A VERY PAGAN CHRISTMAS
A strange title.
But then, it's a strange concept for many. We're all aware of the traditional aspects of Christmas; Santa Clause, Christmas trees, Yule logs, Mistletoe, and so on and so forth. But, how many Christians are aware that most of us, myself included, have been conditioned over the centuries to accept that celebrations such as Christmas and Easter are part of the Christian tradition.
Now, I don't want you all to think that I've gone all conspiracy theorist here, but the fact is that very few Christian celebrations actually have their roots in Christianity itself. Most of them, Christmas especially, are deeply entrenched in the Mystery cults, the Saturnalia, the worship of the Mother goddess system and the worship of the sun god. In essence, they are directly contradictory to the Laws of God, and His system.
But, before you all start dragging out the wood and building a stake, allow me to explain.
Modern Christianity celebrates two major festivals; Christmas and Easter. One is in December, the other in March or April, depending upon the phase of the moon. Now, nowhere in the Bible is it commanded that any religious festival must be observed in December. The festival in March-April that the Bible does command observed is called Passover. It does fall in March-April, but is not called Easter. Nor does it fall as determined by the calculations for Easter.
Also importantly, there are other festivals commanded by the Bible that are not being kept. For example, the Sabbath, which is the fourth commandment, is not kept, but instead, we keep the day of the Sun in its stead.
What happened? Please allow me to explain.
In ancient Rome, a most important festival was celebrated every December. It was noted by the pre-Christian Romans, that daylight began to increase after December 22nd, when they assumed that the sun god had died. They believed that he rose from the dead three days later as the new-born and venerable sun. That was the reason for the increase in daylight. Of course, this was a cause for excitement and celebration
This festival, the Saturnalia, is necessary for any understanding of what happens at Christmas. It was time for the population as a time of relaxation and merriment. The law courts were closed, and no public business could be transacted. Slaves were relieved of their duties and allowed to wear the pileus, or badge of freedom. The were allowed to speak freely, and were even waited upon by their masters at a special banquet!
Wax tapers were given by the more humble persons, the origins of Christmas lights. The whole populace threw off their togas, and wore a loose gown, and wore the pileus upon their heads. This practise was the forerunner of the costumes and disguises worn by early performers, or mummers, at Christmas.
Gift giving and merriment filled the temples of ancient Rome, as the sacred priests of Saturn, the dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in processions.
Moving across to central Europe, in Germany, the evergreen tree was used by many pagans in the worship of the Yule god, as well as in observance of the resurrected sun god. The evergreen tree was considered to be a symbol of life, and was also regarded as a phallic symbol in fertility rites.
Diana, the queen of heaven was worshipped by witches and other pagans, who saw the red holly as representing the menstrual blood of the mother Earth. The white berries of the mistletoe represented droplets of the semen of the sun god.
Both holly and mistletoe were hung in the doorways of temples and homes in order to invoke the powers of fertility in those who stood beneath them and kissed. This act enabled the spirits of the god and goddess to enter into them, and bless them.
So, how did these, and many other similar customs find their way into Christianity? Look at the word "Christmas'
Christmas is a combination of the words Christ, and Mass. The word "Mass' means death, and was coined by the Roman Catholic church. The ritual of the Mass involves the death of Christ, and the distribution of the "Host'; this is a word taken from the Latin Hostiall, meaning victim. So, in short, the word Christmas is a strictly Roman Catholic one.
What had happened, in effect was something that had happened time and time again. The Roman Catholic church had absorbed the customs, traditions and general paganisms of every tribe, culture and nation they came in contact with. This was done in order to increase the number of people under their control.
Their mission statement would have been something along the lines of "Bring your gods, goddesses, rituals and rites to us, and we will assign Christian sounding titles and names to them.'
Thus, in the fourth century, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival, in order to convert the pagan masses to Christianity. Large numbers were converted to the faith, on the promise that they could still celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. The problem was, there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To get round this problem, the then leaders decreed that Saturnalias concluding day, the twenty-fifth, would henceforth be known as Jesus' birthday.
The church however, had little success in refining some of the more earthier practices of Saturnalia. In return for ensuring the massive observance of Christ's birth by assigning it to this most significant date, the Church allowed the holiday to be more or less celebrated the way it had always been. Thus, early Christmas celebrations tended to be celebrated by over drinking, sexual indulgence, singing and dancing naked in the streets (a precursor to our modern carolling?) etcetera.
Now, when Martin Luther started the reformation in 1517, he, and all the reformers who followed his lead, and took with them all of the paganism that had been so firmly imbedded in the Roman Catholic religion.
These reformers left Christmas alone and intact.
In 1611, when the authorized bible became available to the common people by the decree of King James, the people began to discover the pagan roots of Christmas, which were now clearly revealed as scripture. However, the Puritans, both in England and later in the Massachusetts colonies, outlawed Christmas as being witchcraft. This ban lasted until 1681.
This went on until nearly to the end of the nineteenth century, when other versions of the Bible began to appear. There was then a revival of the celebration of Christmas, which has continued virtually unabated until modern times.
The origin of the Christmas tree is just as strange. Just as the early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and those of its offshoots were brought into the Church by the sanctioning of "Christmas Trees' Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, even going as far as to bring them into their homes and decorating them. This observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.
Perhaps one of the most unusual of the Christmas customs is that of Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was actually a real person. He was born in Parara, in Turkey, in 270 and became Bishop of Myra. He died in 345, and was only proclaimed a saint as recently as the nineteenth century. He was a member of the Council of Nicea, credited with the creation of the New Testament.
In 1087, a group of sailors who had idolized Nicholas moved his remains from Turkey, and placed them in a sanctuary in Bari, Italy. There, Nicholas replaced a female gift-giving deity called the "Grandmother', or "Pasqua Epipinania', who used to fill children's stockings with gifts. The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the centre of the Nicholas cult. A pageant was organized, on the date of his death, where members gave each other gifts.
Over time, the influence of the cult spread north, until it was adopted by Germanic and Celtic paganism. These tribes worshipped a group of gods led by Woden, the father of Thor, Balder and Tiw. Woden was depicted as having a long white beard, and was said to ride a horse across the heavens one evening every autumn. As Nicholas merged with Woden, he lost his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, and rescheduled his flight to December.
When it entered Northern Europe, the church in turn adopted the Nicholas cult, to attract new members. They taught that he did (and that they should) distribute gifts on Christ's birthday, instead of early December.
In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (of Sleepy Hollow fame) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History. This satire referred several times to the white bearded, flying horse riding Saint Nicholas, but called him by his Dutch name; Santa Claus. A professor at Union Seminary by the name of Clement Moore, read Knickerbocker History and in 1822, he published a poem based upon the character of Santa Claus.
That poem was, of course, "Twas the night before Christmas' Moore portrayed the modern Santa as having eight reindeer, and could descend chimneys to gain entrance to a house.
The portrait of Santa was almost completed forty years later with the illustrator Thomas Nast. Between 1862 and 1886, based on Moore's poem, he drew more than two thousand cartoon images of Santa for Harpers Weekly. Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves. All Santa was missing was his red outfit.
That was resolved in 1931, when the Coca Cola corporation contracted a commercial artist named Haddon Sunblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. They insisted that Santa's fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red.
So Santa was finally born; a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.
So, however you look at it, many of the most popular Christmas customs are just modern reincarnations of some of the most depraved pagan rituals ever practised.
Please don't shoot the messenger; I'm only trying to inform, and maybe entertain a little. I'm neither Christian nor Pagan.
But, have a very merry Christmas, whether it be a pagan or Christian one. And a wonderful new year.