brynndragon: (Jewish Pagan)
[personal profile] brynndragon
I figured, being in the somewhat unusual position of being raised by a Catholic mother as a Jew, that I would share my notion of the story of Christmas because it might be interesting/hilarious/offensive. Due to my commentary this got long, so here's

Now, my family does all the secular aspects of Christmas - an evergreen tree with lights and ornaments, nice meals the Eve before and the day of with the later being with my mom's family, stockings hung on the mantel to be filled with candy, Santa bringing us presents that we were not allowed to wake up our parents to go open until 7 AM. Everything else I've had to pick up via osmosis, which isn't necessarily difficult in our culture but some accuracy might've been lost along the way. I've never read the New Testament (well, I know that line about "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God", which is a neat idea, but that's pretty much it). Let's begin, shall we?

So there's a Jewish woman named Miriam who is married to this Jewish guy named Yosef and they need to get to their home town for a census taking or taxes or something bureaucratic like that (why they weren't already home given that winter in that part of the world isn't terrible but isn't great either, I don't know; maybe this is part of the whole "actually happened some other time of year" thing people talk about). Somehow or other they have already managed to do what should not be possible on a Jewish wedding night, woken up the next day with her still a virgin (did they not get the memo about the blood on the sheets tradition or did they fake it? Not having chickens yet, what would they have used?); I'm not sure how long they'd been married at this point in the story, but it seems like they have repeated failed to follow one of God's most basic orders to His people, that of reproducing (or at least doing your level best as often as allowed). Maybe God's OK with that since she's going to be having a kid anyway, which is apparently entirely His doing; I don't think there were any angels involved but Christians do seem to love them some angels so that would make sense to me if there's a bit about angels being involved there. (this is the part where we get to make horrible jokes about how exactly God knocked her up; I'll leave those as an exercise for the reader since I'm not feeling *that* blasphemous today).

So there she is, really a lot pregnant, trying to get home (again, why the hell didn't they do the traveling ahead of time? I mean, they're young parents and who knows the gestational period of a son of God anyway, but you'd think that would have made them more anxious to not have to travel any later than necessary. I mean, the man's a carpenter, not a shepherd who has to follow a flock - he can work out of his shop at home, I'm sure. Wait, wasn't there something about this being a random census, or some governor getting nervous about "signs and portents" or whatnot and calling one spontaneously? Still doesn't explain why they weren't home already. Maybe everyone had to gather in a nearby big city or something.). As with all travelers they need to stop when night falls and do so in Bethlehem, but like Graduation Weekend in Boston they find that all the rooms are already rented (maybe her pregnancy slowed them down so they got into town later than anticipated). Some hotel owner somewhere took pity on the poor couple and offered a space in his stable. Unfortunately he did not offer the name of the nearest midwife, or at least I've never heard of such a woman and you'd think she'd be all blessed and stuff if she'd been around to assist at such a literally awesome birth. Thankfully the birth itself went OK (I assume since everyone lived afterward and no one ever mentions it at all - it's almost like the story was told by people who think girls are icky mysterious). Since this is the birth of His son and all God makes a big old star show up in the sky over that stable (He can make a star but can't get her a bed?), and the animals are all peaceful and happy despite having been stuck in a stable with a woman going through her first labor and delivery for the past God only knows how many hours.

Around that time three really wise kings meet up in a tavern and decide to embark on a journey to give the kid some presents (the first instance of someone getting shafted on gifts for their birthday falling on Christmas, since he only gets one apiece from them). You can tell they're wise because they know that star in the sky means someone really special has shown up (either God had a kid or or the Jews got a new king, since somehow it's figured this kid is descended from King David even though the line of specific ancestry goes through the father who we already know is *not* descended from King David). Along the way they tell a bunch of shepherds what the star means (or maybe an angel told them and they told the three kings?) and the shepherds join in on going to Bethlehem so you've got this massive procession of sheep and shepherds (because you can never have too much symbolism) with the three kings going to Bethlehem. Apparently one the shepherds got a drum somewhere, or a random kid with a drum joins them at some point, or something.

