A More Cohesive Holiday Myth

The Sceptic, 20 Dec1999  


For many reasons, I have grown to absolutely despise this time of year. Being naturally bad-tempered, while those around me are busy with commerce and joy, all I perceive is more inanity and shallowness in people whom I am barely able to tolerate during the other eleven months of the year. In last year's holiday message, I wrote "... I will not address the possibly absurd association between the birth of Jesus and that much older holiday celebrated on or near the winter solstice." This year, I'm going to ignore it again, in favor of "correcting" another previously incongruous association.

Are you one of those persons that have confused your children about whether this season is about a certain birth in Bethlehem or some jocular fat man wearing red? If so, I've put this together for you to share with your children.


Joseph was a Jewish carpenter and a maker of wooden toys. He was also a wee bit upset that Mary, his teenaged fiancée, was noticeably pregnant, particularly since he wasn't the one responsible for her condition. On the other hand, Joseph was a kind-hearted guy and didn't want to embarrass her in public. He seriously considered sending her elsewhere, where nobody who knew her would understand the circumstances.

He was thinking through his options when he went to bed and so he dreamed about a shining being with wings -- an angel or fairy or something -- which suggested that Mary hadn't actually been unfaithful to him. "She's a cute little thing after all," this winged creature said, "and it was the Spirit of Nik − the Norse deity who is also called Odin − who put it to her. She's going to have a son and you should name this boy Jesus Saint Nik Claus. He is destined to save people from economic depression by stimulating the economy each year, and they'll get a lot of really cool presents and stuff too."

When Joseph woke up, he thought to himself, 'She is pretty cute, empty-headed as she is, but what the heck? That story about Old Nik isn't half-bad. With a father like that, this kid might have special powers that could come in handy.'

Caesar Augustus was bored, which is a dangerous thing for a powerful Roman emperor. He decided to inconvenience his subjects by decreeing that they should all be taxed and counted. This required that everyone had to visit his or her ancestral home towns to be accounted for properly. Joseph, being a descendent of David, traveled back to Bethlehem in Judea with Mary who −by this time − was very pregnant.

Unfortunately, with everybody spread from here to yonder coming back to Bethlehem, the hotels were booked solid. Mary went into labor so they ended up taking shelter in a barn. She delivered her first son, wrapped him up tight all in fur, from his head to his foot and -- exhausted and probably disoriented from the labor -- laid the poor boy down in a soot covered hay box.

Herders vusut baby Jesus Saint Nik ClausThat same night, outside town, herders of sheep and stunted caribou were out in the fields keeping watch and having a good time with some dried Amanita muscaria. They had well and truly gotten a good deal for these magic mushrooms from some Nordic traders. The herders had so many of the little beauties, they were even feeding them to a few of the caribou to see if it would make them fly like the traders had claimed. At some point, having consumed a fair number of them, they saw an angel. The Amanita was making them paranoid, but the angel told them not to be afraid. "I've got some good news," the angel said. "In the city of David a savior of the economy has been born. You'll find him − get this − lying in a hay trough, dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes all tarnished with ashes and soot."

As if this wasn't enough, suddenly there were a whole host of angels singing. When this vision finally faded, they checked on the eight caribou to which they'd fed the mushrooms. Sure enough, they were bucking and prancing and ready to go. So they hitched up a cart to the beasts and decided to fly into Bethlehem and check out the angel's story.

As predicted, they found the barn and Joseph and Mary and a sooty little baby lying in a hay trough dressed in fur. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

Having brought nothing else for an impromptu baby shower, they left the cart, the eight caribou and a big sack of magic mushrooms so the animals would be able to fly for the foreseeable future. Everywhere the sheep and caribou herders went after that, they told everybody they met about the angels and the savior baby in a hay box, leaving a lot of people scratching their heads.

Joseph sized up his new caribou driven flying cart and said to himself, "I knew this magic baby gig was going to pay off."

