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Do you celebrate Christmas because of reliious beliefs?

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  • Do you celebrate Christmas because of reliious beliefs?

    Just a question that I have grappled with for a number of years.
    I was raised in a dual religious household, meaning my grandmother taught me the Lakota spirituality AND the community we lived in pushed Catholicism at us in any way possible in an effort to recruit new members. Even at a young age I knew their intentions with Bible teaching was not entirely honest as they would often mock our way of spirituality. To me they have many different beliefs and the similarities are few if any.
    So my question to you all is do you follow Catholicism or Christianity in any form and celebrate Christmas in the European way by viewing it as the birth of God or do you follow the teachings of your ancestors and your tribal belief. If the latter, are there any traditions of the religious sort that you follow. ie: Midnight mass, etc and the gift exchanging thing?
    I try to live my life as though every day is a special one and I respect the earth and all the Great Spirit has placed in front of us...meaning we respect the Earth and all it's inhabitants, animals and plants just as I respect my fellow man and in particular, my Lakota family.
    I know my Unchi followed both with a passion. While she had her Catholic priest bring her communion weekly and on special religious days, she also was very knowledgable about our way of Spirituality and passed along to us all it entailed. At this point in my later life, I have strayed away from Catholicism and believe only on the moral thought process that has us paying respect to Mother Earth and being the best person I can be. Of course there is a huge difference between the two, I imagine if one chooses there is room in ones heart to be able to do both. To me the Catholic church has committed so many sins against what they stand for so it is hard for me to respect them as an organized religion. I don't at all care for the separation and 'classification' of their particular church members.
    Feel free to tell as much or as little as you care to I am very interested in this dual worship that has been forced upon many of us and the outcome of having it in your life, Does either bring you the faith and hope you might need for guidance or do you motivate yourself to be an upstanding and high morals person seeking only the best in our fellow man?
    "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

  • #2
    Actually, our family doesn't celebrate Christmas. But I do take advantage of sales AFTER the holiday. :)

    Ahhh, Christmas envy. Yes, and I heard of the room in the heart argument and such too...that there is room for both types of spirituality and holidays and such.

    For me, I decided to do a study on the holiday back when I was younger and I had young children. I found out that the Christmas holiday is not old. In fact, in parts of colonial America, celebrating Christmas was illegal...because its roots (according to Puritanical types) were not Christian. And it has morphed greatly. The commercial Christmas of today is nothing like it was a hundred years ago.

    From what I read, no one knows when Jesus was born. Some others say that the traditional things like Yule Logs, globe balls on the tree, the tree itself, etc etc come from European ancient non-Judeo-Christian traditions with a sticky label on them that changes the god it honored to Jesus. I don't know if I totally believe that, but it seems that the roots of some of the traditions have a checkered past.

    That being said, I commend you for thinking seriously about this. You recongnize the fact that you have a heavy responsibility to practice and pass on the correct religious and secular traditions to the next generation, whatever those traditions are. I did research and came up with my decision after weighing all the evidence. Someone else may look at the same research and choose in favor of Christmas.

    Whatever your choice, you are going to feel a lot better making an informed choice by studying about the history of the traditions. Then you can pray and seek the answer for yourself.

    Comment


    • #3
      The way I see it if it's of any interest. Being born Christian, raised in a christian way without going to church, just occasionally - Jesus Christ was born a jew and said to be a Prophet and to bring some kind of loving order amongst the people. His birth is being celebrated at Christmas since it's Christ. A teacher to show people to be kind to each other and to love all things on earth and the universe - god the creator - to love him too. Basically to surpress the bad thoughts that get into peoples heads. Innocent people don't know about bad things until they are told by others that plant those thoughts in their heads. I do not believe in Churches and doctrines. I believe in the good that's meant. I don't think I am religous but I respect when people are. And maybe it's religious when I look for THE holy spirit. Since in Germany they have the tradition of gathering just within families at the Christmas Holidays it's not my thing anymore, my family has deceased and over here lonesome friends seem to be excluded from those families that gather. Which is a shame. Shouldn't be that way. Guess it's tradition over here in Germany. Since I have been living within native american community - I have found what I always were. Myself if that makes any sense. I get pictures in my mind how native americans used to live before the white man came and how you be all one with everything. A right way of life. But really I know nothing. And what I know I am not going to explain since you know it yourself. I belief people could learn a lot from native americans how to... to me you are special people. Unique and with a beautiful mind, beautiful ways. And talking about christianity again, it's always been said, that it's free to decide to become a Christian because Christ would never force anyone to follow his ways - those people that force it upon others seem not to have understood something written in the Bible which I read out of interest rather than of religious believes. The 10 commandments are a guide not an order. As the consequences of not following those guides everyone will have to face and deal with it. So much on my view about celebrating Christmas out of religious beliefs. I hope I didn't say anything respectless, no offence please.

