Christmas is renowned as a Christian celebration commemorating the birth of Christ. It is also celebrated in many countries and by countless numbers of non-Christians who take part in much of the pomp, festivities and merrymaking. While the rest of the non-Christian world may not always celebrate the religious aspects of the Christmas season if we are honest we all love Christmas and certainly celebrate it culturally. However, through my many years of studying the ancient world I have come across a myriad of evidence that most of the aspects we love about Christmas predates Christianity by eons. There’s something delightful about Christmas we just can’t shake. That’s because like many other Christian/ Abrahamic celebrations including Easter, Christmas has pagan origins. Most of what we enjoy about Christmas comes from pagan religions, their beliefs and rituals now long forgotten by time, erased by history and appropriated into Christianity.
Here are some aspects of Christmas with pagan origins:
- The Date 25th of December
- Feasting/Drinking/Reveling and the Lord of Misrule
- Christmas Trees
- Mistletoe, Wreaths, Decorations, Partying and other Evergreen
- Yule, Yule Log and Caroling
- Santa Claus
- Santa’s Sleigh, Presents, Reindeer and Elves
- The Twelve Nights of Christmas and the Twelfth night
- The Three wise men and the Star in the East
- The Virgin Birth of Christ
Let me first define the word “Pagan.” It comes from the Latin word Paganus. It means an outsider, someone from the villages because that’s where people who worshipped the Gods came to be found after they were became more confined to the outskirts. The dictionary definition is a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions, that is, the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A pagan is basically someone who still worships nature and the old Gods. They were labelled heathen and seen as idolatrous. I will also use the word mythology to describe the sacred beliefs, stories and narratives of ancient pagan people but while mythology is seen as derogatory, the sense I use it in will not be pejorative but in respect of such traditions. My use of the word mythology is defined by the sacred and venerated, not bereft of it.
December 25th and the Winter Solstice
The December 25th day marks the liturgical calendar (also known as Kalendar, the Church Year of the Christian year. It is the liturgical season that determines the feast days and celebrations of saints in Christianity) for Christmas celebrations that spans a seasonal observance. While Christ’s birthday is celebrated as December 25th his actual birth date is unknown. However in the 4th century AD, almost four hundred years after Christ was said to have been born the church set the date for December 25th under Pope Julius I (337-352) AD. However, one thing for sure is known about December 25th: it is the date of the Winter Solstice and the birthday of the Sun God in ancient pagan Rome celebrated as Sol Natalis (birth of the Sun).
To understand why the date was set for the Roman Sun God as December 25th we must first understand the Winter Solstice. It is solar and celestial symbolism that probably urged on the church to pick December 25th as the date of Christ’s birth. This was duly noted by Isaac Newton in the 17th century. The Winter Solstice happens twice yearly with one in each of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres where the earth has maximum tilt on its axis away from the sun. That day is the shortest day in the year for that hemisphere while having the longest night. It becomes a symbolism for birth and rebirth due to the sun’s presence in the sky which then translates to the death and rebirth of the Sun Gods in many ancient pagan civilizations that have celebrated the solstices since the beginning of time. Archaeological evidence can be found everywhere as far back as the Neolithic times and includes sites such as Stonehenge (winter solstice sunset) and New Grange (winter solstice sunrise) in Ireland where the stone monoliths line up with astronomical significance. These pagan civilizations existed across the world but many of them had such sacred merriments in the Indo-European and global pagan pantheon including the Celtics, Vikings, Slavs, Persians, Egyptians, Native Americans, East Asian cultures and off course this list includes Earth’s last great remaining pagan religion, Hinduism.