So they get to the stable, where Miriam and Josef have apparently spent several days (either the bureaucratic whatsis is running at its normal pace or the happy couple finally figured out when not to travel (I actually don't know if Bethlehem was their destination or a stop along the way) yet the hotel owner thinks nothing of making them stay in the barn with a newborn - oh, wait, aren't they poor or something and can't afford a room? Or maybe the wise men knew what was up before the star appeared, or the star appeared before the birth and was why the governor called the spontaneous census, and they got there the day of the birth?) and they give the kid Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh (the later two are not only expensive and nice-smelling but also ancient remedies for helping to heal wounds, nice bit of foreshadowing there). And that's pretty much where the story ends as far as I know. I assume everyone goes to their respective homes after that (kinda like the end of The Lord of the Rings - wouldn't it be awesome if the New Testament included a story about one of the kings finding his land had been taken over by a villainous councilor in his absence and he had to fight to retake it?).

And that's the story as far as I know. How accurate am I?

(Maybe I'll do this again when Easter comes around; be warned, that's even more liable to be offensive since some of the more wacky Christian traditions like ritual cannibalism come out of that story)

Date: 2009-12-28 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Accurate enough for me! Damn, that was awesome. :)

Date: 2009-12-28 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fabulous. :D

Date: 2009-12-28 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For what it is - spot on.

Date: 2009-12-28 03:04 pm (UTC)
laurion: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurion
"He can make a star but can't get her a bed?"

God helps those who help themselves. This Yosef guy was a carpenter. He should've -made- a damn bed. It would have kept him busy while the wife was experiencing labor.

And the sucky thing about the census (used for tax purposes) then was that you had to haul your ass out of your home and go back tpo the place you were born. The only way to handle things with the shitty ass record keeping they had. So this Yosef guy wasn't going home, he was going to where he'd been born himself.

Now, for most people this wasn't a big deal, because almost no one went more than 10 miles from the place they were born, right?

Now the really ugly thing, and the reason why the Jews and the Christians fought over that land for so long, and why people keep fighting over it, is that the next time the Roman Emperor calls a census, the freaking Son of God is going to have to come down from the heavens and return to the place of -his- birth for the census, and everyone wants to be the one to levy the taxes on him then!

Date: 2009-12-28 03:08 pm (UTC)
laurion: (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurion
Oh, and it used to be traditional to give the gifts on the 12th 'day of christmas' which was the day those wise dudes finally made it there. So being born on the 25th of Dec (since that's when we've decided Jehoshua there was born) only got you shafted if your culture gave gifts on that day. For others, it sucked if you were born on January 6th.

Oh, and if memory serves me, the census was always done on 1/1 of the Roman calendar (the Jews always thought that was a really strange way to do the census, what with their lunar calendar)

Date: 2009-12-28 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(this is the part where we get to make horrible jokes about how exactly God knocked her up; I'll leave those as an exercise for the reader since I'm not feeling *that* blasphemous today).

I am.

The worst theory ever...

Date: 2009-12-28 04:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay so... Mary's pregnant... still a virgin (at least so far as anybody knows) and Joseph and Mary are already married.

Here's the theory... God gets Mary pregnant... I'm not going to speculate on how or whatever... but let's just assume for argument's sake it happens.

Now if GOD get's somebody pregnant HOWEVER it happens I have to expect it's going to be like... epic and stuff... so my theory: Vaginal Stigmata.

Mary spends several months bleeding out her genitals and as such Joseph does NOT get busy down there. Both due to the religious prescription about having sex during a woman's "unclean" time and due to the fact that A PERIOD THAT LASTS THE BETTER PART OF A YEAR IS ENOUGH TO FREAK ANYONE OUT!!!

I think at some point God sends down a herald of Angel(s) to give Mary the news... I'm not certain on the timeline but I certainly hope it's soon after that God-Baby test comes up positive. Then again I'm not sure... which is more stressful several month period, or knowing that you're God's baby-mama?

Either way Joseph and Mary have a LOT on their minds and so they miss out on the census thing... but you know death&taxes so they leave at the last minute to take care of it.

::Thinks:: Maybe they were in a nearby city to visit the equivalent of the Mayo clinic for what passed as gynecology back then.

Re: The worst theory ever...

Date: 2009-12-28 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thing is, the term for a woman who is bleeding heavily while pregnant for extended periods of time is "miscarriage" because that's what inevitably happens (assuming you're lucky enough to not be using the term "dead", which after 9 months you most assuredly would be either from severe anemia or blood infection).

re: census

Date: 2009-12-28 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From what I've read, there's no evidence that any Roman official ever called a census that required the people being counted to return to their ancestral homelands. It would be especially peculiar since as a general rule, the Romans didn't seem to care about such things.

