For "Winged Wednesday" and "Christmas Day":
Calliope Hummingbird, Jewel of the Rockies:
"ABC’s Dan Lebbin recalls one of his first encounters with a Calliope Hummingbird: “I was sitting in a grassy meadow surrounded by tall conifers, and daylight was dwindling after a long day of hiking in Yosemite National Park. A tiny bee-like hummingbird zipped over my head, flew low over the grass, and disappeared before I could get an identifying look. Was it a Calliope Hummingbird? The size and gestalt were correct… ”
At 3.25 inches long, the Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest breeding bird found in Canada and the United States—and the smallest long-distance migrant bird in the world. This tiny hummingbird travels over 5,500 miles round-trip during its migration!
Calliopes winter in dry thorn forest and humid pine-oak forests in southwestern and south-central Mexico. Vagrant Calliopes are increasingly found wintering in the eastern U.S., however, much like other species of western hummingbirds like the Rufous Hummingbird." Read more, including the Calliope’s dramatic aerial display >>
"Christmas was not always celebrated in America. Why?"
Four Reasons Christmas Is Not Christian
Millions around the world will observe Christmas once again this year. But, perhaps surprisingly, the facts show Christmas isn’t even Christian!
"As millions of people around the world decorate trees, wrap and give gifts, and tell their children the story of Santa Claus—a fundamental question must be answered. Is Christmas really “Christian”?
Because of the attention paid to the story of Christ’s birth and the carols celebrating the baby Jesus, many may be shocked at this time of year to hear someone say, “I don’t celebrate Christmas because it is not Christian to do so.”
Much has been made recently of the liberal “war against Christmas,” but it is not just those with a bias against anything associated with religion who reject Christmas and its trappings. Why would a Christian—who strongly believes in God the Father and Jesus Christ—make a conscious decision to reject Christmas?
Four reasons Christmas is not Christian
1. Dec. 25 is the wrong day, and it’s celebrated for the wrong god. Dec. 25 is associated with many pagan birth myths—not Christ’s birth.
Though Dec. 25 is considered the birthday of Jesus by a large segment of Christendom, there is no evidence that this was actually the date He was born. The Bible does not give us Christ’s date of birth, but it gives some clues that it was at a warmer time of the year. Read our article “The Birth of Jesus” to learn more about what the Bible indicates regarding Jesus’ birth.
Dec. 25 was assigned to be the date of Christ’s birth about 300 years after He was born basically to encourage followers of a variety of pagan religions that celebrated that day to convert to Christianity. One popular pagan god whose birthday was celebrated at the end of December was Mithra.
2. Most Christmas traditions come from pagan religions, not the Bible.
The time of year chosen, starting a week before Christmas, correlates with the pagan festival of Saturnalia. This was celebrated in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Two of the traditions of Saturnalia that live on today in Christmas include gift giving and fabulous light displays. God instructs us to never worship Him with pagan practices: “You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things” (Deuteronomy 12:4).
Since the term “pagan” is not used as much today, it is important we understand its meaning. Paganism refers to religious worship of gods other than the true God of the Bible. Pagan worship often involves polytheism (worship of multiple gods) and often centers on worshipping elements of nature.
3. There is no Santa Claus. Parents shouldn’t lie to their children.
One of the most popular Christmas customs involves telling children that there is a jolly, potbellied man named Santa Claus who delivers Christmas gifts to all good children around the world. The custom practically makes Santa Claus into a godlike being—with the ability to hear children’s wishes (prayers) and visit all the good children of the world in one night (supernatural powers). And he’s portrayed as always staying the same age (immortal).
Of course, this myth is found nowhere in the Bible. Is it Christian for parents to teach this myth to their children? The Bible is very clear that lying is a sin: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). How can we exclude children from this commandment? It is not Christian to perpetuate myths like Santa Claus—especially to innocent children.
