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(By Crystal Holmes)

It was a hard day at work, but Julius always rejoiced when coming home to his wife. And even more so now due to the sweet smells of cakes and cookies and the beautifully lit tree. This evening, though in the midst of the coldest part of winter, begins a week that was always considered to be “the best days of the year”. All the women bake tasty cookies and cakes and decorate them with smiling faces or crosses, so the city smells of sweetness. The houses and streets are aflame with many candles, and there are boughs of laurel and holly on the fences and doors of almost every home.

This week is the time of the feast, the time longed for all year. Some people like this feast most of all for its laxity of ordinary rules, for this is the only time of year you can insult your boss and not be reprimanded for it. During this week, all bosses serve their employees, and all employees pretend to be bosses. But Julius liked this feast most of all because there is always plenty of food, especially ham (his favorite), and the wine from the fall harvest is abundant. He planned to spend his week feasting and resting with the family and playing games with the children and with friends. All businesses are closed, so there would be no work to do anyway, and since there’s no work, he might as well put his nice work clothes away and put on something more comfortable. Gambling with cookies while playing cards or dice couldn’t hurt. It was a time of peace and wishing each other goodwill in the coming year. And he had a few small gifts for his family members and closest friends. (He couldn’t wait to see their faces!)

The yule log in the fireplace and the sweet savor of cakes combined to create a relaxing atmosphere for this country-wide week-long sabbatical. Ahhh, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

*****

Does this sound like any holiday you celebrate? If you think it’s describing Christmas, you’re wrong! This short narrative describes the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, observed before the time of Christ, yet doesn’t it sound almost exactly like current Christmas practices? Well, yes, because Christmas is simply the new name for the old pagan festival of Saturnalia!

Saturnalia was a Roman festival which honored the rebirth of the sun-God after his “death” at the winter solstice. Most ancient cultures had a winter solstice festival, and what is remarkable is how many of today’s Christmas celebrations are identical to these ancient, ungodly superstitions!

 

THE TREE AND ITS ORNAMENTS

The tree has always been included in the winter solstice celebration. It represents life. According to ancient Babylonian mythology, the sun God was represented as a divine child, who was born at the winter solstice as a new incarnation of the great god after he had been cut in pieces by his enemy. This great god is pictured as a large tree, stripped of its branches and cut down to the ground – symbolizing being cut off or killed in the midst of his power and glory. But the great serpent, the symbol of the life-restoring Aesculapius, twists itself around the dead stump, and then beside it sprouts a young tree of a different type; it is destined never to be cut down by hostile power. In Egypt this was the palm tree, a well-known symbol of victory. In Rome it was the fir tree. In the United States today, it is the evergreen Christmas tree, a close relative to the Roman fir.

This god, whose symbol was the evergreen tree, required sacrifices from his followers to confirm their loyalty. The Carthaginians were especially noted for their devotion to Cronus, one of many such false gods. Diodorus Siculus writes in his Library of History about the practices of the Carthaginians:

“They also alleged that Cronus had turned against them [because they lost a battle] inasmuch as in former times they had been accustomed to sacrifice to this god the noblest of their sons, but more recently, secretly buying and nurturing children, they had sent these to the sacrifice… When they had given thought to these things and saw their enemy encamped before their walls, they were filled with superstitious dread, for they believed that they had neglected the honours of the gods that had been established by their fathers. In their zeal to make amends for their omission, they selected two hundred of the noblest children and sacrificed them publicly; and others who were under suspicion sacrificed themselves voluntarily, in number not less than three hundred. There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.” (Book 2. Chapter 14.)

It should be added that parents were not allowed to cry or mourn for their children, and during the sacrifices loud music would be playing so that the screams of the child would not be heard.

Plutarch wrote:

“…with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums so that the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.”

The 12th-century Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (also known as Rashi), commenting on Jeremiah 7:31 stated:

“Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.”

These sacrifices usually took place in groves of trees. The altar and statue would usually be under the largest tree and on a platform above the people. So the tree became associated with child sacrifice to pagan gods.

1 Kings 14:23. For they [the men of Judah] also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree [to serve Baal. See Jeremiah 11:13, Zephaniah 1:4].

