Keep the “Solstice” in CHRISTmas: December 25th is a Pagan Holiday
The War on Christmas? More like the war on the solstice!
Every December Chairman Meow hears how the god-less liberals of the world are re-launching their “War on Christmas.” Mostly what this consists of is society forgetting the true “reason for the season” in favor of commercialism and reverence for inferior religions that don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus.
In fact, one of the most hated practices of this war is wishing others “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” not to mention the hell-bound atheists who abbreviate the day as “Xmas.”
I’m also reminded at this time by a few of my Christian friends to keep the CHRIST in CHRISTmas. In fact, a Facebook page of the same name had well over a half million likes when I checked last.
So, if my devout Christian friends are going to call me out on my practice of wishing others, “Happy Holidays,” (a greeting that respects all of those who aren’t Christian) then I’m going to investigate their self-proclaimed monopoly on December 25th.
December 25th was always a Pagan Holiday
For literally thousands of years before Christians claimed ownership of December 25th, it was a Pagan holiday celebrating the birth of the Sun God, Sol Invictus which concluded their annual winter festival of Saturnalia.
The date is also significant because it has always marked the winter solstice; the shortest day of the year. The darkest day of the year was always a popular date for feasts and celebrations, as quite frankly, people needed cheering up.
OK, but can’t it just be a coincidence that Jesus was born on the winter solstice?
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Early Christians didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25th
Did you know that the Bible doesn’t mention the actual date of Jesus’ birth? This really wasn’t an issue for early Christians, as many of them believed that Jesus was more of a spiritual entity than a man anyway. Giving Jesus a specific birthday was part of a larger effort to depict him as a normal, “humble” man, which made him easier for people to relate to.
In fact, there’s no record of Early Christians recognizing Jesus’ birthday on December 25th until 354 A.D. By then, a lot of time had passed, especially considering that during this period of early history few records were kept or survived. That would be like celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th for the first time in the year 2163!
Roman Emperor Constantine chose the date for Jesus’ Birthday
When Constantine became emperor in 323 A.D. his chief concern was unifying and stabilizing the Roman Empire. The problem was that at that time there was not yet a unifying religion. For political reasons, Constantine decided to promote Christianity as this unifying religion, and in doing so he needed the support of the people, who were largely Pagan.
Keep in mind that “Paganism” wasn’t really a specific well-defined religion. (In fact, the word “Pagan” comes from the Latin word for “field,” as most Paganism persisted in rural areas, and early Christianity was more of an urban phenomenon) If Constantine was going to get support for Christianity throughout the empire, he was going to have to finesse it a little to appeal to Pagans.
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Christianity adopted Pagan traditions & rituals
Christianity adopted Pagan traditions to make it more familiar and attractive to convert to, especially for the masses who celebrated Pagan traditions. Consider the Pagan origin of our favorite Christmas traditions:
- The Christmas Tree – Comes from the Pagan tradition of bringing greenery indoors to decorate in the middle of the Winter; especially around the winter solstice; the shortest and darkest day of the year when people needed cheering up
- Giving gifts – The tradition of exchanging gifts came from Saturnalia, the Roman Pagan winter festival when gifts were given in honor of loved ones who died the previous year. Of course, no one can argue that modern day commercialism (and people being trampled at Walmart on Black Friday!) isn’t completely out of hand
- Christmas Lights – Pagan tradition on the solstice symbolizing the the return of light after the shortest day of the year. Pagans used to light candles and fires during rituals to lure back the Sun for longer days
- Mistletoe – A symbol of fertility for Pagans and Druids; Mistletoe was considered a divine plant symbolizing love and peace. For Druids it was a tradition to kiss underneath it during the winter solstice
- The Yule Log – Based on Pagan customs, and influenced by Scandinavian solstice traditions; traditionally a tree trunk was dragged to a large fireplace where it was to burn for 12 days. From this comes the 12 days of Christmas
Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th; it was too cold
It was said of the day of Jesus’s birth that, “There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8)
In Bethlehem, December is quite cold, and to this day flocks of sheep and cattle in that region aren’t out in the fields. In fact, livestock are traditionally brought in from the fields in the beginning of November. If there were animals out in the fields, it wouldn’t have been December. According to this and other clues in the Bible, Jesus probably would have been born in September.
We wish you a merry solstice!
Chairman Meow respects people of all faiths, and wishes that no one claim a monopoly on the truth, or on December 25th for that matter. People have been celebrating the winter solstice for thousands of years, and the most important thing is that it brings people of all beliefs together in love and friendship.
The next time someone tells asks you to keep the Christ in CHRISTmas, you can politely wish them a “Merry Solstice” and remind them that the war for December 25th started a long time before Jesus was born!
So, why does CHairman Meow care when Jesus was born, anyway? Good question. The date of Jesus’ birth (or whether he was married) is essentially trivial and shouldn’t affect the content of his message which is to love and respect others. Many people obsess on the form, (the words of men) and never understand the actual content. To them religion is merely a vocabulary to impose their world view onto others.
Jesus himself said, “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouths, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of MEN.” (Matt. 15:7-9)
Must see: The Daily Show: War on Christmas – Hliarious!