Is Christmas Pagan?

Image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

This is not a Christian propaganda post.  Nor is this a pagan propaganda post. This is only an attempt to delve into the mysteries that have so boldly expressed themselves, yet have managed to keep their nature.

Is Christmas Pagan?  I have never wondered such until I reached the age of ten.  My family and I have never really celebrated Christmas (they’re strict SDA’s) When I shared this bit of information with my peers, the ghastly look of awe spread across their face as if to say, “Blasphemy!”

They asked, “Are you like, not Christian? Are you in a cult?”

Years before this ordeal I’ve had whimsical conspiracies including changing Santa Claus’s name to Satan Claus with a few repositioning of letters.  But it was more than Santa Claus’s name that popped out at me.  Here are some others:

Santa Claus Himself and his minions

When did Santa Claus enter the story of Christ’s birth?

When did he?  I don’t know a passage in the Bible that includes sinister old man who impossibly manages to pushes his grossly obese body down a thin chimney, bearing gifts for all who behave themselves properly and coal for those who choose to do otherwise.

It simply has no correlation whatsoever with the Biblical account of the birth of the Christian Messiah.  Au contraire, St. Nick was perhaps more of a shadowy figure who was known as the Patron Saint of Sailors rather than of Children, sailors (who usually aren’t known for either piety nor morality) who claimed that he was a figure of “good luck” against storms.  He’s almost like a Christ-like figure himself, supposedly saving children, feeding the poor and the usual.  Strangely enough, the Catholic church pounced on his legacy as a supposedly lover of Children, and somehow this found its way to relate to the birth of Christ.  And to your wallet, so you can convince your children that Santa has given them their gifts while losing sleep and hundreds of dollars on the little brats.

The Time

So Jesus was born in December?

I know of no source that can accurately state the time of Jesus’ birth, if he even ever existed to begin with.  But logically, if we take the story according to its context, who would send their sheep grazing in the cold nights of December?  I’m no farmer, but I can guess that the sheep would not be in the mood for roaming in the cold at night.

So why December 25th?

The answer lies within European pagan roots.  Remember, prior to the introduction of Christianity, Europeans (the Barbarians, Greeks and such) were widely polytheistic.  There’s no way all of Europe would suddenly submit to the will of Christianity without attempting to preserve their culture.  It’s human nature.  What we are, we refuse to surrender.  Normally, the best way around this is just that–work around it.

During this time, the Romans would celebrate Saturnalia, in homage to Saturn, god of Agriculture.  Dubbed Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, or the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” the whole month was dedicated to the power of the sun, and its victory over the harsh winter.  Other pagan sects would worship the sons of the Gods, (such as Hercules, son of Zeus); it sounds eerily close to the Christian Son of God.

The people would drink large amounts of wine and other alcoholic drink, eat beyond their fill, and party.  When not partying, a group of people (of Roman origin) would sing and dance from house to house, entertaining their neighbors.  Sound familiar?

The funny thing about this is that the pagans, most of them having never been to Israel, assumed that winter in Israel is similar to winter in Europe.  It snows in Israel, but not as much as it would in Europe.

Gift Giving

This has got to be all-Christian!

Image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

Many devout Christians may argue that this tradition originated with the Three Wise Men of the Orient giving gifts to Mary and the baby Jesus.

False again.

While this may be partially true, the true origin of the tradition lies in Pagan culture.  The fact that the Three Wise Men gave the Virgin Mary gifts has no relevance to the modern tradition, but is rather a mere coincidence.  Gift-giving, along with partying and drinking, was simply just another tradition among the celebrators of Dies Natalis Invicti Solis and other European Pagan celebrations.

The Christmas Tree

Tell me it’s just a tree.

The Evergreen tree’s a beautiful tree. Honestly, it is.  And this is why the Pagans, including the Barbaric ones who believed in Norse gods, would never cut them down and put them in their houses.  Many believed that the trees had some sort of religious significance, some holiness.

But it didn’t stop them from putting branches of evergreen inside their houses. Remember, Saturnalia’s basic message is that they (the European pagans) would survive another harsh winter through the power of the god of Saturn.  The Evergreen tree is named so because of its ability preserve its green color despite the chilly, hellish weather around it.  Understandably, they would also decorate the branches with statues of their gods.  This was obviously a symbol of hope for the Pagans.

