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Monday, 11 December 2017

The Origins of Christmas

No, Christmas is not a Christian holiday. There's nothing at all wrong with Christians celebrating it - or Muslims, or Jews, or atheists for that matter, but it's origins were Pagan. Christmas was originally the celebration of the Winter Solstice, or 'the Sun Festival.'

Christ, if he existed, was said to actually have been born some time around Spring. According to God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens: Perseus was born to the virgin Danae; Krishna was born to the virgin Devaka, Horus was born of the virgin Isis, Mercury was born of the virgin Maia, Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia, and so on. And they were all born on the 25th of December, same as Jesus was born to the virgin Mary. (What is it with religion and virginal births? I mean I've seen Jane the Virgin; I get a virginal woman can get artificially inseminated with sperm, but something tells me that level of technology didn't exist back then).

Anyway, the 25th of December was chosen by the Romans as the day to proclaim Christ's birthday due to it being the day of the pagan celebration Saturnalia, celebrating the Winter Solstice and their god Saturn. There would be a festival running between the 17th-23rd of December. Paganism was the religion practiced by non-Christians in Ancient Rome, and was mostly practiced by peasants. They were polytheistic and worshiped trees and animals (like the children of the forest in Game of Thrones). People were allowed to drink heavily, gamble, dress as they wished, and exchanged gifts. Each Roman Community also took someone by force to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week, and then ended the week by brutally slaughtering them as a sacrifice to Saturn.
SUN of God?
Saturnalia became Christmas as Roman Catholicism took form, and became the official day to worship Christ as stated by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The 25th of December as a special date has been seen since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, and is all about worshiping the sun (sol = sun). Sun Gods in religions that have come and gone have been worshiped as triumphing over the harsh Winter and beginning the rise of the sun. Humans have always had a fascination with the sun - it gives our planet light, power, and heat, and in symbolic terms can be said to be the 'God' of humans as it literally keeps us alive. We've always been trying to understand the sun and stars and planets since our species evolved onto this sea covered rock.

Saturnalia had its elements of darkness in terms of sacrificing humans to Saturn, and wasn't quite as family-friendly as it is today. I view Christmas as a time to spend with family, and I think around the world that's how its viewed by most, religious or not. Other elements of Christmas like the tree and Santa have their roots in non-Christian related topics as well. The tree is a pagan tradition as pagans worshiped trees. Santa Claus was based on a Turkish bishop named St. Nicholas who often went around giving presents to children. People that followed him, known as the 'cult of St. Nicholas', continued that tradition which created the character Santa Claus. (Yes, Santa is real, kids).

There are lots of articles and videos online about this topic that I read and watched before and whilst writing. Some of it is a lot to take it, but the main things to understand are that the '25th of December' is about the worship of the sun, or the Solstice, hence mythological gods being born on that date. (Ra, the Egyptian sun God, was born of the virgin Isis - on the 25th of Dec, surprise surprise). Saturnalia was the Roman celebration before Christmas, and Roman Catholicism is what popularized Christmas as celebrating the 'birth of Christ' as stated today, even though many including Christians are aware that Christ (presuming he existed) was not born on the 25th, and this date was picked because of the Solstice. Whatever it's origins, Christmas has become a cultural holiday rather than a religious one, and is a nice time to celebrate and give people you love presents and decorate a tree. Whether you'll be attending church or not, there's nothing wrong with anyone celebrating it, considering its roots are all over the place anyway.


1 comment:

  1. Christmas is a special day for christians but as a muslim i also believe in hazrat Esa Alahe salam that he is the prophet of God. I think we must respect all the religions and their beliefs.


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