Is Christmas a pagan ritual?

Christmas History – Is Christmas A Pagan Holiday?

The history of Christmas and whether it is a pagan holiday is a wild topic that we will

The history of Christmas and whether it is a pagan holiday is a wild topic that we will discuss here. If you have a mild temperament and are sensitive by nature, this article is not for you. We will be discussing many emotional ideas, so don’t stress yourself if you can’t take it. However, if you can, this is going to be an interesting trip, so ride along!

What is Christmas?

     The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Christmas as a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. The English term Christmas (“mass on Christ’s day”) is of recent origin. The corresponding terms in other languages: (Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, and Noël in French) all probably denote nativity. The German word Weihnachten denotes “hallowed night”.

A brief history of Christmas

     Let me start with a small and shocking piece of information. Christmas day, 25 December, is, in fact, a secular family occasion and not a “Holy Day.” It has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, peace be upon him, who may have been born in spring or autumn; it is said. Simply put, the date of the birth of Jesus is unknown. Moreover, it was three to four centuries after his demise that December 25 was accepted as his date of birth.

     A theory speculates that date as the Christianizing of a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice (the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting; on December 21st or 22nd). It is also said that the date of December 25th comes from Rome and was a celebration of the Italic god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god. This was celebrated long before the birth of Jesus.

      Another theory is the Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah, starts on the 25th of Kislev (the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December). Hanukkah is celebrated when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem, following many years of not being allowed to practice their religion. 

     It is amazing enough to know that the Christians to this day do not agree on a specific date of Jesus’s Birth; 25th of December, 6th or 7th of January or others. Actually, numerous early Church Fathers offered sarcastic comments about the “Pagan ritual” of celebrating birthdays and held the view that the day of “Martyrdom” is more deserving of celebration than a birthday.

Is Christmas a pagan holiday?

     It is a historic fact that many traditions associated with Christmas actually began as a part of pagan culture; these were “Christianized” and given new meaning by the church.

Christmas pagan traditions

Let us consider these few examples to unveil the dark Christmas history:

A. Are Christmas trees pagan?

      In Germany, the evergreen tree was used in the worship and celebration of the yule god, also in the observance of the resurrected sun god.

     The evergreen tree was a symbol of the essence of life and was regarded as a phallic symbol in fertility worship. These customs transcended the borders of Rome and Germany to the far reaches of the known world.

   Trees, wreaths, holly, mistletoe, and the like are strictly forbidden as pagan and heathen! To say that these are Christian or that they can be made Christian is a lie!”

B. Who is Santa Claus?

     The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra, in modern-day Turkey.

      The opinions regarding his reality vary. Some say that he was a good monk helping the poor, while others declare that he was an evil one. He died in December.

Later on, Coca-Cola used the red color as a symbol for this man in an advertisement for its products!

      Whatever the truth is, everyone agrees he was not mentioned in the Bible. You can search the Bible cover to cover, but you will not find the words “Christmas,” “Christmas tree,” “mistletoe,” “holly,” “Santa Claus” or “flying reindeer.”

C. Pagan Christmas decorations

     Mistletoe wasn’t the only sacred plant for pagans. Holly was another holy plant connected with the god Saturn. During the Saturnalia holiday, Romans made holly wreaths to exchange as gifts for good luck. At the time of Saturnalia, early Christians began to celebrate Christmas, however they were often persecuted for practicing their new religion. It was lucky that Christmas coincided with Saturnalia, as it allowed Christians to harbour a cover for their Christmas celebrations.

      To avoid detection and make it look like they were celebrating Saturnalia, Christians started hanging holly wreaths around their homes. This allowed them to recognise other Christians and still do something nice to celebrate their sacred holiday. Eventually, as pagans decreased, holly became a symbol of Christmas instead of Saturnalia.

D. History of Christmas carols

    While the carols Christians sing for Christmas are undeniably Christian, the tradition itself of going door-to-door singing to your neighbours comes from another pagan tradition called wassailing. The rather funny word comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase of “waes hael”, translating to ‘good health’. Every year, wassailers would roam through their villages in small groups, singing loudly with the aim of banishing evil spirits and wishing good health to those around them.

     No wassailing group was complete without their traditional drink on hand – made from mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, spices, and sugar. In the 13th century, St. Francis took inspiration from these happy choirs and started the tradition of Christmas carolling.

E. History of Christmas gifts

     The tradition of gift giving extended long before the founding of Christianity, with roots in the festivals of the ancient Romans — in particular the festival of Saturnalia, where thanks were given to the bounty provided by the agricultural god Saturn. The festivities were celebrated with a sacrifice and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continued partying, and a wild atmosphere where social standings were done away with. During this feast, slaves would be considered the equal of their masters and free speech was embraced. In the USA in the 20th century, Christmas became a phenomenon. The boom of the American dream and times of economic prosperity after World War Two fuelled a whole industry around the holiday. 

Do all Christians celebrate Christmas?

     After these shocking historical facts, there is now a growing trend among Christians not to celebrate this day. They use their reason; they do not follow the masses. They reject to celebrate a holiday full of pagan traditions They ask themselves: Why should we celebrate Christmas despite the lack of evidence that Jesus was born on that day? How do we celebrate all these rituals although the Bible teaches none of them? Religious holidays should always be celebrated according to God’s guidance, not according to our desires and inventions.

Also Read This topic: Islam And Christmas – Is Christmas Haram In Islam? – Islamic Santa Claus

Outlawed Before?

      In the 17th century, Christmas was actually outlawed in England and some parts of the American colonies because of its unbiblical and pagan origins. They knew something most people today have forgotten or have never known!

Conclusion – Should You Celebrate Christmas?

      Finally, yet importantly, many of the rituals and traditions that are now celebrated during Christmas can be traced back to the pagan traditions before Christianity. The question now is: Are you, the truthful follower of Jesus, willing to celebrate such a pagan holiday after all these facts?

You may celebrate this day just to forget about your sad times, and to feel joy, but after being alone nothing change.

Read about Islam… you can fill your hollowness… you can find the real happiness you have been searching for!

More reads:

Santa-Claus – Encyclopedia Britannica.

Other Languages:

English – Português

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About Abeer Eltahan

Abeer El Tahhan is a pediatrician and a Quran and Arabic tutor. Abeer is deeply involved in Islamic studies and dawah activities. She is fluent in Arabic and English.

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