Christmas and Its Pagan Origins

Few people realize that the origins of a form of Christmas was pagan and celebrated in Europe long before anyone there had heard of Jesus (P). No one knows what day Jesus (P) was born on. From the Biblical description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. One thing they agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the Bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night.This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas, on December 25th?

The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (goddess of nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating, drinking and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday “Saturnalia”, honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the birthday of the Unconquered Sun.

The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.

In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christmas worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan sun god, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the sun god grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras and the sun to reappear next year. Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means “wheel”, the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Holly berries were thought to be a food of the gods.

The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.

In the year 350 AD, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a but easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them. Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ”The controversy continues even today in some fundamentalist sects.

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  1. From http://www.guidetosalvation.com This is part of the article, it is very in-depth with illustrations.

    “Event by event, we found we were able to construct Jesus’ supposed biography from mythic motifs previously relating to Osiris-Dionysus:
    ?Osiris-Dionysus is God made flesh, the savior and “Son of God.”

    ?His father is God and his mother is a mortal Virgin.

    ?He is born in a cave or humble cowshed on December 25 before three Shepard’s.

    ?He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism.

    ?He miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony.

    ?He rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honor him.

    ?He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

    ?After his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heave in glory.

    ?His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days.

    ?His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolizes his body and blood.

    These are just some of the motifs shared between the tales of Osiris-Dionysus and the biography of Jesus. Why are these remarkable similarities not common knowledge? Because, as we were to discover later, the early Roman Church did everything in its power to prevent us perceiving them. It systematically destroyed Pagan sacred literature in a brutal program of eradicating the Mysteries, a task it performed so completely that today Paganism is regarded as a “dead” religion.

    Although surprising to us now, to writers of the first few centuries C. E. these similarities between the new Christian religion and the ancient Mysteries were extremely obvious. Pagan critics of Christianity, such as the satirist Celsus, complained that this recent religion was nothing more than a pale reflection of their own ancient teachings. Early “Church fathers,” such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus, were understandably disturbed and resorted to the desperate claim that these similarities were the result of diabolical mimicry. Using one of the most absurd arguments ever advanced, they accused the Devil of “plagiarism by anticipation,” of deviously copying the true story of Jesus before it had actually happened in an attempt to mislead the gullible. These Church fathers struck as as no less devious than the Devil they hoped to incriminate.”

  2. Christmas festivals today incorporate many other pagan customs, such as the use of holly, mistletoe, Yule logs, and wassail bowls. The Christmas tree itself is the most obvious aspect of ancient pagan celebrations which were later incorporated into church rites. Scholars believe that the Christian celebration was originally derived in part from rites held by pre-Christian Germanic and Celtic peoples to celebrate the winter solstice. The Christmas tree, an evergreen trimmed with lights and other decorations, because it keeps its green needles throughout the winter months, was believed by pre-Christian pagans to have special powers of protection against the forces of nature and evil spirits. The end of December marked the onset of a visible lengthening of daylight hours – the return of warmth and light and defeat of those evil forces of cold and darkness. The Christmas tree is derived from the so-called paradise tree, symbolizing Eden, of German mystery plays. The use of a Christmas tree began early in the 17th century, in Strasbourg, France, spreading from there through Germany, into northern Europe and Great Britain, and then on to the United States.

    Christmas is not the only Christian festival which was borrowed from ancient paganism and foisted upon the religion of Jesus . There is also Easter, the Feast of St. John, the Holy communion, the Annunciation of the virgin, the assumption of the virgin, and many others have their roots in ancient pagan worship. Since we can not get into the details here, therefore, the interested reader is encouraged to consult the above books.

    Many people object to people who advise them not to introduce new and innovative practices into their religion, even if they were only to be festivals and celebrations. They object “what could it hurt if I were to worship God and thank Him for his blessings on this day when pagans performed their worship? I am not worshipping idols.” For this we only need to read the very explicit prohibition of God in this regard which He Himself emphatically declared in the Bible:

    “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them (pagans), after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. (Deuteronomy 12:30)”

    There is a good reason why God commands us to do things. Just because we do not know the wisdom behind a prohibition does not give us the freedom to disregard it. Indeed, it is exactly such willingness to “adapt” and “compromise” which eventually lead to the loss of the message of Jesus.

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