Where Do American Christmas Traditions Come From?

Each season, the celebration of Christmas has religious leaders and conservatives publicly complaining about the commercialization of the holiday and the growing lack of Christian sentiment. Many people seem to believe that there was once a way to celebrate the birth of Christ in a more spiritual way.

Such perceptions about Christmas celebrations have, however, little basis in history. As a scholar of transnational and global history, I have studied the emergence of Christmas celebrations in German towns around 1800 and the global spread of this holiday ritual.

While Europeans participated in church services and religious ceremonies to celebrate the birth of Jesus for centuries, they did not commemorate it as we do today. Christmas trees and gift-giving on Dec. 24 in Germany did not spread to other European Christian cultures until the end of the 18th century and did not come to North America until the 1830s.

Charles Haynes Haswell, an engineer and chronicler of everyday life in New York City, wrote in his Reminiscences of an Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816 to 1860) that in

— source theconversation.com | Thomas Adam | Dec 24, 2021

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Israel to allow Gazan Christians into Bethlehem for Christmas

About half of the Gaza Strip’s Christian population will be allowed to enter Israel and the West Bank to celebrate Christmas. Israel will offer some permits to visit relatives and holy places in Israel and the West Bank and about 200 people will be allowed to travel abroad through Israel to Jordan.About 1,030 Christians live in Gaza, a small proportion of Gaza’s population of two million. Christians in Palestine celebrate Christmas according to the Western calendar on Dec. 25, while Orthodox groups celebrate it on Jan. 7. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem attracts tens of thousands of Christians from around the world at Christmas time. In 2019 and 2020, the Israeli authorities prevented Gaza’s Christians from making their usual Christmas trips to Bethlehem. In 2019, they allowed a limited number to travel outside Gaza but not to the West Bank.

— source al-monitor.com | Dec 18, 2021

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Jerusalem Churches protest

The heads of Christian denominations in Jerusalem have launched a campaign protesting violence by radical groups and attempts by Israeli settler organizations to acquire properties in the Old City, decrying a “systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land.”

The campaign launched last week, ahead of Christmas, joins other joint operations by Jerusalem churches against Israel’s policy in the Old City.

The campaign includes a new dedicated website, petitions and articles in international media. The church leaders highlight “incidents of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy,” and the inability of the police to provide adequate protection.

They also decry attempts by “radical groups [to] continue to acquire strategic property in the Christian Quarter,” which is interpreted as being aimed at the Ateret Cohanim

— source Jews For Justice For Palestinians | Nir Hasson | Dec 23, 2021

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Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

Amid ongoing outrage over global vaccine inequity, Pope Francis on Saturday urged pharmaceutical companies to “make a gesture of humanity” by lifting intellectual property protections and sharing Covid-19 vaccine technology with the world. The pope’s remarks came during a video address to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, a collection of grassroots groups, in which he expressed his belief “that we are not condemned to repeat or to build a future based on exclusion and inequality.” “In the name of God,” the pope said, “I ask all the great pharmaceutical laboratories to release the patents. Make a gesture of humanity and allow every country, every people, every human being to have access to the vaccines.” “There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated,” he added.

— source commondreams.org | Oct 16, 2021

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Capitalism Is A Misanthropic, Dystopian Religion

Capitalism is a misanthropic, dystopian religion. By “capitalism” I mean this or any other possible system wherein mass-scale human behavior is driven by the pursuit of capital. By “religion” I mean organized collective faith-based belief system.

In times past the dominant religions had names like “Christianity” or “Islam”, which were used to promote doctrines that shaped societies, dominated civilizations, and built entire empires. Theocratic institutions labored on behalf of the powerful to bend entire continents to their will, using narratives about beneficent invisible deities as cover. Nowadays the dominant religion is called capitalism, and the theocratic institutions are called governments, and the beneficent deity is called the invisible hand of the market.

In the old religions, people would gather once a week in a building to be indoctrinated by clergymen. In the new religion the clergymen come to indoctrinate you right in the comfort of your own home on screens showing news, TV shows, and Hollywood movies.