The Persians celebrate this as Yalda Night, the longest and darkest night of the year. The ancient Latvian celebrated Ziemassvetki while the Anglo-Saxons had midwinter. In the further East the Buddhists have Sanghamitta Day. The Chinese, Taiwanese, Koreans and Vietnamese have Donghzi while the Japanese have Yuzu. The Native American Zuni people celebrate it as Shalaka. The modern pagans reenact what they believe to be an ancient Druidic festival meant to cut mistletoe from the a great oak during Alban Arthan, a Welsh version. The pagan Germanic and ancient Scandinavian people celebrate a winter festival around the same time called Yul/Jul/Julblot. In the 13th century Snorri Sturluson in Iceland recorded in the Heimskringla how the Christian King Haakon the good decided to replace the midwinter Yul celebrations with the Christian Christmas. The Vikings were converted to Christianity late in the game much after the Romans and so Northern Europe retains a lot of its ancestral pagan traditions. Christmas was already around but what Haakon did was akin to what the early church most likely did: impose a Christian holiday upon an already existing ancient pagan festival that people loved in order to make the transition and conversion to Christianity widespread, fashionable, acceptable and plain easier to swallow.
Yet, it is Rome that we must keep our eyes on. Rome is where Christianity got its solid start in Europe. Firstly, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity on his deathbed but before the century was out paganism was outlawed in Rome and Christianity was made the state religion in 392 AD by the Emperor Theodosius. It was through Rome’s armies and organization that Christianity was able to spread as it did first to Europe and then to the world. The Roman God Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable/Invincible Sun) was celebrated on December 25th. The “History of Religions” hypothesis surmises that the church placed Christmas as December 25th to rival and appropriate the pagan Sun God celebration of Sol Invictus whose day was inaugurated in 274 AD by Emperor Aurelian. Many Christian writers attest to this including Syrian Bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi who stated, “It was the custom of pagans to celebrate on the same December 25th the birthday of the sun….when the doctors of the church perceived the Christians leaned [towards] this festival….they resolved the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day.”
Even in 1743 Protestant Paul Jablonski contended that this date was celebrated for the Roman Sun God and was a “paganization” of the church and despoiled true Christianity. He was speaking about the Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invictus (The day of the birth of the invincible Sun). The epithet Invictus has been in use since the 3rd century BC for many Gods including Mars, Apollo, Jupiter and Hercules. Emperors who depicted Sol on their coinage also depicted the God or themselves with a radiate crown of Sol just like the crown of rays we see today emanating on images of the head of Jesus. Sol is often depicted riding his quadriga (chariot) across the sky on Roman coinage as the Sun God is symbolically believed to do so.
This is the same imagery seen with the Sun God Surya Deva as he is portrayed in Hinduism depicted riding his chariot across the sky. Similar imagery is used with the Greek God of the Sun Phoebus. It is from Sol we get Sunday as decreed by Emperor Constantine’s Dies Sol, “Day of the Sun.” Sol Invictus was related to the Mithraic Mysteries, a sect of worshippers in Rome who worshipped the deity Mithras. Mithras originally came from a Persian God. This Mithras is ultimately found in an older God Mitra. Mitra is a solar deity whose name is familiar to Hindus as he is invoked in the Rig-Veda as Mitra-Varuna in Hindu rituals. Varuna became associated with the evening while Mitra became the God of light, the sun. He was also venerated as the God of agreements and is even found in contracts among the Hittite Empire. Indo-Aryan Kings among the Mittani people in Northern Syria and ancient Turkey beseeched the Vedic Gods Indra, Varuna and Mitra.
The Gregorian calendar was modified from its original pagan Roman Julian Calendar by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The Eastern Churches still celebrate Christmas as December 25th according to the old Julian Calendar but this falls on January 7th on the civil Gregorian calendar used by most countries today. Christians believe Christ was conceived around the Annunciation (when the archangel announced it to Mary) or March 25 and so the Calculation Hypothesis posits he should have been born nine months later but again March 25 is another pagan astronomical and astrological celebration, the date of the vernal equinox. Jewish belief holds that great men were born and died on the same day so as Christ would have considered himself a Jew, it holds that the church in olden times may have construed that Christ also died on March 25. These dates are not mere coincidence.
Guess when is the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti? Right after Christmas we Hindus will be celebrating Makar Sankranti another winter harvest festival. This is no coincidence that it comes right after the Christmas season. It is also no coincidence that this ancient Hindu festival is named Makar or Capricorn which falls into the House of Saturn and also begins on December 17 just like the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, a festival of Saturn, which I will discuss in the next section.
