Christmas Traditions: Pagan or Christian?

It’s December which means it’s time to sell books and push the ridiculous narrative that a “War on Christmas” is being waged. There’s currently no war on Christmas, and when there has been a war on the holiday it’s one that has generally pitted Christian against Christian. Christmas is a holiday with numerous traditions and a very long history. Some of that history can be traced to the paganisms of antiquity (perhaps even more so than Halloween), and some of it also arose from Christian tradition.

The modern Christmas holiday arose from a third source as well: secularism. There’s nothing religious about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Clement Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas (The Night Before Christmas) and both were highly influential in establishing Christmas as the Western World’s most popular holiday over the last two hundred years. Dickens and Moore didn’t invent Christmas, but they popularized the holiday in a completely secular way.

It doesn’t matter where our holiday customs come from, but it’s fascinating (and fun) to trace their various origins. Some of them are only a few hundred years old or less, and some are literally thousands of years old. Decorating with holly doesn’t suddenly make one a Pagan, nor does using the word Christmas make one a Christian. Christmas is a confluence of religious traditions, capitalism, story telling, and the human need to simply connect with those we love. Christmas is more powerful because it reflects a wide range of influences.

What follows are twelve different holiday traditions (of course it had to be twelve, twelve days of Christmas and all that) and an outline of their various origins. At the end of each tradition I render a verdict on whether that tradition is Pagan, Christian, or Secular. It’s all in good fun, but the information is accurate. Happy Holidays!

Holly and Ivy: I’ll always associate holly and ivy together during the Holidays, no doubt due to the song The Holly and the Ivy. Holly remains a popular Christmas decoration with its distinctive green leaves and red berries, but sadly about the only time ivy turns up during the holidays is when someone is singing the song I just mentioned. Decorating with holly (and ivy) is an ancient pagan tradition (1) and was used by the Romans to decorate at Saturnalia celebrations. Like most plants (or trees) on this list early Christians were well aware of the pagan origins of decorating with holly. Pope Gregory the Great even encouraged the continuation of some pagan traditions. In a letter written in 601 CE (Common Era) he wrote:

“The idol temples of that race should by no means be destroyed, but only the idols in them. Take holy water and sprinkle it in these shrines, build altars and place relics in them . . . When this people see that their shrines are not destroyed they shall be able to banish error from their hearts and be more ready to come to the places they are familiar with, but now recognizing and worshipping the true God . . . . .Thus while some outward rejoicings are preserved, they will be able more easily to share in inward rejoicings. It is doubtless impossible to cut everything at once from their stubborn minds . . . .”

As we shall see, Gregory’s advice was taken on more than one occasion when dealing with Midwinter traditions. Verdict: Holly and Ivy are most certainly Pagan Traditions, but to be fair, if you are looking to decorate in December with greenery your choices are pretty limited.

Mistletoe: Mistletoe was a popular decoration at Roman winter festivals and is probably better known for killing Balder in Norse Mythology (darn Loki!) and as an alleged sacred plant of the Druids if Pliny the Elder is to be believed. (2) Ancient pagans most certainly decorated with it, but it didn’t become the kissing plant we are familiar with until centuries later. The “kissing bush” was first popularized in the late 18th Century and originally contained more than mistletoe. Holly, evergreens, fruit, and mistletoe were often bunched together and then hung over doorways to instigate kissing. No one is exactly sure why mistletoe became my favorite doorway ornament, but by the middle of the 19th Century it was a popular custom. (3) Mistletoe, like holly, stays green and produces berries over the winter, making it a natural for Yuletide decoration. Verdict: A little bit of Christian and Pagan. Pagans certainly decorated with it, as did later Christians, but it was Christians who began the kissing custom.

Christmas Tree: The Christmas Tree has a possibly long and tangled history. Ancient Romans and Greeks decorated their homes with evergreen branches and there’s even a Roman mosaic depicting Dionysus with what appears to be an early version of the Christmas Tree. Pagans certainly used evergreens, but pictures of Dionysus aside, no one is completely sure if they used entire trees. Pagans in what is now Poland used to hang evergreen branches from their ceilings and decorate them as well.