Date: 2009-12-28 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Not bad! As a Pagan Jew who's only been going to Episcopalian church for a few months of the past two years, I can correct just a few facts and assumptions.

1) Yep, an Angel gave Mary the news that she was knocked up with God's kid. I think he even asked her, and she chose to be the one to bring God Incarnate into the world, flesh of her flesh. I can't remember which Angel, without consulting the bible.

2) Why did God not give them a bed? Because God wanted his son/self to be born in the lowest of the low, amongst other animals and in the humblest possible way. This was very much a conscious choice.

3) Joseph and Mary didn't consummate their marriage because of Mary's decision and pregnancy. To remain a holy vessel for bearing God Incarnate, Mary needed to mantain her absolute purity. Mary was herself born of a woman who had never lain with a man: both Mary and her Mother have intact hymens before and after their miraculous births. (The ear canal is the birth-canal in the flavors of Christianity that care a lot about Mary, Mary's mother, and their sacred virginity.) Sucks to be Joseph, I guess?

4) The Little Drummer Boy was a kid with a drum that joins the celebrations after the Three Wise Men give Christ their gifts.

I don't think there's any mention of the Three Wise Men after that. If you are curious to read the story as it was written, it's a pretty short passage towards the beginning of the Book of Luke. Available in any hotel room. ;)

The Nativity as I understand it...

Date: 2009-12-28 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So Mary, a virgin, pledged to marry Joseph (an older carpenter) was visited by an angel and told that she was honored by God, and she would bear a child. Mary was a little disturbed by this news as she was a virgin, and asked for further clarification of this. Then angel told her that she was to be blessed by the holy spirit, which was how God was going to knock her up, not only that but God had blessed her older thought to be barren cousin Elizabeth and gave her hubby super sperm and now she's knocked up too. Mary basically shrugged and said, God's God... if he wants me knocked up so be it.

Then she gets the heck out of Dodge and goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. When Elizabeth saw her, she knew somehow that Mary was preggers and stated that Blessed art though amongst women and all that Shite. Mary visits with her cousin Elizabeth for about three months and then goes home. (incidentally, Elizabeth's son is John the Baptist)

Now, Mary and Joseph were pledged to be married, but hadn't actually done the deed when she was found to have been knocked up by the holy spirit. Joseph was a "Godly Man" and did not want to expose her to public disgrace (and stoning) he was going to divorce her quietly. But he had a dream that an angel appeared to him and told him. "Yo, marry the girl, she's not a slut, it really is God's kid. She be pregnant with the savior."

So when Joseph wakes up he takes Mary home as his wife, but doesn't do the deed until after that whole birth of Christ thing.

So Caesar Augustus decides there needs to be a census of all of Rome and all Rome's citizens and Joseph and Mary (and little unborn Jesus) have to travel from from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David.

When they got there, the inns are full and they stay in a stable. Mary gives birth to the son of God, wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger to use instead of a crib.

Meanwhile in the fields nearby you have some shepherds guarding their flock of sheep and newborn lambs (hence the theory that this actually takes place sometime in April, as you wouldn't have newborn lambs in December) and an angel appeared to them, and like any sensible person they were scared shitless. But the angel said, fear not, I got great news, today a child was born to god and he is to be the savior. Then a bunch of angels started singing and the Shepherds thought it would be a good idea to check this thing out.

So they did.

Meanwhile some Magi came to King Herod and asked where the new king was. Being the only king in Jerusalem that he knew of, King Herod was somewhat disturbed and miffed to hear about a new one showing up. He found out exactly when and where this king fortelling star had shown up from the Magi and then sent them on to Bethlehem with orders to report back to him once they had found the Christ so that he too might pay his respects.

They found the Christ child and presented their gifts to him, and having been warned in a dream that Herod was up to no good they went home a different way.

After the gift bearing Magi left, Joseph had another dream in which an angel appeared to him and told him to take Mary and skeedaddle off to Egypt and don't come back until I tell you to. And they ran.

King Herod, realizing that the Magi weren't going to come back and tell him where the child was grew enraged and ordered his soldiers to kill every male child in Bethlehem under the age of two. And there was a great slaughter.

Once Herod died angels (again) appeared to the holy family and told them it was safe to return.

Date: 2009-12-29 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
this post, and many of its comments: made of awesome

Date: 2009-12-30 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am under the impression that Mary was already pregnant when she got married to Joseph, and that an angel came to Joseph telling him to marry her despite her being unfit for marriage, b/c the baby was God's.


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