Jeremiah 32:35. And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Regarding the ornaments on today’s Christmas trees, there are two theories. The first is that they represent the heads of those conquered by Nimrod, the original Baal. The second is that, since the tree is a sign of life and type of phallic symbol, the balls on the tree represent the testicles of Baal, the life-giving god. Of course, all of this could (speculation alert!) just hark back to the original Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, with the ornaments representing the forbidden fruit.

The gifts under the tree came from the gradual shift away from sacrificing children under the trees in the groves. Because people are “more civilized” today, they offer children gifts instead of offering their children to Baal through fire. Of course, human sacrifices were offered at various times throughout the year, and included adults as well as children, but I think (speculation alert!) that the first sacrifices were child sacrifices at the winter solstice. Why? Because the sun needed the energy and life of the young to regain his strength and begin to lengthen the days so that crops would be able to grow the following spring. The winter solstice has always been the most important celebration of the year.

“In modern England we have almost lost the festival habit, but if there is one feast that survives among us as a universal tradition it is Christmas…. The celebration of Christmas has often little or nothing to do with orthodox dogma, yet somehow the sense of obligation to keep the feast is very strong, and there are few English people, however unconventional, who escape altogether the spell of tradition in this matter.” (Miles)

All of that is wrapped up (pun intended) in the meaning of the Christmas tree with its ornaments and presents. Christmas really is “for the children”. Each year when you put up the tree and decorate it, you are paying homage to a fertility god that requires the sacrifices of your children for the salvation of your soul!

 

YULE LOG, LIGHTS, CANDLES

There is no authoritative tradition as to the day or month of Christ’s birth … The winter solstice was regarded as the birthday of the sun and at Rome a pagan festival of the nativity of ‘sol invictus’ was introduced by the Emperor Aurelian on 25th December 274. The church, unable to stamp out this popular festival, spiritualised it as the feast of the Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness. When Christianity spread northwards it encountered a similar pagan festival also held at the winter solstice the great Yule feast of the Norsemen. Once again Christmas absorbed heathen customs.” (Chambers)

The name “Yuletide” comes from the Norse name for their 12-day winter solstice festival. The Yule season lasted up to two months in Scandinavia. (With all that winter, what else is there to do but party?) The season is connected with “The Wild Hunt” led by the god Odin (Nimrod). It is also believed that during this time, there is increased supernatural activity and that the undead walk about the earth. “In most forms of Wicca, this holiday is celebrated at the winter solstice as the rebirth of the Great horned hunter god, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun.” (Wikipedia, “Yule”).

The word “Yule” traces back to an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “wheel”. Thus it is connected with the circular motion of the sun through the equinoxes and solstices. The lighting of the Christmas fire on Christmas Eve was an important ritual. It was to be started from the previous year’s yule log. This log, if kept in the house (in some cases under the bed) during the year, will bring good luck to the family, protecting it from lightning and the “malevolent powers of the devil”.

Fires have been an important part of winter solstice celebrations. They are used in many cultures to keep their gods and undead family and friends warm as they (allegedly) join in the festivities. And smaller fires, represented by candles and lights, are a continuation of that theme. They were offered to Saturn as a symbol of his light. They represent the sun and signal farewell to the previous year with hope for what lies ahead in the new year. Candles and jingling bells are used during this time to ward off evil spirits (since the undead supposedly roam the earth during this festival, and presumably some of the undead have reason to hold grudges against some of the living…).

“It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind.” (Lovecraft).

 

WREATHS, GARLAND, MISTLETOE

They are usually made from evergreens and symbolize strength, as evergreens last even throughout the harshest winters.

Roman magistrates also wore golden wreaths as crowns, as a symbolic testament to their lineage. Below is a picture of a golden wreath and ring from the burial of an Odrysian Aristocrat at the Golyamata Mogila in the Yambol region of Bulgaria. It is dated to be from the mid 4th century B.C.

