Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, December 24, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 11

Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 24, 2022 


[Nyerges is the author of sev

eral books, including “Enter 

the Forest,” “How to Survive 

Anywhere,” and “Whose Child 

Is This” (about the meaning of 
the symbols of Christmas). He can be reached 
at or Box 41834, 
Eagle Rock, CA 90041.] 

I was waiting in line to buy something at Target, 
and the friendly checker asked the man ahead of 
me if he was ready for Christmas. It was a cheerful 
and innocent question. After all, in December 
in the United Stated, it does seem like getting 
ready for Christmas is the number one dominant 
activity, and it’s the reason that lines in all the 
stores are long and why you cannot easily find 

“No, I don’t celebrate Christmas,” the man responded, 
and then he went on to explain how 
much money he saves by not observing “all that 
silly stuff.” I did overhear enough to hear that he 
was single, and then he walked on. I wondered if 
that was the real reason he didn’t observe Christmas. 
He could have been a Jehovah’s Witness, 
Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or any of the other 
dozens of religions and sects which don’t observe 
the Christian Christmas holidays. 

Though I have both fond and depressing memories 
of the Christmas season growing up, I have 
worked through all the mish-mash of symbols 
that have gotten thrown into the Christmas 
motif, and I regard them as generally uplifting. 
I have long ago ceased my mindless Christmas 
card-sending and gift-giving out of some sense 
of social obligation, but I still immensely enjoy 
special times with friends and families in what is 
the darkest time of the year. 

Many years ago, I was asked by a local non-profit 
to share at a Christmas event the “real meaning” 
of Christmas. Even after I agreed to do this, I 
wondered to myself: How can I do that? How 
can I be sure that I’ve really got it? How will I 
know whether or not I’m right? 

My job was to discover what all the symbols and 
practices of Christmas mean, and how we might 
best realize and vivify those meanings during 
this time. Needless to say, it was a tall task. 

I found that the best way to share my research 
was to be honest, explaining my background, 
how I went about my research, and what I personally 

I explained how I grew up in a Catholic family, 
and was taught that Jesus was born on December 
25, which is obviously why we celebrate his 
birthday on that date. So I had to begin my presentation 
with the man who is at the center of 
Christmas, Jesus. It turns out that all historians 
agree that Jesus was not born on December 25, 
but rather in May or September, probably in the 
year 6 B.C. by our current reckoning. Not only 
that, many of the modern symbols and practices 
of Christmas-time actually pre-dated Jesus, and 
were celebrations of the Winter Solstice by the 
people that Christians called “pagans.”
So then I had to stop and define “pagans.” Originally 
people outside of the strong influence of 
Roman power were called the pagani, country 
folk, a term that had no religious overtones in the 
beginning. Eventually it became a term of derision, 
meaning non-Christian, for the people who 
practiced the old religion of Mithraism. 

In the time of Jesus, there were many religions 
and gods and Gods, and they didn’t all get along. 
Jesus, as everyone knows, was a practicing Jew, 
and observed the Jewish holy days. After the crucifixion, 
his followers carried on the message of 

Jesus the Christ, and they still mostly-observed 
the Jewish traditions, hence, Judaeo-Christianity. 

None of this is new, of course, and these details 
can be found in any encyclopedia, including such 
tomes as The Golden Bough, and Manly Hall’s 
Secret Teachings of All Ages. 

So why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 
25, when we know that the early Judaeo-Christians 
didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday at all? 

Most ancient religion is astronomy-based, and 
draws great symbolism from the cycle of the 
earth around the sun. The winter solstice is the 
day of the least light, from which the days have 
increasingly more light. The birth of the sun has 
long been anthropomorphized into the birth of 
the sun. Jesus wasn’t the first to be commemorated 
with the winter solstice. Mithra, born of a 
virgin mother in a cave, was said to be born on 
December 25. Nimrod from Babylon was also 
said to be born on December 25, as was Osiris, 
Quetzalcoatl, and others. 

The new religion of Christianity was still struggling 
in the 4th century, and its adherents were 
still being persecuted for their faith when Constantine 
became the emperor. Constantine also 
converted to Christianity. In his attempt to unite 
his kingdom, he made Christianity the official 
religion, and he Christianized all the so-called 
pagan commemorations. As a result, the birth of 
the Sun that was already commemorated by the 
Mithra-pagans was now going to commemorate 
the birth of the Son, Jesus. 

Some of the symbols that have been adopted into 
the Christmas season are universal symbols of 
eternity, life, and light, symbols such as wreaths, 
evergreens, the tree, lights and candles, the giving 
of gifts, the virgin birth, and birth in a stable. 

Santa Claus was based on a very real Catholic 
bishop named Nikolas of Myra (modern day 
Turkey) who gave gifts during the winter and 
the newly-established Christmas season. He 
was born in March 15, 270, and actually participated 
in the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the 
famous council where early church doctrine was 
argued and decided. He died on December 6th, 

343. This generous bishop was remembered for 
the gifts he gave, and his image was severely watered-
down over the years by Coca-Cola and others 
who used him in their advertising. 
It’s correct that many people have been turned off 
when they learn of the roots of modern Christmas. 
Some even find all this depressing. But I 
am not like the man in line ahead of me at Target. 
I’ll still observe the Christmas season, and I 
enjoy the lessons that are buried within all these 

Can I say that today I know the “real meaning” of 
Christmas? I have come closer to experiencing 
the universal “magic” of Christmas in my personal 
life, year by year, and I feel that this is an 
on-going process, where there are always more 
nuances to be learned. I never get tired, for example, 
of watching Capra’s wonderful Christmas 
movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and watching Jimmy 
Stewart confront the meaning and purpose 
of his own life, and the value of true friendship. 
Though he had nothing to give others that fateful 
year, it turned out his greatest gift was the service 
he’d done for so many in the town. 

And for this reason, I have long felt that “It’s a 
Wonderful Life” expresses “the real meaning” 
of Christmas: slow down, breathe, recognize the 
higher power, and acknowledge your friends and 
family who are the real gifts in your life. 


This little calico sweetheart, 
only 3 months old, has lots 
of love and kisses to give, 
and a great purr motor! She’s 
smart, alert, and playful, too! 

Just a total delight! Might you have another young 
kitten at home for a playpal? 

Persimmon is hoping that Santa will find her a home by 
Christmas, or at least in time to start off the new year! 

Find the adoption application on our website where 
you'll also find more adorable pix of her on our Very 
Young Cats page. 

Pet of the Week

 Who is ready for these coldertemperatures? Neela is! This beautifulSiberian Husky may be dressed for the 
snow, but she will be just as happy withrain, sunny days or pretty much anyweather. In fact, she tells us that her 
favorite season is “all of them!”

 Neela is an excellent loose-leash walker 
and an expert at the several tricks. She’salso a huge fan of playing fetch. Shehas the energy of a puppy when she’sbouncing around the yard after tennisballs. She likes to lay down in the grassand give them a thorough chewing, then she’s ready to fetch again! This dogproves that age is just a number!

It is hard to believe, but Neela is a (young) ten years old, which qualifies her forour Seniors for Seniors Program. This means if an adopter is a young sixty yearsold, then the adoption is completely free!

 The adoption fee for dogs is $150. All dog adoptions include spay or neuter,
microchip, and age-appropriate vaccines.
New adopters will receive a complimentary health-andwellness 
exam from VCA Animal Hospitals, as well as a goody 
bag filled with information about how to care for your pet.

 View photos of adoptable pets and schedule an adoption appointment Adoptions are by appointment only, and new adoptionappointments are available every Sunday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

 Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adoptersby phone calls or email. 

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 
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