It almost seems like a sacrilege for a professing Christian not to celebrate Christmas. After all, it is the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, isn't it? There is much goodwill in the "spirit of the season," isn't there? Let us examine the history and myths surrounding the world-wide phenomenon of Christmas.
"If all our festival days had to be given up except one, it is quite probable that the voices of children would mingle with those of adults and sound forth in a mighty chorus in favor of retaining Christmas" Herbert H. Wernecke, Christmas Customs Around the World, page 11. Christmas is the main holiday, not only of the professing Christian world, but also of many other non-Christian peoples. Strange as it may seem, Christmas is not in the Bible, was not observed by most professing Christians until four centuries after Jesus' death, and would have been forbidden in early New Testament times. Christmas is at least 2,000 years older than the birth of the Jesus, our true Messiah!
Mesopotamia is the very ancient Mother of Civilization. Christmas began there, over four thousand years ago, as the festival which renewed the world for another year. The 'twelve days' of Christmas; the bright fires and probably the Yule log; the giving of presents; the carnivals with their floats, their merrymaking and clownings, the mummers who sing and play from house to house; the feastings; the church processions with their lights and song -- all these and more began there centuries before Messiah was born (Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas, page 18).
December 25 Not Christ's Birth
There are several reasons why December 25 could not be date of birth of Christ:
(1) Shepherds do not tend their flocks by night in Bethlehem, for it is too cold. Shepherds take in their flocks before the end of October. Adam Clarke says,
It was a custom among Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the Passover [early spring], and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain . . . [in] October or November . . . . as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Savior was not born on the twenty-fifth of December, when no flocks were out in the fields . . . the flocks were in still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up (Clarke's Commentary, vol 3, p. 370).
(2) Roman taxations usually took place at the end of the harvest, in September or October.
(3) Travel was so hard in the winter season that Jesus warned His people to pray that their flight at the end of the age would not be in winter, Matthew 24:20.
(4) We know the birthdates of Caesars and Pharaohs (birthday celebrations in Egypt can be documented back to the 13th Century B.C.), but there is not one mention in the Bible nor in early church literature defining the date of Christ's birth. God did not want us to know the date Christ was born, otherwise, He would have told us when it was! Obviously, it was never God's intention for Christ's birthday to be celebrated! We do, however, celebrate Christ's death, annually at the Christian Passover ceremony.
(5) In A.D. 274, Emperor Aurelian chose December 25 for the date of a pagan festival in Rome, as the birthday of the unconquered sun, natalis solis invicti, which at the winter solstice begins again to show an increase in light.
(6) Pope Liberius of Rome, in 354 A.D., ordered December 25th observed from that time forward as the birthday of Christ, which was a Catholic substitution for the pagan Roman Saturnalia festival on nearly the same date. Liberius chose the date "because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the Sun" according to The World Book Encyclopedia.
Christmas was celebrated in Rome as early as 336. Julius I, Bishop of Rome, was said to have kept in 350. Tradition says Christ's birth was kept as early as 98 A.D., and was ordered to be observed as a solemn feast by Telesphorus, Bishop of Rome, in 137. Another source says Julius Sextus Africanus (historian who lived in Alexandria, Egypt) was the first person to specify December 25 as the Savior's birthday, in 225 (or 221) A.D. He selected the winter solstice through his association with pagan winter solstice practices.
(7) Christmas as December 25 coincides with pagan festivals such as the Roman Saturnalia. The Persians observed the winter solstice by a feast revering the sun, kindling great fires to Mithra, their god of light, while Teutonic tribes of northern Europe honored Woden (Odin) by consuming quantities of food and drink during their yuletide season, the time of the rebirth of the sun.
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaues and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts . . . the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt . . . . Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas (Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Christmas").
Certain it is that the winter solstice, which the ancients erroneously assigned to the twenty-fifth of December, was celebrated in antiquity as the birthday of the Sun . . . . Our Christmas festival is nothing but a continuation under a Christian name of this old solar festival; for the ecclesiastical authorities saw fit, about the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century, arbitrarily to transfer the nativity of Christ . . . to the twenty-fifth of December, for the purpose of diverting to their Lord the worship which the heathen had hitherto paid on that day to the sun (James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, page 633).