There are two early Christian traditions which seem to foreshadow the Yuletide tree. The first is the Paradise Tree, usually an evergreen tree decorated with apples, and used as a prop for Christian mystery (or miracle) plays. December 24 was the old feast day of Adam and Eve so they were often around near Christmas. German families also used to build Christmas Pyramids or Lichstocks, which were wooden frames often decorated with evergreen branches, fruit, and gifts. (4) The first “Christmas Tree” dates back to the early 1520′s in Germany and spread from there, becoming popular in the United States and Britain during the Nineteenth Century. (5) Verdict: Probably mostly Christian, but with a touch of Pagan on the side. I’d love to argue that Dionysus set up the first Christmas Tree but it doesn’t seem all that likely.

Poinsettia: The poinsettia (pronounced by some, including me, as poin*set*a) was first introduced to the United States in 1825 by the then ambassador to Mexico Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett (who was a bit of an amateur botanist). During the winter the leaves of the poinsettia plant turn bright red (and other colors) making it a natural for holiday decorating. The plant became associated with Christmas due to a few different Mexican folktales. One tale tells of a little girl who wanted to give a gift to the baby Jesus but could only find weeds to bring him, which miraculously changed into poinsettias. Another more logical tale (how does a Mexican child get to the baby Jesus?) tells of a young boy who brought weeds to a Christmas Eve mass as an offering, where they too turned into poinsettias. The Aztecs were well aware of the poinsettia, but apparently didn’t use them for any specific religious purpose. (6) Verdict: Christian.

Yule Log: The custom of the Yule Log is first documented in Britain in the early 1600′s, where it was first called a “Christmas Log.” Later it was dubbed the Yule Log or sometimes the Christmas block. More than just a giant piece of wood, the Yule Log was part of a large procession before entering a home, ending with a round or four of drinks for everyone who delivered it safe and sound. Many Christmas revelers attached supernatural power to the Yule Log; its burning was said to keep a home safe from harm for the next year. (7) The Norse most likely burned large logs to ward off evil spirits near Midwinter, it’s possible that this tradition led to the development of the Yule Log centuries later. (8) Verdict: Most likely Christian but with Pagan echoes.

Lights and Light: The lights we decorate our homes (and trees) with during the Holiday season have a long history. Ancient pagans lit bonfires and candles on the winter solstice and the holidays around it to celebrate the return of the light. (9) In Christianity holiday lights are represented by Jesus as “the light of the world” and the star above Bethlehem that guided the magi written about in the book of Matthew. Solar deities such as Sol Invictus were also celebrated at Midwinter adding to the solar imagery. Verdict: Most definitely Pagan, though Jesus as the “light of the world” is a nice play on the idea.

Gift Giving: For many folks (especially of the younger variety) the highlight of Christmas is the receiving of gifts. Christians often look to the magi (more famous as “The Three Wise Men”) as the originators of the custom, but pagans were doing it long before Jesus was born. The Romans exchanged gifts at during Saturnalia (a winter holiday lasting the week of December 17-23), including toys and edible treats. (10) For several centuries gifts were given not at Christmas or the Winter Solstice but on New Year’s Day. Queen Victoria didn’t start giving out Christmas presents until 1900, instead she followed the old custom of New Year’s gifts. (11) It’s taken several centuries to slot out the various customs we now associate with Christmas, New Year’s, and Halloween. Verdict: Pagan, but don’t underestimate the power of capitalism for the importance placed on gift-giving during the Holidays. Both Christians and Pagans tended to give little gifts during their Winter revels in the centuries leading up to the modern era.

Santa Claus: The modern Santa Claus arose from a multitude of sources, but the least celebrated and most important is probably the Norse Odin (the Anglo-Saxon Woden). Early pictures of the man we’ve come to know as Santa are closer to the iconography of Odin than that of a Saint from Asia Minor. In the Netherlands Sinter Klaus’s first steed was not a reindeer but a horse, just like Odin. There’s most certainly a trace of the Turkish St. Nicholas in our modern Santa Claus, most notably his generosity, but he contains just a bit more pagan in his DNA than Catholic saint. The Dutch words for Saint Nicholas are Sinter Klaus, which has been corrupted into Santa Claus, so he has that going for him if you’re keeping score at home. Santa Claus’s most famous appearance owes very little to Catholic or Norse myth, and is pure fairytale. Clement Moore’s A Vist From Saint Nicholas is a fanciful and secular take on the figure and has helped shape Santa myth for nearly two hundred years now. The modern appearance of Santa is a gift from Madison Avenue. Verdict: Pagan, but at his best Santa is a wonderful blending of pagan, Christian, and commercial.

