_Tex_ wrote:well, being an international forum i would have said the odds were fairly high miss capellini.
I'm not looking for a debate here (possibly later, I'm just too tired right now) but I must say that I have to disagree with some of what you were saying earlier about christians using pagan holidays, I would say that it was obvious, and that the majority of christianity is plageurised from other religions. Funny how every single one of their holidays and feasts falls on the same day (or so damn close it aint funny) as a Pagan festival. It is a control mechanism. Same as their building churches on sites where pagan gathering had happened. If you were to tour the UK you quite frequently come across a church in the middle of nowhere. No houses nor towns nearby. By building on a Pagan site they forced the Pagans to go inside their churches. Until the catholic church had extended its sphere of influence to the UK very little if any importance was put on Mary. Once in the UK they realised that they had no hope of converting anyone if there was no female 'godhead' in their Pantheon (yes I am using these words very loosely, but the whole Father, Son, Holy Spirit plus Mary and various Saints does look very much like a Pantheon from the outside doesnt it?) For a religion that espouses "no graven idols" they certainly do worship a lot of statues of people other than Jesus.
I did have an actual train of thought here, a list of things to say but in the rambling it sort of got misplaced. I dont think I have actually managed to refute what you said. Oh well. maybe next time I log in I will be more awake....
This is a big can of worms, sure you wanna open it? Ok, here goes.
First of all, when Christianity was developing, there were no Pagan holidays. The word pagan (little p) was used by the recently Christianized Roman soldiers to identify the folks in the rural pagus areas, who were incidentally not yet converted, and was eventually used to refer to non-Christians. Not until recently (certainly no earlier than the Victorian age) were people actively calling themselves Pagan (big P). The pagan (little p) holidays you speak of are more accurately labeled local indigineous holidays. And yes, Christianity often took advantage of those holidays to convert people, by structuring its own celebrations around them. Until the religion became more structurally organized in Rome, however, this was a regional thing, done primarily by the 'missionary' types in the area. However, it is inaccurate to say that Christianity stole this holidays, for a number of reasons. Religion being like most any social construct, it evolves from those things that came before it. Most of the things that mark Christianity can be found in those religions in the area previous to it, including the polytheistic Egyptian religion, Mithraism, and Judaism. But this is really just a reflection of how the culture itself was evolving. Just because certain aspects of certain holidays are similar does not make them the same thing, and claiming theft is a bit inflammatory. Particularly when we keep in mind that in many areas this was a kind of syncretic faith that was actively participated in by willing locals as well as the Christians. Celtic Christianity is a classic example of this. Unfortunately, most of the examples used by people who claim Christianity stole holidays from pagans (little p) are based on false information. Easter is the prime example of that, as there is no record of a goddess Ostara, nor is there a record of a festival involving bunnies or eggs in the European/Norse/Anglo peoples that were supposedly stolen from. Christmas is another example. While it does take place within the time frame of the Roman festival Saturnalia, and certain interpretations can show that the types of things worshipped in these two festivals are similar, Christmas was not originally celebrated on that day, but was moved later. It was an obvious attempt to use a congruence of events to convert people, but since it was moved with much of its ritual structure intact, it was not an active attempt to steal a holiday. A more modern, and more easily understood example is Halloween. Very little of what we celebrate today on Halloween has any ties to the pagan (little p) celebrations of GB, generalized as Samhain, but accurately falling under a number of different titles, and rather they are remnants of folk culture that the people actively developed themselves during conversion from local faiths to Christianity, over a period of hundreds of years.
Suggesting stealing conveys an inaccurate image of what took place in much of Europe during conversion to Christianity. While violence was not a rare occurence, local peoples were not wholesale removed and replaced with Christians who then used there religious beliefs under a new name. Christianity grew and changed as it was absorbed by the people it was coming in contact with, and a mutual exchange of practices occured, until we got the melange we have today. The local people adapted Christianity to there own needs just as much as Christianity adapted itself to fit those needs. No one ever accuses converts of stealing from Christianity.
Religions evolve just like organism. Christianity didn't steal anything from pagan (little p) peoples any more than I stole any of my traits from a chimp.