The 25th of December is often anticipated with great joy. Many look forward to getting the gifts from Santa Claus they longed for all year. And some are just waiting to satisfy their craving of that favorite holiday dish. While, others just enjoy spending time with family, or celebrating the birth of Christ. But, where did this tradition arise?
Well, according to history.com’s History of Christmas, Christmas was not celebrated by early Christians, and has no Biblical origins. In fact, around the Christmas season many pagan holidays were celebrated. From December 21 to the end of January, the Norsemen of Scandinavia commemorated Yule (“History of Christmas”, 2009) to herald the return of the sun. In fact, the fathers and sons of Norsemen would set the logs on fire and feast until the logs were consumed to honor the sun (ibid). The Germans also gave homage to a god Oden, whom they believed would fly around the sky at night and preserve life for some and pronounce death on others (ibid).
Now, there are some special holidays the Romans celebrated during “the week leading up to the winter solstice” one of which is called Saturnalia (“History of Christmas”, 2017). This day of feasting and revelry was set aside to honor the god of agriculture, Saturn (ibid). Juvenalia, another holiday kept around this time, was to honor Rome’s children (ibid). Finally, the elite or Rome observed, “the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25” (ibid). This god is said to have been born of a rock.
Since the 25th of December has such pagan origins, how then did it become a day to celebrate the birth of Christ? In the year 350 AD, Pope Julius I established the 25th of December as a day to celebrate Christ’s birth (Forerunner777, 2012). As per Christopher Hudson, also known as the Forerunner, the Pope did this to help the pagans of Rome transition to Christianity.
Where then did Santa Claus come from? Santa Claus is said to have originated from a monk, St. Nicholas, who practiced altruism and most notably saved three sisters from being sold into slavery and prostitution (“Santa Claus“, 2017). His dutch name is Sint Nikolaas, and for short he was called Sinter Klaas (ibid). Eventually, that name evolved to Santa Claus.
But what about the Christmas tree? Since evergreen trees lived throughout the winter, many cultures venerated the tree for its vitality and used it to, “keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness” (“History of Christmas Trees“, 2009). In fact, the, “ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown” (ibid). During the winter solstice when the sun would become more prominent, the Egyptians, “filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death” (ibid).
Thus, Christmas has pagan origins. Yet, this is one of the best times to spread the truth of Christ to a dying world. Let us not get so caught up in the festivities of Christmas that we fail to use this day to further the gospel. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14, KJV).
History.com Staff. “History of Christmas.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas.
History.com Staff. “History of Christmas Trees.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees.
History.com Staff. “Santa Claus.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus.
TheForerunner777. YouTube, YouTube, 20 Dec. 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2INLMkXLwxE.