I have always found it amusing that people who live in the southern hemisphere of this planet still celebrate christmas as though they were living in the northern hemisphere. I had thought it strange, as a child, that so many countries have ignored the fact that they have christmas in summer and continued to prepare and decorate for and celebrate christmas as though they were in the middle of winter. Not just that, but christmas cards in Australia often depicted Santa Claus, fir trees, reindeer, yule logs and other acoutrements of this time of year, none of which had anything to do whatsoever with our culture, climate or traditions as a country. Sure, we were made up for the most part of European migrants, at least for the first two hundred years, but now we are a mixture of Asian, Middle Eastern and other countries which either don’t celebrate christmas or are not part of the European religious or cultural traditions. Yet, many of these people still think of christmas in terms of the traditional customs and follow along merrily because it is so much fun.
I was born in England and emigrated to Queensland around the age of four. As a child I looked at the whole winter christmas thing as people with European traditions just missing their old way of celebrating christmas in Europe or England. However, after having done some research into the origins of this holiday, I realise that there is much more to this than just wistful memories of ‘the old country’. There is a reason why those who have christmas in summer pretend that they are having christmas in winter. The traditions are die hard not just because they relate to seasonal changes, but because they are hard-wired into us as human beings. If we are not celebrating the new life that Jesus Christ has given us, we will be looking to pagan deities to bring us new life through food, wine and ‘gifts’. We think we are celebrating family and the ‘joy of giving’ but nothing could be further from the truth. If this were the case, we would be having christmas all year round. Why only once a year? Who wrote that rule? No, there is something much more central to our humanity that is dominating our thinking with regards to these festivities, and it doesn’t just occur at christmas, it also comes to a lesser extent at easter and at other festivals and ‘holy’ days.
There are a great many worthy websites discussing the pagan origins of this holiday and I won’t be able to do justice to them all, but I will include a list of some of them at the end of this post for those who wish to investigate further, but I will sum up what I know of this most interesting phenomenon.
The worship of the idols or gods has been in existence for most of human history. The sun god in these religions was either the head of the pantheon or one of the most important gods. However, the worship of any of these gods, be they Egyptian, Greek, Roman Scandanavian or any other culture is the worship of spirits or fallen angels. So whether the sun god is Ra, in Egypt or Baal in Babylon or Saturn in Rome they are all personifications of wicked spirits. It is the reason God condemned all idol worship in Israel. These were not just stone or wood figures they were images of actual entities.
The traditions of christmas seem to centre around the rituals associated with the mid-winter solstice, or the lowest point of the sun’s progression in the earth’s skys at which point winter was the coldest and darkest. Many pagan religions have their most important and solemn celebrations or holy days at this point and included invocations of and even human sacrifices to their sun gods. Most of these traditions are the basis for christmas celebrations. The reason why they have morphed into ‘christmas’ or ‘Christ Mass’ celebrations is because of the attempt at ancient ecumenism by the emperor Constantine in the fourth century AD. Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to institue an official state religion. Historically he was considered to have become a Christian because he saw a vision in the sky telling him that ‘by this sign you will conquer’, the sign being the cross. I have no doubt he saw a vision and heard a voice, but the ‘christian’ cross is simply a version of pagan symbols which had been around for centures before that and Satan is proficient at convincing people they have seen or heard from God rather than from his greatest enemy . This proves nothing more than that Constantine was deeply deceived and since he was already a worshipper of Baal, he simply managed to conflate pagan and ‘christian’ elements into a new religion which was then forced upon the people of the Roman empire. Many of this new religion’s priests were paid to become so. In fact, it was a brilliant move. Constantine instituted a huge world-wide religion which was to become known officially as the christian ‘church’ when it has never was and will never be anything but pagan. Genuine christians were persecuted and have been by the Catholic Church its entire history. Also, every iteration of the Catholic church from Luther onwards had their own versions of the Spanish Inquisition and have murdered and persecuted genuine bible believers. The Catholic/Constantinian church may well use the bible as a reference for a lot of its theology and have convinced the world that it represents Christ’s body on earth, but it does not and can never do so.