January 6 Not Christ's Baptism
In the eastern part of the Roman empire, a festival developed called Epiphany (from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning manifestation). It began at least as early as 200 A.D., and became more prevalent in the latter part of the Fourth Century, A.D. Epiphany celebrated both the birth and baptism of Jesus. Though Epiphany as the birth and baptism of Jesus appears to have earlier support than December 25, gradually in the West and most parts of the empire, Christmas (December 25) became the preferred celebration for the physical birth of Jesus, while Epiphany became only a celebration of the baptism of Jesus, His spiritual birth. In 381, Gregory of Nazianzus called Epiphany the festival of lights, in commemoration of the baptism of Christ, the true light. The Britannica speculates that the introduction of Christmas as the birth of Jesus may well have been connected with the struggle of Trinitarians against the Arians, who denied Christ's divinity. Today, only the Armenian Catholics continue to observe the nativity on January 6.
Twelfth Night, another name for Epiphany, is traditionally the time for Christmas decorations to come down.
Mass of Christ Is Idolatry
Christmas gets its name from the Latin Christes Masse, or the Mass of Christ. The French call Christmas Noel, the Scandinavians Yulen Jul, the Italians Natale, and the Germans Weihnacht. By celebrating the "Mass" of Christ, one is openly supporting the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, and its pagan Mass.
What is a Roman Catholic Mass?
The Sacrifice of the Mass is really the holy and living representation and at the same time the unbloody and efficacious oblation of the Lord's Passion [suffering] and that blood-stained sacrifice which was offered for us on the cross (The Catholic Encyclopedia, page 375).
In the mass, Jesus is considered to be both the priest and the victim, represented by the Catholic priest who offers Him as a sacrifice over and over again, each time the mass is performed. As the supposed mediator between God and man, the priest believes he has the power to change the bread and wine into Jesus' literal flesh and blood (the miracle of "transubstantiation"), consumed by the people. For more information on the ungodly idolatry of the Catholic ceremonies, please read Babylon Mystery Religion, by Ralph Woodrow.
Feast of Sol
Roman feast of the sun-god, at the time of the winter solstice. Also called, Natalis invicti solis, or "birthday of the unconquered sun." Says Frazer, "The largest pagan religious cult which fostered the celebration of December 25 as a holiday throughout the Roman and Greek worlds was the pagan sun worship -- Mithraism . . . This winter festival was called 'the Nativity' -- the 'Nativity of the SUN'," Golden Bough, p. 471.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "The well-known solar feast of Natalis Invicti," the Nativity of the Unconqured Sun, "celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date," volume 3, page 727, article, "Christmas." Some thought that Jesus was Sol, the sun-god. "Tertullian had to assert that Sol was not the Christians' God; Augustine denounced heretical identification of Christ with Sol. Pope Leo I bitterly reproved solar survivals -- Christians, on the very doorstep of the Apostles' basilica, turning to adore the rising sun," Ibid.
The "Golden Bough" of classical legend, mistletoe was gathered by Druids and Norsemen with great ceremony and hung in their homes. Mistletoe was thought to be sacred with miraculous powers. Its berries, produced in the winter, were thought to be a sex stimulant. Kissing under the mistletoe began as part of the Celtic Midsumer Eve ceremony in which men would kiss each other as a display of their homosexuality, and was later expanded to include both sexes. Some historians believe mistletoe kissing is even more ancient, from temple prostitution and sexual license that was most prolific during the Roman Saturnalia.
Romans ornamented their temples and homes with green boughs during winter solstice season. Greens have been used in homes as symbols of the earth's fertility and eternal life since ancient pagan days. Teutonic peoples believed that certain greens could frighten away evil spirits.
Used by Saxons, along with ivy and bay, holly's green leaves and red berries were thought in medieval times to be protection against witchcraft and the evil eye, and a good-luck charm for men. Wreaths of holly and/or other evergreen boughs (such as laurel) are round to symbolize the returning sun at the winter solstice, and depict the sun's returning victory over darkness and death. Holly berries were considered sacred to the sun-god.
Burning yule log was part of sun-worship. "Yule" may come from the Scandinavian word rol, which means "wheel," a pagan symbol of the sun. This may in turn be derived from the Chaldean Eol, which means "infant," or "little child." Syrian and Egyptian sun worshippers would retire to their shrines on December 25, and at midnight come out with a loud cry, "The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing!" (see James Frazer, The Golden Bough, page 416). The Norse winter solstice festival was called Jol (pronounced "Yol"), which may be the origin of our word "jolly." The ashes of the yule log, kept through the year, were supposed to protect the house from fire and lightning, and to have the power of healing wounds and making fields and animals fertile. A piece of the old log was saved and used to light next year's yule log. The yule log represents the dead Nimrod, deified as the sun-god, cut down by his enemies, but come to life again. This identifies the "yuletide season" as the birthday of the counterfeit Babylonian Messiah, Nimrod. Christmas candles trace back to the burning yule log and the reincarnation of Nimrod in Tammuz. Yule log customs continue today in various part of America. Among colonial planters in Virginia and Maryland, the Negro slaves searched for the largest water-soaked logs, since it was believed that Christmas festivities continue as long as the burning log is kept glowing.
