The true meaning of Christmas by Kyriakos Dimakakos,
Every year during the magical time of year we call The Christmas Season, we turn on the evening news and are greeted by some Christian authority figure outraged by what they like to call “The attack on Christmas and Christianity”. Christmas is without a doubt a wonderful time of year, when people get together to celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus by buying lots of stuff, and eating till they gain 3 pant sizes, but what are its origins and is it really a “Christian holliday”? This amazing celebration is the longest running holiday in the history of the planet going back almost 2,500 years. Wait… 2,500 years??? But wasn’t baby Jesus born on December 25th year 0? Then how could Christmas go back further than that???
The bible does not, as many people assume give an exact date for the birth of Christ, it gives an approximation in the book of Luke when it says leaves the rest to the imagination. And what we now know for sure is that early Christian scholars loved to imagine, “Lacking any scriptural pointers to Jesus's birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. In 95 A.D. St.Clement of Rome picked November 18. In the third Century A.D the famous theologian of Rome figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday, an anonymous document believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D. 243, placed Jesus's birth on March 28" (Joseph L. Sheler, U.S. News & World Report , "In Search of Christmas," Dec. 23, 1996, p. 58).
With a little bit of modern ingenuity most people can use the small bit of information to come up with a much better approximation of his actual birthday. We are told by Luke that during the birth there were “shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night" Luke 2:8). This has to mean that Jesus' birth had to have been between the time of Passover and the first rain falls of the year. It was tradition that when Passover came the shepherds would go out into the fields and take there sheep grazing to fatten them up for the winter. When the first rains of the year fell, the shepherds would return home with their flocks and spend the cold rainy season with their families. This would put the time of Christ’s birth in April or May, April being the earliest that Passover would have happened and mid may being the beginning of the rainy season in the region.
So why change it to December 25th? What was the reasoning behind this particular date? Was there some religious significance to this date? Did an angel appear out of the heavens and proclaim this as Jesus’s date of birth? Did God himself part the clouds and anoint this a holy day in celebration of his son’s birth? Well no, no and no, the reason is much simpler than that. It was the week of the biggest ancient holiday of the year, Saturnalia.
Saturnalia was the largest holiday of the ancient Roman people. In Rome it was customary for the week before the winter solstice to be dedicated to their Pantheons head god Saturn. The day after the solstice (December 24th/25th ) was reserved for the celebration of the birth of god Dionysus/Horus/Mithras/Adonis. (Dionysus was originally recognized in early January but was eventually placed on December 25th, as related by ancient Latin writer Macrobius c. 400 AD/CE).
The traditional story of Jesus’s birth goes something like this, he’s born to a virgin mother the only begotten son of God under a star shining down from the heavens to mark the way for three wise men/kings who bring him gifts. It’s an amazing story, and was just as amazing when it happened to Osiris the Egyptian god of the afterlife, close to two thousand years earlier. That’s right Osiris is born to a virgin mother Hathor who is impregnated by the will of the god Horus. He also represents a holy trinity since Osiris, Ra, and Horus are of one essence, one is a dad (Horus) one is a son (Osiris) and one is the ghost of a dead god(Ra). At the end of days he will sit in judgment where the souls of the just will be allowed into his realm and the wicked will be sent to an evil place to be tortured and devoured. Is any of this sounding familiar yet?
And the crazy coincidences don’t stop there, upon his birth there is a sign in the heaven in the form of 3 stars shining brightly over his birthplace and funny enough those stars are known as the three kings. It’s weird how in the book of Mathew it says that Jesus is visited by Magi, it doesn’t give a number but we just assume its 3 and then we get rid of the word Magi and somehow turn it into kings. And let’s say for arguments sake it is 3 kings, are we to assume that three kings just happen to be roaming the desert near this barn randomly carrying gifts and just walk in all “hey nothing going on in my kingdom so I went for a long walk out to the middle of nowhere with some frankincense and some murr and this gold bar. I saw this crazy star in the sky hovering over the desert and said screw running my kingdom I got to check this out.”
