On the night of December 25, 2004, I felt haunted. No. It was not because of my guilt for not having decorated my house for the Christmas, or baked turkey and ham, and some delicious black cake. It was because of something I had done that I thought (after the fact) would have deeply offended my boyfriend. That December 25th night,
I began by telling him that I had done something that he would not be pleased with. Actually, I expected him to be very angry, and I realized that he could have gotten angry enough to break up with me.
He questioned me and then listened intently to what I had to say. Afterwards, he did not have much to say about it. This caused me some anxiety until he told me that he understood where I was coming from. I was totally awed that he did not get angry. I expected him to react differently…but he surprisingly understood, and I was able to go to bed that night with a free conscience and appreciating the priceless gift of forgiveness.
I got other gifts (not wrapped presents) on December 25th, but this is the one that touched my heart the most. I would have appreciated any gift on Christmas Day as I would appreciate any gift on any day, and if this gift of forgiveness had come on any other day, I would have appreciated it all the same.
Those close to me know that I don’t celebrate Christmas and so that explains why my house was barren of any of the things that announce, “Christmas is here!”
For years now, I’ve not celebrated Easter, Christmas, or any of those religious holidays. The reason is simple, and I think the astute Dr. Leroy Taeger had coined it succinctly and clearly in a statement he made at a recent forum held by the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF). He said something to the effect that if you find out the root of religion, you will be free to do as you please.
That was where the true liberation started for me—digging for the roots. Readers will recall that in late 2001, I had contributed a series of religious articles to the Amandala. I had such a hard time getting some of them published, because they were very unorthodox writings that offended many people who subscribe to the dominant Christian denominations. (From those whom I offended I ask forgiveness.)
At the time, I was a Seventh Day Adventist. Moreover, I was in search of the Spirit and in search of truth. For me, it was a journey that began in December 2000, when I realized that I had become a stranger to my own self. That was the beginning of my reawakening, but truly, the process is a continuing one.
My most intense learning period was 2001 and 2002. It began with my exposure in the United States to two religious denominations: Pentecostal and Seventh Day Adventist. I thirsted for a more fulfilling and meaningful life and that is what I was really after, and still am after. Yet, I found that I had made myself a slave to my church, the Seventh Day Adventist movement. I did not have a problem with that, because the Scriptures tell you that you are supposed to become a slave to the Messiah, rather than a slave to sin, and I felt that by serving my church, I also served him.
I was deeply committed to the movement, and I accepted many of their teachings are being rooted in truth. However, it was not long before I began to experience conflicts on two fronts. Firstly, I had bucked heads, unintentionally, with the main leaders of my congregation in Belize City. I remember one night I had dreamt that there were two alligators lashing their tails (unsuccessfully) at me. That dream manifested itself the following day, at a Friday evening service, when two of the church leaders acted venomously towards me.
I had joined the congregation with only one thing in mind—the passion to serve selflessly, and perhaps it was this passion that those around me could not understand and thus feared. I think they misunderstood my motives. I did not want to overturn their leadership; my only desire was to serve in all that I was able to.
Secondly, I had become exposed to some new truths that were not being taught within my denomination, and when I asked my lead pastor about them, his answers were unsatisfactory. For example, the teaching, upheld by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that the Almighty has a NAME. Studies of history, the Scriptures (old and new), as well as the root meanings of words support their argument that the original Name written in the Scriptures had been excised in versions used by most Christians. There is also the truth behind the replacement of the Jewish Passover with the Easter celebration, and at least one version of the Bible erroneously replaces the name “Passover” with “Easter” in one verse; historical studies explain how this “replacement” actually took place.
My eyes became open to all these things and my curiosity and thirst for a deeper understanding impelled me to continue with my research. Then I found the link between the Spanish “Dios” and the Greek “Zeus” – they are one and the same. The syncretism in my religion became obvious.
There was a recurring pattern: when I thought I had found the origin of something, I realized that it was only an illusion, because each time I dared to dig deeper and deeper, I found that what I thought was the origin also had an origin in something else. This might seem complicated, but I come back to my example of Christmas, and if you research, you will find similarly that Easter, Valentines, and many other traditions follow much the same pattern.
I believe that the traditions of Christmas do not originate with the birth of the Messiah. As with a number of other religious observances, it harks back to ancient traditions that even Christians once labeled “pagan.” The celebration still has the taint of paganism, and so it is no wonder that for so many people, Christmas has more to do with Santa than with Christ.
The ancient Roman festival Saturnalia, for example, centered on the belief that the sun died and was reborn around the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year, now around December 21). Check out the story of sun god, Mithra, also. Dec. 25 was the birthday of “the unconquered sun,” and declared so by Roman Emperor Aurelian in 274 A.D.
Later, the Asian Monk, Dionysus Exiguus, wrongly calculated the year of the Messiah’s birth with the creation of the “anno domini” or “year of our Lord” dating system in the 6th century. It is now widely accepted that he was off by a few years.
Also, Jewish and other historians have disputed that the Messiah was born significantly earlier that December 25th, and certainly not during winter.
Nonetheless, Christmas was supposed to replace the so-called heathen festivals, but the secularism of Christmas still pervades the observance because of its roots.
When my boyfriend found out on the night of December 25th that I had not made any “Christmas dinner,” he asked me if I did not believe in Jesus [YAHUSHUAH]. “Yes,” I replied, but added that Christmas has nothing to do with him, the Messiah. I had explained to him in April why I did not celebrate Easter, but I had not yet explained the Christmas thing to him.
Most everyone else around me, including him, celebrated the religious holiday. I condemn no one for his or her choice, and I don’t wish for anyone to condemn me for mine. I am happy with it.
From an Afro-centric standpoint, I do not believe that the white-bearded, rosy-skinned old man had ever brought me any presents; and there is no snowman in my neighborhood—no reindeers, no elves, no mistletoes. These are not the traditions of my original ancestors; and this is another justification for me to discard it.
I remember the Christmases I experienced as a child—how much my parents, and particularly my dad, spoiled us—and I fondly remember my dad dressing up as Santa Claus, as he went “ho-ho-ho-ing!” I remember when we used to go caroling in front of the Dangriga Hospital—and we did not beg for donations. We had a lot of fun!
Those were my childhood days, but there comes a time when we all have to seek spiritual maturity, to see beyond the human constructions, to desire more than material tokens of love and appreciation. They are blessings of immeasurable value.
by Adele Ramos, Amandala (Reprint and condensed)