 25.
We can even show the spread of December 25 from the time Julius I made his pronouncement: December 25th arrived in Constantinople in 380, and it’s not until 386 that we find John Chrysostom, in Antioch, ordering Christmas to be celebrated by the Christian community there on December 25. December 25 did not come to Alexandria until 432. The Church of Jerusalem stubbornly refused to celebrate that date until the seventh century! That’s a longer span than that of the entire history of the United States.
Just to be clear: at that date, the year 350 CE, the official Roman calendar showed December 25 was already taken, marked down as the Natalis Invicti, or ‘birthday of the Unconquerable’ Sun. We can’t go back and change the official Roman calendar. This is just one of those pesky facts you can’t make go away.
So contrary to Cameron’s nearly incoherent ramblings, not only was December 25th not originally Jesus’ birthday, not only was it already somebody else’s birthday, but when it was declared Jesus’ instead, nobody wanted it.
Before this, “Irenaeus (c. 130-200), Tertullian (c. 160-225), and Origen of Alexandria (c. 165-264),” big Christian thinkers Cameron must absolutely have heard of, all failed to make mention of Christmas or of any Christmas celebrations. Thus, we can be sure, if anybody was celebrating Christmas for these first three Christian centuries, none of these guys heard of it.
And a final point to make obvious how ridiculous Cameron sounds (sorry Kirk, but you asked for it, buddy):
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 CE), warned (Stromateis 1.21; 145.6; 1146.4) that curiosity about the date of Jesus’ birth was “gratuitous curiosity.”
Did that hurt? It had to hurt.
So look, Clement didn’t know. And what’s more, he didn’t care. Heck, he thought it was wrong to care. So did the Pilgrims!
Even outside of Puritan New England Christmas was not a big deal. Alabama was the first state to make Christmas a public holiday – and it didn’t do that until 1836. Christmas didn’t become a national holiday until President Ulysses S. Grant made it one in 1870.
How is it then Cameron knows something no other Christian knew or cared about down all those long centuries? Why, if Christmas is not a stolen Pagan holiday, did it take so many centuries for Christians to decide to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and why on that day specifically?
This is not mean old Pagans like your surly old son of Odin, Hrafnkell, making this stuff up. This is part of the historical record, Jack…er, Kirk.
For the Puritans, Christmas was “Foolstide,” and Kirk Cameron seems intent on proving them right.
 Friedrich Solmsen, “George A. Wells on Christmas in Early New Testament Criticism,” Journal of the History of Ideas
Vol. 31, No. 2 (Apr. – Jun., 1970), pp. 277-280
 Solmsen (1970).
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.