The Catholic Defender: Christmas and the Yuletide


I grew up hearing "yuletide" traditions but I never really knew much about how it fit in with Christmas. It was just somehow associated with Christmas.


In looking at some of these ancient traditions like the Yuletide and Mistletoe, these originally had Pagan origins. That is not surprising as the Catholic Church was sent by Christ to bring the Gospel to every nation. Converting the masses included in transforming these traditions to promote the Gospel message.


These ancient traditions became a means that took the customs of culture and transfigure them to be simple tools that point to Christ. We see this from the Church using large Roman architects for basilicas to the history of customs such as the yuletide.


I've had people tell me that Christians should not participate in these celebrations because God is offended by it. I can't agree with that assessment, Christianity is always adapting to the environment or rather converting it. The Season of Christmas, notice I said "season" and not simply Christmas Day, families gather at Yuletide, how magical it feels with the anticipation of Christmas. The presents under the Christmas tree which for many, the balsam fir is the first choice of tree.


Some believe that evolution is a valid scientific theory, I do not hold to that theory, especially the "macro" theory which teaches man comes from apes. What the Christian would say is that we believe in the evolution of the heart. Our hearts are transformed centered on Jesus Christ. This transformation of the heart becomes central to the Christmas story. I love the Charlie Brown cartoon that told the Christmas story despite the opposition of the producers of the show.

Today, the Yule is not remembered for any Pagan origin, but it is the feast celebrating the birth of Christ. The Yuletide becomes closely related to the Christmas season which Jesus birth is reflected during the Yule season.


Christmas songs have communicated the yuletide message wishing for Christians to have a blessed Christmas that's merry and bright. Remember the song, "We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year"?


As people celebrate these traditions, Some would be horrified to learn that some of the most beloved hymns like "Amazing Grace" were taken from popular bar songs from the 18th-19th centuries. That style of music was popular at the time. Today, when we sing old fashioned hymns today, who recalls much of the secular songs of that time? I think you would have to be a history music major to know much of that culture. As we continue to prepare for the Christmas Season, here are some interesting points to understand traditional celebrations.


Terminology

  1. One linguistic theory is that the word "yule" came from "aboriginal Scandinavians," and meant the winter solstice festival or "a celebration of the cycle of nature and a reaffirmation of the continuation of life," according Candle Grove.

Solstice

  1. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. It also marks the march toward spring. According to Candle Grove, "many of the ancient traditions surrounding Yuletide are concerned with coping with the darkness and the evils it was thought to harbor, and helping the return of light and warmth." Hence, Christ is the Light of the world which warms the heart and soul.

Christianity

  1. Jesus Christ was born Dec. 25, here at Deepertruth we have shown through tradition, history, scripture, and science that prove Jesus was born in Bethlehem and prophesied in the Old Testament, Micah 5:2. There are no coincidences that the birth of Jesus Christ is in any way connected to any Pagan ritual or events. Rather, it is Christ converting the nations through His holy Catholic Church that has transformed culture. Unfortunately, today we are seeing a return of Paganism that seek to threaten Christian roots.

Decorations

  1. "Trees, specifically evergreens, were a common part of pre-Christian solstice celebrations, in Germany, Bishop Boniface introduced the fir tree hanging the tree from the ceiling upside down to instruct the teaching on the Trinity. St. Boniface would use the triangle shaped fir tree to teach the doctrine of the Trinity much like St. Patrick used the shamrock. He would hang the tree from the ceiling at Christmas to represent the peoples faith in Christ. St. Boniface popularity and fame didn’t protect him from those who thought they could rob him of gold and precious stones. He died at the hands of those who could not recognize the treasure found in the Word of God. But the people remembered this great man of God and by the 12 century, the tradition of the fir tree was refereed to by the people as “God’s Tree”. By the 12th century England began the tradition establishing one tree in the house. It was Queen Victoria's own family who introduced the custom to the country. The yule log, now a Christmastime pastry, was originally a fresh-cut piece of wood brought into a home to protect against evil and darkness. Now, the tradition is that, Mary and Jesus were very cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds got some bunches of twigs to burn to keep them warm.

Santa Claus

  1. According to European culture, Santa Claus and Father Christmas were actually two different individuals. St. Nicholas, or "Sinterklaas," is the patron saint of children and students. Today, in Germany and Poland, young boys dress up as St. Nicholas acting out charity among the poor. In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrives riding on a steamship from Spain to ride on a white horse throughout the towns. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes hoping that St. Nicholas might have a treat for them in exchange for a treat for his horse. The modern Santa Claus seems to come from an 1821 children’s book called “The Children’s Friend” depicts Santa Claus arriving from the North riding on a sled with a flying reindeer. My favorite depiction of Santa Claus is one of him kneeling before the Christ Child. Santa Claus maintains his red clothing that is derived from being a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Over time, the two became one, and in the 1930s, Coca-Cola added Santa Claus' signature red suit in an advertisement, and it has stuck ever since. The red suit reminds us that St. Nicholas was a Cardinal.