Origins of Christmas
While even before Christmas came around early civilizations used to have a celebration in the middle of winter celebrating lightness into dark. As the years went by and religion began to play a bigger and bigger role into societies and the new wave of Christianity sweeping throughout the lands gave birth to Christmas.
When we think of Christmas today we think of it being mostly about the birth of Jesus Christ according to what is recorded into the bible. Contrary to that notable belief some of the traditions that are done throughout this holiday actually precedes the birth of Jesus. According to historians the date of using December 25th was probably because of the “birthday” of a God known as Mithra, which was a pagan deity and was prevalent within the Roman Empire during the first few centuries of A.D. See the relation here?
The Romans were a big supporter of Christianity but before this they were polytheistic which because of their past would still go on to affect their ideals going into Christianity hence why December 25th is also possibly related to the idea of Mithra. To understand Christmas as we know it today we need to first understand how Christianity came about.
Origins of Christianity
During the 1st Century CE life during the Roman Empire was terrible and quickly collapsing for everyone it seemed except for the Romans. Life for the common people consisted of poverty, famine, and heavy taxes from the superior Romans who reigned over its people with an Iron fist. Jews during this time referred to this time period in which they were living as the “end times” meaning they thought according to a verse in the holy scripture book of Isaiah that they would receive a messiah and that he would help remove the Romans from power so that they Jews could get their long awaited kingdom back, Jerusalem. Their believed Messiah was born in 4th Century CE in Bethlehem in the country of Roman rule Palestine, Jesus of Nazareth had arrived. Coincidentally in the same year that Jesus was born the Romans had crucified a small uprising of some 2000 people.
Jesus was a Jew which helped him and his teaching gain recognition because the Jews were considered the Holy people or the people of God and because of this he often referred to himself as the Son of God whether he meant this literally or to show his closeness or the bond or his covenant to God is still debated. He went on to preach for approximately 3 years performing what his disciples called miracles such as seemingly feeding an enormous amount of people with what started off as a basket of food or from curing the blind, the sick, and even bringing someone back to life according to his followers. While in Jerusalem Jesus was arrested by the Romans as he was deemed a threat to the public and disrupted the religious order as most if not all religious officials were quick to condemn his teachings and advise against following Jesus as they seemed to be the babbling of a mad man. Days later the verdict he received was guilty and was to be put to death by crucifixion on a Friday (approximately). Three days later on Sunday, the day of the Sabbath, Jesus was said to have arisen from his grave because when several followers went to anoint his body in oil his body was gone.
Despite Christmas and its origins having a striking relation to the Pagan god Mithra and from there integrated itself into Rome and later becoming Christian, Christmas also relates to other Holidays. Christmas not only relates to many of the other Christian Holidays such as Easter, etc. It also seems closely related to Yule or Yuletide which was a festival practiced by early pagan Anglo-Saxon people. The holiday was later Christianized has Rome changed its main religion hence the term now for it being Christmastide. During Yule they would do things such as sacrifices, whether it be animals or just bringing food as an offering. After sacrificing the animals their blood would be sprinkled on the walls of the temples and pedestals of idols and then onto the men into the audience which means it also closely if not exactly relates to early practices of Judaism relating to some the rituals performed throughout the Torah.
Pagan Roots and Why?
Earlier Christians in the earlier AD years the missionaries ran into a group of people who lived by regional or local religious creeds in which the Christians felt sympathetic for because according to them they knew the answer to religion and felt that it was their humane duty to try and teach these people that they deemed as “Pagans” which is related to the Latin term for field. While being among these people they were in a way fascinated by their religion because it was once the religion of their ancestors and they were captivated by some of the ideas and stories in which they told that related to their religious figures. Because of their fascination with the Pagans they may have unknowingly or purposely integrated some of their ideas into some of their religious holidays which previously they didn’t have.
This is evident much later on with the German invention of using Christmas trees during the Holiday. Although terms like Father Christmas and some other Christmas ideas are just newer, refined ideas stemming from Pagan ideas and the fascination of their traditions. The season in which Christmas occurs is not special nor a coincidence either because according to older agricultural traditions there was usually a feast during the winter season because the harvest was over and all the field work is over and to celebrate a good year they would usually host a feast and focus on their religious side of life eventually giving birth to many winter traditions from thereafter. Even though Christmas is so closely tied to religion especially that of Christianity, the Holiday used to be banned as a way to purify the Church of England during the 16th and 17th century by the Puritans who were people trying to cleanse the churches of their catholic practices including Christmas. The Holiday has been banned several times by Christian rulers.
Also even though it is tied to Christian faith the Christian churches never accepted the holiday until in the 4th century because the bible never directly refers to when Jesus was born so early Christians didn’t think they needed to celebrate the birth of their savior because they didn’t know exactly when he was born. The accepting of Christmas as a holiday also helped the religion gain momentum because people now figured why would someone who is imaginative get a day to celebrate his birthday which convinced many people that Jesus must have existed and his miracles and teachings were true further stitching the idea of Christianity forever into the world and for centuries to come.