The Roman Saturnalia and the Lord of Misrule
During the Medieval Times, Christmas evolved into an almost carnival-like extravaganza even though Europe had already been Christianized. There was plenty of feasting, gambling, promiscuity, pageantry, plays, drunkenness and lots of drinking and revelry. In fact it was quite like Carnival itself and here’s why: The Saturnalia.
The Saturnalia again goes back to ancient pagan Rome. The Saturnalia was a pagan Roman festival which began on December 17 and lasted until the 23rd. It was dedicated to the Roman God Saturn. The Romans shouted Io Saturnalia! It occurred near the winter solstice since the sun entered the House of Saturn at that time. Yet at its core was a central pagan belief found almost everywhere, that in the form of the Sun, all the divinities are seen as one. It was basically Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahuda Vedanti (The sages call it by different names but that which exists is One: one ultimate reality) as found in the Hindu Rig Veda.
The Saturnalia was held in the Roman Forum and included activities like gambling, drinking and gift-giving. It was a time of ultimate freedom when the roles of slave and master were reversed much in the same way as the beginnings of actual Carnival in the Caribbean when slaves would mock their masters. Gifts called sigillaria would be given out and children would receive toys. It was equivalent to another ancient Greek celebration occurring around midsummer to the Greek God Kronia or Kronos (one of the original Titans and the father of Zeus) and was seen as going back to a period of chaos, anarchy, a golden age and ultimate freedom, perhaps before Zeus made order in the world. Numerous festivals were recorded throughout the ancient Greco-Roman world of similar convictions towards the Gods Hermes, Poseidon and Zeus in Crete, Troy and Thessaly respectively. Saturnalia was a festival of light and included an abundance of candles signifying light and knowledge over darkness (sounds familiar?). During the Saturnalia a Lord of the Saturnalia was elected to preside over orders of chaos and mischief by yelling absurd commands. The Saturnalia was also a public holiday with schools, courts and many public places being closed.
Many of these ancient festivals and their traditions have crossed over into Christmas. Pope Julius I who set the date of December 25th might have been trying to camouflage the Saturnalia under Christmas to encourage more converts. It also stands that the close dates of the Saturnalia and Christmas means more crossover traditions may have occurred naturally anyways even if the Saturnalia wasn’t redecorated. In the Middle Ages the title “Lord of Misrule” elected a person in the royal courts and even among the clergy to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule would ensure role reversals and shout absurd commands much like the Saturnalia. Off course, even in the Middle Ages a very Carnival-like atmosphere was abound with lots of gambling, drinking and pomp similar to the Saturnalia such that Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and the Church of England would eventually ban the Lord of Misrule along with many other Christmas traditions seen as pagan and refurbished into Christianity.
The Christmas Tree
Traditions like the Christmas tree do not appear to be from around from the time of Christ. It was added much later from ancient customs inherited from the pagan traditions throughout Europe. The first Christmas tree was recorded to be set up in 1539 by German Lutherans and it was German immigrants to America who continued to use the tree and other familiar Christmas traditions we are now accustomed too. After the American Revolution anti-English sentiments encouraged people in New York and other states to seek out non-English traditions so characters like Sinterklaas or Santa Claus from New York’s Dutch past and other German traditions took preference. In Great Britain the Christmas tree took prominence only after a union with the Kingdom of Hanover under King George III, and became more widespread with Queen Victoria’s marriage to her German cousin. However, the use of evergreen, ivy, mistletoe, holly and oak in pagan tree worship goes back thousands of years. The Christian Christmas tree is thought to have originated with Saint Boniface in Germany but even the Vatican had never put up a tree until 1982.
In many pagan traditions the use of evergreen, wreaths and other flora were used to symbolize eternal life because the Evergreen plants remained green throughout the winter even when everything else died. In Rome they decorated their houses with wreaths during the Saturnalia while Germanic pagans as the Norse and Anglo-Saxons worshipped the trees around them. This is a common phenomenon today even among Hindus to worship trees, revere sacred plants and use them in ritual puja. Poland had a pre-Christina custom of suspending firs and spruces over the dinner table during the Koliada winter festival.
