AHC: Make Christmas a dour and gothic holiday, similar to Halloween but not in whimsical way

Your challange is to have Christmas become a holiday that is similar to Halloween, but incorporating traditions where families symbolically ward themselves from evil and cower in their house until Jesus comes to save them.

For example:

Christmas carols are slow, melancholic, Gregorian-esque, featuring descriptions of Hell, the presence of Sin in the world, and the need for self-discipline.

Christmas decorations are things like padlocks and crossbars installed on doors, to keep the undead army, demons, and Roman soldiers out.

Families fast the whole day and discuss their failings and shortcomings this year. Alcohol and tasty food is banned, it is traditonal to only drink water and eat bread.

By our times, this holiday became secularized among non-religious people, but even stripped of Christian themes, they still symbolically ward the house from the undead, and refrain from joyful partying.

So how could this version of Christmas take hold, that is essentially "Halloween without all the fun"?
 
Feels like the best way to do this is have the early Church, instead of syncretically embracing Pagan winter celebrations into Christianity, aggressively crack down on them and make Christmas a time to be on the lookout for demon worship. Not sure how plausible this is/what the best POD would be, though.
 
It does not make sense in Christian theology for Christmas to be a dour holiday. It celebrates the birth of the savior which is a joyous event. Now if you want a dour winter solstice holiday you need to imagine that the early church associates the solstice with some theologically bad event. For example, perhaps The devil tempting jesus in the wilderness becomes associated with the winter solstice and the birth of Jesus is either irrelevant or is placed in the springtime (as is almost certainly more historically valid).
 
It does not make sense in Christian theology for Christmas to be a dour holiday. It celebrates the birth of the savior which is a joyous event. Now if you want a dour winter solstice holiday you need to imagine that the early church associates the solstice with some theologically bad event. For example, perhaps The devil tempting jesus in the wilderness becomes associated with the winter solstice and the birth of Jesus is either irrelevant or is placed in the springtime (as is almost certainly more historically valid).

Yeah, the reason Advent is so dour theologically, is that Jesus isn't born *yet* Once Jesus shows up, hang up the party streamers, it's time to boogie!
 

Philip

Donor
Yeah, the reason Advent is so dour theologically, is that Jesus isn't born *yet*

This is not even close to the traditional understanding of Advent. I have a hard time imagining a Christian theologian saying that Jesus is not yet born.

Advent's purpose is to portray Israel's waiting for the Messiah as a type of the Church's waiting for the Second Coming. So reminded that Christ will return without warning, Christians are to engage in self-discipline and acts of mercy. Take note that both the Latin name adventus and the Greek name parousia are the same words used to describe the Second Coming in their respective Bibles.
 
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This is not even close to the traditional understanding of Advent. I have a hard time imagining a Christian theologian saying that Jesus is not yet born.

Advent's purpose is to portray Israel's waiting for the Messiah as a type of the Church's waiting for the Second Coming. So reminded that Christ will return without warning, Christians are to engage in self-discipline and acts of mercy. Take note that both the Latin name adventus and the Greek name parousia are the same words used to describe the Second Coming in their respective Bibles.

I may have slightly misspoke, or not made my point as clear in writing as it was in my head, but of course no Christian theologian would say that Jesus is not yet born, but the Advent season is about the coming Christ, as evidenced by half of the readings are about John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of Christ.

The waiting for the Second Coming of course plays into it, as it does into the entire Church calendar.
 
Your challange is to have Christmas become a holiday that is similar to Halloween, but incorporating traditions where families symbolically ward themselves from evil and cower in their house until Jesus comes to save them.
As noted, this is theologically nonsensical. The whole point of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the fact that he is here to save us and that that's great. You could have a Christian holiday around the winter solstice dedicated to warding off evil and hiding from darkness, but it would not be derived from Christmas in any recognizable fashion.
By our times, this holiday became secularized among non-religious people, but even stripped of Christian themes, they still symbolically ward the house from the undead, and refrain from joyful partying.
Religious holidays are only celebrated in a secular context to the extent that they are an excuse to have a good time--compare the secular success of Mardi Gras, Easter, and OTL Christmas with the exclusively religious commemorations of Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Good Friday. Unless they can throw a party or buy candy for it, irreligious people are going to give Grim Sobriety Day a hard pass.
 

