22.6 C
Byron Shire
November 28, 2021

The Christmas story: a gift of giving and love

Latest News

COVID update: a new Byron case, Aquarius and Community Support Accommodation

The Northern NSW Local Health District says there was one new case of COVID-19 was reported for NNSWLHD to 8pm, November 25. This case is located in the Byron Local Government Area, a traveller from outside the region and e is not associated with the Aquarius Backpackers.

Other News

Nesting boxes help keep wildlife safe

While many locals are being driven out of their homes by increasing rents and a shrinking housing supply, the dwindling forests of the region have created the need to increase Wildbnb – that is, nest boxes for the struggling wildlife.

Byron council candidates ‘Faustian deal with the devil’

The naivety, or worse still, the desperation for power has clustered the independents Lyon, Clarke, and Swivel in a...

Secret report reveals government ignored advice to stop logging after Black Summer fires

Following a leaked report it has become clear that independent advice to the NSW government to stop logging areas hardest hit by the Black Summer bushfires was ignored.

What’s Nu in COVID variants? Highlighted need for stronger Australian contribution

According to the End COVID For All campaign the emergence of a new coronavirus variant in Botswana, most likely to be called 'Nu', underlines the need for Australia to step up its contribution to co-oridnated global efforts to prevent the virus’ spread and mutation.

Stop logging core koala habitat at Cherry Tree State Forest 

If it was private land it would be considered core koala habitat so why are the NSW government allowing Cherry Tree State Forest to be logged?

Can COVID vaccines shed spike proteins – and is that bad?

Spike protiens – they’re the key to a vaccine’s effectiveness, but can they actually cause health problems?

Charles Boyle

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Jewish political activist, preacher, and messiah Yeshua ben Youssef, aka Jesus. So what has the fat man in the red suit got to do with it? Like the bunny with chocolate eggs, Santa Claus shares Christmas with Jesus (a talented out-sourcer of holidays), and just like the Easter Bunny, Santa was around long before Jesus.

Ancient Pagans celebrated the winter solstice with carols and mistletoe and gifts. They believed that the god Woden/Odin flew across the sky on solstice night with ravens who listened at chimneys to find out who’d been good or bad – and good children got presents. Sound familiar?

Ancient Rome celebrated the winter solstice festival, dedicated to the sun god Sol Invictus, on December 25. The carnival atmosphere of Saturnalia was a time for feasting, promiscuity, and gift-giving.

When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 313 AD, the sun god festival was re-allocated to celebrate the birth of Jesus (the Light of the World), giving us the enduring date of December 25 for his birthday.

In the European Dark Ages, Christmas remained a minor festival while the Celts and Pagans continued celebrating winter-solstice festivals, and elements of these – mistletoe, Yule logs and carols – are incorporated into modern Christmas celebrations along with common themes of feasting, charity and gift-giving.

In the middle ages Christmas was popularised by the (supposedly) divinely appointed narcissistic god-kings Charlemagne and William I. Then came the Puritans who frowned on sinful revelry, and in 1647 Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas celebrations. But as every successful cultural imperialist knows, the people are jealous of their holidays and, by necessity, Christmas was revived within a decade by the decadent Charles II.

Fast forward to New York, 1821, when an anonymous poem appeared in the New York Sentinel. ‘Old Santeclaus with much Delight’ was the first description of a benevolent fat man travelling in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and piled with children’s toys, loosely inspired by the Dutch celebration of St Nicholas. The idea of Santa meant that now anyone could celebrate Christmas, not just Christians, and the concept of a non-denominational Christmas appealed to multi-cultural New York. But it wasn’t until January 3, 1863, that the world finally had its first image of Santa, created by artist Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly. Santa, in essence a contemporised version of Woden, had returned to inspire the world.

Santa’s popularity grew, particularly in the US, until in 1930 the Coca-Cola company used him in a wildly effective Christmas advertising campaign to sell their cocaine-laced soft drink. It was marketing genius and everyone leapt aboard – from the Salvation Army to the world’s department stores. The rest is retail history.

It is easy to mistake Santa and Christmas for retail greed and blatant profiteering, but don’t succumb to the cynical Bah Humbug. Instead remember that behind the crass commercialisation Christmas carries an ancient message of charity and love, a gift passed down to us by our distant ancestors.

So merry Christmas everyone. And you’d better not shout, you’d better not cry – Woden’s ravens are listening.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. It has been said that Christmas is the celebration of the alleged birth of the Jewish political activist, preacher, and messiah Yeshua ben Youssef, aka Jesus.
    It is a belief that has evolved to this day.

  2. The solstice was appropriated by Emperor Constantine in order to popularise the relatively new religion of christianity, despite the fact (check historical records) that JC was born in August or September (he was a Virgo).

    Christmas as we know it is all about spending; otherwise it’s meaningless.

    Bah humbug!

    • The Christmas you know might be all about spending but that somewhat misses the point. Christmas remains for many a celebration of family and friendships; the large interstate movement of people in cars and planes is not about shopping – they are people visiting their loved ones. Australians are a practical and materialistic people so they express that love to family and friends in presents.

      And there are still plenty of Australians who might not care whether the historic Jesus was born in December or whatever month but believe His message of universal love. They know it is important to love our neighbour. When asked – as Jesus was – who is their neighbour, they are capable of extrapolating from the parable of the good Samaritan and of knowing our neighbour can be someone suffering from war in Syria or substance abuse in rural NSW, or a young person struggling with sexual identity . Nor do we need to identify as Christians or go to a church to heed His message; not long ago I read at our suburban Uniting Church Christmas service the verses from the translation of the Koran that teach Muslims of the birth of the child they know as the prophet Jesus.

      We celebrate these messages of familial and communal love on 25 December because of some Roman belief and we send each other cards decorated with pictures of Northern European winters. We Australians are the crazy mixed up kids of so many traditions while watching cricket with a cold drink in front of a fan, but the important thing is we do keep celebrating that love in ways that are meaningful to us.

      A happy and safe Christmas to you all.

  3. Santa’s popularity grew, particularly in the US, until in 1930 the Coca-Cola company used him in a wildly effective Christmas advertising campaign to sell their cocaine-laced soft drink. It was marketing genius and everyone leapt aboard – from the Salvation Army to the world’s department stores. The rest is retail history.

    This sickening statement says it all about Santa and coke . One time I think, I even saw him kissing Mum..

    Merry Christmas to you all anyways.
    Thank you Echo for the most entertaining publication in Australia
    especially the comments and letters HO HO HO


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Kingscliff Public School gets long-awaited upgrade

If you were wondering what is happening at Kingscliff Public School, construction is well underway on an upgrade.

Community carers and responders program launched

Following the recent second anniversary of the bushfires that hit our region, Resilient Byron say they are proud to announce the beginning of their...

Leigh Thomas says political affiliations not relevant to Council decision making

Leigh Thomas is the lead candidate for Group M running in the upcoming Tweed Shire Council elections. Mr Thomas is a member of the...

When we get to 95 per cent vaccination, this will happen

Just when we were getting used to the current COVID roadmap, it has changed directions. Adjustments to previous settings scheduled for this milestone were announced yetserday.