According to Venerable Bede, the Anglo-Saxon church historian, ancient Anglo-Saxons called the night of December 24 to 25 Modranecht, meaning "Mother's night," for it involved ceremonies relating to the "rebirth" of the sun. At the time of the winter solstice, a feast dedicated to Thor, called Giul was held. This is from a word meaning "ale," and may have been later corrupted to Yule. The old Yule season lasted 20 days in all, 12 after and 8 before Modranecht. Today, it is still considered bad luck to take down the holly, mistletoe and other Yuletide decorations until the "Twelfth Night" after Christmas.
Christmas Fires and Candles
Lighting of fires and candles was a pagan custom of Saturnalia. As a pagan belief, fire was thought to encourage the waning sun-god as he reached the lowest place in the southern skies. Romans fastened candles to their Saturnalia tree, indicating the sun's return to the earth.
Ham is eaten at Christmas (and Easter) because Tammuz (the sun deity Adonis) was thought to have been killed by a boar. Alexander Hislop, in The Two Babylons, shows that the boar slain at Christmas time represented ancient Nimrod. After his death, his wife Semiramis gave birth to a child, Tammuz, which she claimed to be Nimrod reincarnated. Tradition says that Nimrod was so evil that his great-uncle Shem ordered his execution. The great hunter and empire builder Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12) had been a mighty one, worshipped by his followers as the sun. Since the sun "dies" at the winter solstice, the boar's head was eaten on the eve (beginning) of December 25, signifying the death of the old sun, and the new sun Tammuz returns.
In memory, pagans sacrificed and ate swine at the Saturnalia and other times. The entire animal was cooked, often served with an apple or pomegranate in its mouth, a custom which still prevails in England and parts of Europe. In St. Louis, Missouri, the ham is especially prized during the Christmas season. For over 3,000 years, it has been common among pagans to kill and eat a pig at their winter festival of the return of the sun in late December.
What God thinks of eating swine's flesh is clearly shown in Isaiah 65:1-7, 66:17.
Christmas cookies are traceable to the cakes made to the Queen of Heaven (Semiramis), Jeremiah 44:19. Round cakes were made for the Saturnalia and Brumalia to symbolize the sun.
A pagan Roman festival of December 25, the word brumalia means "winter solstice." Legend has it that Romulus, the founder of Rome, instituted the winter solstice festival under the name of brumalia.
Roman god, equivalent to the Greek Cronus or Kronos, a god of the harvest, and ruler of the world in its Golden Age. During Saturnalia, the festival in honor of Saturn, the Golden Age supposedly returned to the earth. Kronos, or Saturn, is usually shown as a bent old man with a scythe in one hand. In the other hand, he holds a serpent which bites its own tail. The mythology of Kronos is clearly shown in popular "New Year's" myths today of "Father Time."
The most popular ancient Roman festival was Saturnalia. It was dedicated to the "god" Saturn, distinguished by holly and the interchange of presents between friends, and adapted by nominal Christians from the Pagans. Saturnalia began on December 17, and lasted seven days, through December 23 or 24. On the first day, public religious ceremonies honoring Saturn took place. On the second day, many families offered sacrifices of a young pig. A boar's head was served with an apple or orange in its mouth. Plum pudding, mince pies, and decorated sweets and cookies for deserrt were served. It was the gayest holiday festival of the Roman year, and marked by ease of moral restrictions and a Mardi gras-like madness. Homes were decorated with greenery and lights. Schools observed holidays and all public business stopped, including the courts. Families held gatherings and banquets, and even Roman slaves were free to attend the festival. The name "Saturn" meant "abundance," and Saturnalia festivities had abundant feastings.