4. Christians should keep the holy days that Jesus kept, not holidays that originated in paganism.
Leviticus 23 lists seven festivals that God calls His feasts. God’s holy days were created by God for His people. The Bible records that Jesus Christ kept these festivals (Luke 22:15-16; John 7:10).
Why not keep the holy days found in the Bible—instead of holidays that human beings invented and assigned Christian meaning to hundreds of years after the Bible was written?
To learn more about the deep Christian meaning of the biblical festivals, read “Festival Meaning: What Are the Meanings of Each of God’s Festivals?”
Questions that need answers
So, getting back to our original question: Is Christmas Christian? Let’s answer this by asking four similar questions based on the points above:
- Is it Christian to worship Christ’s birth on the birthday of the ancient sun god?
- Is it Christian to keep ancient pagan worship practices alive by calling them Christian?
- Is it Christian to lie to children about a mythical figure’s existence?
- Is it Christian to ignore the festivals sanctioned in the Bible to keep holidays found nowhere in the Bible?
The answers to these questions point to the answer to the original question: No, Christmas is not Christian.
Consider the words of the Man that Christmas is supposed to celebrate: “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9).
This year, instead of celebrating Christmas, why not study the true festivals that God reveals in the Bible and learn about their deep meanings. God’s festival calendar begins in mid-April of 2014.
To learn more about God’s true holy days, download our free booklet." From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You. From: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/blog/four-reasons-christmas-is-not-christian/ by Eddie Foster
Common Foods Toxic to Dogs and Cats
"During this season of celebration and gatherings, your dog or cat may accidentally get to foods that they shouldn't be eating. Here are common foods that are toxic to cats and dogs.
Other non-food Christmas hazards are: decorations (please make sure your pets will not be able to reach them!), batteries, and antifreeze (for areas that experience winter).
Since holidays can be pretty hectic at times, don't forget to pay extra attention to the safety of your pets." By Doctor Karen Becker
"We’re kicking off this effort in the Atlantic flyway, where the Wood Thrush sings in forests of the Eastern U.S. during spring and summer.
Wood Thrush © Jerry Oldenettel
Some believe the song of the Wood Thrush to be the most beautiful bird song in North America! Listen to this BirdNote show to hear it - and to learn how thrushes create such exquisite music.
Male Wood Thrushes duel by singing different songs, unlike most songbirds, which challenge each other with renditions of the same song. The oldest known individual Wood Thrush was over ten years old—quite a bit of time to build up an impressive repertoire!
Wood Thrush numbers have declined as forests have been cut on their breeding grounds in the Eastern U.S. and their wintering grounds in southern Mexico and Central America. Yet nearly half of Wood Thrush pairs have two broods per nesting season, so given a chance, their numbers could rebound. Protected areas like the Adirondack Park in New York give them that chance!" please support BirdNote!
Gray Partridge SUNDAY Twelve Days of Christmas by Bob Sundstrom LISTEN NOW ►
TUESDAY Dona Nobis Pacem - Peace on Earth, From the Birds Featuring Nancy Rumbel LISTEN NOW ►
WEDNESDAY Julenek - Birds at Christmas In Norway by Ellen Blackstone LISTEN NOW ►
Willet FRIDAY Montana Grassland Birds – Where They Go in Winter by Bob Sundstrom LISTEN NOW ►
Christmas: Is It “What You Make It”?
"What do Santa and the Bible have in common? Nothing, actually. Christ said that those who worship Him must worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The source of truth is the Bible—not the traditions of ancient pagan religions or humanly devised myths about Christ’s birth. Some say that Christmas is what you make it. Yet, since it’s supposedly the birthday of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t we ask what His opinion of Christmas is?
“Christmas is what you make it.” To me, the words coming from the radio were shocking. By themselves, they might have just been an attempt to create the “holiday spirit.” Yet, in the context of the commercial that was playing, those words took on a whole new meaning.
