Why do we put a conifer tree in our living room every December? Why do we celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25?
Dr. Jason Hawke, a history professor at Roanoke College, will discuss the meanings behind various Christmas rituals at 8 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea in Salem. His discussion, titled “Not just about Jesus: Ancient Paganism and our Celebrations of Christmas,” is part of Roanoke College’s Coffee Shop Talk series.
“None of this is meant to make people question their faith or to invalidate Christmas and what it means, both on a theological and personal level,” Hawke said. “It is mostly to just get people thinking about how Christmas fits into this much larger global tradition.”
Holiday celebrations not only pull from Christianity. Many December festivities originate from Pagan religions. Decorating a conifer tree is rooted in Celtic traditions and celebrations of winter solstice, Hawke said. Also, originally, Dec. 25 was the day to celebrate the birthday of Mithras, an ancient god of the sun.
This talk will provide an opportunity to analyze the significance and reasoning behind holiday rituals.
“I think that getting people to think about assumed truths in religion is a really good way to get them to reflect on other things that they may have assumed are true, but maybe are a little more complex,” Hawke said.
The diverse audience for this event is a testament to Roanoke’s valuable relationship with the Salem community.
“Colleges and communities both succeed better when there is a meaningful relationship and an interface between the two,” Hawke said. “[Roanoke] is not just in the community, we are of it.”
Roanoke College Coffee Shop talks are free and open to the public.
Don’t miss other Roanoke College events in December:
Roanoke College Choir and Oriana Singers: Lessons and Carols XXIX
Sunday, Dec. 1, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, 631 N. Jefferson St.
The Roanoke College Choir and Oriana Singers Lessons and Carols Christmas concert serves as an unofficial opening to the Christmas season in the Roanoke Valley for the 29th year in a row. The choirs will sing arrangements of favorite carols, new compositions and will lead the congregation in the singing of Advent and Christmas carols. St. Andrew’s own Kelly Wheelbarger will be the organist.
Jazz & Wind Ensembles Joint Concert
Thursday, Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Olin Theater
The Roanoke College Jazz & Wind Ensembles will perform jointly under the direction of Dr. Joseph Blaha.
A Cappella Holiday Concert
Friday, Dec. 6, 7-9 p.m., Colket Center Ballroom
Three Roanoke College a capella groups – Mainstreet, Looking For an Echo, and the Roanotes - will perform a joint Christmas concert to kick off the holiday season. The groups will perform holiday favorites, such as Silent Night, Carol of the Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and other festive selections.
Kandinsky Trio Concert Series: “Passionate Prisms”
Saturday, Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m., Olin Theater, $20/$12
Tickets available at www.roanoke.edu/tickets or by calling (540) 375-2333.
The Kandinsky Trio, which includes Benedict Goodfriend, violin; Alan Weinstein, cello; and Elizabeth Bachelder, piano, has performed worldwide in more than 175 cities nationally and internationally. This concert will highlight Robert Schumann’s passionate and stormy Trio in D Minor. The Kandinsky Trio will continue its 25 x 25 project with new works by composers Milton Granger, Todd Reynolds and Natalie Draper, after a performance of Wolfgang Mozart’s Trio in C Major.
Roanoke College Choir: Handel’s “Messiah” and Vivaldi’s “Gloria”
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2:30 p.m. & 5 p.m., St. Andrews Catholic Church, N. Jefferson St. Roanoke, $23/$12
Tickets available at http://rcmessiah1.eventbrite.com or by calling (540)375-2333.
The Roanoke College Choir, orchestra and soloists, led by soprano Elizabeth Futral, will present “Messiah” Part I (and the “Hallelujah Chorus”) in the splendor of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. In addition, the College’s Oriana Singers, orchestra and soloists will sing Antonio Vivaldi’s festive “Gloria” in its rarely-heard treble version.
Admission Charges: Many events are free of charge and do not require tickets. When admission fees or tickets are required for an on-campus event, this is stated in the individual listing, as is information on how to obtain the tickets. Additional nominal fees for online ticket purchases apply.
Submitted by Roanoke College