Want to put Christ back in Christmas? You’d have to first put Christmas in September! (The pagan origins of Christmas)

by Ben Hoffman

Have you ever wondered about some of the bizarre customs involved in the celebration of some of the Christian holidays?

Take Easter for example. To mourn the crucifixion of Jesus, there’s a bunny who delivers colored hard-boiled eggs to children. What’s the deal with that? Rabbits and eggs are pagan fertility symbols. So what the heck do they have to do with children? Sounds a little depraved to me.

Next week is Christmas, which is supposedly to celebrate birth of Jesus. So what’s the deal with this fat guy in a red and white suit flying through the air in a sleigh pulled by a bunch of reindeer? And what’s the deal with the “12 days of Christmas?” The calendar just says Christmas is December 25th. When are the other 11 days? And then there’s the practice of bringing a tree inside the house and hanging a bunch of lights and other decorations on it. We know most of the needles are going to fall off it and make a big mess, yet we do it anyway!

I decided to do a little investigating.

First of all, it turns out that Jesus wasn’t even born on the 25th of December. The nativity story of Jesus in December is highly unlikely since shepherds wouldn’t have been out tending their sheep in the middle of the night when it’s freezing out. It does get cold this time of year in Palestine. Many historians calculate the birth of Jesus to be somewhere in the middle of September. So when you hear people claim they want to put Christ back in Christmas, to do that, first you’d have to put Christmas in September!

The Christmas holiday was created in Rome in 320 C.E. December 25 had been celebrated as the birthday of Mithras, the Persian sun god. Mithraism was a popular religion around that time, especially with the Roman military. The Christian church got tired of trying to stop the celebration of the solstice, so the pope at the time decided to make Jesus’ official birthday coincide with Mithras’ birthday. They merged Mithraism with Christianity to make it easier for people to convert.

The Christmas tree is derived from several solstice traditions.

The Romans hung shrubbery in their halls and placed candles in live trees to decorate for the celebration of Saturnalia, which was the celebration of the god Saturn: the god of agriculture, justice, and strength. Festivities included wild orgies, heavy drinking, and feasting. People would also exchange gifts during Saturnalia.

In Scandinavia, people hung apples from evergreen trees in the winter solstice to remind themselves that spring and summer would come again. The evergreen was a special tree of their sun god, Baldor. Their ancient festival was called Yuletide and celebrated the return of the sun. One of their traditions included the burning of a Yule log, which was a large log that was supposed to burn for 12 days. From this comes the 12 days of Christmas.

Santa Claus was derived from many sources.

The earliest inspiration was from St. Nicholas, the Biship of Myra from what is now Turkey. In the early fourth-century, he was known for helping the poor and giving presents to children. In the Middle Ages, Christians celebrated his feast day on December 6 by leaving gifts for children in their shoes.

In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas was known as Sinterklass. Dutch immigrants in New York celebrated Sinterklass in the late 18th century.

Santa Claus is also derived from Odin, a pagan god of Scandinavian and Germanic origin. Odin had a long white beard and rode through the sky on an eight-legged horse to deliver gifts to good children on Yule.

Santa Claus in its current form is pure American.

In 1809, a popular young author named Washington Irving wrote his first book entitled A History of New York. It was a satirical commentary on the culture and politics of New York at the time. It contains a dream sequence in which St. Nicholas flies through the air in a wagon delivering presents in stockings hung by the chimney. Irving also wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

A few years later in 1823, Henry Livingston wrote the poem ‘The Night Before Christmas’. Many details of Santa Claus were taken from this poem in which St. Nicholas was described as a plump, cheery man who travels in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer and enters homes through the chimney to deliver toys from his bundle.

The modern image of Santa Claus was created by Harper’s Weekly cartoonist Thomas Nast, who sketched Santa in a series of 32 cartoons between 1863 and 1886 based on the description in ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ He also came up with the idea that Santa lived at the North Pole.

Finally, Coca-Cola featured Santa in a marketing campaign beginning in 1931 and gave him the red and white colors to match their logo.

So when we think of Christmas as a Christian holy day, it’s really a pagan solstice celebration. Many Christians don’t celebrate Christmas to this day for that reason. Perhaps we should rename it Mithras Day.

Merry Mithras everyone! Merry Mithras!

~ Ben Hoffman

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3 Comments to “Want to put Christ back in Christmas? You’d have to first put Christmas in September! (The pagan origins of Christmas)”

  1. I always thought that the flying reindeer and Santa’s colors were all to do with the Laplanders getting high on the pee from their psychedelic Fly Agaric eating reindeer. Hence the ho-ho-ho and the ‘flying’ reindeer. So was it magic mushrooms or the cocaine in Coca-Cola? I prefer the former. There’s more supporting evidence ih the piece I wrote at http://www.gregorysams.com/ho-ho-hi.html

  2. Atheists and anti-Christians who hate capitalism talking about the origins of a Christian Holiday is laughable but I am amused by the attempt.
    And the snotty little children will get coal in their stockings and since Liberals hate coal also it seems very fitting.

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