Christmas’ Pagan Origins
Who’s the first person you think of when it comes to Christmas. While the religious might say “Jesus”, many others in our secular American society would say “Santa Claus”.
And they wouldn’t be completely wrong. Christmas is an example of a religious “holiday” that has little to do with Christianity and more to do with pagan appeasement and nature worship.
Prophet Jesus, for both Muslims and Christians represents some of these things: commitment to One God, spirituality, simplicity, humbleness, kindness and generosity.
But Prophet Jesus is becoming more and more absent from the Christian celebration that is meant to commemorate his birth. In reality, many of the rituals associated with Christmas are paganistic or from the practices of nature worshipers, not connected to the worship of One God or to Prophet Jesus.
Let’s start with his birth. December 25 is the date to celebrate Christmas. In reality though, Muslim and even Christian theological discussions pinpoint the Prophet’s birth not to the winter season, but in the summer time.
How do we know this? First, in the Quran in Surah 19 the story of Prophet Jesus’s birth is described. His mother, Mary shakes the trunk of a palm tree (19:25 ) to let fresh ripe dates fall on her. Dates become ripe in the summer time in this part of the world.
As well, In Christian tradition, the story of the three wise men heading to see Prophet Jesus travel on sheep. At the time of Jesus’s birth, shepherds were putting their flocks outside in Bethlehem and Nazareth . This could only be done in warm weather.
Next, the specific date of December 25 which has been selected as the Prophet Jesus’s birth date is clearly connected to the Roman and Greek pagan concept of Mithras.
Mithras was believed by the Romans and Greeks to be the son of the main sun god, who was born on December 25. In addition, very similar to Christian concepts about Jesus, Mithras sacrificed himself for the sins of the people. He also had a sacrament of blood and wine.
Other Christmas rituals are also linked to paganism or nature worship.
For example, the mistletoe. Today, the mistletoe is hung up and two members of the opposite sex standing underneath it are expected to kiss.
The Druids were a cult of pagan priests who followed a religion practiced before the arrival of Christianity in England , Scotland and Ireland . They considered the mistletoe a symbol of fertility. If a husband and wife wanted a child, they would go under it and it was supposed to bring holiness and fertility.
The Christmas tree is another example of a clearly pagan tradition. In the Northern countries like England , Scotland and France for instance, winters were severe and harsh. Many would lose family members during this season. As well, all trees were dead except for one: the fir tree. It therefore represented life.
As a result many people placed the fir tree in their homes as a symbol of life, with the hope that having it inside their homes would bring their families life, health and wealth.
Finally, Santa Claus. Who is he? Based on physical descriptions of him in popular culture, he resembles three Roman pagan gods: Bacchus, Thor and Saturn. They represented wine, adultery and sport.
However, others say Santa represents St. Nicholas. In reality though St. Nicholas, who was a Christian bishop living in Turkey in the fourth century, was not heavyset or overbearing. He was a thin, austere man, who loved children.