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Sunday, December 5, 2010

25 Days of Christmas (Day 5)

Today's post will be talking about the history and the origin of what is now a primarily Christian tradition.

"The True Origin Of Christmas"

Christmas traditions date back to the days of Pagan practices. In fact that is where Christmas truly started. And it had nothing to do with Jesus Christ, or His birth.

It was originally an ancient winter festival, the feast of the Son of Isis which was celebrated on December 25th. Partying, drinking and gift exchanging were all a part of the yearly holiday.

Over in Rome, they celebrated the Winter Solstice. That was celebrated many years before Jesus was ever born. The holiday at the time was called Saturnalia, where Saturn was honored as the god of Agriculture. In January they also celebrated Kalends, which celebrated triumph over death. It's entire season was named Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. In ancient Rome, Mummers would dress up and go around the neighborhoods, singing songs. From this "caroling" was given it's birth.

Over in northern Europe many of the traditions were believed to be of Christian worship in it's origins. These to were started long before Jesus Christ came on to the scene. The Pagans of the north celebrated their winter solstice named Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. The custom included lighting candles and hope that Mithras and the sun would make an appearance the following year.

Yule logs at this time that were pretty big in size were burned in honor of the sun. Yule's meaning is "wheel". The wheel is a Pagan symbol representing the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual.

As for the tree which in our current tradition of celebrating Christmas, it is the one symbol that has been able to united almost all the northern European winter solstices. The evergreen trees were brought home and werea reminder to the people that their crops will grow again once more. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshiping huge trees.

Finally, in 350 AD, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. In doing so, even with no record of the exact date or time of the year Christ was born, though it is strongly believed to be within the Autumn months, the thought of a conversion to Christianity went more smoothly and people were not AS apprehensive. Seeing as their traditions of Paganism were not (at least completely) stripped away.

Christmas as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first.

The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany.

I encourage those that read this, and have the ability to do so, to watch the 5-part video series about the historical aspects of Christmas from History Channel.

Information for this post to be made possible provided by...

Christmas Pagan Origins


Donna said...

Things like this I've always found interesting. I think it's sad that so many people take things for granted without digging back into history to find out how things started or where they began.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to put this together. I haven't watched the videos yet, but I'll get there, I need to get off my arse and DO something, so I'll be back!

Thanks again

<3 Donna

Missy said...

Ha! So do I..In fact I think now is the time, seeing as the little girl's room is calling after 2 good size cups of joe. Then, clean some (not too bad, just spot cleaning) as to start DECORATING in a bit.

I haven't forgotten the challenge. I plan to rise to the occasion. (=

Ashley said...

I love this kind of stuff, history is cool. :) And it kind of makes me chuckle that so many of the Christian traditions are really from early paganism.

Blogs said...

Thanks for this darling:) I've been meaning to participate but it's so hard without a good computer....tomorrow I should be back "Together"....isn't Youtube Awesome:)

Missy said...

YouTube is my friend! (=

I'm glad you all are liking the series. It's my first stab at such a thing with blogging. I like it, and want to do a series again in the future.

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