As everyone winds down from the Christmas celebrations and festive traditions, it’s important to remember how these festivities even came about. Similar to other American holidays, Christmas stems from pagan and Roman traditions. I guess when in Rome, do as the Romans do. But festivals aside, other cultures celebrated the birth of their gods on December 25 as well.
Happy Birthday Jesus! And Horus. And Buddha. And Mithra. And Attis. And Heracles. And Tammuz. And Many Others That You Should Spend Time Researching.
The Egyptian god, Horus, was born to Isis on December 25. There are two accounts of the story. One being that Isis retrieved the dismembered body parts of her husband Osiris, except his penis which was thrown in the Nile River and eaten by a catfish or a crab. Other stories say that she used her magic powers to resurrect her husband and create a phallus so she could conceive Horus. It is said that the phallus she created can be seen represented on churches, what we consider to be steeples.
The Indian god, Buddha, is claimed to have been born on December 25 as well. Legend says that Buddha was born of a virgin named Maya and that once born, Buddha claimed to be the savior of the world. His birth was announced by a star, and he was visited by wise men upon his entrance into the world.
Another Indian god, Mithra, who is worshiped by Hindus, was also born on December 25. Unlike other gods with a Christmas birth story, Mithra was not immaculately conceived. Instead, his worshipers claim that he was born from a rock. Allegedly, he was a giant debris of rock that fell out on December 25 and this sun god was birthed. Mithra is claimed to be the mediator between God and man, between the sky and the earth. This story sounds oddly familiar.
Attis, the Phyro-Roman god, was born on December 25 to the Virgin Nana. He was a shepherd and considered “the only begotten son” for the salvation of the world. Much like other deities with virgin births, Attis’s birth was no different. Legend says that Attis’s mother, Nana, was “impregnated by a divine force in the form of a pomegranate.”
Heracles, the Greek god of strength, was also said to have been born on December 25, and was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmene. Although key details of his birth aren’t given, it is told that Heracles was the result of a relationship Zeus had outside of his marriage to the Greek goddess Hera.
The Babylonian god Tammuz was born to Semiramis, the queen of heaven, and Nimrod, the founder of Babylon. When Nimrod died, Semiramis ordered the people to pay homage to her deceased husband by worshiping the sun; thus founding the beginning of sun worship. After that, Semiramis gave birth to Tammuz and told the people that Nimrod’s spirit overshadowed her, and her son was the rebirth of her deceased husband.
Moving past the legends and myths of gods and demigods also born on December 25, there are many pagan origins that must be addressed when discussing the beginnings of Christmas traditions. Next, we’ll uncover the pagan festivals and customs that are not commonly associated with the spirit and customs of Christmas.
Pagan Festivals Celebrated on December 25
Germans and Scandinavians celebrated the Yule festival, which was a festival primarily celebrated by neo-pagans during the winter solstice. This festival was dedicated to acknowledging the return of the sun. For Wiccans, this holiday is the second most important on their calendar. Ceremonies were held to sacrifice to gods and spirits.
The Romans celebrated two festivals during the month of December, but for the sake of this topic, we’ll discuss the most familiar of the two. The first celebration was known as Saturnalia, the most popular holiday on the Roman calendar. This festival is dedicated to honoring Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. It was such a big deal that it expanded to a week-long celebration on the Julian calendar, beginning on December 17 and ending on December 25. Work, business, courts of law, and schools closed. The Romans would decorate their houses with wreaths and other greenery and partake in sacrifices to gods and gift exchanges. According to history.com, “On the last day of Saturnalia celebrations, known as the Sigillaria, many Romans gave their friends and loved ones small terracotta figurines known as signillaria, which may have referred back to older celebrations involving human sacrifice.”
Presenting this information will strike a nerve with most. Or even raise questions about the relevancy. “What does Saturnalia have to do with Christmas? Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ!” But another question must be raised. How could Christmas possibly be about the birth of Christ when the origins have nothing to do with that? How could you be comfortable celebrating a recycled version of pagan festivals and idolatry and attaching it to the celebration of the birth of your savior?
I hate to love to be the one to burst your bubble, so here it goes. Aside from the fact that Saturnalia literally takes place on the same day as Christmas and the same traditions apply to both holidays, let’s look at how this Saturnalia to Christmas transition took place.
The Blending of a Pagan Festival and a Christian Holiday
In the beginning of civilization to modern times, self-proclaimed Christians and pagans coexisted. But it wasn’t until 4 AD that the call was made to incorporate Christmas with Saturnalia and other pagan traditions. Once Christianity became the official religion of Rome, it was easy to combine these two days into one celebration that everyone could participate in. Saturnalia traditions such as gift giving, wreaths, lighting candles, trees, and feasting also became the traditions of Christmas. In addition to these traditions, symbols of Christmas originated from pagan symbols widely used in witchcraft and idolatry.
Symbols of Christmas that have Pagan Origins
The use of trees as a sacrament to gods became popularized first in Egypt. During the solstice, Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes to honor the Egyptian god, Ra. The Celts utilized these evergreens in Druid temples as a symbol of everlasting life. These trees were worshiped as idols. The Vikings incorporated evergreen trees from their god, Balden, the god of light and peace. The Romans also decorated their houses with evergreens and greenery during Saturnalia. From all of these examples, it’s clear to see that the use of oak and evergreen trees during this time were used in idolatrous manners. It doesn’t seem to be too much of a difference today. Gathering around the tree and gazing at its light and beauty is a common theme surrounding this holiday. Songs were even written about it. But don’t take my word for it. What does the Bible say about these artifacts of festive beauty?
