Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mythology in secular Christmas stories

Christmas-themed popular music, television, and cinema:The concept of Santa Claus is often seen as a secular saint who has supernatural powers and uses them to magnanimously deliver gifts to children around the world. This idea is based on a folk tradition of Saint Nicholas but was given an amplified mythological identity in the Clement Moore poem Twas The Night Before Christmas.In the 1950s, several Christmas cartoons emerged that deliberately adopt elements of Christian stories to convey the "true meaning of Christmas" in allegorical terms.An early film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special) based on a Gene Autry song, involved a rejected and mocked reindeer that ends up leading the other reindeer through the help of a misfit elf and misfit toys.

Similarly, Frosty the Snowman contains several Christian motifs, is the story of a snowman who comes to life for a time, melts (dies) but also reassures his childlike followers that he will "be back again some day." The television special developed from this song invents the concept of Frosty being made from "Christmas snow" which entails that he can never completely melt away and thus has an eternal essence.Following these early television Christmas specials, there have been countless other Christmas TV specials and movies produced for the "holiday season" that are not explicitly Christian but seek to describe "true spirit of Christmas" beliefs, such as "togetherness," "being with family," charitable acts, and belief that even bad people or situations can be redeemed.

While many sundry examples of Christmas films exist, examples of films with Christian mythical elements include: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (film), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and various adaptations of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. With the exception of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which features a reading from the Gospels by Linus, they have little to do with the biblical Christmas.These conceptions of the "true meaning of Christmas" are also sung about in Christmas albums that may have nothing to do with Christianity

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