Pagan traditions and Christmas have many common areas. Read on to learn more about Christmas pagan origins.
Pagan Traditions & Christmas
The history of Christmas-like festivals and rituals can be dated back to more than 4000 years ago. There were several Midwinter festivities, celebrated to honor the return of the Sun from cold and darkness, which fell around the same time as Christmas now. There is no contradicting the fact that many of, what we now refer to as, Christmas traditions have been borrowed from, in one form or the other, pagan cultures and celebrations. Many of such traditions associated today with the modern holiday of Christmas, including the burning of the Yule log, the hanging of boughs, the eating of ham holly, mistletoe, etc., can be traced back to traditional northern European Yule celebrations. The missionaries when started Christianizing the Germanic peoples, they offered Christian reinterpretation of each of their popular feasts and traditions such as the Yule. These celebrations persisted unaltered and thus, were inducted to the Christmas festivities. Here is a fascinating account on the coherence of the pagan traditions & Christmas.
Origin of Pagan Traditions
- In ancient Babylon, the feast in the honor of the Son of Isis, goddess of nature, was celebrated on December 25. The celebrations were accompanied by boisterous merrymaking, unrestrained eating and drinking and gift- giving was also one of the features of the festival.
- The Pagan Scandinavians used to celebrate a winter festival known as the Yule, which was held between late December and early January. The northern Europe came to be Christianized in comparatively later periods, therefore, it had the most significant influence of the pagan traditions on its Christmas, especially Koleda, which was even included into the Christmas carol. Even today, the Scandinavians call Christmas, Jul. The word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, in English language-the usage first appeared in 900AD.
- The early Romans used to celebrate the Winter Solstice long before the birth of Christ. They used to call this winter festival, Saturnalia, which was celebrated in the honor of Saturn, the God of agriculture. Romans observed the Kalends in January that represented the triumph of life over death. They called the entire season, 'the Dies Natalis Invicti Solis' or the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. They celebrated the festival with great vigor and mirth and it was in ancient Rome where the tradition of the carolers, then called Mummers, was born. Mummers were groups of several costumed singers and dancers who moved door to door entertaining people. Christmas caroling owes its root to this ancient Roman tradition.
- Some suggest that the Christmas tree is the Christianization of a pagan ritual during the Winter Solstice. This ritual included evergreen boughs, and thus the Christmas tree is said to be adaptation of pagan tree worship. The phrase "Christmas tree" first appeared in English language in 1835, and was borrowed from the German language. Though the modern tradition of Christmas tree is believed to have started in Germany in the 18th century, many suggest that Protestant icon Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.
The above lines describe many of the modern day Christmas celebrations which happen to have pagan influences. Many of these traditions were practiced long before the Christmas came into picture.