While lying low and recuperating from emergency gallbladder surgery, I came across this article (10 Reasons I Hate Christmas. Love, The Grinch) on the Elephant Journal (where John is now a columnist – Thanks for the plug ). Sara Miller has gotten it right. Many of the “traditional” holiday customs are not Christian at all, but lend their origins to various pagan practices associated with very different holidays.
As an Asatruar, I celebrate the traditional Germanic holiday of Yule. Yule is the most important holiday in the heathen year. It is a celebration of the winter solstice, and a reminder that, despite the extremely long nights and cold, harsh days, the tide has turned and from this point onward the days will grow longer. Yule is a time for us to reflect on our spiritual practices and devotion, and to celebrate the accomplishments of the previous year.
Most of the modern “Christmas traditions” have their roots in pagan ritual, including Norse, Roman, Germanic, and Druid. Here is a small list:
- Christmas tree– The Norse would pull a green conifer into the house during Yule to remind themselves of the coming of spring and the greening of the landscape. The Romans would hang fruit and candles from evergreen boughs.
- Santa Claus– Associated with St. Nicholas, known for his secret gift giving, Germanic and Scandinavian peoples have long associated Santa Claus with Odin, the wandering chief deity of the Germanic pantheon.
- 12 days of Christmas– Christmas does not have twelve days, but Yule does. A Yule log was chosen at the beginning of the festival, cut from the trunk of a large tree. It was hoped that the log would be big enough to burn throughout the entire twelve days of the festival.
- Christmas Dinner– Both the Norse and the Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice with feasting. Yule is typified by feasting and drinking, and the Roman ritual of Saturnalia, dedicated to the god Saturn, also included feasts
- Mistletoe– We can thank the Druids for this tradition. Mistletoe was a magical plant to the Druids, and the tradition of kissing underneath sprigs of mistletoe was a fertility ritual.
- Timing of Christmas– “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Luke 2:8. This well-known fact from the Biblical Christmas story reveals the greatest holiday fraud ever, CHRIST WASN’T EVEN BORN IN DECEMBER! Judean shepherd would not be watching their flocks in the fields in the middle of winter; this is a springtime activity. However, in 320 AD, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. Why December 25th? This date represented the height of the solstice celebration to Mithras, a Persian sun god. The Pope hoped that placing the Mass of Christ during this time would allow the holiday to supersede pagan rituals.
So, if you celebrate Christmas, bear in mind that the vast majority of your traditions and rituals are not Christian in nature, but owe their origins to Pagan festivals. If you are like me and don’t particularly care for Christmas, use these facts as an excuse to ridicule the holiday for its hypocrisy. In my own Yule celebrations I created a Yule tree in typical Norse style, fashioned after the Great Temple at Uppsala.
Be good to each other.
Thanks DCP for another great post. I appreciate you taking the time from your recovery to post.
And here is an American Douche complaining about “Pagan Propaganda”. An example of Christian viewpoint from the comments:
I would like to reiterate a point. Paganism lost out to Christianity for a reason, whether it was the charismatic apostles of Christ, or merely skillful manipulation of material elements. The barbarism of paganism is nothing to glorify. The basic thought of “fate” as governing life trapped man in an empty spiritual world. It was fatalism that allowed for no hope of a positive outcome to life’s travails.
Their forms of worship were primitive and cruel. They cut upon animals and humans, they cast wood and stone to portend the “future.” And the absolute faith in Astrology was so negative, that even the Caesars were forced to prohibit its use from time-to-time. I am glad to be a Christian. I have experienced a variety of faiths through first-hand observation; I wouldn’t sacrifice the faith of my forefathers for anything, short of heaven itself.