Stockings: According to legend Saint Nicholas once helped an old widower provide dowries for his three daughters by anonymously tossing three bags of coins into some stockings. (12) In popular myth, that story of Saint Nicholas is the reason why people hang stockings “by the chimney with care” today, but the inclusion of the stockings are most likely a late addition to the tale. The first (and in some places still the most common) receptacles for toys at Christmas were shoes. In many countries Saint Nicholas still puts presents in hopefully not smelly shoes. Clement Moore wrote about stockings in his poem guaranteeing their prominence in the United States and in some parts of Europe. Verdict: Christian as far as I can tell.

Christmas Cards: The first Christmas Cards were produced in England in 1843, by the 1860′s the custom caught on and began to spread across the pond. The Christmas Card tradition usurped the previous tradition of New Year’s cards, a tradition that dates back to the 1400′s. Christmas Cards also ended up eclipsing the once popular tradition of sending out cards on Valentine’s Day to people other than one’s sweetheart. Early Christmas Cards often used Valentine’s Day imagery. (13) Most early Christmas Cards were completely secular in nature with very few religious depictions. (14) Verdict: Secular, and most likely a money grab, here’s the start of your commercial Christmas.

The Date of Dec. 25: There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that Jesus was born in the winter. The only season slightly implied by the birth narratives found in the gospels is possibly spring due to the inclusion of shepherds, but even that’s just speculation. Christmas is celebrated on December 25 because that date coincided with a whole host of pagan festivals happening around that time of year. In the late Fourth Century the Christian writer Scriptor Syrus commented on the date of Christmas:

“It was a custom of the pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that CHristians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day.”

The “birthday of the Sun” written about by Syrus was not much older than the Christian Christmas, dating back to only 274 CE, but there were several earlier pagan holidays with connections to Christmas. Mid-December through early January were home to a host of holidays in the old Roman Empire. In addition to Saturnalia there were the Kalendae in January, marked, much like Saturnalia, by merry making, feasting, and the exchange of gifts. Various groups celebrated the “Winter Solstice” from December 21-26 as no one was quite sure when exactly the shortest day of the year occurred. (15)

Northern Europeans celebrated Yule (which could mean “wheel” as in the wheel of the year, or perhaps “sacrifice” or “feast,” all worthy reasons for celebration) at the start of Winter with feasting, drinking, and general merry-making. Drinking might have been the most important of the observances. A poem about Harald Fairhair (the king who unified Norway) makes reference to the king intending to “drink jul (Yule)” even when out of Norway. Ritually passing the drinking horn was said to connect those drinking together to the gods themselves. Most likely there were also sacrifices to the gods and fertility rites, but information is sketchy and comes from mostly Christian sources. Eventually Yule became synonymous with Christmas and now the two words are used interchangeably. (16) Verdict: Most definitely Pagan, as early Christians didn’t celebrate the birth of Jesus for centuries.

The Birth Narratives of Jesus: For many people Christmas is about the birth of Jesus as related in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke. While most historians think that Jesus was very much a real person, the majority of Bible scholars place little faith in the mythological narratives constructed by the authors of Luke and Matthew (even the authorship of those two books is up for debate). Matthew and Luke were written to express certain theological ideas. The first of those is that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, as such both authors take pains to put Jesus into circumstances they believe were foretold in the Torah. This is why Jesus is born in Bethlehem, and why Luke’s author had to create a census that never happened to get him there. But there are other elements in the two birth stories of Jesus that reflect the pagan religions of the time.