Meanwhile, a group of Oriental magicians saw a really bright star in their skies. They consulted the Tao Te Ching and astrological tables and whatnot, and figured out what it meant. They paid a visit to Herod, the king of Judea. When they arrived, they immediately asked where the magical newborn king of the Jews might be, so they could worship him. "Hold on a sec," Herod said. "What's this about a king?" Being a king himself and answering only to Rome, he didn't like this idea of another king in his province. The magicians attempted to explain about the star and what they knew about the matter. "Uh...I'll get back to you on that shortly," Herod said.

He called his advisers together and asked them where Jesus Saint Nik Claus would be born, according to the old prophecies. They looked through their books and found a reference to a governor being born in Bethlehem. So he called back the magicians and said, "When you find him, give me a yell so I can worship him too." They left Herod's palace to find that the star they had seen had moved its position to be over a house in Bethlehem that Joseph had finally secured − a baby-beacon, of sorts.

They visited Joseph and Mary and her baby and brought a big fat sack full of stuff, including gold and a lot of valuable aromatic gum resins from Asian and African trees, suitable for making perfume and incense. Before the visit was ended, one of them had a disturbing dream about Herod and figured out that being as he was a king, he probably wasn't all that serious about wanting to worship another king − especially a baby king. They took another route home, out of Herod's way, so the king wouldn't be able to stop them with questions that they didn't want to answer.

Once the magicians were gone, Joseph had another shiny winged angel-fairy dream again. This time, the creature said to him, "Get off your ass and into your new caribou cart. Take your young wife and kid and get out of town. Flee! Herod the Great intends to stay Great, and that won't be by allowing possible successors -- even the bottle-fed kind − in his own back yard."

So Joseph and Mary grabbed their tools, their clothes, and the big bag of gifts from the magicians and pitched it all into the cart and hitched the caribou to it. They carefully strapped down Jesus Saint Nik Claus. They didn't make very good time at first, until Joseph remembered to feed some magic mushrooms to the animals. "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid! on Donner and Blitzen!" he started yelling at them. Given their spirited hallucinogenic behavior, these names seemed appropriate. All three of them were excited when the cart rose up into the air, especially the baby. His eyes − how they twinkled! His dimples - how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

Since the Roman Empire extended all over the known world, and they wanted to get away from any possibility of being found, they headed to Lapland, also known as the North Pole. They got out of Judea just in time too. Herod the Great was really peeved that the magicians hadn't come back like he'd asked, so he had every baby under two years of age in the Bethlehem area killed. Being king, this was his privilege, of course.

Friendly Finnish elves helped take care of the family at first. Eventually Joseph set up a toy workshop, employing many of the elves in making many fine products destined for R. H. Macy and Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Jesus didn't stay dead fir very long and that's why we celebrate Easter.When Jesus Saint Nik Claus turned thirty, he changed his name to Jesus Christ − in case Herod the Great was still looking to kill him -- and the whole family moved back to Israel for awhile. Fortunately, Herod the Great had succumbed to the screaming willies shortly after the murder of the children. Unfortunately, there were more Herods where that one came from.

Jesus did a lot of wonderful magical things for the people, healing and forgiving them, walking on water, and turning it into wine. However, as he became more popular, the powers that be started feeling threatened again so they killed him. Of course, Jesus didn't stay dead for very long and that's why we celebrate Easter.

After he was resurrected, Jesus moved back to Lapland (also known as the North Pole) and began to go by his middle names, Saint Nik. The 'Nik' part in particular got him a lot more respect among the Scandinavians on his true Father's side of the family than he had gotten from his mom's Jewish side. He took over Joseph's toy making business with a vengeance, married a nice Finnish girl and settled down where he lives to this day.

Once a year, after the Yule fire festival in December and in remembrance of all the Bethlehem babies who died, Saint Nik loads up his sack with toys -- the same sack in which the Oriental magicians brought his presents. He hitches up his stunted caribou to his old cart − converted to a sleigh for winter travel. He feeds each of them a handful of Amanita muscaria and flies off to distribute gifts to all the deserving Christian boys and girls in the world.

If that isn't the real story of Christmas, it certainly takes into account the major elements that would be otherwise bewilderingly unrelated.

Source: http://unquietmind.com/xmasmyth.html