For most of the Free World, Christmas is a holiday season celebrated more for its shopping, overeating and gift giving than the actual religious significance it once contained.
The season is represented by silver and gold adorned trees, as well as colorful twinkling lights spilling over homes, churches and businesses.
Family and friends exchange gifts, kiss under mistletoe, burn Yule logs and yet, sadly, most people have no idea where the Christmas holiday traditions come from, but they swear that it is all about Jesus.
The Christmas holiday as we know it is really an aggregation of a bunch of mythology and customs that were actually around before the birth of Jesus. And, the actual birth of Jesus has been placed somewhere around September.
And, while some Christians may not want to hear it, even the story of a god's rebirth into a new being predates Jesus.
December 25th as a commemorative date was a Roman celebration of Saturn, who was the rebirth of the Sun God. According to the Romans, the Sun God was resurrected three days after his death. This resurrection caused the Romans to celebrate with gift giving and processions of celebration featuring priests carrying wreaths of Evergreen boughs.
So, how did the pagan traditions become merged with Christian traditions?
If we take a look at the history of the Roman Catholic Church, we see that the church repeatedly absorbed the traditions of as many groups as possible in order to increase its dominion.
We know that Martin Luther initiated the Reformation in 1517 and when the pagans came into the Christian church, they brought their pagan celebration of Christmas with them.
In 1611, when King James made his version of the Bible available to all people in England, other versions also became conspicuous and the roots of Christmas were revealed
Jeremiah 10:2-4 states: "Thus saith the Lord, learn not the
way of the heathen; and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven. For the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain. For one cutteth a tree out of the forest. The work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold. They fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not."
Eventually, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed as witchcraft.
However, as other versions of the Bible kept creeping up, so did the celebration of Christmas. The goal was to keep as many people under the Christian umbrella as possible, and allowing them to hold on to their traditions was a good way to continue the "Reformation."
The very word "Christmas" combines "Christ" and "Mass."
"Mass" literally means death and the ritual of Mass, once incorporated into Christianity referred to the death of Christ and the "Host," which is Latin for victim.
Next week, let's talk about some of the other traditions.