Kiss under the mistletoe may be the Christmas tradition, but you actually honor Balder

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Plazma Inferno!, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    Just in case you didn't know that.

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    Mistletoe has been considered a plant that increases life and fertility, and protects from evil spirits (Celtic mythology).
    In Norse mythology an arrow made of mistletoe killed Balder, a brother of Thor. In some versions of this myth, Balder's mother Frigga brought him back to life shedding her tears that changed the red mistletoe berries to white. Frigga was so overjoyed that she blessed the mistletoe and promised a kiss to all who passed beneath it.

    Do you know other myths and traditions that goes along with Christmas?
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There are many different species of parasitic plants called "mistletoe," not all closely related, many of which perform at least some photosynthesis.

    Apparently some species of mistletoe contain a poison that's harmful to humans and/or household pets, so stores have stopped stocking it in order to avoid liability claims. Oddly, although this has been going on now for about 3 years, there is no mention of it in the Wikipedia article on mistletoe.

    Just last week I saw tiny bits of mistletoe for sale in a shop. Perhaps someone has determined which species are poisonous and which are not. I'll be glad! Christmas parties are not the same without mistletoe strategically hung from the door frames!

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    As for other traditions, just this morning I read an article in the newspaper regarding the common shorthand spelling of "Christmas" as "Xmas." Apparently many religious people regard this as an insult to Jesus.

    It turns out that the exact opposite is true! The X has been used for a millennium, and was first used by monks--for the obvious reason that very few other people learned to read and write in the Dark Ages.

    The monks felt that to use "Christ" as part of a compound word is an insult to Jesus! So they abbreviated his Greek name Χριστός, ("the anointed one") to simply X, the letter chi, which is pronounced like German CH, Spanish J and Russian X. We don't have that sound in English.

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    More traditions: The Orthodox Christians still use the Julian Calendar, which starts about two weeks later than our Gregorian calendar. As a result their Christmas falls in early January. Because of this, they can buy their Christmas trees on December 26, when the people who run the tree lots are getting ready to send them all to the dump. Naturally, the prices are very low or even free, because the owners don't have to pay to have them hauled away.

    So the Orthodox people get a great bargain!
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
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  5. Waiter_2001 Registered Senior Member

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    Balder? Frigga?? Come on...!
     
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  7. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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  8. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Much about Christmas seems to be a contrivance from earlier traditions. There are those who claim the early church adopted pagan traditions into Christian observances. What freaked me out was the black demon who accompanies Santa in European tradition. Apparently the job of Santa's Helper is to punish the bad children.

    If you search online, you can find a lot of information regarding Christian observances and how they correlate with earlier religions. In contrast to the Bible, there is nothing defined as far as I can see. I don't believe you need observe established Christian holidays to be a Christian. Even wearing a cross could be considered "idol worship." My perspective--and maybe that of many--is that the holidays can be fun. But now that the children are grown, the holidays have less importance.
     
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  9. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

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    Krampus? He's mainly german I think.
     
  10. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    yep, there's some creepy lore around Christmas...

     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Winter festivals were common throughout Europe in the pre-Christian era. The Germanic peoples (Scandinavians as well as Goths and the other continental tribes) called their festival Jul, which probably shares the same etymology as "jolly," indicating that the festival was a time of joy.

    We anglophones still often use that as an alternate name for Christmas, although we now spell it phonetically as "Yule."

    The "Christmas" tree, gift-giving and many of the other traditional Yuletide customs also predate the Christianization of Europe.
     
  12. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    As an atheist I was often asked why I took the Christmas Holiday. Not so often now friends know why.

    I reason the Christians stole the Christmas trappings from us Pagans. Their own reveling customs around that time were dull and boring.

    So I am upholding my Pagan roots and avoiding as much as I can any JC in the manger decoration.

    Being of a technical mind I tend to go with the latest LED trinket or animated figures.
     

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