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Bogart. Jesus. Annie Lennox. Sol Invictus!

By | 2018-01-15T21:29:59-05:00 December 23rd, 2010|Opinions|

If your birthday is December 25th your sun sign is Capricorn – in case you’re wondering while kissing Santa underneath his merry mistletoe.
Advises the Sexual Astrology Team (Google them after opening your AAA battery-operated toys), “Try to lighten up a little – it’ll do wonders for your soul . . . After all you’re all about getting to the top of your game!”
(Even if – holiday irony of ironies – you are a bottom, with an occasional moon sign in your neat little House of Uranus, or something astrological like that.)
In addition to Lennox and Bogart, other famous 25th day upstarts to the savior’s birthday include Sissy Spacek, Rod “Twilight Zone” Serling, Cab “hi de ho man” Calloway, Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, nurse founder Clara Barton, Sir Isaac Newton. Recently uncloseted Ricky Martin missed deity upstaging by one day, not livin’ la vida loca!.
(My artist friend John Wynn, who waits tables at Pete’s Place in Ferndale, spreading good cheer 52/12, was born on Christmas Day. He says he’s singularly honored in his family, “although as a kid celebrating two gift days would have been nice – and, I’m sure my birthdate has nothing to do with ‘donning gay apparel’. Maybe just being festive when imbibing yuletide eggnog.”)
Whether Jesus was born on the now traditionally observed day is historically debatable. Various churches for hundreds of years celebrated Jesus’ nativity on different dates. Eastern churches generally used January 6th (Epiphany). Others chose April 24th or 25th; some even placed the event in May.
Some historians cite date parallels between early Christianity and pagan mystery religions. A popular recent – highly controversial treatment – is “Jesus Mysteries: Was the Original Jesus A Pagan God?” by British mystical writers Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (Three Rivers Press, 1999; paperback $10.88).
Their several related books are source material for Dan Brown’s equally controversial, best seller, big movie money-maker, “The DaVinci Code.”
Among ancient Romans, the advent day of celebration of Sol Invictus, the official sun god, was December 25th, also the day when the sun was believed to cross the winter solstice, heralding the beginning return of spring. (This year for Old Sol – the expression’s a semantic throwback – it’s December 21.)
One of the strongest rivals of early Christianity was Mithraism, a Persian-based, Zoroastrian cult of the god Mithra, who was virgin born in a cave on the 25th of December, brought a message of truth and justice, ultimately died a sacrificial death, was resurrected, and expected to return to gather his flock heavenward. Mithra’s symbol was a bull, in contrast to the Christian lamb. Curiously, his followers were predominantly Roman soldiers.
Writes religious historian Alfred Reynolds in his 1993 book, “Jesus Versus Christianity:” “Mithraism was popular in the Roman Empire with many emperors following, not just the populace. It had seven sacraments, the same as the Catholic Church, baptism, and communion with bread and water.
“The Eucharist hosts were signed with a cross, an ancient phallic symbol which originated in Egypt, and the Egyptian cross (the ankh) still shows the original form which included the female symbol.”
Other Christmas symbols with earlier pagan and phallic origins are the Christmas tree (the Druids), the use of mistletoe (Norse mythology), and the exchange of gifts (Roman religious custom celebrated in December and January).
Saint Nicholas, for whom Santa Claus is named, was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE. He became Bishop of Myra (wherever that is), and later died in 345 CE on December 6. He acquired sainthood in the 19th century (when he also took to chimney hopping as an avocation, thanks to Clement Clarke Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”)
Mary Christmas. Keep the faith. Go pagan for Jesus!

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.