Jesus was born in humble circumstances (at least in Luke) but was born due to the mingling of mortal and divine; Jesus had a god for a father and a mortal for a mother, just like most ancient pagan gods who walked the Earth. There’s nothing particularly Christian (or Jewish) about the magi (later they would become the Three Wise Men and be given names) either, and they could be a reference to the proto-monotheism of the Zoroastrian faith. When gods were born in ancient mythology their arrival was often marked by miraculous occurrences, these occurrences are mimicked in the New Testament with the Star of Bethlehem and angels heralding the birth of Jesus. This is not to suggest that the rest of the gospels depict Jesus as some sort of ancient pagan deity, they do not, but the birth stories in Matthew and Luke do, at least a little bit. Verdict: A tie. There are certainly pagan elements in the story, but there’s also a lot of stuff related to Jewish prophecy and even some original thinking. The “first Christmas” of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph isn’t much different than our modern ones, a combination of many things.

Notes
I’ve read a great deal on Christmas the last twenty years, but for this article I consulted two books repeatedly in an effort to cite sources. There are a few items that are not sourced, you’ll have to trust that the information in my brain is correct.

1. The Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton, Oxford University Press, 1996. pages 34-35
2. Christmas a Candid History by Bruce David Forbes, University of California Press, 2007. page 120
3. Hutton page 37
4. Forbes page 48-50
5. Hutton page 114
6. Forbes 53-54
7. Hutton 39-40
8. Forbes page 12
9. Forbes page 8
10. Forbes page 8
11. Hutton page 116
12. Forbes page 70
13. Forbes pages 118-119
14. Hutton page 116
15. Hutton pages 1-4
16. Forbes pages 11-12

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “…using the word Christmas make one a Christian.”

    But it does reinforce a Christonormative view. There are, as you say, many religious festivals around this time of year (Happy Krampustide, by the way), so why not acknowledge the one that fits your own religion, rather than someone else’s?

    “Pope Gregory the Great”
    Don’t even get me started on this guy, or his letter to Mellitus. He advocated cultural genocide and the mass desecration of some of the holiest sites in Albion.

    “Eventually Yule became synonymous with Christmas and now the two words are used interchangeably.”
    Working to change that one.

    Here’s something I wrote on the matter:

    Keep Christ in Christmas (And Leave Yule for the Heathens)

    Every year, around this time, we see society gearing up for “the holiday period”. Stores start pumping out ‘festive’ music, town start putting up decorations, people start acting all crazy and we start seeing “Keep Christ in Christmas” memes.

    When that happens, I start seeing Pagan types complaining about the appropriation of “their” festival by the evil that is Christianity. Well, I have decided that it is time for me to back the Christians in this one.

    Regardless of how Christianity appropriated the existing festivals observed by the pre-Christian Europeans, the issue is not with them, today. It is with the massively commercial, secular culture that is plaguing modern society.

    Christmas, or Christ’s Mass, is a religious festival celebrating the birth of Christ at a time that works politically for the Catholic Church, amongst others. It is preceded by twenty four days of contemplation and reflection and followed by Epiphany twelve days later. It is, contrary to popular belief, not the major festival of the Christian calendar. That honour goes to the rather dubiously named Easter. Regardless, this period is a deeply important and spiritual time for the Christian religion but has been appropriated by secular culture as a holiday of excess.

    Let us pause for a moment and consider that. Christianity is a religion that prizes the simple life, advocates giving and acts of charity as laudable ways to conduct oneself. And we now have people acting in the most greedy and selfish way possible, all the while using the word “Christmas” to justify their actions.

    The level of disrespect shown is staggering. Some people say “Well, it is just a word.” Words have meaning and power. There is no thing as “just a word”. If it was “just a word”, why not get another one? Let Christians have their mass, but do not pretend that you have any interest, or investment, in their religion.

    Whilst we are at it, there is another word bandied around at this time: Yule. Most people do not really know what the word means and, if pressed, will say it is synonymous with Christmas. The truth could not be more different.

    The word “Yule” comes from the Ænglisc “Gēola”, which referred to the winter solstice. It was celebrated as a festival by the pre-Christian Germanic tribes of north-western Europe. The solstice would be celebrated on the 21st-22nd of what is now December, with another festival a few days later on the evening of the 24th. This festival was called Mōdraniht – Mother’s Night – and, it is believed, was a time of sacrifice to the “Ides” (or Dísir in Old Norse), a term meaning “noble woman” or “goddess”.

    So, you see, we have two very distinct festivals during this time of year, neither of which have anything to do with the consumerist binging so loved by much of modern, Western society. If you want a party, have a party. But keep Christ in Christmas, and leave Yule for the Heathens.

    • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

      Of course, it’s an easier distinction to make in English than in those languages in which ‘Yule’ and ‘Christmas’ are the same word: Scandinavian jul, Finnish joulu, Estonian jõulud, Sámi Juovllat etc.

      • JasonMankey

        There is some argument that the use of the word “Yule” doesn’t predate Norse Christmas celebrations. In that case even the “pagan Yule” is still a word that refers specifically to Christmas. Gardner called most holidays by their Christian names, so it’s never bothered me.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Yet it is mentioned by Bede in the 8th century as being part of the existing Anglo-Saxon calendar and appears in the Gothic language as the name of a month correlating to December, in the fourth century.

          Also, whilst not pre-dating the conversion of Iceland, an appellation of Óðinn is Jölföðr (Yule Father), according to Óðins nöfn (part of Skáldskaparmál in Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda).

          The very fact that divergent Germanic cultures have very similar sound words for the same time of year indicates a common root word.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Yeah, that would be problematic.

    • yewtree

      The thing that bugs me is people who refer to “Xmas” as if they were afraid to use the word Christ. If you don’t like calling it Christmas, call it Yule, and learn about the Pagan & Heathen meanings of Yule.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        What pisses me off about “Xmas” is that the “X” represents the Greek letter Chi. Essentially, the pronunciation of “Christmas” and “Xmas” is identical.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005941331698 Brooke Lewis

        yewtree, Yule and xmas are not the same holidays. Yule is on the 21st not the 25th

        • yewtree

          Yes I do know that. I haven’t been hiding under a rock for my entire existence!

          Yuletide was used to refer to the midwinter festival period generally.

          Pagan holidays were proper – not the miserly one or two days that you get nowadays. Saturnalia lasted for a week. I am sure Yuletide lasted a good long time too.

          • JasonMankey

            There’s a slippery slope here. We can’t control the definition of a word and for many millions of people Yule and Christmas are words used interchangeably. For many people Yule does mean Christmas, and has for hundreds of years.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            So we reclaim the word. We educate the ignorant.

          • Brian Michael Shea

            Heck, people are lucky if they get even one day nowadays.

  • Anna Calhoun

    Good article, decent information. One odd question that came up to me lately, perhaps you can help. I understand that the lights are a Pagan representation of the return of the Sun. What I want to know is what are the roots to the colors (if any) used in modern day Christmas décor? The general “classic” colors seem to be gold/silver, red and green (with some occasional blue thrown in). Any enlightenment?

    • JasonMankey

      Decent information? I’m almost hurt. I’m going to look some stuff up and try to figure out a real answer to your question.

      • Anna Calhoun

        Please don’t hurt. I’m sorry, I was typing quickly to try and get through everything this morning. I did read it and it is good information, I have done this research before, but the one thing I hadn’t come across until your article is the proof that at least some of the Christian churches “took over” Pagan worshipping locations. I knew at the core of my being this was true, but hadn’t seen the letter from Pope Gregory until today. The only question I had left regarding Christmas was the colors, if there was any basis for them other than modern design.
        (((hugs))) Thank you!! Look forward to seeing you at Convocation!!

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          In case you haven’t seen the full letter, here’s a complete translation:

          http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/mellitus.html

          • Anna Calhoun

            Thank you very much for the information!!

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Not a problem.

            I have serious issues with this letter, and the impact it had on this cluster of islands.

      • http://www.nuance-interactive.com/ Amber Peter

        I’m interested in the colors as well. Granted, each color has a multitude of meanings, but I am curious about which group introduced which colors to the holiday.

      • JasonMankey

        Now that I’ve finished writing all of my other Christmas stuff for 2013, I thought it was time to get back to this question. The first electric lights on a tree date back to the 1880′s and were on the tree of a Vice President at the Thomas Edison Electricity Company.

        The first commercially available lights were introduced in 1901 and consisted of one light, by 1903 a string of eight was available. By the 1920′s long strings of lights were the norm (though back then they could get incredibly hot, I remember in the 70′s my grandparents still used giant bulbs that got very warm). By the 1950′s elaborate light displays were possible at private residences.

