It's funny. I'm from a Roman Catholic tradition originally (now happily agnostic). Christmas stems very much from Pagan solstice rites of varying kinds (Saturnalia being the Roman one which got the date - 25th and the northern European ones which took all the nature-based things like pine trees, holly, mistletoe). Of course xmas tress have little to do with some first century Jewish preacher (they don't grow in the area for a start) but for my part, I find something comforting in the pagan trappings. It is a reminder that there existed cultures, traditions, beliefs and civilisation in Northern Europe before Christianity was forced down the throats of every country there. Christianity had to adapt. Life was hard for Northern Europeans in winter and the rebirth of the sun and shorter days and the fact that some plants were still green and bore fruit even in the harshest climes were all symbols of hope to them. These are not bad things to believe. SO Merry Yule to all.
Police disperse hundreds in brawl in Kafr Manda, northern Israel (Haaretz)
from the article: Rabbis versus Christmas: Religious rivalry in Jerusalem benefits no one
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