December 24, 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
CHRISTMAS GREETINGS…and A Little History
On this day, Christmas Eve of the Year 2018, I take the opportunity to wish each of you and yours a most Blessed and Joyous Feast of Christmas! May Our Lord bless you and anneal you in His graces.
We have all thought fleetingly, I suppose, about the origin of name “Christmas” at one time or another, and we know that it comes from the conjunction of two words: “Christ” and “Mass,” that is, “Christ’s Mass,” the liturgy celebrated in His honor, commemorating His birth in the historic Christian calendar.
The Wikipedia, following various histories, sums up well how the name came to be in popular usage.
"Christmas" is a shortened form of "'s ". It is derived from the Cristemasse, which is from Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038, followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst ( Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "", meaning "anointed"; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the .
The form Christenmas was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally "Christian mass". is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), "Christ", though numerous discourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where "Χρ̄" is an abbreviation for Χριστός).
In addition to "Christmas", the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The referred to the feast as "midwinter", or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from nātīvitās). "", meaning "birth", is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola () referred to the period corresponding to December and January, which was eventually equated with Christian Christmas. "Noel" (or "Nowel") entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs)meaning "birth (day)."
It is fascinating to note that in 1659 the Puritans in control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony actually banned Christmas and the festivities surrounding it which they considered, in their Iconoclastic and heretical way, to be an affront to God:
“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.” [ https://newengland.com/today/living/new-england-history/how-the-puritans-banned-christmas/]
For those zealots, Christmas was a distraction, a pagan celebration that smacked of the feared Catholic and Anglican traditions. Too much celebration, too much joy took away from their practical and stern Gnosticism. Indeed, by so doing they actually cut themselves off from living Christian tradition and the inheritance of 1500 years of Christian faith.
As various distinguished historians and authors such as Perry Miller and Paul Conkin have detailed, the Puritans of Massachusetts begat in third and fourth generations a degenerative vision of humanity that maintained the same frenzied zealotry and framework of the original Yankee Puritans, but had evolved into philosophical Transcendentalism and religious Universalism, and later such fanatical aberrations as Abolitionism and Women’s Suffrage. Without the firm anchor and foundation of tradition, “faith” became little more than a social philosophy advocating for change here on earth. In social reform and human progress would Salvation be found.
And we have seen in our own time the continued expression, the result of this philosophy. For today it is the same descendants of those Puritans, now vested in all the gross finery of Progressivist thought, who advance the latest cause for gender equality, same sex marriage, transgenderism…the same descendants and their allies who denounce anyone who challenges the new template on race as “racist”…and who with unleashed passion demand that the “new Gospel” of American-style secular democracy and equality be imposed on the rest of the world. There lies salvation for them.
So, tonight as we begin to celebrate the Feast of Christmas, by that very act we defy and denounce those Puritans and their progeny. In the liturgy for Christmas Eve, we sing:
“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad before the face of the Lord: because He cometh.”
A blessed and joyous Christmas to you all and to your families!