However, Saint Boniface was believed to have cut down a sacred pagan tree named Donar’s Oak. Donar’s Oak also known as Thor’s Oak after the Norse God of Thunder was a tree sacred to Germanic pagan peoples. According to an 8th century text Vita Bonifatii the sacred tree was cut down by Saint Boniface a missionary and the wood was used to build a church. Tree worship and sacred groves were common to the Germanic peoples and were often the targets of missionaries during the Christianization of Europe. The tree was axed and behind it was a triangular baby fir which Boniface likened to the Trinity and hence used it ever since. Trees like these were axed around Europe including the sacred ones at Irminsul that was destroyed in the 8th century by Charlemagne as well as the Sacred Tree at Odin’s Temple in Uppsala destroyed by missionaries in Sweden in the 11th century according to Adam of Bremen. Such lofty trees were symbolic of Yggdrasil, the sacred world tree as found in the Viking Eddas and in three sacred poems, the Voluspa, Havamal and Grimnismal. But the movies and documentaries tell us the Vikings were violent, well, that’s what the missionaries also said about them. This European pagan world tree has an even more ancient origin in the Hindu Rig Veda and the later Katha Upanishad that speaks of a world tree with its roots below and branches above connecting all the universe to it. Off course the Hindu word Veda and Viking word Edda sounds vastly etymologically related and the Edda is most likely derived from Veda. Krishna also speaks of the Ashvatta tree that connects all like the Supreme Brahman having neither a beginning nor an end.
Mistletoe, Wreaths, Decorations, Feasting and Evergreens
In Viking mythology Balder, the God of light was slain by an arrow and poisoned with mistletoe. When his mother Frigg cried for him her tears turned red berries white and he was resurrected and since then has been used as a symbol of renewal. The Vikings believed Balder was very fond of evergreen trees. The Vikings would also craft sun-wheels during the winter solstice to honor the Sun. These resemble wreaths which would be burned and rolled downhill to welcome the sun. Vikings also used Holly and berries to make wreaths and decorate their houses. Holly is an evergreen that grew all year and was symbolic of continual life. The Celts in Europe would decorate their temples with evergreen plants to symbolize eternal life. In a slight reversal the ancient Egyptians even further back in time would bring green palms into their homes during the summer solstice to symbolize the God Ra’s revival from winter and life would triumph over darkness.
Wreaths go a long way into classical history. Wreaths were used in Europe since the time of the Etruscan civilization. Those were the people of ancient Italy. They were the Romans long before the Romans. They consisted of ivy and berries to symbolize strength. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used wreaths extensively. Wreaths were used to crown emperors and Olympic athletes alike as a sign of victory. The Gods wore wreaths including Apollo and Zeus. The wreaths were of laurel for Apollo and oak for Zeus who wore it in his groves just like the Vikings had their sacred groves later on. Harvest wreaths of olive and laurel were also common and were hung on doors to welcome the sun God Helios for a great harvest and protection against plagues.
Additionally Scandinavians believed that spirits lived in the trees and could be coaxed back with offerings so they decorated the trees with food, clothes and even runes to appease these Gods. The Vikings would also sacrifice a wild boar in the hope of having a bountiful harvest and this is the possible origin of the Christmas Ham. Throughout this article I have referred to feasting, parting, drinking and gambling many times. It is found to be part of festivities in many ancient pagan cultures. While the Vikings seem to be the last stop on the party list midwinter has a long history of such activities spanning from ancient Greece and Rome. There is no need to further explain this part. St Gregory Nazianen warned Christians that to “Deck the Halls” with boughs of Holly and other evergreen was pagan.
Yule, the Yule Log, Koliada and Christmas Carols
In Northern Europe among the Germanic peoples including the Norse in Scandinavia and the Anglo-Saxon cultures prevailed the pagan Yule festival. Yul/Yule is now a word used synonymously with Christmas. Festivities are held form late December to early January and include customs now observed in the burning of the Yul log as well the Yule boar and the Yule goat. Odin, the Nordic King of the Gods led a wild hunt across the sky and was known as the Yule Father in Old Norse texts. The Yule logs would also contain runes and decorations which when burnt by the Vikings would protect the home. According to mythology, Thor God of Thunder also rode the skies in his chariot pulled by his two Yul goats which lends itself to the Santa story of the sleigh.