To top it all off Mary isn’t even a virgin in the original story She is a married woman, her husband is with her in the manger. The mistranslation happens when the word parthena is translated from ancient Greek to modern Greek. In ancient Greek it means the lady, as in the lady mary AKA parthena Maria, in modern Greek It means virgin. The funny thing is that Jesus has 7 other siblings, that’s right 7!! In mathew 13 : 55-56 it says pretty clearly "Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us?". To top it off his other brother peter started the church that we all pray at. That’s right Peter the Pious the founder of the church, is said several times by Jesus to be his brother. Imagine poor Joseph coming home every 9 months to another of his virgin wife’s kids. “ Hey Joseph I know this one looks like bob from down the street but really I’m a virgin, these babies just keep popping out of me for some reason…. Must be god, that’s it, God”.
Funny enough Dionysis or Bachus as he is known in Rome is born of Zeus and Persephone, the daughter of Demeter also called Kore, who is styled a "virgin goddess. So he is the son of a god and virgin mother,he traveled the land as a great teacher, and the guy was even crazy enough to have 12 diciples (each one representing an aspect of the zodiac) and performing miracles such as turning water to wine at his annual festiville in Elis, providing fish for his followers to eat, and even goes by the names of "Only Begotten Son" and "Savior", his full name is actually Dionysus Saotes which literally means Dionysus savior. He is depicted on vases riding a donkey while people wave palm leafs at him, he’s known for bringing in a new religion and even makes his followers eat bread and wine to commemorate him. In addition to this, he dies and gets resurected after three days and then ascends into heaven/Olympus.
I know what your thinking, that’s crazy, that’s almost exactly like the story of the son of god we know and love. The one so many of us hold dear to our heart, that’s right the Lebanese god Adonis..wait that’s not right, hmm it could have been the roman god Bachus, or was it the persian god Mystra, oh yea now I remember, it was all of them. Its incredible how so many dieties have this exact same origin with their birthdays falling on the exact same date. But In studying religion and mythology, it is wise at to keep in mind that in the ancient world many gods were confounded and compounded, deliberately or otherwise. Some were even considered interchangeable. In this regard, ancient Greek historian Plutarch (35, 364E) states, "Osiris is identical with Dionysus,". Dionysus is likewise identified with the god Aion and referred to as "Zeus Sabazius" in other traditions. (Graves, 335) Hence, we would expect him to share at least some of all these gods' attributes, including being born of a virgin at the winter solstice (Aion), and dying and rising from the dead (Osiris)
I am sure we see a patern developing here, but wait a minute you say, there is a lot more to christmas that just the date of Christ’s birth, the virgin mother and the story of his birth. We have christmas trees, presents, gingerbread men, and jolly old saint nick. Surely some of the these things are christian in origin!!! Well lets go down the list and see what we can find.
First on the list is christmas decorations, we love them, and nothing says christmas like a christmas tree, right?? Well that’s wrong, it is an entirely pagan tradition:
The first decorating of an evergreen tree began with the Greeks and their worship of their god Adonia, who allegedly was brought back to life by the serpent Aessulapius after having been slain.
The ancient Pagan Romans decorated their "trees with bits of metal and replicas of their god, Bacchus [a fertility god]. They also placed 12 candles on the tree in honor of their sun god" (Christmas Tree Traditions," Virginia Cooperative Extension, 1997-AOR)
In Northern Europe, the ancient Germanic people tied fruit and attached candles to evergreen tree branches, in honor of their god Woden. Trees were viewed as symbolizing eternal life. This is the deity after which Wednesday (Wodensday) was named. The trees joined holly, mistletoe, the wassail bowl and the Yule log as symbols of the season.
Now all of these traditions predate christianity, so there has to be some mention of them somewhere right? Well there is, its in the bible. The god of the christians specifically puts down a mandate of no christmas trees :
Jeremiah 10:2-4: "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." (King James Version).