The last days of Saturnaliawere spent visiting and exchanging presents. Some of the gifts were wax candles and little clay images or dolls, called sigillaria (little images). It is interesting that the word "doll" in our language may have been derived from the word "idol." Some historians believe that these dolls represented original human sacrifices once offered to Saturn (see Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, article "Saturnalia"), and that the Greeks and Romans gave the name of Cronus and Saturn to a cruel Phoenician baal, to whome children were sacrificed at Carthage. This makes it grisly to think that the original "Christmas" was, as it is today, "just for kids."
continued to be observed as late as the 4th or 5th centuries A.D. Symphosius, Latin writer of that period, wrote 100 three-hexameter riddles for the Saturnalia.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, article "Saturn," the influence of Saturnalia "is still felt throughout the western world . . . . The influence of the Saturnalia upon the celebrations of Christmas and New Year has been direct." In the Britannica article on "Christmas," we are told that "both Christmas and Epiphany, which falls 12 days later on January 6, are transformed pagan celebrations of the winter solstice, and so closely linked that their origins cannot be discussed separately."
Worship of Mithra
article "Christmas," brings out another aspect of Christmas:
The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day, the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun God (natalis solis invicti) and that the Saturnalia also came at this time.
The worship of Mithra was especially popular with the Roman legions. Mithra means "friend," or "dead ruler." Originating in Persia, the Mithra cult found its way to Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Rome, and many parts of the Roman empire, during the time of the emperors. Frazer in The Golden Bough reports that "Mithra was regularly identified by his worshipers with the sun, the unconquered sun, as they called him; hence, his nativity also fell on the 25th of December." Mithra worshipers were called "soldiers of the faith," and invincible just like the sun, hence, its wide appeal to soldiers. Thus, it is not surprising that Emperor Constantine, a sun worshiper and soldier himself, had a supposed vision with the sun and the sign of the cross, telling him "in hoc signo vinces (in this sign conquer)." Constantine led the merger of pagan Mithraism with nominal Christianity to produce a most unholy mixture.
Mithra worship became a competitor and close counterfeit of apostate Christianity for the number one religion of the decadent Roman Empire. In fact, Mithraism actually did win out, for Mithraic practices, masqueraded as Christianity, became the dominant religion of the western world.
. . . [Mithras was] the creator and orderer of the universe, hence a manifestation of the creative Logos or Word. Seeing mankind afflicted by Ahriman, the cosmic power of darkness, he incarnated on earth. His birth on 25 December was witnessed by shepherds. After many deeds he held a last supper with his disciples and returned to heaven. At the end of the world he will come again to judge resurrected mankind and after the last battle, victorious over evil, he will lead the chosen ones through a river of fire to a blessed immortality (Mystery Religions in the Ancient World, page 99).
Mithra worship, the unconquered sun god, has been victorious. It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians about false apostles, "for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" II Corinthians 11:14.
Protestants and Xmas
Christmas was outlawed in England from 1647 to 1660, under Oliver Cromwell. Catholic King Charles II re-established Christmas in England in 1660.
In 1620, the first December 25 was spent by the Pilgrims in the New World felling trees "in order to avoid any frivolity on the day sometimes called Christmas." William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth Bay Colony, told his officers: "We must take the sternest measures against this popish day." On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts colonial legislature passed a law fining anyone caught celebrating Christmas: The law read, "Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas and the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way . . . shall pay for each offense five shillings." The purpose of the law was "for preventing disorders . . . (by) observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries to the great dishonor of God and the offense of others." Though repealed in 1681, public schools remained open in Boston on December 25 until 1870.
German and Irish Catholics were largely responsible for bringing the tree and other Christmas customs to America during the great migrations of the 1800's. By 1836, Christmas was a legal holiday in Alabama. Georgia followed in 1856.
The first real "German" celebration of Christmas in America was kept by Hessian mercenaries of the British army at Trenton, New Jersey in December, 1776, when on Christmas eve, while the Germans were in a drunken stupor (a Christmas custom followed by many today, patterned after the Roman Saturnalia), General George Washington and other revolutionaries crossed the Delaware River and at dawn on Christmas day routed the bleary Hessians. Washington's disregard of Christmas led to the victory of colonial forces over the British.
It is neither a Jewish nor a Christian custom to observe birthdays with great fanfare and celebration:
The day [of Christmas] was not one of the early feasts of the Christian church. In fact the observance of birthdays was condemned as a heathen custom repugnant to Christians. The American Book of Days, by George W. Douglas, p. 658.
The early Catholic "father," Origen (ca. 200), acknowledged that
In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners [like Pharaoh and Herod, Genesis 40:20, Matthew 14:6, Mark 6:21] who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world" (Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Natal Day").
