The Origin of Christmas

Christmas series!

For the next few weeks, I will be writing about Christmas! Coming from a collective cultural background, I have been witness to the meaning of American Christmas as well as Catholic Christmas. With my immense love of history, it has subsequently made me a pessimist when it comes to this holiday. I know too much about it to just throw up my tannenbaum, give gifts, wait for Santa, and simultaneously worship Jesus.

The origin of the word Christmas comes from the Old English word Crīstesmæsse, which translates in modern English to “Christ’s Mass.” Since the conception of Christmas – approximately fourth century Rome – it has developed numerous meanings, traditions, and holiday figures.

Many cultures observed special holidays for the winter solstice which happens mostly around December through January – give or take a month and/or days. Speculations have been drawn on the parallels of the Roman holiday Saturnalia and the Christian holiday of Jesus Christ’s birth. It’s important to understand the role of the Vatican throughout the years when discussing paralleled holidays that occurred in the same region. Catholicism has adopted many pagan holidays to make the transition easier for pagan religions to adopt Christendom. By the time Christmas was created, Saturnalia may have become a national holiday rather than a religious holiday honoring the deity Saturn, regardless, the church saw an opportunity to create an inclusive holiday that would help ease Romans into the burgeoning Catholic religion.

Saturnalia is really just a big party. They traded gifts, danced in the streets, sang, had sex, made cookies and generally did all things we still love to do. As you can see, Christmas adopted a few of those customs. We trade gifts, we sing Christmas carols, and we make cookies (gingerbread man origin), but overall, we just have a really good time. There’s nothing wrong with that. The issue here is that the Catholic Church adopted pagan customs and threw the label of Baby Jesus on it and called it good. Little did the Church know people would be like, “hey, wait a second, this year we’re worshiping Baby Jesus for Christmas and last year we were worshiping Saturn for Saturnalia.” Numerous Popes have spoken out against this saying, “it’s a mere coincidence. We counted nine months after March 25th the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and figured that’s Jesus’ birthday.” Bullocks.

From there the Catholic religion adopted many more pagan practices in their holiday, such as the Christmas tree, silver & gold, the Yule log, and even Saint Nikolas. There is not even one original idea involved in Christmas; deities such as Horus, Osiris, Attis of Phrygia, Krishna, Dionysus, Adonis, and Prometheus were all born in December! I will cover the other pagan customs in future weeks before Christmas, so stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “The Origin of Christmas”

  1. Martin Luther opposed these rituals because he realized their pagan origins, and, subsequently, the Puritans made it illegal, or rather against God, to practice these traditions. So, like you, there are many Christians or followers of Christ who oppose Christmas for this very reason.

    I find it strange with the United States’ strong religious convictions and influence by Puritan moralism that they would be the largest perpetrators of Christmas materialism in the world.

  2. i am a follower of christ, i do not refer to myself as a christian only because i dont believe that all christians are followers of christ!! i believe that Jesus would be apalled with todays christian observances! I believe it is a sin to celebrate these customs. Jesus always told his people to not take up the ways of the heathens, there traditions, practices, idols, festivals. Jesus said to be seperate from them, how are the christians living by every word of God on this?? i don’t understand, am I the only one who believes this is wrong?! to make it worse the pastors of the churches, no one speaks up against this blasphemy and they are the leaders of the flock!! I am ashamed, i wish that more people who truly love God stand up and educate themselves on Gods way then they would see the difference inbetween his way and the ways of man then maybe more people will stand up for Jesus and his way and his truth!! Thank you Jesus for my salvation glory to your holy name!

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