Christmas, a Pagan Holiday?

Christmas is the yearly Christian celebration of Christ’s birth. It is celebrated worldwide, and famed for its decorations and Santa Claus.

Christmas means “feast day of Christ” and it is celebrated on the 25th day of the last month in all Christian countries ,but there are differences in the way each country celebrates this date.

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS

The celebration of Christmas officially began in 300AD, but historically, winter has always been a time of celebration – even before the arrival of Jesus. People celebrated during the winter solstice when the worst part of winter was past and they could expect longer days and more hours of sunlight.

Christmas, a pagan holiday?

Different nations celebrated this period uniquely ; the Germans celebrated the god Oden, Norse(Scandinavia)celebrated Yule, when fathers and sons would bring home large logs which they would set on fire. The people feast until the logs burn down (which could last 12 days). This is the origin of the modern-day chocolate Yule log.

They believed each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf to be born in the coming year.

Most people believed the sun was a god and winter came when the sun was weak. They celebrated the winter solstice because it meant the sun god would get well. Evergreen bowls were hung to remind people that the green plants would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped Ra, who wore the sun as a blazing disc in his Crown. During the winter solstice when they believe RA had begun to recover from his illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with Green palm rushes which showed the Triumph of Life over Death. This is most likely the earliest concepts for the CHRISTMAS TREE.

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia to honor Saturn, the god of agriculture, and the holiday Juvenalia was held on December 25 for the infant god, Mithra (this was the most sacred holiday for some Romans at the time).

Evolution of Christmas

Christmas spread to Egypt by 432AD and ST Augustine brought it to England in the 6th century. It reached Scandinavia towards the end of the 8th century.

By simultaneously holding it with the traditional solstice festivals, Church leaders increased the chances of Christmas being embraced but decided to not dictate how it should be celebrated. That is why we see a blend of Pagan tradition in the present day celebrations.

By the middle ages, Christianity had almost replaced Pagan religions but Pagan practices continued.

After Church on Christmas, there would be a drinking carnival, the poor demanding food and drinks from the rich and causing mischief if the owners fail to provide. These Pagan traditions were from Saturnalia(the pagans took control of Rome during the winter solstice )

In the 16th century, Germans began to bring decorated trees into their homes in memory of their solstice celebratory Pagan origin.

In the 17th century, different religious reforms had already changed how Christmas was celebrated but Oliver Cromwell and the puritans cancelled Christmas.

Christmas didn’t return until Charles II returned to the throne.

When the Pilgrims arrived North America in 1620, Christmas was already outlawed since 1659 and this lasted till 1681. Between  1620-1659, any one caught in the Christmas spirit was fined 5 schillings and this was because the Pilgrims were not willing to associate with the British after the American revolution.

Christmas was not an American holiday until June 26th, 1870.

In 1819, Washington Irving wrote series of fictional stories about the celebration of Christmas. In his mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday that brings people of different social classes, minds, and lines of wealth.

Many historians believe Irving invented the modern tradition of Christmas.

Christmas, a pagan holiday?

WHY IS CHRISTMAS CELEBRATED ON THE 25th OF DECEMBER

When Christianity began, the birth of Christ was never celebrated- Easter was the main holiday.

It was not until the 4th century when the birthday of Jesus was given to him by Pope Julius I, a roman Constantine who wanted to end all pagan god worship and replace their different sacred days worship with a Christian holiday.

This is why the church officials instituted Christmas holiday.

Christmas was not created to celebrate Jesus birth but was adopted by Constantine to reduce the different types of Pagan worships and unify the Roman empire.

WHEN WAS JESUS BORN

Nobody knows when Jesus was born, there are no historical records of him, if he was actually born, it would have been during the middle of spring because why would Shepherds be herding during winter?

IS CHRISTMAS A PAGAN HOLIDAY

The metamorphosis of Christmas over centuries shows that what we celebrate today as an iconic symbol, a Christian holiday, shares no relationship with Jesus Christ’s birth, but has a strong pagan tradition of the sun and other adopted traditions from other countries.

DID YOU MISS THE LAST POST? https://www.letstalkhistory.com.ng/10-sport-stars-with-african-roots/

REFERENCE

  1. https://www.countryliving.com/life/a45594/the-history-of-christmas/
  2. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.history.com/.amp/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas
  3. https://www.toppr.com/guides/essays/christmas-essay/