And capitalism, like most other religions, has a very bleak view of humanity. Its most vocal zealots talk a lot about “human nature”, which they insist is

— source caitlinjohnstone.com | Caitlin Johnstone | May 9, 2021

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France’s wahabi secularists

I just read your piece on Freedom of Speech & Holocaust Denial. It was like a breath of fresh air in the putrid atmosphere choking us around here. I don’t think you follow the situation in France, but things are crazier than ever since the gruesome murder of a teacher, Samuel Paty. In the name of Free Speech –because the only country criminalizing the slightest questioning of the Holocaust’s official version thinks he’s the world leader in this area– all Muslims are now explicitly branded as fair game, and the public debate revolves around Charlie Hebdo’s pornography and the alleged courage & wisdom it takes to publish their hateful caricatures or show them in class to 13 years-old pupils, many of them Muslims.

Let me fill you up with the details as they unfolded.

In the first days of October, in a Middle school located in the Paris suburb, a History-Geography teacher showed Charlie Hebdo caricatures of the Prophet to his 13-years-old pupils in a Moral & Civic class devoted to Free Speech. A pupil and her father denounced it on Facebook videos, stating that the following had happened:

The teacher told his pupils that he was about to show some depictions of the Prophet that might shock

— source normanfinkelstein.com | Oct 29, 2020

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The ‘missing’ muslim regiment

Standing between Pakistani propaganda and the Indian nation can be a full time job, especially when it comes to issues about Indian Muslims. It is an enshrined doctrine in Pakistan that India’s fault lines will remain its Achilles heel. The recent controversy – generated by crude video clips inserted into social media networks and reinvigoration of a Pakistani media article of March 2010 – is nothing but a ham handed but potentially mischievous campaign by Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

It’s an issue very few in India know much about: Indian Muslim presence in India’s armed forces and issues concerning alleged disloyalty to the nation, on which across the board gullibility is very high. The essence of the Pakistani disinformation is that a Muslim Regiment existed in the Indian Army till 1965, but was disbanded because in that conflict 20,000 Muslims refused to fight Pakistan.

Thereafter not a single Muslim participated in the 1971 conflict (another lie). Secondly, the percentage of Muslim servicemen as per the article is drastically below the ratio of Muslim population in India. The March 2010 article is more academic, highlighting research by an Indian Muslim scholar in the US who finds no rationale for this or for absence of reservation for Muslims in the armed forces.

Such projections obfuscate reality on the ground. Post-Independence, majority of Muslim officers and

— source timesofindia.indiatimes.com | Syed Ata Hasnain | Nov 30, 2017

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The influence of Islam on Nath yogis

The Nath yogis are a heterogenous community of ascetics that dates back to around 13th century and whose beliefs overlapped with Jain, Tantric, Muslim, and Sikh communities. Centred around the teachings of Guru Gorakhnath, the community interacted with a variety of other religious groups and often incorporated and adapted their teachings to their own system of beliefs. Although the community named and recognised as the Nath sampradāy did not completely coalesce until 16th century, we can recognise elements of their lineage much earlier. The intellectual exchange between these early Nath yogis and other ascetic orders, particularly Muslim holy men, led the community to display an openness to Islamic ideas. Often the ideas of Sufi mystics and Nath yogis overlapped with one another as they continued their dialogue.

By the early 16th century, the beginning of the Mughal rule, the Nath yogis existed as a part of the larger multi-religious society of Indian asceticism that spoke the same cultural language.

Like many other heterodox religious orders at that time, the Nath sampradāy eschewed an emphasis on Hindu or Muslim identity and instead highlighted in their Hindi teachings, attributed to Gorakhnath, the Gorakhbānī, a personal interaction with the divine.

In the case of Nath yogis, the goal was not only to reach god, but through yogic practice, become one

— source thewire.in | Christine Marrewa-Karwoski | 10 Oct 2020

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Mormon church appointee aided CIA on terror

A Spokane psychologist who helped develop controversial interrogation methods, which some human rights groups say amount to torture, became the new spiritual leader of a Mormon congregation on the South Hill this week. Bruce Jessen was proposed by Spokane Stake President James Lee, or “called” in the terminology of the Mormon faith, to be the bishop of Spokane’s 6th Ward, approved by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hierarchy in Salt Lake City and presented to the congregation on Sunday. He was unanimously accepted by some 200 in attendance, Lee said. The appointment surprised some groups who have denounced Jessen and his then-partner James Mitchell for techniques they helped develop for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Among those techniques were sleep deprivation and waterboarding, according to a 2009 U.S. Senate committee report.

— source spokesman.com

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