Looks sorta like the pagan green man?
When I say Christmas...what pops into you head? A tree? Decorations? Presents? Santa? Jesus Christ?
Most think of Christmas as Jesus Christ's birthday. However, it is very unlikely that Jesus was even born in December. The story does not all add up. Put aside the virgin birth and think about the timeframe and the weather. The bible states that Jesus was born and the shepards were out tending their flock out in the field that night. This is unlikely because of the cold Judean winters! It is more likely that Jesus was born in the month of September so why then do Christians celebrate his birth in December?
I will tell you why...Pagans! In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast. Sound familiar?
In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated years before the alleged birth of Christ. Not saying he was never born for many Pagans actually believe that he was a real person but that he was just a trancended spiritual being not a God. And lets face it, he never claimed to be a God. Anyways, the Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, in respects to Saturn, the God of Agriculture.
In January, the Romans observed the Kalends of January, which celebrated the triumph of life over death. The season in its entirity was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, which means the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. (To me it seems the Christians changed this to represent Jesus. Think about it...Birthday of the Unconquered Sun...and the Birthday of the Unconquered Son...Jesus was unconquered because he died for his faith and was risen from the dead. Sounds unconquered to me...)
The Romans celebrated Dies Natalis Invicti Solis with much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors...thus caroling was born!
In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear the next year. Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means "wheel," the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun.
Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods. The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.
In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ's birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them. Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first.
The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: "Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ." Many also theorize that the Christian cross symbol is actually the letter " t " the symbol for the Pagan god tammuz with it's many shapes and forms.
Yule logs are from pagan traditions as well. It is all symbolism. It is meant to reflect back to the pagan sex and fertility God Jul, or Jule (pronounced 'yule'). He was honored in a 12 day celebration in December...did the 12 Days of Christmas just pop in your head? The celebration consisted of a large, single log being kept with fire against it for 12 days, a different sacrigice to Jul is offered in the fire on each of the 12 days...(On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...) "The Yule log was originally an entire tree, carefully chosen, and brought into the house with great ceremony. The butt end would be placed into the hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The tree would be slowly fed into the fire and the entire process was carefully timed to last the entire Yule season." Next, let us discuss stockings. This comes from an English legend that states, 'Father Christmas one dropped some gold coins while coming down the chimney. The coins would have fallen through the ash grate and been lost if they hadn't landed in a stocking that had been hung out to dry. Since that time children have continued to hang out stockings in hopes of finding them filled with gifts'.
Lighted candles are used in most all pagan worship. Makes me think of the candleaubra... Christmas trees were taken from the pagan/druid tradition of tree worship as many call it. I view it as more respect than worship.
What about Santa? Although most people assume that the original "Santa Claus" was a bishop by the name of St. Nicholas of Asia Minor of the fourth century, this is not really true. Although some of this bishop's deeds later came to be associated with "St. Nick," the original "Nicholas" was once again Nimrod, the "mighty one against the Lord." The word "Nicholas" means "mighty one, powerful." Traditions of a "god" who gave gifts under an evergreen tree antecede the Asian Minor bishop by thousands of years! Among the Scandinavians it was the god Odin or Woden who left special gifts during the Yuletide season under the evergreen tree, his sacred tree!
As I mentioned earlier there are few if no Christmas traditions that did not originate from the pagans.