        As for what the colors mean it’s likely that they mean “we make money on these colors so this is what we make.” I doubt GE and Ever-Ready (the first commercial manufacturers of lights) had much of a religious agenda. Gold and yellow lights most mimic the color of candle flame, and candles were attached to trees in the Victorian era (and later of course). Red and green have long been associated with the season because of Santa’s costume (by 1850 it was most commonly red) and the Christmas Tree respectively. Clear lights are brighter than most and reflect nicely, maybe that’s why they are popular?

        I guess I’m saying I wouldn’t read much into the lights. If they mean something to you, run with that, it’s as right as anything else.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Gold and silver represent the Sun and Moon respectively. Red and green are Earth colors. Red is associated with both fire and blood. Green is the color of plants.

  • http://paganlayman.wordpress.com/ Soliwo

    Allow me to make a small correction on the Dutch folklore bit. Sinter Klaus is not a name we use in the Netherlands. It may be a German version of the same figure. There are also different versions in other central European countries. It is mainly the helpers of Sinterklaas that vary most in appearance. We Dutch speak of Sinterklaas (always written as a single word) or Sint (saint) Nicolaas. Traditionally the two names refer to the same person and are used interchangeably, though Sinterklaas being the more popular in present time. Sinterklaas still dresses as catholic bishop, but is in any other way fully secularised. He is a friend to all children (even against their parents if need be).

    The feast of Sinterklaas (actually tomorrow, December 5th) is our national day of gift-gaining. Christmas is mostly about family and food and is more serious in nature, though more and more people decide to give their gifts at Christmas. Gifts at Sinterklaas usually come with a little verse that can be teasing in tone, or even satirical. And the gifts often are often not just wrapped. Many create ‘a suprise’ by crafting an object which is thematically related to the person in question, in which the gifts are hidden. The whole atmosphere is more lighthearted than that of Christmas. Perhaps Christmas can be more about Jesus because of the separate feast of Sinterklaas. Santa Claus is not serious competition.

    Of course both holidays are increasingly commercialised.

    • Wendy Ann Dietz

      i find that very fascinating Soliwo. i love to learn about other countries and to hear it straight from someone who lives there is very interesting to me. that is great! thanks for chiming in!

  • g75401

    The absolute first book I read on paganism started off with the statement that paganism persisted in Scotland until the 19th century. To state something is “christian” just because the origins of the tradition were in the 16th century is an assumption, at best. The best way, to me, of looking at whether or not a practice was pagan or christian is, look at the practice and consider the messenger. A Catholic missionary from Rome has a message that he’s transmitting from Palestine. There is no evidence whatsoever of wood, or logs, being view with any symbolism magnified by burning in Palestine. There is no symbolism of decorated evergreen trees in Palestine. Sure, there is the famous cypresses of Lebanon-they were used for buildings and ships. Cypress resin is very aromatic-as incense. Yule trees and Yule logs-definitely speaks to a culture that saw trees symbolic of something besides ship building or temple construction.

    • JasonMankey

      When trying to write something with sources it’s impossible to say that something is pagan when we have no evidence that it was. The British Isles were Christianized long before the 16th Century. Any tradition coming from that area not documented until Christian times then has to be labeled Christian or perhaps secular.

      Just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they can’t see something natural as valuable or even symbolic.

  • IAN ROBSON

    Just a lot of i informative but what is the intention and goal behind all this? Nothing new just copied and pasted from the history books !!! True that the Christmas from the beginning is just a religious, pagan or christian but has become more commercial rather than secular. Nevertheless the message conveyed through Christmas is that Christ has come as the Saviour of the world manifesting God’s great love for fallen man by offering His life and blood on Calvary’s cross as the price of redemption that man can be saved through faith and repentance from all sin and live a new life that is part of the “new creation”.which is of the Kingdom of God that will one day be ushered in!!! God has endorsed this my RAISING CHRIST FROM THE DEAD witnessed by many and a reorded 500 (1 Corintians 15:3-8 The Holy Bible.) The conclusion is this EITHER CHRIST IS THE GREATEST IMPOSTOR OR LIAR THIS WORLD HAS EVEN DEEN OR HE IS GOD!!! The evidence of the latter is the millions of lives and families that have been transformed. THIS IS THE TRUE MESSAGE CHRISTMAS OF HOWEVER IT IS LABELLED SHOULD CONVEY., together with a time when people and families unite and celebrate meaninfully, burying all past differences.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      You seem to miss one very important other option. People could be lying.

