Wednesday, December 15, 2010

History Hump #6

 10 Christmas vs. the Pagan Winter Festival.

I know that this might be a touchy subject for some, but I find it very interesting. I will do my best to keep my personal views separate from the facts.

No one knows what day Jesus Christ 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 the 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 and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast. “

However, it’s not just the date that holds similarities.

“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.

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. Hollyberries 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 homeschristmas-tree-pics-0203 during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again.”

Here’s the touchy part.

“In 350, 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 bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.”

I feel like most people don’t want to believe that the Catholic church would change such an important day just to pacify the Pagans. Unfortunately though, it does seem that way. Sorry to say it, but it seems to be that way with other holidays as well. But let’s save that for a whole other History Hump.

“Christmas 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.”

history-of-christmas-traditions.s600x600 No matter what the case may be. I love the Christmas holiday as we know it. Sure, it was never really a religious celebration in my home, but I can enjoy it for what it is. A time to gather the family and be thankful for the year that you have had together, and look forward to the one ahead.

As for Santa? Maybe we’ll find out next Wednesday!

Hope your holiday is full of fun and good cheer!




all quoted information from

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LOVE, love, love your history blog! I'm all about the celebration of family!!!