In fact, the religion of Constantine (shall we call it Constantinism?) is the purveyor of everything ‘christmas’ over the last two thousand years. We do not celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as he was not born in mid-winter, Santa Claus, elves, magical flying reindeer or anything else ‘magical’ have nothing to do with God and I think you will find that any witchcraft or magic of any description is pronounced cursed in scripture. End of Story.
But back to the winter celebrations. In all of the ancient pagan religions, there was a focus on the birth and death of the sun god, either in the northern hemisphere with the onset of winter and the rebirth of spring, or the recognition that the sun sets (dies) at night and is reborn in the morning. In places like Scandanavia where there is very little light for most of winter/autumn, there were various practices which accompanied their mid-winter solstice celebrations, but all of it focused on the death of their sun god at the lowest point of the sun’s journey, the winter solstice and its rebirth at the beginning of spring
These pagan religions had a great many customs which were comparable to each other during their celebrations of their sun gods. The christmas tree, which we take to be Germanic in origin is actually a common theme, although it wouldn’t of course be called the christmas tree. Trees, whether they be firs or palms were used in many of the ancient religions to celebrate their holy days, and often they were decorated with food or bright objects. Equally, holly, ivy and other green foilage was used to decorate and denote religious festivals. In fact, in Jeremiah 10:2-4, the christmas tree is mentioned specifically.
Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 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.
3 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.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Santa Claus is not a christian saint either. There have been many myths and legends associated with mid-winter solstice and spirits or mystical figures bringing luck or gifts. There is also the associated practice of the offering or some kind of ceremonial activity which will ‘bring back the sun’ or ask the gods to bless them in the coming spring. These are not simply religious activities being carried out by simplistic and superstitious people who worship what they do not know. The origin of all false worship, that which does not honour God the Father and Christ His Son is the worship of Satan.
It is common for children’s stories to be told during the christmas festival. I think here in particular of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”. In the first of these books “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” many pagan myths and characters were introduced to children. I remember well my own obsession with these books as a child and this continued with the movies which came out over a decade ago. It wasn’t until I had a good hard look at those stories and understood that there was no way they could be stories about Jesus, as I had been told, or that they could in any way be compared to the gospel of Jesus Christ that I understood the pull that they had on me and on many other people.
The stories of the Pevensie children began in England in Summer, ironically, but they entered a land which was bedecked in endless winter due to a curse. Father Christmas is an important figure in the first story as the characters in the story often tell the reader that it was ‘always winter but never Christmas’ and that this was a terrible thing. In fact, it would have been terrible for human beings if there was never a mid-winter solstice because it would mean that there would never be the return of the sun. In fact, the whole of this book is about sun worship, not Christ worship. The central figure, a Lion (who apparently made the world of Narnia and hints that he is known by another name in ‘our world’) dies by the knife of a witch in a very pagan sacrifice and is renewed with the rising of the sun the next day and rises to bring an end to her reign and kills the witch. When Aslan the lion returns to Narnia, heralded by the entrance into Narnia of ‘two sons of Adam and daughters of Eve’, Father Christmas also enters and explains that before this, ‘she had kept me out’ meaning the witches powers were so great he was not able to come and do what he was supposed to do.
It is interesting that Lewis has also conflated biblical and pagan theology and that so many christians have considered the Narnia stories, all seven of them, to be almost parables of the gospel. I find it incredibly interesting that both Lewis’ and J.K. Rowling’s books were a series of seven and were intent on introducing pagan and magical characters to children under the guise of what is ostensibly fairy tales. As a side note, both Rowling and Lewis used initials instead of their first names. I wonder how many more similarities there are here.
Both Lewis and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien (another afficianado of initials?) were members of a writers group called The Inklings which had strong Catholic influence. Tolkien’s books were edited by a Jesuit priest friend of his and his son becamea Jesuit priest. It is no surprise that the Jesuits also hold the original manuscripts of Tolkien’s writings. There is more than just a passing coincidence here. Constantine, Tolkien and Lewis were all involved, whether consciously or not, in the same pursuit; the mixture of mythology and theology in order to continue the practice of one and water down the effect of the other.