      Comment


      • #4
        You bring up a good point, Forgottengermanwoman. It is important to respect what others believe.

        I think many children in the US learn early on that not everyone is the same and others have other traditions. We live in a land of diversity in the US, so it is usually no big deal socially if you celebrate one thing or the other...although it can be a matter of personal struggle as Elo Janis illustrates.

        The main thing is that you are empowered to keep or break away from traditions, separately of your parents or the religion you embrace. In other words, you have the power to celebrate your chosen traditions within your own family (Why does an episode of Seinfeld come to mind with Festivus?)

        But when you leave this world, you want to think that you practiced and passed down what was essential to the next generation. This is a universal responsibility for all of us, for any culture to live on.

        And this is a great responsibility.

        Comment


        • #5
          docat,
          I too have researched Christmas traditions and customs of people around the world. While I might not agree/understand a number of them, I do respect them for having their own customs and beliefs and for practicing those values. I take that stance in all things...I might not like or agree with them, but I respect the person's choice to do as they please.

          I am totally opposed to the commercialization of the day and each year it seems to be getting worse. Instead of giving and receiving love and acceptance, there is just too much emphasis placed on what you can buy, where you go to celebrate the day and how much material goods you have. If you and your family do not have the good fortune to be employed and to have disposable income with which to purchase gifts, it seems as though you do not matter and no amount of 'goodwill' will make a difference.
          In an idea world, which is far from what we live in, the notion of celebrating the ability to show love and respect not only for their God and for their fellow human beings on that ONE day would be spread throughout the year. Of course there are a number of people who do live their lives like this...lives that do not include judging others who are different from them, of sharing what you do have with those who do not have, of forgiving those who have done you wrong and all other things that demonstrate the true goodness of a life lived in an honest and upstanding way.
          That is what I love about my Lakota upbringing and the belief system that was instilled in me...to love everyone and to do as much as you can for the survival and prosperity of all you in your life. We do not judge nor do we turn our backs on those who are lost or have wondered off the good path. I am extremely fortunate to have been raised in a family where all of us mattered and our strengths as humans were not based on what we have, but rather what we could do for others and how we could contribute towards the betterment of our society.
          How I wish the whole world could see things in this way. Instead of advertising the latest technology and how our lives can be enriched by these material things, we should be pushing ourselves to be better human beings and to help those who are unable to help themselves. Isn't that what was originally meant in the beginning? At what point did we turn these good intentions into a race towards the goal of having things that others do not have? Will our world ever be a place of total global peace and good will or will we continue to oppress those who have no strength to fight for themselves and will we continue to climb over those who have fallen down.
          Isn't that what organized religions would have us believe they are striving to achieve? Was there always this battle to the finish line of having more than your neighbors? Where and when did the human race lose this positive characteristic of loving and caring for those unable to care for themselves?
          Isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be about?
          "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by docat View Post
            You bring up a good point, Forgottengermanwoman. It is important to respect what others believe.

            I think many children in the US learn early on that not everyone is the same and others have other traditions. We live in a land of diversity in the US, so it is usually no big deal socially if you celebrate one thing or the other...although it can be a matter of personal struggle as Elo Janis illustrates.

            The main thing is that you are empowered to keep or break away from traditions, separately of your parents or the religion you embrace. In other words, you have the power to celebrate your chosen traditions within your own family (Why does an episode of Seinfeld come to mind with Festivus?)