      As for the hanging on a cross/tree thing and the coming back from the dead… hardly a unique claim.

      So, what you are ultimately saying is that Christmas is the time of year when people of all faiths should come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus?

      Fuck that.

      • IAN ROBSON

        Sorry mate you have misunderstood what is written and by no means did I imply that at all. I was saying about the true meaning of Christ being born on earth which is a historical undisputed event. Whether you believe about “hanging on a cross/tree thing and coming back from the dead being hardly a unique claim” you have the freedom to reject this! But it does not change facts! And why the last two words ? You can be a little more civil when you comment on a public domain can’t you?

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Christ being born on Earth is very much a disputed theory and not a fact, at all. Fact requires evidence and proof. There is none for that assertion.

          I didn’t say he wasn’t crucified, I merely pointed out that it didn’t make him special.

          The last two words stem from a lack of patience with a systemic forcing of Christian and Christonormative beliefs and views on those who neither share nor want them.

        • Mikal

          Civility would also cover TYPING IN ALL CAPS!!!?!@#!# and not spamming a comments section with “jesus saves!” I’d wager, if you were mentioning it.

        • pagansister

          Facts, really? Jesus may have lived, but all the rest? No proof whatsoever.

        • Barbara

          Ian – there is no “proof” at all that a man/god called yeshua (jesus is the greek translation of joshua) ever walked this earth. There is no written confirmation (outside the christian bible) he ever existed though it has been proven that what little is found outside the bible that mentions “him” was interpolated into the texts or forged altogether.

    • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

      The conclusion is this EITHER CHRIST IS THE GREATEST IMPOSTOR OR LIAR THIS WORLD HAS EVEN DEEN OR HE IS GOD!!!

      Incoming: fallacy of the excluded middle.

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      >Christmas is that Christ

      Even the Christ dying-rising solar-deity myth is just another pagan tradition.

      Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth

    • Y. A. Warren

      “THE TRUE MESSAGE CHRISTMAS OF HOWEVER IT IS LABELLED SHOULD CONVEY., together with a time when people and families unite and celebrate meaninfully, burying all past differences.”

      Burying past differences is not the same as reconciliation. The way Jesus lived is meant to be a program for us to follow to make the hereafter begin on earth. The reason to celebrate the birth of Jesus should be that the House of David finally produced a rabbi that could, through his teachings and example, lead people away from their past “pagan” superstitions, not that “God” finally produced a human scapegoat to have sacrificed to “Him”self.

  • Wendy Ann Dietz

    i, for one, thought this was a great and informative piece. thanks for writing it. some of it i already knew, but i expected that. the stuff i didn’t know what really fascinating to read. being a Pagan myself, but of Christian background, i love to read these kinds of articles.

  • Sophia Sadek

    As a child my family celebrated Christmas and Easter, but we did it with a Pagan spirit rather than a Christian spirit. Jesus was not present at the dinner table when we dug into the turkey fowl and the pork. Later in life when I visited Christian friends for the holidays the presence of Jesus in the table ritual seemed rather glum to me. It made me feel that my childhood was special. Jesus probably would have preferred the way that our family celebrated despite what Alaskan political pundits think.

  • Titania K Gasca

    I am so glad I read this article, it cleared so many of my questions, and it was written with so much professionalism, not rude or attacking one religion or another, just plain facts, THANK YOU for taking your time to write this..

  • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

    How did the word pagan—which simply means country dweller—get such awful connotations attached to it, when we rural rednecks have an artistic flair for holiday decorating, which city folk readily copy?

    ♪ And a country boy can survive deck the halls.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I believe (and I could easily be wrong) that, originally, it was used by the Pre-Christian Romans in the same way that ‘redneck’ is often used pejoratively to label ‘backward’ rural dwellers. (That is the reason I have heard, anyway.)

  • http://birminghammessianicfellowship.com/ Birmingham Messianic Fellowshi
    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      Can’t be arsed to watch, but is that a picture of Jesus arm wrestling Krampus?

      My money’s on the horned one.


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