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Five Points On Christmas
And The Holiday Season

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As The Majority of Americans Prepare To Take Time Off And Celebrate Whatever Holiday Fills Their Heart In December, Here Are Some Facts And Opinions About Our Celebrations

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

Dec. 21, 2016 — Snow, Santa, Jesus and presents.

Some may think that is all that is needed to have a great end of the year celebration in late December. But is that really what we all are celebrating?

The other bellwethers of the December holiday season are Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Those two are fairly straightforward. Kwanzaa was started to give African Americans who didn’t want an all-white holiday, something special during the season. And, Hannukah just might be the oldest still-performed religious holiday to take place in December (yes, sometimes it can be in November.

But Christmas is something altogether different than Kwanzaa or Hanukkah.

Its foundations have been lost to time, yet its traditions have much to do with the traditions it replaced. Thusly, the Five Points on Christmas and the Holiday Season begin.

1. The end of December has been a time for celebrations long before Hanukkah or Christmas.
The Saturnalia was a Roman pagan celebration held late in December. It might be the first recorded instance of humans recognizing the winter solstice. The festival included sacrifices of animals at the Temple of Saturn, a public banquet, private gift-giving, continual partying. Gambling was also permitted and masters reportedly served their slaves.

There is a bit of similarities there, eh?

Also, in ancient Persia, and like the Romans, sun-god Mithras was thought to be reborn around what we now know as Christmas.

One more thing we do know. Jesus of Nazareth was born in either spring or fall: Not December.

2. Is there anything to this Santa Claus guy anyway?
Well, yes. And no. We can say with most assuredness that someone does not enter through the chimney on Christmas morning — and no, he also cannot make a chimney appear regardless of what Tim Allen did in The Santa Clause.

But St. Nicholas did exist — In Turkey about 1500 years ago — and supposedly he did give money and gifts to children. One story even says he gave a man sacks of gold so he would not have to sell his daughters to a brothel.

Ohhhhkkkkaaaaay! Times certainly change.

Santa Claus as we in America know him, however, came from Sinterklaas and Father Christmas — mostly — from Scandinavia and England.

Then, of course, commercialism got him in the 1950s and abracadabra, here is Santa Claus.

3. How much do we Americans spend every year on presents/gifts?
The quick answer is $650 million. But the longer answer reveals that retail businesses make about 20 percent of their annual revenue during this period.

That means the holiday season brings in nearly triple what retailers bring in most months. Also, the average individual spends $700 on holiday gifts each year.

Retail sales in the U.S. is about $3 trillion annually.

4. How much do we Americans give to charities during the holiday season?
So, Americans spend a lot on gifts and stuff during the holiday season. The same must be said for U.S. gifts to charities during the holiday season, right? Yes ... and no. Charities generate about 20 percent of their annual revenue during the holidays: just like retailers, but the numbers are much smaller.

Yearly giving to charities is about $364 million from individuals, corporations and other means. Individuals donate about $260 million each year to charities. But they get nearly $50 million during the holiday season.

5. Is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Still Incredibly Relevant?
In the opinion of this commenter, heck yes. How can that be possible for a work created in 1843? Well, there are many factors: greed, blind devotion and glorification of business. But don’t listen to me. Read these quotes and watch one of the many films this week.

“He was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” ― A Christmas Carol

“It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men! If it goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death! It is doomed to wander through the world! Oh, woe is me! And witness what it cannot share but MIGHT HAVE SHARED on Earth and turned to happiness!” -- Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol

“[Scrooge] went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows; and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk — that anything — could give him so much happiness." ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
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