Origin said it was sinful to keep Christ's birthday like pagan festivals, "as though he [Christ] were a King Pharaoh." Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 389) denounced the intermingling of pagan and Christian elements in Christmas, warning against excessive indulgence in feasting, dancing and dressing in grotesque costumes of animal skins.
Professing Christians have forgotten the commanded Passover, as the annual memorial of the death of our Savior for our sins. Instead, they have appropriated the pagan Christmas as the birth of the Babylonian false Messiah.
Exchanging Gifts at Saturnalia and Christmas
An important part of pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia(Romans also exchanged gifts at the new year), gift-giving was frowned upon by the early Church for hundreds of years. Gift-giving in the United States was not a custom until the 19th century. The wise men did not exchange gifts among themselves; they presented gifts to Jesus sometime after His birth, when He and Mary and Joseph were in a house, Matthew 2:11. The only place in the Bible where we find the masses exchanging gifts is in celebration of the death of the Two Witnesses, at the end of the age, Revelation 11:10. However, their joy will be short-lived, for the merchants of the earth, who have fostered sales of merchandise through Christmas gift-giving promotions, shall, as part of Babylon, be destroyed, Revelation 18:10-24.
The interchange of presents between friends is alike characteristic of Christmas and the Saturnalia, and must have been adopted by Christians from the Pagans, as the admonition of Tertullian plainly shows (Bibliotheca Sacra, volume 12, pages 153-155).
Rome's festivals of the official calendar were civic holidays, and keeping the feasts was required by patriotism. Holidays which once were mainly religious gradually became secular, much as today.
Santa Claus supplants the Christ-child as the central person of Christmas. "Santa Claus" may be a corruption of the name "St. Nicholas," a supposed Roman Catholic Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor, who may have lived in the 4th Century. More churches have been named after Nicholas than any of the apostles. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia and Greece. In spite of Roman Catholic tradition, there is no real proof that an historical St. Nicholas (St. Nick) ever existed. Philip Revzin in The Wall Street Journal (December 22, 1986), writes that "virtually nothing is known for sure about the original Nicholas of Myra."
Dutch settlers brought the idea of a gift-bringing Christmas patron of children to New Amsterdam (New York City) during the 17th Century. Dutch children shortened "Nicholas" to "Claus," and the Spanish influence in the Netherlands changed "Saint" to "Santa." Christmas in Holland is still celebrated on December 6, the supposed day of St. Nicholas' death. French children call Santa Pere Noel, while German children call him Kris Kringle, Scandinavians Yule Tomten, Italians Lady Befana, while Finnish children see their holiday patron as a goat!
The Secrets of Santa Claus Revealed
Dutch seamen are supposed to have carried the tradition of Nicholas' generosity to Europe, as a result of which Dutch children received presents on December 6. St. Nicholas was traditionally represented as a beared saint riding a white horse and carrying a basket of gifts for good children, and birch rods for naughty ones. The Dutch Americans transformed him into a chubby cheer-bringer. Washington Irving in 1809 pictured Santa Claus as a jolly, chubby fellow riding through the air in a sleigh drawn by reindeer. Dr. Clement C. Moore in his 1822, poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," published in 1823 in the Troy, New York Sentinel, enshrined the present form and spirit of Santa Claus. Finally, in 1863, cartoonist Thomas Nast, in Harper's Illustrated Weekly, gave the white-bearded gentleman his red, fur-trimmed coat. Myth transferred into modern commercialism, Santa Claus' popularity among Christ-rejecting multitudes is assured.
Called by many different names, various customs and traditions evolved into the modern Santa Claus from Odin or Saturn, the sun-god. Santa, like Odin, has a home far away in Heaven or the North Pole (God's throne is in the north, Psalm 48:1-2, Job 26:7), he comes on horseback or in a sleigh driven by reindeer, he is associated with fire, by entering the house by the chimney or leaving gifts by the hearth (since he is a sun-god). Odin, the gift-giver, is re-incarnated in today's Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, a saint honored by the Greeks and Latins on the 6th of December . . . . A legend of his surreptitious bestowal of dowries on the three daughters of an impoverished citizen . . . is said to have originated the old custom of giving presents in secret on the Eve of St. Nicholas [December 6], subsequently transferred to Christmas day. Hence the association of Christmas with Santa Claus (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, volume 19, pages 648-649).