Philip

Donor
I may have slightly misspoke, or not made my point as clear in writing as it was in my head, but of course no Christian theologian would say that Jesus is not yet born, but the Advent season is about the coming Christ, as evidenced by half of the readings are about John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of Christ.

This line of thought fails to explain why Advent is a somber season of fasting, repentance, and mercy. It is the coming judgment that Advent warns Christians to watch for, to prepare for, lest they be judge and burned with the chaff.

Certainly many of the readings focus on John the Baptist. What is often missed is that as often as not, John's words are to be understood as preaching the Parousia at least as much as the Incarnation.
So let's walk through this year's Advent readings. For brevity, I may only include some key verses.

Advent 1:
Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Verses 2,4:
In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.​

In the Christian context, this passage refers to the final judgment and the peace that follows. Parousia.

Epistle: Romans 13:11-14
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.​

Paul instructs Christians to live disciplined lives of righteousness. It may not be immediately obvious that he has the Second Coming in view, but when we look at the Gospel this Epistle is paired with, we see that this is the intent of the Church.

Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44
"But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.​

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.​

To the Christian ear, Christ is clearly speaking of the Second Coming. The Church in arranging the readings pairs Christ speaking of staying awake for the Second Coming with Paul teaching waking up for salvation is near. It should be clear that she intends Paul's teaching to be in preparation of the Parousia. This is the purpose of Advent.

Advent 2:
Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.​

Certainly Christians understand this passage to refer to Jesus, and the first portion may be understood to refer to his earthly sojourn. Note that here, the subject is called the branch of (of the stump) of Jesse. This has been understood to refer to Jesus as the Son of David, the son of Jesse. This places Jesus in time and emphasizes his human nature. But then the passage moves to the time of peace when the the lion and calf rest together. This is understood by Christians to refer to the time to come, not the current age. We also note that Isaiah now refers to the subject as the root of Jesse. Christians have understood this to mean that Jesus existed before and was the source of Jesse and David. That is, he will be revealed in his divine glory.

Epistle: Romans 15:4-13

I'll skip this one. Paul speaks of including Gentiles in the Kingdom. In particular he quotes the portion of Isaiah that states the Root of Jesse will rule the Gentiles.

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."​

So here we do have John the Baptist speaking of Jesus. But is he speaking of the Incarnation and Nativity or is he speaking of the the Parousia? Note that he speaks of the future -- the wrath to come, will baptize, will clear the floor, the chaff will burn. It is difficult to read this as referring the Nativity. That has already past. Jesus is only 6 months younger than John. Further, the wrath to come, the separating of the wheat from the chaff, the burning of the chaff have always been understood by Christians to refer to the final judgment at the Parousia.

Advent is based on John's teaching here. Repent and bear fruits of repentance. Not because Jesus will be born, but because he will come to judge the world.

Advent 3:
Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

I'll skip this one. It is similar to Isaiah 11:1-10 in describing the peace that follows the Day of the Lord, the Parousia.

Epistle: James 5:7-10
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.​

James instructs Christians to be patient and long-suffering until the coming of the Lord, the Judge who stands at door. Again, the focus is the Parousia and how Christians should prepare.

Matthew 11:2-11

Again, I'll skip the details. This passage again discusses John, but does so in confirming that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. That is, it confirms that Jesus is the one who will judge the world.

Advent 4:
Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16
The famous 'the young woman is with child' passage

Epistle: Romans 1:1-7
Paul states that Jesus is both the son of David and the Son of God.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
The Archangel Gabriel tells Joseph that Mary has conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, on the fourth and final Sunday of Advent have we have readings that focus on the pending Feast of Christmas. After 3 weeks of warnings to prepare for the Second Coming, Advent announces that the Second Coming as already begun in the First.
 
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