Lewis’ Narnia stories are saturated from beginning to end with pagan and mythical references and characters. There is never any immediate reference to the God of the Bible, or to Jesus His Son, just insinuations. If you want to make insinuations into references to God then you might as well take all of the pagan religions’ stories of the birth of the son of the gods and goddesses who rule the ancient pantheons and compare them to what we know of Jesus and the Father, and in fact many have done so, mocking our faith in the one true and living God in the process.
Our version of ‘christmas’ is simply the conflation of all of the pagan ceremonies and festivities which have been continuing for millenia and the Catholic mystical religion which originated in Rome. The Roman Emperor Constantine who instigated the official Roman Catholic Church in the fourth century AD did not just officially ‘become a Christian’. In fact, he simply succeeded in joining those he couldn’t beat by creating a homogenised religion which pleased both the pagans and those christians at the time who had been paid to join the official Roman church. What we now know as ‘christian’ was never in fact christian at all, it has simply become a ‘christian tradition’ due to the unquestioning continuation of a practices that are neither biblical nor godly.
Many christians who have not yet had their minds renewed in this area will argue that anything which calls us to centre worship on God is a good thing and surely we can use this celebration to witness to people. However which ‘god’ are we worshipping here? Jesus was NOT born on December 25, Tammuz, the promised son of Baal was. So, instead, we focus on an idol, the baby sleeping in a manger. But Jesus is no longer a baby, He is seated at God’s right hand in heaven. Birthdays themselves are actually not biblical celebrations either so you can’t use that excuse. You can’t get away from it. This is not Jesus we are talking about. Sure, we can interject the story of the birth of Jesus here, but it makes absolutely NO sense to be doing it on the same day that pagans and various cultures have worshipped their gods. It is more than offensive to me that we would take days dedicated to demons and say ‘lets worship Jesus on this day instead’. We worship Jesus every day, and His death on the cross and His resurrection. We do not focus on the eternal baby as the Catholics do, making Mary the co-redemptrix of the human race which in fact is simply a reiteration of pagan mythology. There is always a goddess who reigns with a god and has an eternal child seated in her lap. In Catholic theoogy, the ‘queen of heaven’ is Mary. In Scripture, the ‘Queen of Heaven’ is a demon. We are not to mix light and dark, good and bad, and say ‘its all in a good cause’. We have no right to do what God has specifically told us not to do. That which is an abhomination, idol worship, is to be thoroughly cast out of our homes and lives. God does not bless that which is unclean and can never do so.
It is my belief that we are perpetuating a lie which began with the worship of fallen angels. All idol worship, or the worship of gods from ancient pantheons is the worship of Satan. In fact, christmas is a great big con and most Christians are part of it simply because they do not know the facts, do not want to know the facts, or consider the facts to be irrelevant. I believe it won’t be until we understand that we are to be separate from this world and its infatuation with eveything that is evil that we will truly understand the nature of this festival.
If we are really so focused on food and fellowship, then lets focus on communion and breaking bread together with other believers over the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf. He is truly the reason for any celebration, and His gifts, the Holy Spirit and everything He brings to our lives are more powerful, more beneficial and more comforting than any shop-bought or even hand-made gifts that we could ever receive from our loved ones.
Let’s look to the Lord at this time of year and think not in terms of ancient festivities and mythical gods and goblins. We are not fearful peasants who await the return of the sun in order to continue our lives. We are sons and daughters of the Living God who can celebrate the return to Life of Jesus Christ every single day. It is He who causes our lives to be filled with blessings. It is the cross not the cradle we should be looking to. It is to the heavens, awaiting our blessed hope, not the world with all of its elemental symbolism, fire (lights, glittery decorations and candles), water (snow), earth (vegetation and trees) and sky (flying reindeer and sleighs).