Throughout the year, parents punish their children for telling lies. Then, at Christmas time, they tell the lie of Santa Clause to their own children. It is no wonder they grow up questioning what their parents told them about God as well. "Old Nick" is a term for the devil, the father of lies. That is what Santa Claus really represents.
Since evergreen trees do not lose all their leaves and become brown (symbolic of death), they were revered and worshipped by pagans, as symbolic of immortality and fertility. Perhaps the first decorating of an evergreen tree was done by pagans to honor the god Adonis, who after being slain was brought back to life by the serpent Aesculapius. Around the stump of the dead tree (the slain god) coiled the snake Aesculapius, symbol of restoring life (but, in the Bible, the serpent signifies Satan the devil, Genesis 3, Revelation 12:9). From the roots of the dead tree came a different tree -- an evergreen tree symbolic to pagans of a god who cannot die. In Egypt, this god was worshipped in a palm tree as Baal-Tamar. Egyptians brought the green date palms indoors, for they signified to them life triumphant over death. The Romans worshipped the fir tree as the same newborn god Baal-Berith, restored to life by the same serpent, and a feast was held in honor of him on December 25th called the "Birthday of the unconquered Sun." Romans trimmed trees with trinkets and toys during Saturnalia.
Again, all this pagan symbolism shows that the "sacred" tree simply represents Nimrod, who was executed, or cut down, by Shem (Noah's son) for his apostasy against the Almighty. And, the new tree growing from the stump represents Tammuz, the supposed rebirth of Nimrod.
Catholic St. Boniface in the 8th century completed the catholic conquest of Germany by dedicating the fir tree to the Holy Child to replace the sacred oak of Odin. Martin Luther, strolling home on a clear, star-lit Christmas Eve, was "inspired" to cut a tall evergreen, place lighted candles on it to symbolize the stars and gave it to his children. While lighted and decorated trees date centuries earlier, Luther made the decorated Christmas tree popular. German settlers brought the tree custom to Pennsylvania in the 17th century, while German-born Prince Albert introduced it to England in 1841, a year after his marriage to Queen Victoria. Possibly the first Christmas tree in a church in America was provided by Pastor Henry Schwan, in 1851 at Cleveland, Ohio.
In numerous Bible passages, the "green" tree is associated with false worship and idolatry: Deuteronomy 12:2, I Kings 14:22-23, II Kings 16:1-4, 17:9-10, II Chronicles 28:4, Isaiah 57:3-5, Jeremiah 2:20, 3:6,13, 17:1-2, and Ezekiel 6:13. The aserah, or "groves," followed the practice of the pagan Canaanites, who cut branches of a live tree, and carved it into a phallic symbol and worshiped it. Obelisks and church steeples of today are a continuation of this pagan fertility sex worship. Such false worship was one of the primary reasons why the Eternal evicted the ten northern tribes of Israel from the Promised Land, and send them captive to Assyria, II Kings 17, especially verses 10-12. Just as the Almighty in old times was angry when His people followed the ways of the heathen, so today, He is angry at those who mix paganism and the laws of God. Judgment and captivity awaits our people, part of modern Israel, unless they repent of following heathen customs.
may refer to an ancient pagan practice similar to today's Christmas tree. Frederick J. Haskins, in Answers to Questions, says, "The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to [before] the Christian Era."
Professing Christians today do not worship the Christmas tree, but they have continued the same pagan customs of sun worshippers who did indeed worship the evergreen tree as symbolic of their immortal sun-god. God says not to follow pagan practices, Herbert Wernecke, in Christmas Customs Around the World, says that the Christmas tree is the "center of holiday observance" (page 20). Take away the Christmas tree (and the associated greenery and lights), and the customs and traditions of Christmas would be greatly diminished. Although professing Christians claim that the Christmas tree represents immortality and Christ, the "light of the world," our Savior is definitely not pleased.
Sheryl Ann Karas, author of The Solstice Evergreen: The History, Folklore and Origins of the Christmas Tree, tells of her fascination with the "magic" of the Christmas tree, and shows why the tree is so universally admired and adored. The warmth of friends, exchanging of gifts with friends, beautiful light of the decorated tree create an aura which is irresistible (in spite of the fact Karas is a Jew and was denied celebration of Christmas when she was a child). Karas now relishes in the pagan underpinnings for our modern Christmas tree customs:
The evergreen played an influential role in the spiritual life of early societies throughout the world . . . . veneration of the tree dates from at least 4000 years before Christ. Its pervasive symbolism was central to primitive cosmologies, the beliefs about the universe which laid the foundation for every major religion, including Christianity . . . . Many people like to de-emphasize our pagan heritage . . . . Yet paganism is . . . part of our spiritual past. In the case of the Christmas Tree, this knowledge can enrich the celebration of the ritual for even the most fundamentalist Christians and revitalize the winter holidays for those who are not (pages 4-5).