Sofia - Odrysian Wreath from Golyamata Mogila

“In the Greco-Roman world, wreaths were used as an adornment that could represent a person’s occupation, rank, their achievements and status. The wreath that was commonly used was the laurel wreath. The use of this wreath comes from the Greek myth involving Apollo, Zeus’ son and the god of life and light, who fell in love with the nymph Daphne. When he pursued her she fled and asked the river god Peneus to help her. Peneus turned her into a laurel tree. From that day, Apollo wore a wreath of laurel on his head. Laurel wreaths became associated with what Apollo embodied – victory, achievement and status – and would later become one of the most commonly used symbols to address achievement throughout Greece and Rome. Laurel wreaths were used to crown victorious athletes at the original Olympic Games.” (Wikipedia, “Wreath”)

Harvest wreaths were originally made for use in pagan rituals in ancient Europe. These rituals contained animistic beliefs and were associated with fertility and the changing seasons. Harvest wreaths were important symbols in ancient cultures, and they were used as sacred amulets. “Christianity accepted the symbolism of the wreath based upon its Roman association with honour and moral virtue.” (Wikipedia, “Wreath”)

Mistletoe, as a Christmas decoration, was rarely alluded to until the 18th century. According to legend, the mistletoe must not touch the ground between its cutting and removal as the last of Christmas greens. If left hanging in the house throughout the year, it is believed to protect the house from lightning and fire. Mistletoe was considered to be a representation of male fertility and vitality in pre-Christian European cultures.

“Because of the scheming of Loki, according to the 13th century Prose Edda, the god Baldr is killed by his brother, the blind god Höðr, by way of a mistletoe projectile, despite the attempts of Baldr’s mother, the goddess Frigg, to have all living things and inanimate objects swear an oath not to hurt Baldr after Baldr had troubling dreams of his death. Frigg was unable to get an oath from mistletoe, because “it seemed too young” to demand an oath from.” (Wikipedia, “Mistletoe”)

The evergreens used during the Christmas season represent strength, power, fertility, vitality. They were used in ancient cultures as charms to ward off evil spirits, and they should have no place in the true Christian’s home.

 

SANTA CLAUS, STOCKINGS

Many people don’t like this aspect of the modern-day Christmas celebration because it leads people deeper into commercialism and trying to please their children at this time of year, instead of simply spending time with family (with or without gift-giving). However, it is a prominent part of American Christmas rituals, so let’s see where it came from.

In the 4th century, there was a bishop in Myra (present-day Turkey) whose name was Nicholas. According to several accounts, he was a generous man and particularly devoted to children. “He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus.” (Wikipedia, “Saint Nicholas”)

“Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe…. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as “The Lord of the Sea”, often described by modern Greek scholars as a kind of Christianized version of Poseidon.” (Wikipedia, “Saint Nicholas”)

For those of you who aren’t very familiar with Catholic and Orthodox practices, a patron saint is regarded as someone who intercedes for others in heaven. According to Catholic belief, Saint Nicholas is already in heaven and is praying for sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, pawnbrokers, and students. In some places, Saint Nicholas has replaced the more ancient gods:

“In eastern Europe and southern Italy he {St. Nicholas} is above all things the saint of seafaring men, and among the Greeks his cult has perhaps replaced that of Artemis as a sea divinity.” (Miles)

December 6th is Saint Nicholas’ day in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. On this day, there is a festival for children where small gifts are given to them. In some countries, the celebration begins on the evening of December 5th. On December 5th (and in some cases including the days leading up to December 5th), children usually put their clean and shiny boots on the windowsill for Saint Nicholas to fill with small gifts. The children usually leave a carrot or hay in the boots to feed the Saint’s horse.

But did you know that there is a pre-Christian Santa Claus?! That’s right! BEFORE Christianization, many Germanic peoples celebrated the Yule, during which time, it is attested, “supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequency, such as the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.” (Wikipedia, “Santa Claus”) The leader of the hunt is the god Odin, who also has names meaning “yule figure” and “long beard”. “The god Odin’s role during the Yuletide period has been theorized as having influenced concepts of St. Nicholas in a variety of facets, including his long white beard and his gray horse for nightly rides… which was traded for reindeer in North America. Margaret Baker comments that ‘The appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir, visiting his people with gifts. […] Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild became a leading player on the Christmas stage.’” (Wikipedia, “Santa Claus”)

Here is a chart that summarizes the similarities between Nicholas and Odin.

Nicholas_Odin
Others claim that attributes of the Germanic god Thor, the god of thunder, were transferred to Nicholas. (Bucher)

Nicholas_Thor

Odin and Thor were present long before the time of Christ. Many of their traits and practices are nearly identical to the present-day Santa Claus! It seems evident that the present day Santa Claus is none other than the Odin or Thor of the pagan Germanic peoples.