And Christmas wreaths were just as bad, they were used by people who did not have access to trees most notable people in large cities where thousands of trees where not available for every one. The practice is so prolific it is condemned by Tertullian an early carthaginian christian, whos writings are the basis for many christian practices around the world who lived between 160 and 230 A.D.
Ok so maybe the christmas tree, the date, the three kings, the virgin birth, are some nutty pagan thing that worked itself into christmas somehow, but how about the other things? We fill our house with holiday colors to make it festive, we bake gingerbread men to eat and give out gifts all to celebrate the spirit of christ. We even have this jolly old man bringing happiness to girls and boys around the world yelling ho ho ho riding his sled pulled by reindeir. I mean at least one of those things have to do with Christianity don’t they?? Well the answer is no again. The red and green where the colors of the holy tree which was used to decorate roman houses during Saturnalia. The gingerbread men where baked and eaten in rome and greece to represent Jealous Hera having Dionysus/Bachus being eaten by titans after his birth. And the gift giving was again linked to saturnalia where it was customery for kids to receive small gifts and noise makers to celebrate the holidays with.
But Santa has to be christian, I mean he’s “saint Nick” a christian saint, it would be crazy to think that saint nick isn’t christian. Well he is and he isn’t, there is a saint Nick who was a 4th century bishop of Myra who performed a miracle when he found the bodies of 3 young boys who had been cut into pieces and put into pickle barrels by a deranged butcher who was going to sell them off as ham. He put the bodies back together and raised the children back from the dead with what we can only assume was pickle juice for blood. This made him the patran saint of children, and possibly pickles though I am not sure about that last title. So how do you go from pickle kids to a sleigh and reindeir?? Well first you take Saint Nick and then you add a bit of The norse god odin who Odin was often depicted as leading a hunting party through the skies on the Solstice during which he rode his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir an eight legged horse (not quite eight reindeer but close enough). Odin was typically portrayed as an old man with a long, white beard -- much like Santa himself. During the winter, children placed their boots near the chimney, filling them with carrots or straw as a gift for Sleipnir. When Odin flew by, he rewarded the little ones by leaving gifts in their boots. In several Germanic countries, this practice survived despite the adoption of Christianity. As a result, the gift-giving became associated with St. Nicholas -- only nowadays, we hang stockings rather than leaving boots by the chimney!
So this guy
Plus this guy
Gets you this guy???
Well not quite, suprisingly we have Coca Cola to thank for that. Before coke put out its famous add campaign in 1931 of this guy we had many different santas, some in green, some in white, some in costumes that matched the night sky, but thanks to the marketing wizards at Coke, this big red jolly guy is the one we have in all our homes every year yelling ho ho ho! Speaking of ho its actually Io which means praise in latin, and was short for Io saturnalia or praise saturn… so as odd as it sounds while odin is delivering gifts to commemorate christ he is praising Saturn.
And he does all this on the twelve days of christmas wich commemorate what exactly since Christ was only born on one day? Well funny you should ask, The ancient greek festival of Lenia was a 12 festival to the god Dionysus each major greek god had one day dedicated to him, with the last day dedicated to Dionysus to comemorate his rebirth, finishing on January sixth, which amazingly enough was the greek orthodox christmas until the revised julian calander changed the date to December 25th to match up with the romans.
So to kind of summarize the true meaning of christmas, we celebrate christ by celebrating saturnalia, telling the story of the birth of dionysus and osiris, while odin delivers us presents, which are left under our tree which is expressly forbiden in the bible. Well if that doesn’t christianity I don’t know what does!!!!
That's quite an effort! Thanks for sharing it.
The more people understand the origins of their religions, rites, and customs, the better off we will be.
This is so very interesting and enjoyable reading but you asked for feedback and so: know the difference between their and there, were and where, capitalization (get someone to edit this, seriously) and FOOTNOTES! While I hate seeing them when I'm reading (and seldom check them- truth be told) they do lend a certain believability to what is written. That's not to say that I disagree with you on any points or think that you are playing with the truth in any way; I'm just saying that footnotes lend credibility to any piece.
This was an enjoyable read. Get it edited and it will be ready for prime time!