The PAGAN Origins of Christmas?
Do YOU Want to Know?
I don’t know if you’re like me. it took me 46 years to finally want to know where our Christmas traditions come from. The closer I get to the Lord, the more I am uncomfortable about things I used to be comfortable with. In 2010, I started becoming uncomfortable and it took that long for me to finally face it and find some answers.
I found a set of three youtube videos below that really opened my eyes. For those of you who want to know more about how Christmas started and evolved into what it is today, read and listen on. Initially, I thought to write a hub for each video, but I will let you discover the revelation within them, as I did. However, I will give you a summary of what is covered.
The Date of December 25th
When Jesus Christ was born in September, 3 BC He came into a wicked world in need of a Savior. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of those who worshipped pagan, man-made gods (i.e. 1 Kings 18). The New Testament speaks of those who worshipped the creation, rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). The video below will introduce some of these gods to you and show you how the Roman Catholic church’s decision to ‘adopt’ the customs of the pagans in order to expand the number of Catholic converts was the stumbling stone of all time. Is this still happening today in ‘Protestant’ churches as well?
Before Christ, what started out in Scandinavia as a 12-Day lawless festival of Jul (Yule), and what started out in Rome as a month-long lawless festival, honoring multiple gods during December’s Winter Solstice ended up becoming a week-long lawless worship of Saturn called Saturnalia (in 270 AD), which was later stamped as ‘Christ Mass’ by the church of Rome, deeming it the birthday of Christ. I find it interesting that since Jesus was born in September, He was conceved by the Holy Spirit in December, yet for centuries Roman Catholics have also deemed December 8th as the 'immaculate conception' of Mary, not Jesus! How many immaculate conceptions were there again?
Unfortunately, newly converted pagans carried their habits of worship over, too. Are you curious to know what those pagan practices were? Because of this, the English Puritans got ‘Christ Mass’ outlawed in England in 1652. That didn’t stop the public, however, as they continued to celebrate ‘underground’. After just four years, Christ Mass was reinstated by Charles II of Rome due to popular demand. The Puritans then left England to come to the New World, in an attempt to colonize America without this annual pagan observance.
German and Dutch immigrants had already implemented ‘Christ Mass’ in America in 1620. While the Puritans managed to outlaw Christ Mass in 1659, the strongest opposing influence came a couple hundred years later from several authors, such as England's Charles Dickens’ 1867 promotion of his book ‘A Christmas Carol’; Washington Irving’s ‘Bracebridge Hall’, which inspired Episcopalian minister, Clement Clarke Moore to write ‘A Visit From Saint Nicholas’ in 1822, later re-titled ‘The Night Before Christmas’ that graces the coffee tables of a multitude of American households still today. Do ANY of these books mention Jesus? These books, along with the American Sunday School Society helped solidify the vote to adopt Christmas as a national holiday in 1890.
The Roman Catholic church not only ‘adopted’ the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, renaming it ‘Christ Mass’, it also carried on the pagan practice of the 12-Days of Yule by changing the dates from 12 days before December 25th to ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, beginning ON December 25th and ending on January 6th, known as ‘The Epiphany’.
The video below will tell you where the custom of Christmas lights started, as well as the origin of the beliefs and use of holly, evergreen wreaths, mistletoe and Christmas trees. Just as intriguing is the history of Santa Claus. His roots come from the pagan ‘hearth gods’ recognized by cultures all around the world. The Santa Claus we recognize today, once again, started out in Scandinavia.
Find out about Scandinavia’s hearth god, Odin, later renamed ‘Father Christmas’ who was accompanied by a horned goat. This legend evolved into the Roman Catholic’s fourth-century Saint Nicholas capturing the devil, known in Germany as Knecht Ruprecht. It wasn’t Saint Nicholas, but Ruprecht that was responsible for bringing gifts or switches to good or bad children. He even carried a sack on his back to haul away really bad boys and girls. Can you believe that over time Saint Nicholas faded and Ruprecht became the servant of the Christ child, renamed Weihnachtsmann, then Santa Claus? 19th century writer, Theodore Storm, put an end to that…but not in the noble way you think…Saint Nicholas came back on the scene, but this time as a darker figure, a strict disciplinarian that carried switches!
Naughty AND Nice
This final video talks about how our children receive gifts whether they’re naughty or nice. In fact, everyone does. The majority of Christians believe that God understands if we celebrate Christmas in these ways. Naughty or nice, He loves us all.
If we never knew the Scandinavian roots of Odin, the “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nicholas” we know today began with Clement Clarke Moore’s book “The Night Before Christmas”, published anonymously in 1823. While Moore really wrote the story for his own children, once it was published by New York’s Troy Sentinel, the book took off like wildfire. The previous stories of Saint Nicholas were done away with. Now, Santa was a jolly old man endued with supernatural powers. The horned-necked Ruprecht was replaced with eight horned, magical reindeer. Moore became concerned that his story was deflecting from the celebration of Christ’s birth and would reflect poorly on his position as a minister. While he initially tried not to take credit for the story, when it became so popular and brought fame and fortune, he could no longer resist.
1 Tim 6:10 tells us, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” There’s only one account of the rage of Christ in the Bible. We know it well. To use God’s house for profit enrages the Lord (Mat 21:12). The whole idea of Santa bringing presents to children sparked a 50% rise in sales for merchants far and wide. Do churches bring Santa into God’s house for the same reason? Sound familiar? How did this all start again? Finding Christ in Christmas nowadays is like watching an hour-long documentary about His birth, bombarded with 55 minutes of commercials.
If you haven’t yet read my hub The Bible Reveals When Jesus Was Born! I invite you to do so. The birth of Christ was NEVER associated with the birth of pagan gods or the practices of those who worshipped them. Back in the beginning of the Roman Catholic church, true followers of Christ were persecuted and killed for not converting, while pagans and their practices were welcomed with open arms.
I’m certain the martyrs of those days recognized this horrible thing and for many reasons, especially this one, decided they would rather die than join that ‘religious’ movement. What difference was there between holy and unholy?
Lev 10:10 states, “And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean” and Isa 5:20 states, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
John 15:19 states, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” Compare this with Rev 18:4 “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues.’”
Celebrating the birth of Christ is a beautiful thing. I pray we will celebrate it at the Biblically-revealed time (September) and know we don't need all the pagan lore to make it special; in fact, how much more of a clean conscience will we have? Love came to us in the gift of Jesus Christ. May we love God with all our hearts and love each other in His love. May the Holy Spirit guide each one of us to keep us in His truth and on His path of righteousness, for His Name’s sake (John 16:13; Ps 23:2).