The name St. Nicholas even refers to the Devil himself! Over time, St. Nicholas has been shortened to St. Nick or simply Nick or Old Nick, and “Nick or Old Nick is a well-known appellation of the Devil. The name appears to have been derived from the Dutch Nikken, the devil, which again comes from the Anglo-Saxon nac-an, [meaning] to slay.” (Spence).

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2000), defines “Old Nick” thus: The Devil; Satan.

And Christmas really is the time of Satan because Father Christmas can be traced back to a Carthaginian deity whose brazen fiery belly ate children, who were themselves the gifts.” (Sansom) You read about that in the previous section about the Christmas tree, but I’ll add some new information about it here.

Of course the Carthaginians worshiped Baal, or Cronus, who is said to have eaten his own children (Wikipedia, “Cronus”). Other historians write that “there is a consensus among scholars that Carthaginian children were sacrificed by their parents, who would make a vow to kill the next child if the gods would grant them a favor: for instance that their shipment of goods were to arrive safely in a foreign port. They placed their children alive in the arms of a bronze statue of ‘the lady Tanit… The hands of the statue extended over a brazier into which the child fell once the flames had caused the limbs to contract and its mouth to open… The child was alive and conscious when burned…” (Wikipedia, “Cronus”).

Does this sound like a Christian tradition to you?!? The sacrificing of children for any reason is far from the heart of the true God. It truly is a tradition of the Devil, who has been a murderer from the beginning!

Jeremiah 19:5. They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

So when you offer your children presents at this time of year, you are honoring the Devil who rejoiced in the sacrificing of children! Sure, it’s better to give them presents from Saint Nick than to give them as presents to Old Nick… but should you really be doing either one? Is the heart of the festivals, both pagan sun-worship rituals, really different?

 

CONCLUSION

“This may be a shocking thought to some: but after wrestling with the question for several years now, searching the scriptures and church history, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing Christian about Christmas; that in its present observance, as well as in its origin, Christmas is basically and essentially pagan. What I’m saying, then, is that the real Christmas has always been pagan,and to make it a Christian celebration is to try to add Christ or biblical elements to an essentially pagan holiday.” (Schneider)

“What many in Christendom have been celebrating – Christmas – is a thoroughly pagan holiday – in its origin, in its trappings, and in all its traditions…. The modern conservative cry to put Christ back into Christmas is absurd. Jesus Christ was never in Christmas.” (Meisel)

“Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church … the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt.” (Catholic Encyclopaedia 1911 edition)

So it seems that many of the most widely-observed Christmas traditions came directly from paganism centuries before Christ! The Devil is cunning and sneaky, and his best trick is to take pagan customs and “baptize” them into the name of Christ by simply changing their names, when the true God of the Bible has condemned them!

Jeremiah 10:2-5. Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

The Devil’s deception is strong, and the deceived man doesn’t know he’s deceived! But now YOU KNOW where these traditions came from. It’s up to YOU to choose whom you will serve – God or Satan. Will you change your ways and believe the Bible, or will you continue to walk in the traditions of your God-forsaking church?

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bucher. 1999. “The Origin of Santa Claus and the Christian Response to Him”. http://www.orlutheran.com/html/santa.html Accessed January 2013.

Catholic Encyclopaedia 1911 edition. “Christmas”.

Chambers Encyclopaedia. 1970. “Christmas”.

Diodorus Siculus. “Library of History”. Book 20. Chapter 14.

Lovecraft. 1925. “The Festival” in Weird Tales. Volume 5. Number 1.

Meisel. 1997. “Tis the Season for Pagan Worship”.

Miles. 1912. “Christmas in Ritual and Tradition”.

Plutarch. De Superstitiones. Section 13.

Sansom. 1968. “A Book of Christmas”.

Schneider. 2003. “Is Christmas Christian?”

Spence. 1996. “An Encyclopedia of Occultism”.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000. “St. Nick”.

Wikipedia. “Baal”. Accessed February 2013.

Wikipedia. “Cronus”. Accessed February 2013.

Wikipedia. “Mistletoe”. Accessed February 2013.

Wikipedia. “Saint Nicholas”. Accessed February 2013.

Wikipedia. “Santa Claus”. Accessed February 2013.

Wikipedia. “Wreath”. Accessed February 2013.

Wikipedia. “Yule”. Accessed February 2013.

Yitzhaki, Rabbi Shlomo. Commentary on Jeremiah 7:31.

The History of Christmas


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