Origin of Christian Holidays – Christmas – Part 4

Here are some of the other reasons that people use to try and disprove the December 25th date.

Most of these try to conflate Christian practice with ancient Pagan practices. The argument is usually something along the lines of “Christmas is a pagan holiday and by celebrating it you’re worshipping the devil. Here’s where all these traditions come from.”

The other argument is that the Catholic Church co-opted an existing pagan festival, changed very little about it, and applied a thick coat of crosses and Jesus to make it Christian. That’s silly. Not because it isn’t true, but because the Church hasn’t ever hidden that’s exactly what they did with a great many festivals and customs. It’s just that the December 25th date wasn’t one of these times.

So let’s get into a few of these.

December 25th was the date of the birth of Sol Invictus, and Christians just co-opted that date to replace that celebration.

This one is actually pretty easy. The Roman cult of Sol Invictus was established on December 25th, 274 A.D. by Emperor Aurelian. It was primarily a soldier’s cult based on worship of the sun. That year December 25th was the day after the winter solstice and thus had more daylight than the day before.

It might be the other way around, a pagan celebration was implemented to try and supplant a Christian one. Simply put there are references to a March 25th conception/December 25th birth possibly as early as 202 and definitely early as 221. The one in 221 by Sextus Julius Africanus is considered authentic and not a later interpolation.

Another, highly likely possibility is that those early Christians calculated the date, noticed it was the same day that some existing solar cults used for their god, didn’t care and still had no intention of replacing a pagan celebration.

December 25th is when Saturnalia happened, and the Church just co-opted that celebration and all the weird traditions around Christmas are offerings to Saturn.

This one is also easy to debunk. Saturnalia took place on December 17th. As time went on the festival was extended to December 23rd.

Even if you convert the date from Julian to Gregorian, there is only a one or two day difference that far back. Saturnalia just simply didn’t fall on December 25th.

December 25th is just the church’s attempt to replace existing winter solstice celebrations.

The reason the date was chosen had nothing to do with existing winter solstice celebrations. It had everything to do with being nine months after March 25th, which was when they calculated Jesus conception.

December 25th is the birthdate of Mithras, not Jesus.

The cult of Mithras was a mystery religion and had no public ceremonies. Everything its followers wrote down can fit on an index card and they make no mention of when they believed Mithras was born.

The confusion might be because Mithras was called “Sol Invicta Mithra” by some Romans. There’s no reason to believe Sol Invictus, which was literally the sun, had any relation to an older ‘god of the sun’.

Again, unless a pagan god was at one point human, it wouldn’t have had a birthdate.

December 25th is the birthdate of Horus, not Jesus.

There are mentions of a festival dedicated to Horus that took place on the winter solstice. These references are from Macrobius, a Roman author, and Epiphanius of Salamis, a Christian bishop. Both of these men lived in the 4th century A.D. and no ancient Egyptian texts mention such a festival.

This festival likely wasn’t a terribly ancient practice in the 4th century. Most cultures have a winter solstice celebration. Dedicating that celebration to any random deity or group of deities wouldn’t be unusual or proof of anything. Monotheistic religions with winter solstice festivals would obviously dedicate those celebrations to the only god they believe exists.

At any rate, December 25th isn’t the solstice now or in the 4th century. The festival would have happened on December 24th back then.

December 25th is the birthdate of [insert name of god, hero, or celestial body], not Jesus.

The ideas above are just a small selection of what I’ve seen. Many times the sources are dubious if not completely imaginary. It usually doesn’t take much research to find out if true or not.

Most gods of ancient religions didn’t have a birth date, because they were gods. Those that did were usually humans that became gods, and even then the hero’s specific birthdate was unimportant enough to never be mentioned.

These are just solstice celebrations and Christmas replaced them.

This is true to some extent. Some, like the Horus festivals in the fourth century, were solstice celebrations. Others, like Saturnalia were not specifically solstice celebrations, but certainly happened near enough to the solstice.






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