Christmas and it's Pagan Origins
Many people celebrate Christmas Day because they believe that it is the birthday of Jesus Christ. In reality, there is no record in the Bible stating that the birthday of Christ falls on the 25th of December. According to historians, it is not likely that Christ was born in December, because the Bible says that shepherds were tending their sheep at the time of his birth. It was very unusual for shepherds to be tending sheep during winter. Christmas Day was actually celebrated long before Christ was born, and many of the traditions that are observed today can be traced back to the pagan origins of Christmas.
During the time of ancient Babylon, the 25th of December was the day for the annual Son of Isis festival. The Babylonians would indulge in wild partying, as well as feasting and drinking, and they would also exchange gifts during the occasion. It is believed that the tradition of the exchanging of gifts on Christmas Day was adopted from the Son of Isis festival.
The Romans also had a celebration that took place around the time of Christmas Day. The winter solstice celebration, or Saturnalia, was observed many years before Christ was born, and it was held in honor of the God of Agriculture, Saturn. The festival was marked by great merrymaking throughout the Roman Empire, and costumed singers called “mummers” would travel from one house to another to entertain neighbors. The tradition of Christmas caroling is the modern version of Roman “mumming”.
The ancient people in northern Europe also celebrated the winter solstice, and they called it “Yule”. Yule was a symbol of Mithras the Sun God, and it was celebrated on the year’s shortest day. Candles were lighted to encourage Mithras to return the following year, and the custom of candle-lighting is still being observed on Christmas Days until now. Yule logs were also burned to honor Mithras, and mistletoes were hung to ward off evil, and these practices have become part of the modern Christmas tradition as well.
The custom of setting up a Christmas tree also has its roots in pagan Christmas traditions. To the ancient northern Europeans, a tree was a symbol of the unity of all winter solstices, and it was brought home to serve as a reminder that crops would be growing again soon. Boughs represented good luck, and they were often given out during weddings as a way to promote fertility.
The character of Santa Claus was based on a bishop who lived in Asia Minor during the 4th century. St. Nicholas was known for his great generosity and love for children, and he had spent his inheritance to provide aid for many poor children. Occasionally, he would throw gifts to children through the windows of their homes without revealing his identity, and this is the reason why Santa Claus is portrayed as an anonymous giver of presents during Christmas. St. Nicholas is now regarded as a patron saint of sailors and children in many European countries.