No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

“One of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans…”

 

Christmas has come back with a sweet vengeance.  People are saying Merry Christmas.  Stores once again use the word Christmas in their advertisement. We no longer languish under Obama’s horrid “holiday tree.”  We have, once again, a national Christmas Tree.

The main reason for all of this, of course, is President Donald Trump.  Yes, as difficult as it is for his enemies to digest, he has added Christmas to his growing list of victories.

Nevertheless, there is still strange resistance to Christmas.  Many love to rewrite history and accuse Christmas of originating from paganism.  This fake news about Christmas is also held by an unlikely source: legalistic Christians.

Yes, it’s true…a lingering religious spirit hampers many believers from rejoicing at this time of year.  They believe Christmas was appropriated from pagans.

That is why in this blog I am going to quote rather generously from an article by Jeremy Lott that nails the origin of Christmas and why you should lose the bah humbug and join the triumph of the skies.  -Mario Murillo

No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

jeremy

, Rare Contributor

In the endless back-and-forth about the true meaning of Christmas or the War on Christmas or whatever we’re calling it this year, one of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans.

Chastising conservative Christians in the Sacramento Bee, former talk show host Bruce Maiman cited the “fact” that “Christmas occurs on a pagan feast day, Saturnalia,” and alleges that “the earliest Christians deliberately moved the birth of Jesus to December 25, making it easier to sell Christianity to the Romans.”

The only problem with this criticism is that it doesn’t make one lick of historical sense.

Saturnalia was celebrated not on December 25 but on December 17 through 23. December 25 was during the throbbing “Oh please kill me” dry-out period between Saturnalia and New Year’s. It was thus a horrible time for sermons or celebrations – and Christmas was always a mix of both.

If you want to understand the calendaring of Christmas, look not to Rome but to Bethlehem – or, more broadly, to Judaism. The Talmud records a tradition that all especially righteous men die on the day of their conception. This figured greatly in how the church father Hippolytus figured Christ’s birth.

The accepted day of Jesus death was March 25 and so, writes religion know-it-all Michael Voll in Cracked, “Jesus’s conception must have also taken place on March 25th. Then basic biology tells us that nine months after conception comes the birth: December 25th.”

As for the very minor pagan festival of Sol Invictus, which people sometimes throw out when you shoot Saturnalia down, Cracked concedes that it did take place on December 25, but there’s an embarrassing rub. Turns out it “wasn’t created in until A.D. 274 (well after Hippolytus did his hump-math) by the Roman Emperor Aurelian.”

According to Voll, this late date for the smallish festival in fact raises the “good possibility that Sol Invictus was created to provide a pagan alternative to the Christian celebration, rather than the other way around. So hey, there you go, Christians: Go find that hippie neighbor and give him a nice, long lecture about stealing your dang holiday.”

Or perhaps, in the spirit of the day, you could just say “Merry Christmas” – and forward him this article.

Shut up and enjoy the tree! The Christmas tree is not a Pagan Symbol.

Shut up and enjoy the tree today!  The Christmas tree is not a Pagan Symbol.   

(First of all take two minutes to view our video  Christmas Card to you.  I hope you enjoy it and get a taste for how we celebrate Christmas at home.  Thanks to my beautiful wife Mechelle for her patience during the building of the village.)

One way to tell that a truth is from God is that it gets attacked from two sides.  Right now Christmas trees are getting it from atheists who want to call it a Holiday Tree and from ill-informed believers who are claiming they came from pagans.

Don’t believe most of what you read on the internet about Christmas or the Tree.   Most are completely erroneous. Some writers make no distinction between fact and fantasy.  None of them give sources for their assertions against the Christmas tree.

Those who would give Christmas and Christmas Trees a pagan origin love to tell you that bringing greenery into one’s home, at the time of the winter solstice, symbolized life in the midst of death in many cultures.

True as that may be, that is absolutely not how we got our Christmas Tree.  The Christmas tree is a descendent of two Christian customs: the Paradise tree and the Christmas light of the late middle Ages.

The “Paradise Play” was a prevalent way of depicting the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, their sin, and their banishment from Paradise. These plays were performed outdoors and in churches.

As time went on these plays were abused so the church frowned on them.  However, the people had grown so accustomed to the Paradise tree, that they began putting their own Paradise tree up in their homes on Dec. 24. They did so on Dec. 24 because this was the feast day of Adam and Eve (at least in the Eastern Church).

The Paradise tree, as it had in the Paradise plays, symbolized both a tree of sin and a tree of life. For this reason, the people would decorate these trees with apples (representing the fruit of sin) and homemade wafers (like communion wafers which represented the fruit of life). Later, candy and sweets were added.

The Christmas light: The other custom found in the homes of Christians on Dec. 24 since the late Middle Ages was a large candle called the “Christmas light,” symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world, was lit on Christmas Eve. In western Germany, many smaller candles were set upon a wooden pyramid and lit. Besides the candles, other objects such as glass balls, tinsel, and the “star of Bethlehem” were placed on its top.18

The Christmas tree still retains the symbolism of the Paradise tree. It reminds us of the tree that Adam and Eve ate from and cast the human race into sin. But more importantly, the tree reminds us of the tree by which our sin was overcome, namely the tree upon which Christ Jesus was crucified.

Is it a stretch to refer to the cross as a tree? Hardly, this is the language of the New Testament itself! For example, Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” And Peter writes, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

The Christmas tree is a wonderful reminder of how we fell; that Jesus is the light of the world, and of the Cross were we first saw that light.