People of this same descent also incorporated that tradition into Christianity, as with the other traditions previously mentioned.

Kissing under the Mistletoe?

Completely Pagan.

This one’s obvious.  Kissing under mistletoe is absolutely void of biblical reference.

This was taken from the Norse myth of Frigga:

A naughty, mischievous god named Loki kills another god named Baldur (god of peace).  All the gods get depressed about Baldur’s death so Baldur’s mommy, Frigga, hangs up a mistletoe and promises to kiss all who pass under it, thus giving the mistletoe the symbol of peace and love.

The pagans refused to give this one up.  And why would they?  After all, it was not destructive, but peaceful.  Consequently, this tradition has stayed with us to this day.

What should we do about this?

Nothing, really.

Nothing but celebrate Christmas for the heck of it, without the religious clutter. Having said all above, Christmas time is still a time to have fun, and to show one another that we love them.  Though the media and market have exploited the traditions to make money, that shouldn’t be an obstacle blocking the joy of the time.

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About Lòt Poto-a

I've taken advantage of this device to shed my view upon the universe from my spatio-temporal framework. View all posts by Lòt Poto-a

9 responses to “Is Christmas Pagan?

  • xenlogic

    I 100% totally agree with this. In fact, dude, I think you hacked into my blog and copied the contents of an upcoming post, almost verbatim. Now I’m not sure whether or not I should continue to post it.

    I know what I’ll do. I’ll just strip down the post I had and point to this one to get the low down on the rest of it.

    Man this was good. Nice one, sir.



    • Lòt Poto-a

      Thanks, brother! I simply realized that ’tis the season to write a controversial blog such as this one, so why not take the chance? We’re already engrossed in our strong capitalist tradition of spending a lot to prove that we love our family, so why not throw in a religious twist?

      And no, I did not hack into your blog.

  • xenlogic

    Hey, I just realised that I had already tackled the Pagan issue on my blog. The link is here.


  • alilovesloki

    I’m actually Christian, but what you wrote doesn’t really offend me much, really. I know you also didn’t mean for it to offend. Most or all of what you wrote is true, but some may think otherwise. It really doesn’t matter what you celebrate or how you celebrate it, it’s just tradition. I really don’t believe that much in all the jesus and god, but some of it. For anyone who does, I am truly sorry. I don’t go to church either, and I didn’t go to religion all year. Happy Holidays!

    • Lòt Poto-a

      I didn’t write this blog to offend, I wrote this blog to illicit debate and provide information that wouldn’t reach the biased minds of people otherwise. I celebrate Christmas just for the fun and tradition with my friends.

      If you’re Christian, you’re Christian, buddy. If I come off as condescending, I’m sorry; I don’t judge people for being Christian. Hell, my whole family consists of strict Christians, and I love ’em nonetheless.

      I guess what I was trying to say is: When you begin your comment with “I’m actually Christian” and end it with “I really don’t believe that much in all the jesus and god, but some of it. For anyone who does, I am truly sorry,” it seems as though you’re wavering on your position.

      Other than that, Happy Holidays to you as well! 🙂

  • Alamanach

    “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

    Lot Poto-a, it’s half of a good post. But you’ve left out the other half. If these are the pagan elements of Christmas, then what are the Christian elements? What idea is the driving force behind Christmas? Since Christmas can’t mean these pagan trappings, what does it mean? I mean, it celebrates Jesus’ birth, obviously, but why is his birth a major holiday in the church year? What did it signify that makes it so important? We don’t celebrate Jesus’ baptism or the Transfiguration, why his birth?

    I’d love to see your take on this. Perhaps you could write a Part II.

    • Lòt Poto-a

      Dr. Seuss was a mad genius.

      I don’t really know about the Christian elements; my parents (strict Seventh Day Adventists) forbade much of Christmas, branding it as Pagan and unholy. Even though I disagree with just about everything SDAs have to offer, I was perhaps biased when writing this post.

      However, I might just do some research and come up with a Part II.

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