So last night I was drawing some holiday themed comics and when 3am hit, I realized that the one I really wanted to post hadn’t been finished yet. Crap. I figured I’d finish it this morning, but alas, last minute errands have caught up to me and I need to put the digital pen down for a bit. But hey, I’m going to give you all Hipster Mithras and I’ll post another comic tomorrow. Holiday miracles! If the style of the comic looks familiar, I borrowed a bit from the book of Mike Mignola again, who draws the best rocks and statues ever. Whenever I need to depict stone, I can’t help but look to his work for advice. Thanks!
Before I start, note that there’s going to be some religious apologizing and rationalizations of why an atheist like me celebrates Christmas. I know I know, it’s a Christian holiday and I’m a big hypocrite. Or am I?
The reason for my floundering was that I wanted to make a holiday themed comic that harped upon the supposed liberal “war on Christmas” that happens every year. Which is dumb. The Adam‘s Matt Lubchansky did great justice to the concept of a “traditional” Christmas. People forget that the hooves they’d hear on their rooftops used to be Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse, or worse, the Wild Hunt. And Santa Claus? While his general features stem from Saint Nicolas and Odin, the current Santa we all know and recognize was proliferated by Coca Cola. (A Challenger Appears! Snopes.com shows that Coca Cola’s assertions of being the creator of that Santa image are incorrect, but rather that the soft drink’s ubiquitous ads popularized the already-existing portrayal of jolly St. Nick. Thanks to Dave from Pythagorean Crank) Here in the states, we also leave out Santa’s helper, the Krampus, whose bad-child-abducting, switch hitting ways are the epitome of good old holiday fear.
But enough about Santa, Jesus is the reason for the season right? Not really. I’m pretty sure axial tilt is why it gets cold in the northern hemisphere this time of year.
Oh, you mean the holiday season. Still not really. Many things were celebrated this time of year far before Christianity came along—usually planned around the winter solstice, where the darkness of winter gave way to the coming of sprintime light. If that sounds Christian, yeah, I rest my case. Even familiar things like caroling have their roots in the Saturnalia, where drunken lawlessness led predominantly to singing naked in the streets (and crime, rape, vandalism, etc). The focus on mistletoe kiss comes from Norse legends and ancient druidic practices, where it was viewed as a symbol of fertility and aphrodisiac due to the jizz-like nature of its berry juice. December 25th was also the celebration of the birth of Mithras, a persian deity turned epic hero. Though the one difference is that a naive observer, looking at winter solstice-based holidays such as Saturnalia, Yalda, Christmas, Yule, and countless others would come to the conclusion that Christians were terrible astronomers, being that their holy day misses the solstice almost every time.
A naive observer of the holiday would indeed have a very different view of Christmas than Rick Perry. They would look at the influences from Zoroastrianism, the Norse, Druids, the Romans, and soft drink companies as an embracing of many cultures and traditions. They would see families getting together, eating, and sharing gifts. They would see these sort of celebrations across the board, because that’s what holidays are about. Holidays are about getting together, getting drunk, and having fun.
So before you get angry when somebody tells you “Happy Holidays,” remember that your holiday isn’t the only one being celebrated, nor is it the most important. In fact, your holiday is easily the most bastardized one to come along since the Romans (who were the masters of bastardization in every way). Stop fussing, and go home to your family and do whatever it is you do. Christmas is a religious holiday, sure, but celebrating with those you love during the peak of the winter months? Everybody does that. So whether you’re Persian, Jewish, Wiccan, Shinto, Christian, Norse, or Incan, have a wonderful winter holiday.
Unless you’re Australian. I’m fucking jealous over here.
This post was brought to you by holiday cheer. Because the religious right shouldn’t be whining about saying “Happy Holiday” when it’s still called a “holiday.” Holiday. Holy. Day. Shut up.