            But when you leave this world, you want to think that you practiced and passed down what was essential to the next generation. This is a universal responsibility for all of us, for any culture to live on.

            And this is a great responsibility.
            Yes it is a great responsibility but not everyone can see....
            so some are so clouded up in their minds that they cannot see and sometimes even don't want to see the goodness. Can't blame anyone for the way he's raised, it't that what they learn from their surroundings..., it is natural to everyone to become what they are thought by their parents or whoever is responsible to raise a child. I only can see things in my way as I have disconnected from what fellow germans like to believe and think in every important way. I follow my own path and I found out that, man, I can't be mistaken - when I felt home for the first time living with natives. It was to me like hey, they are like me. I don't know about Seinfeld... hm... some kind of TV-Show? Not my thing. Okay, I keep informing myself about everything. But I follow my own beliefs. Thank you very much that you notices my outlook on life. I keep true to myself. I am 58 y.o.a. so I know something but not everything and my way is finding the truth about everything not the things people make up in their minds about what it might be. Ahhh... I say things and I do not know if it is right or wrong but my intentions are positive, constructive if I may say so. Thank you.

            Comment


            • #7
              To Elo Janis:

              Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
              (snipped)
              How I wish the whole world could see things in this way. Instead of advertising the latest technology and how our lives can be enriched by these material things, we should be pushing ourselves to be better human beings and to help those who are unable to help themselves. Isn't that what was originally meant in the beginning? At what point did we turn these good intentions into a race towards the goal of having things that others do not have? Will our world ever be a place of total global peace and good will or will we continue to oppress those who have no strength to fight for themselves and will we continue to climb over those who have fallen down.
              Isn't that what organized religions would have us believe they are striving to achieve? Was there always this battle to the finish line of having more than your neighbors? Where and when did the human race lose this positive characteristic of loving and caring for those unable to care for themselves?
              Isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be about?
              In my study of Christmas, I have rarely come across the positive characteristics you refer to outside of Hollywood. Sometimes you hear about people who give money to charity at that time of the year, when they don't usually give to anyone. The way one should celebrate Christmas isn't documented by the bible and we don't know if it isn't there because it is something that Jesus wouldn't want or because it wasn't even conceived of back then.

              But it is my understanding that the way Jesus said we are to live EVERY DAY is documented. Yes, we are supposed to care for those who can't care for themselves, but not just one season, every day. But that isn't only taught in Christianity, our respected elders teach us to care for others and to lift up those who need help, which is the responsibility of all.

              Our NDN cultures teach us to concern ourselves with the common good. This runs counter to the "rugged individuality" that the US and European culture has grown up with.

              In the US and largely from Europe, the agenda is not the greater good. It's number 1. It's all about me. All about my self esteem...my situations. Me me me. This is far from the way you are thinking. You are asking the right questions and contemplating the situations, not just for yourself but for your loved ones and those who look up to you.

              And you are so right about the commercialism which many Americans buy into...leading the TV commercial mother to think that the love for her daughter is dependent on that pink castle thing that she REALLY wants. When my girls were young, if they wanted a pink castle toy, we got together boxes and empty paper towel tubes and paint and made the thing together. And the time spent, and the job completed together was way more valuable than the ownership of a plastic pink castle.

              What happens with the kids who get the mass produced Christmas toys is that they get pride in their ownership, which is a characteristic that vendors want to tap into. One of my daughters told me that college marketing majors take a psychology class to teach them what makes people buy things that they don't need...and don't yet know they want. And from that pride of ownership, the daughter grows up from wanting pink castle toys to a Lexus with a red bow on it.

              Who we are as a people is the spiritual product of what our elders gave us, and their elders gave them. And that makes your decision all the more important.

              Is Christmas a spiritual holiday that you want to pass on to the next generation given the culture around us? Can you reconcile the repugnant aspects of the commercialism? I'm not even going to mention Santa Claus and that lie, but can you keep focus on Jesus over the material aspects competing for attention?

              Comment

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