Why did the pagans so revere the tree, especially the evergreen tree? After three years of detailed research, Karas was able to trace the Christmas tree back to the Garden of Eden. Sinful, degenerate man rebelled against God, and the most common deities in pagan religions were the "trinity" of the Sun God, the Mother Earth, and the Sky Spirit. The earth being the temple of the sun, pagan gods and goddesses were worshipped outdoors in naturally protected spots such as under trees. These groves, or "high places" forbidden in the Bible acted as sanctuaries, much like modern churches and cathedrals. They were held to be sacred places, and it was considered sacrilegious to break a branch or cut down one of the trees in such a sacred grove. Trees were held to be houses of spirits, and if a tree was cut, it was believed that the spirit would die. Evergreens came to be most revered, from the Cedars of Lebanon to the Cypress and Pine of China. Evergreens symbolized to pagans eternal life, the belief that life would continue forever. Numerous myths and legends attest to a common pagan belief that man either came from a tree, or his spirit returns to a tree upon death. Thus, the evergreen is a common pagan symbol of rebirth and eternal life. The Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden was rejected by Adam and Eve, and their posterity ever since has yearned to return to that garden and eat of that tree, and live forever. That is why the tree is the central part of the worship of nature religions. That is why the Christmas tree lives on with universal appeal.
The myth of Dionysus has many parallels with that of Jesus (and/or common ideas of Jesus). He was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman Semele. He was supposedly born on December 25. He became god of wine and perfomed miracles such as turning water into wine. He was ambushed and killed by Titans, who tore his body apart. However, Dionysus was resurrected and/or rose to heaven on March 25. When the pruned grape vine comes back to life in the spring, it was celebrated by the Greeks as the resurrection of Dionysus. During the processional, a baby, representing the newly reborn god, was carried in a place of honor. Then, the wild frenzied Bacchanalian rites began, with drinking large quantities of wine and wild orgies. The Delphic oracle commanded the Corinthians to worship the pine tree along with Dionysus, and images of Dionysus were made of pine wood, along with Bacchinalian celebrations with pine torches, and pine cones (symbolic of fertility). This counterfeit Messiah tradition became melded with nominal Christianity.
The Tree and the Cross
Faced with such a prevalent tradition of universal adoration and worship of the tree, the Catholic Church transformed tree worship to worship of the cross, the "tree" upon which the Savior was slain. Just as the tree was the passageway into paradise and eternal life for the ancients, apostate Christianity made the cross the object of worship, and the pathway to eternal life. Over a period of 500 years, Catholic conversion of Europe was accompanied by woodcutters who put the axe to the sacred groves of the Teutons. Rituals that could not be suppressed, were re-interpreted and incorporated into the supposed Christian faith. And yet, changed in form, but not in substance, the adoration and reverence toward trees continued.
Sheryl Karas' fascinating story of The Solstice Evergreen shows how mankind indeed has not changed much in 6,000 years. They still worship under every green tree!
A legend associated with Bishop Nicholas may be the origin of the custom of hanging Christmas stockings by the fireplace. When Nicholas generously provided dowries for the three daughters of a nobleman who had lost his fortune, he threw each one a bag of gold into the house, which fell into a stocking that had been hung on the chimney to dry. Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" gave this stocking story the greatest impetus. In a variation of this custom, the Dutch children put their wooden shoes in the chimney corners on the eve of December 6, awaiting presents before the next morning.
The word "wassail" comes from the Anglo-Saxon waes hael, which means "to your health," or "here's to you." A mixture of ale and spices served in a large bowl, the custom of "wassailing" brings forth the real Christmas spirit, that of one of drunken debauchery.
Wife of Nimrod, she married her son Tammuz, whom she claimed was the reincarnated Nimrod. Semiramis, the first deified Queen of Babylon, is also known as Diana, Aphrodite, Astarte, Rhea and Venus.