HEAR ye the Word which Yahuah speaks unto you, O house of Yashar'el: Thus says Yahuah, 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 cuts 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. YIRMEYAHU (JEREMIAH) 10:1-5 את CEPHER
The custom of incorporating mistletoe in Christmas tradition also has pagan origins. The Druids, or ancient Celtic people, believed that mistletoe had magical powers and used it in rituals. It was considered to be sacred and necessary for use during animal sacrifice. Because of its use during pagan rituals, mistletoe was banned from use in Christian places of worship as not to associate paganism with Christianity. Although the pagan origins of mistletoe are not acknowledged today, mistletoe is still seen as a symbol of peace, harmony, good will, good fortune, happiness, and friendship.
Wreaths were used far before its use in Christmas traditions. The wreath was meant to symbolize everlasting life, and eternity. The evergreen used in wreaths and garlands was meant to represent everlasting life as well. In Europe, wreaths were also used and worn as crowns to represent fertility, the changing of seasons, honor, and virtue. Many Greek and Roman gods can also be pictured wearing wreaths as crowns. The Most High has an interesting feeling towards these “crowns of glory.”
WOE to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephrayim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, Adonai has a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephrayim, shall be trodden under feet: And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looks upon it sees, while it is yet in his hand he eats it up. In that day shall Yahuah Tseva'oth be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the remnant of his people, And for a ruach of judgment to him that sits in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate. YESHA'YAHU (ISAIAH) 28:1-6 את CEPHER
After taking a look at the pagan origins and symbols of Christmas, it’s clear to see that this holiday is rooted in nothing honorable to The Most High. Idol worship, ritual sacrifice, and witchcraft are the common themes of this day. But the origins and symbols aren’t the only questionable parts of this popular holiday.
The Usual Suspects Surrounding the Christmas Holiday
Saint Nicholas was an early Christian bishop of Greek descent during the rise of the Roman Empire. He is widely known for his gift-giving and charity to the poor, and is commonly linked to Odin, one of the gods of Germany who was believed to have magical powers. During Yule, Odin would lead a hunting party with his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. Children would leave carrots and hay in their boots by the chimney to feed the horse, and Odin would leave the gifts by the boots.
The history of Santa Claus derives from a few interesting sources. Many of Santa Claus’s stories come from the legends of the Roman god Saturn. Other characteristics come from the Norse god, Odin. The most popular of all comes from the legends of St. Nicholas. All of these gods were meant to be honored through the act of gift-giving. Don’t get me wrong, giving gifts to those in need or those you love is a beautiful act of charity. But doing it in commemoration of false gods or in hopes of receiving gifts as well defeats the whole purpose of giving joyfully. Me personally, I wouldn’t want to cloud my acts of charity with legends and myths of false gods. I also take issue with the fact that Santa is an anagram of Satan.
Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete in Dutch, was a character created in the Netherlands that perpetuated the harmful stereotype of Black people. Usually played by a white person in black face, Black Pete has very hurtful origins. One story says that Black Pete was an Ethiopian slave brought over to be freed by St. Nicholas. Other concepts say that Black Pete was meant to serve as a stark contrast between light and darkness, both figuratively and literally. Some even say that this servant descended from the devil. The story is that if children were bad, Black Pete would carry them away in his sack and send them away to be whipped. Sinterklaas is seen as the owner of Black Pete, laying claim to the mocking of the Netherlands part in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Why participate in such a horrific tradition where cultures are mocking the very captivity that has plagued our Nation?
Krampus, the not-so-better half of St. Nicholas is a half-goat, half-man demon that punishes children for their bad behavior, eats them, or even drags them to hell. Krampus, who is the son of Hel, the god of the underworld, was meant to scare kids into good behavior. Somehow, the legend of Krampus became incorporated with Christian traditions during this time. There is nothing joyful about this one. But perhaps, Santa Claus leaving coal in stockings is a nicer version of punishment towards children with bad behavior.
Is Keeping the Tradition Alive Worth Losing Your Soul?
There is overwhelming evidence supporting why true followers of The Most High should reject the celebration of Christmas. The Most High abhors paganism, witchcraft, and idolatry. It is shameful to associate Him with any form of it. As The Most High’s set apart people, we must be diligent in separating from things that are dishonorable to our Father. Are we willing to risk eternal life for the sake of empty tradition? The excuse is often given for why this day can’t seem to be canceled by our people. “We don’t celebrate because of that. It’s when everybody is off. It’s just about spending time with family.” How sad it is for you to rely on the government to tell you when you should be charitable and spend time with loved ones. There are ample opportunities to make time for the ones you love and to help the poor and needy. Why does someone have to mandate that for you on a calendar that has changed at least four times since the beginning of civilization?
There is no excuse. Will The Most High excuse these actions if you’ve been exposed to the truth? Will he let your participation in witchcraft and paganism slide because you wanted to spend time with your loved ones? Losing your soul is not worth it to take that chance. Do your research. Spend time in fervent prayer regarding these things. Seek The Most High. Take it upon yourself to plan times to spend with family. Be intentional about that and start your own family traditions that are separate from days dedicated to idolatry and witchcraft. And one last thing, be good for goodness sake.
I call the heavens and the earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: That you may love Yahuah Elohayka, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which Yahuah swore unto your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitschaq, and to Ya`aqov, to give them. DEVARIYM (DEUTERONOMY) 30:19-20 את CEPHER