A few years back, I was surprised to learn that nearly everything I’d been taught in Bible School about Christmas was, to be blunt, a bunch of lies. Frankly, I’d be surprised if Christian officials were too keen on the actual truth getting out since it makes their religion seem…oh, what’s that phrase? Right, “made up.” In actuality, many of the Christmas “traditions” Americans celebrate were co-opted from, of all people, those nutty Pagans. Here’s a rundown of Christianity’s disappointing lack of originality:
- Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th (it was June 17th), the December date was chosen in the year 350AD, by Pope Julius I to make it easy for Pagan Romans (the majority religion at the time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion was a bit easier to swallow, as Roman Pagans, Druids, and others already celebrated the Festival of the Son of Isis on the Winter Solstice, the 24-hour period with the least day light in the Northern hemisphere. Partying, drinking and gift-giving were all fine traditions of this ancient Babylonian feast.
- The evergreen “Christmas Tree” was thought by ancient Druids to be magical (as it didn’t die in the winter), and brought protection if a part of it were brought inside during this time of year.
- Ball Ornaments were representational of the Sun, and symbols of worship to the Roman Sun God, Mithras.
- The Nativity Scene was old hat before Jesus ever arrived. From Sol, to Apollo, to Mithras, and in Roman times, nativity scenes were made to honor each.
- Stars come from the ancient Romans who celebrated Saturnalia, a day to honor the god of agriculture, seeds and planting, Saturn. They represented him with yellow discs or, as we now refer to them, halos.
- Wreaths, to the ancient Romans, were a symbol of eternal life, as winters were a time of hardships and death. Holly berries were thought to be a food of the gods.
- Mistletoe lived in trees with no roots to the ground, quite unlike any other plant. Due to its special nature it was also considered a fertility symbol, hence the fertility ritual of kissing under the Mistletoe.
- In this dark time of the year, evil spirits were blamed for death, so bells were used to frighten the spirits away.
- The jolly fat man comes from a more recent time, and a man named Sinter Klaas, or Saint Nicholas. He became known later as the Patron Saint of Children because he reportedly saved many from lives of crime or prostitution. He frequently fed poor children and kept them from death. Cheery, no?
- Caroling is an ancient tradition that started in Rome, where a group of people called “mummers” would stroll from house to house singing and dancing to entertain their neighbors.
- Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun god. The word Yule means “wheel,” the wheel being a Pagan symbol for the sun.
- Even the idea of being kind to the poor on this one day was cribbed from the ancient Romans. Celebrating Saturnalia, the slaves were treated well and included in the feast, occasionally even being fed by their masters.
- And the list goes on…
Turns out, pretty much the only thing Christians brought to the party was, well… Christ. All those “Christian” traditions Americans love so much aren’t really Christian at all (in fact, it was illegal to celebrate Christmas in America from 1659-1681 because the traditions were so pagan). Pretty funny, huh? Kinda makes you wonder what else you were taught that isn’t correct. Well, it should.