Christmas Is Not A Pagan
Holiday, And Here's Why.....
The most obvious reason...Pagans didn't celebrate the birth of Jesus of
Christmas happens around the same time as the Jewish holiday of
C'Hanukka, and this is no accident. The first Christians believed the
first C'hanukka was on Dec. 25th. Since Christianity is rooted in
Judaism, it would make more sense Christmas is the Christinization of C'hanukka.
Christmas is not a pagan holiday
Biblical Archaeology Review has an interesting article on why Christmas
is celebrated on December 25. The article also dispells the widely held
urban myth that Christmas was a pagan holiday.
The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas
date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations. The Romans had
their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian
peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times.
To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a
feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December
25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan
solar festivals. According to this
theory, early Christians
deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and
Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a
pagan holiday, more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the
God whose birth it celebrated.
Despite its popularity today, this theory of Christmas's origins has
its problems. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings, for
one thing. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between
the solstice and Jesus' birth: The church father Ambrose (c. 339-397),
for example, described Christ as the true sun, who outshone the fallen
gods of the old order. But
early Christian writers never hint at
recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don't think the date was
chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential
sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan
It's not until the 12th century that we find the first suggestion that
Jesus' birth celebration was deliberately set at the time of pagan
feasts. A marginal note on a manuscript of the writings of the Syriac
biblical commentator Dionysius bar-Salibi states that in ancient times
the Christmas holiday was actually shifted from January 6 to December
25 so that it fell on the same date as the pagan Sol Invictus holiday.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Bible scholars spurred on by the new
study of comparative religions latched on to this idea. They claimed
that because the early Christians didn't know when Jesus was born, they
simply assimilated the pagan solstice festival for their own purposes,
claiming it as the time of the Messiah's birth and celebrating it
accordingly. . . .
There are problems with this popular theory, however, as many scholars
recognize. Most significantly, the first mention of a date for
Christmas (c. 200) and the earliest celebrations that we know about (c.
250'300) come in a period when Christians were not borrowing heavily
from pagan traditions of such an obvious character. . . . In the first
few centuries C.E., the persecuted Christian minority was greatly
concerned with distancing itself from the larger, public pagan
religious observances, such as sacrifices, games and holidays. This was
still true as late as the violent persecutions of the Christians
conducted by the Roman emperor Diocletian between 303 and 312 C.E. . .
There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on
December 25: Strange as it may seem, the key to dating Jesus' birth may
lie in the dating of Jesus'
death at Passover. This view
was first suggested to the modern world by
French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully
developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years.8 But they
were certainly not the first to note a connection between the
traditional date of Jesus'
death and his birth.
Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that
the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel
of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the
Roman (solar) calendar.9 March
25 is, of course, nine months before
December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the
Annunciation'the commemoration of Jesus' conception.10 Thus, Jesus was
believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the
year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.d
This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On
Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century
North Africa. The treatise states: 'Therefore our Lord was conceived on
the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25],
which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For
on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.'11 Based on this,
the treatise dates Jesus' birth to the winter solstice.
(c) Uncommon Sense
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