The commercial had discussed the origins of Christmas. It mentioned the fact that Christmas has its roots in paganism (that is, cultures that worshipped gods—often elements of nature—other than the true God), mostly in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia (named after the chief Roman god Saturn). The commercial brought up the fact that the Puritans in New England had banned the celebration of the holiday.
With a background like this, how can Christmas just be “what you make it”?
Origins of Christmas
When you look at the origins of Christmas, you quickly realize that the commercial was correct. Christ had nothing to do with the origins of this holiday—the Catholic Church simply attached His name to the holiday in the third century.
Exchange of gifts: Ever wonder why Christ is the only One who doesn’t receive gifts on what’s supposed to be His birthday? The answer lies in a study of the Roman festival of Saturnalia. During this weeklong festival, the often drunk and unruly festivalgoers would exchange gifts. We encourage you to learn more about the customs of Saturnalia." More at: Click here: Christmas: Is It “What You Make It”? - Life, Hope & Truth by Joshua Travers
On This Day:
"Although most Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ, few in the first two Christian centuries claimed any knowledge of the exact day or year in which he was born. The oldest existing record of a Christmas celebration is found in a Roman almanac that tells of a Christ's Nativity festival led by the church of Rome in 336 A.D. The precise reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains obscure, but most researchers believe that Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.
To early Christians (and to many Christians today), the most important holiday on the Christian calendar was Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, as Christianity began to take hold in the Roman world, in the early fourth century, church leaders had to contend with a popular Roman pagan holiday commemorating the "birthday of the unconquered sun" (natalis solis invicti)--the Roman name for the winter solstice.
Every winter, Romans honored the pagan god Saturn, the god of agriculture, with a festival that began on December 17 and usually ended on or around December 25 with a winter-solstice celebration in honor of the beginning of the new solar cycle. This festival was a time of merrymaking, and families and friends would exchange gifts. At the same time, Mithraism--worship of the ancient Persian god of light--was popular in the Roman army, and the cult held some of its most important rituals on the winter solstice.
After the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 and sanctioned Christianity, church leaders made efforts to appropriate the winter-solstice holidays and thereby achieve a more seamless conversion to Christianity for the emperor's subjects.
From Rome, the Christ's Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ's birth on December 25. To the Roman celebration was later added other winter-solstice rituals observed by various pagan groups, such as the lighting of the Yule log and decorations with evergreens by Germanic tribes. The word Christmas entered the English language originally as Christes maesse, meaning "Christ's mass" or "festival of Christ" in Old English. A popular medieval feast was that of St. Nicholas of Myra, a saint said to visit children with gifts and admonitions just before Christmas. This story evolved into the modern practice of leaving gifts for children said to be brought by "Santa Claus," a derivative of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas--Sinterklaas."
Which scriptures explain when Jesus Christ was born?
Jesus was born 6 months after John The Baptist, so he could not have been born in December:
When Misty got me up to go out at 2.45am again, there was a very illegible (drunk) message on my machine from Jay. Later, I found out that he had been set upon, had a broken arm and lacerations on his face. I'm sorry, but I didn't have much sympathy for him, and asked him if it was his 'drinking arm'. Also, I reminded him that you can't do the same thing over and over and expect different results. If Jay would just stay home to drink, as he seems to have to drink, he wouldn't get into so much trouble.
Ray came over to visit the cats, and it is now confirmed that the man who was driving the truck when Ray was hurt, has died. When he was released by the Conroe hospital, he was picked by a friend, taken to his home in Austin, and died that night. RIP. Naturally, the family is asking for an autopsy.
It is still cold, but I took Misty for a fairly long walk around here, in her coat, of course. She hasn't been feeling well the last couple of days and keeping her tail down. But the walk bucked her up a bit, and she carried her tail high again. Around the warmest part of the day, 55 deg, I let the foster cats out on the screen porch again for a little while, but they were glad to get back in the house.
Other than the usual chores around the house, I did catch up on reading emails, and got some of them filed, answered or deleted. That took up most of my day.