The false Babylonian Messiah, Tammuz was the son of Semiramis, and married his own mother. He was also known as Bacchus, Adonis, Osiris, Saturn, or Cronus. The Bible condemns ancient Israel for worshipping Tammuz, which included sun worship and the asherah (possibly a phallic symbol), Ezekiel 8:14-18.
Catholic church "father" Tertullian wrote about 230 A.D., inveighing against professed believers in the Messiah, who were observing pagan Roman festivals, such as the Saturnalia, Brumalia, and Matronalia, with gift exchanging and great banqueting. Pope Leo I (440-461) chastised Catholics who on Christmas celebrated the birth of the sun deity.
How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia [December 25] following the Saturnalia[December 17-24], and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the 'new sun' . . . cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence . . . . The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular tht Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and in manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ's birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mespoptamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival. (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article "Christmas")
Certain Latins, as early as 354 [A. D.], may have transferred the birthday from January 6th to December 25, which as then a Mithraic feast . . . or birthday of the unconquered sun . . . . The Syrians and Armenians, who clung to January 6th, accused the Romans of sun worship and idolatry, contending . . . that the feast of December 25th, had been invented by disciples of Cerinthus . . . (Encyclopaedia Britannica).
An Oriental Christmas
From Japan, to Taiwan, to Malaysia, Christmas is a very popular holiday in the Orient, even among those who do not profess to be Christian. In Japan, less than 1 per cent of the population claims to be Christian. Even among the few Japanese Christians, most believe that there is nothing wrong with celebrating festivals of different religions. As a result, a Japanese person may celebrate a Shintoist, and then a Buddhist holiday, later to observe Christmas, a supposedly Christian holiday. The foreign holiday of Christmas has become entrenched into Asian culture. Japanese feel that one should be open-minded, and not too rigid about religion. If something is pleasurable, then do it, but don't let it affect other aspects of life.
At first glance, we may think this modern phenomenon is very strange and shows a lack of character. However, 1,500-1,600 years ago, professing Christians did something even worse. They took a pagan holiday, Saturnalia, and began observing it as a "Christian" festival. A logical Japanese could ask these questions: How can Western Christians celebrate a festival originally a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, that was not the birthday of Jesus, but the rebirth of the sun? How can Westerners criticize the Japanese as being unprincipled in celebrating a "Christian" holiday along with their Shinto and Bhuddhist holidays, when the Westerners have done essentially the same thing? Once again, the Oriental mind can see clearly the hypocrisy and lying of Western civilization.
Recently, the U.S. President and business leaders traveled to Japan to try to increase USA exports to the Pacific Rim. Much ballyhoo was made over the attempt of the Americans to sell U.S. cars in Japan, to overcome Japanese trade barriers. John Chancellor of NBC news noted that so far, no American car maker has bothered to sell cars in Japan with the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle, as is standard in Japan (and the United Kingdom). Can you imagine how many Japanese cars would sell in the USA if they did not adapt to the American practice of putting the steering wheel on the left side? Western hypocrisy is dumbfounding! Observing Christmas as a "Christian" holiday is colossial hypocrisy, and Christmas keepers have no right to criticize the Japanese for observing holidays of religions other than their own. Incidentally, exports of North American Christmas trees to Japan appears to be a booming business!
"Christmas . . . a man-made holiday," The Sacred Name Broadcaster, 12/1980.
"Christmas: A Time of Festivity for Orientals," The Watchtower, December 15, 1986.
"Christmas and the Faith of Our Fathers." Medford, Oregon: American Covenant Church.
Karas, Sheryl Ann, The Solstice Evergreen: The History, Folklore and Origins of the Christmas Tree. Boulder Creek, California: Aslan Publishing, 1991.
Kent, John L., "Christmastime Celebrations Antedate the Birth of Christ," in December 27, 1982 Spotlight.
Meyer, Jacob O., "The Case Against Christmas," The Sacred Name Broadcaster, 12/1982.
Pollack, Jack Harrison, "What is Christmas?" November 29, 1964 Parade.
Revzin, Philip, "If He Existed at All, Nicholas of Myra Was the First Santa," Wall Street Journal, December 22, 1986.
Tardo, Russell K. "The Shocking Truth about Christmas," Arabi, Louisiana: Faithful Word Publications.
"The Untold Story of Christmas." Kingdom City, Missouri: Yahweh's New Covenant Assembly, 1990.
Wernecke, Herbert H., Christmas Customs Around the World. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1973.
Woodrow, Ralph, Babylon Mystery Religion. Riverside, California: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association: 1966.
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
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