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: Read more »