Jackie Mason | September 2, 2004
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Melissa Erin | September 2, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | September 2, 2004
Pronunciation: 'pA-g&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin paganus, from Latin, civilian, country dweller, from pagus country district; akin to Latin pangere to fix -- more at PACT
1 : HEATHEN 1; especially : a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)
2 : one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods : an irreligious or hedonistic person


I know quoting the dictionary is annoying, but it's helpful! And no, even without this I would have said that things not Christian aren't automatically pagan, although some people might think so.

I was raised Catholic, so Christmas was always a huge deal in my house (still is, actually). I'm not very religious (at least not in a Catholic way) so I don't really think much about that aspect of it. I think the spirit of Christmas is a nice idea, but everyone puts so much pressure on themselves - I wish it was more relaxed.

This year I will be spending the actual Xmas Eve and Xmas with my boyfriend's family in Massachusetts. It will be the first time in my life that I'll be away from home for Xmas, so it's going to be very weird.

Melissa Erin | September 2, 2004
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Melissa Erin | September 2, 2004
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Scott Horowitz | September 2, 2004
I personally hate the holiday season. Christmas happens to be the most boring day of the year, if you don't celebrate. The only things open are Chinese Food and Movies. (It's like a Jewish Tradition). The biggest gripe I have against the holiday season is the comparison with Christmas and Hanukkah. The only 2 things these holidays have in common are time of year. I hate it when I walk into a building and there is a huge Christmas tree and a little Chanukkiah (Chanukah Menorah) off to the side, to make it "okay".

Kris Weberg | September 2, 2004
There's basically an Abrahamic tradition -- Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, etc. -- that descends from Catholic distinctions between heresy -- dissent within the church -- and paganism -- religion otuside the revelations of God.

Anna Gregoline | September 2, 2004
Yeah, I hate that too, Scott. I can't imagine what it must be like to be Jewish and see it. It's just so weird how this religious holiday became so secularized and MANDATORY. If you don't celebrate Christmas and you're not Jewish or another religion, people would treat you funny, I think.

Scott Horowitz | September 2, 2004
Imagine trying to ask your Christian boss for time off for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first 2 days of Sukkot, Shemini Atzert, Simchat Torah, The first 2 and last 2 days of Passover, and the 2 days of Shavout. Oh, and you have to be home by sundown on every Friday night, you can't do any work on Saturdays or any of these holidays. And you won't be able to check e-mail or responds to calls due to these observances. Then imagine asking off for Ash Wednesday or Good Friday? (I know there are more Christian/Catholic holidays but I can't remember any of them off the top of my head). Which is he going to say okay to without a problem? and which will he say "What do you need off for?" In college, I had to go to Hillel to get a letter stating what the holiday was about so my teacher would let me not take a chemistry exam on Yom Kippur.

Anna Gregoline | September 2, 2004
Geez. That really sucks.

Scott Horowitz | September 2, 2004
Yeah. I'll admit to be ignorant to some things as well. The first time I ever saw ashes on someone's head for Ash Wednesday was in college. I asked my friend if he knew he had "shit on his forehead." He laughed and explained to me what it was all about. I never saw it. In high school, the observant Catholics would take off for the day.. But when he told me, I knew. I guess I could have asked in a better way, but I've never been known for my tact... you can ask Mitzman about that. I like to learn more. In high school, i had 3 guys I was really good friends with. We had a Jainist ( a form of Buddhism), a Confucian( from Taiwan), a Catholic, and Jew. To quote Archie Bunker, "Now that's what you call a balanced ticket." I like to learn about other cultures and religions. I find some of it fascinating. I hate it when others try to force their religious beliefs ans views on others.

Melissa Erin | September 3, 2004
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Scott Hardie | September 3, 2004
How about simply eliminating Christmas as a working holiday and giving everybody an extra day off during the year to accommodate? Christians can spend it on December 25; all the rest of us pagans can do what we want with it. :-) Seriously, it isn't fair that Christmas is a holiday, but it has to be that way for most businesses. If a company with 100 employees were to do as I suggested, about 90-95 of them would take off for Christmas, so there's little point in the few remaining people trying to get much work accomplished in a near-vacuum.

Anyway, on gift-giving: Christmas needn't be a time of pressure. Store displays and holiday commercials are obnoxious cash-ins, but if you enjoy giving gifts, Christmas is a great excuse to give without any awkwardness over the timing. Just remember that it's voluntary, and excuse yourself from feeling guilt if you have nothing for the person who bought you something; you are obligated only to say thanks.

I once heard of one family's elegantly simple solution, and it has appealed to me ever since. Not only was the family not very wealthy, but the parents were trying to teach the children to beware of materialism. So, each member of the family gave only one gift to each of the others. When you could only give one thing, it forced you to choose carefully, and gifts tended to come more from the heart. When you would be getting only one gift from each relative, it stopped you from asking for a dozen different things that you didn't really want, and made you consider what was truly important. Anyway, nice plan, but I enjoy the practice of showering my loved ones with many presents too much to stop it. :-)

Anna Gregoline | September 3, 2004
The ashes on the head throw me off too, and I was raised Catholic!

But Christmas is undeniably a time of pressure for many people. There are family obligations (many people see their families only on holidays) and there is expected gift-giving, often, and money can get tight - it's a stressful time of year for many.

(Here's an example - was that argumentative? Everything I say now I'm just going to assume someone could take the wrong way.)

Scott Horowitz | September 3, 2004
Yes, Anna I find your use of the word "many" offensive :). hehehehe

The commercialization of everything is what is wrong with this world. Hell, if there were no Hallmark there'd be no Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and my personal favorite Administrative Assistant Day.

Melissa Erin | September 3, 2004
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Melissa Erin | September 3, 2004
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Scott Hardie | September 5, 2004
Well, I phrased it badly. Christmas time is stressful in general for the reasons Anna listed; it is often said to inspire a brief rise in the national suicide rates. I just meant that Christmas gift-giving need not be stressful; it should be a convenient excuse to buy something for someone you love.

Melissa gets me wondering: Which holiday has the best candy that is exclusive to that holiday? Never a candy cane fan, I've always been partial to the soft, chewy, peanut-flavored gobs of toffee that come twisted up in unmarked black and orange wrappers every October. It beats me what they're called.

Anna Gregoline | September 5, 2004
Easter, no doubt.

Melissa Erin | September 5, 2004
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Erik Bates | September 5, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | September 6, 2004
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Jackie Mason | September 7, 2004
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