In pagan Slavic traditions Koliada/ Koleda was an ancient winter festival or culmination of many winter festivals of the pre-Christian Slavic and Baltic peoples incorporated into Christmas over time. It was most likely named after Koliada the Goddess who caused the sun to rise each day or Kolyada a winter God. During this time, performers visited houses in groups in Greece and Northern Bulgaria singing carols and receiving gifts. These performers were called Koledari who sang kolyadki (songs) in the tradition of Koleduvanne. Perhaps this is the linguistic etymological origin of the word Carol/Karol/Kolyadki. In modern Russian, Belarusian, Romanian, Ukrainian and Czech it now has come to designate singing, walking, strolling and having fun on Christmas Eve. Caroling was also known as Wassailing to the Nordic and Anglo-Saxon people who would sing to their feudal lords to exchange gifts and treats. Caroling was also associated with agriculture and the pagan seasonal songs to drive away bad spirits from the crops.
Santa Claus, Sleighs, Presents and Elves
To be frank, Santa Claus has more Christian roots than the date of the birth of Christ on December 25th. Santa Claus is also known as Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Old St Nick, Pere Noel and Sinterklaas. The legend of Santa Claus has a very real early Christian start in the character of St. Nick, a Christian Bishop from Myra in the province of Lycia from early Christian era Turkey in the fourth century AD. St. Nick would bring gifts to poorer children. While this Christian Santa saint could claim some original fame most of the paraphernalia and thingamajigs we associate with Santa Claus comes from Odin, the Viking King of the Gods. Odin is also known as Wodan from which we get Wednesday.
At the end of the Yul midwinter feast, Viking children would have a boot filled with straw on the hearth of their homes for Odin’s eight legged horse Sleipnir. That’s right when hooves land on your horse it’s not Rudolph but Sleipnir! Odin would then replace the straw with presents, treats, cakes and fruits. Odin entered homes during the chimneys and fire holes during the solstice time. Odin also oversaw the land of elves to the North Alfheim. When Odin led his wild hunts across the sky he would bring presents to people who deserved them. So in the Viking sacred narrative we have Odin with his long beard in the land of elves packing presents for children, leaving it in the fireplace, leading a sleigh across the sky and landing his hooves on your rooftop. Does this get any clearer?
In Finland they believe their ancient pagan legend of Joulupukki is the oldest Santa Claus. Joulupukki means the Yule Goat or Christmas Goat. This figure dresses in warm red clothes, rides a sleigh-like contraption called a pulka pulled by reindeer. In Germanic folklore other figures such as Krampus assist Santa Claus. Krampus is an anthropomorphic horned figure with hooves and fangs having pre-Christian origins in the Alpine regions. It is Krampus who rewards children with gifts of fruit and chocolate if you’re good and birch rod if you’ve been bad. Krampus festivals are celebrated throughout the Germanic regions in the form of Krampusnacht (night of Krampus which is the day before Santa’s visit). Since the early 1800s Europeans have been exchanging Krampuskarten or greeting cards at that time. Krampus may have had an even earlier form in the existence of Perchten or wild pagan Germanic spirits. Perchta was an Alpine goddess known in the Austrian Alps. Krampus can be accompanied by Ded Moroz one of three men who visit, the other two being Santa Claus and Ded Moroz, as an assistant to Krampus. Ded Moroz is another pagan figure from Slavic pagan mythology found in Russian folklore as well.
St. Nick from Turkey did not have any of these baggage. While St. Nick himself may have been originally Christian much of the trappings of the Santa Claus story we love is pagan. Remember the Saturnalia also included gift giving. The eight reindeer were added closer to our time when Clement Clarke Moore wrote his poem in 1823 titled “Twas the Night before Christmas.” Soon after ten reindeer were written in by L. Frank Baum and then Rudolph was adopted by the Montgomery Ward department chain. However, a few speculate the flying reindeer could have come from Sami tradition. The Sami people are an indigenous people living in the Scandinavian regions and in Russia with their homeland in the Volga. They live in their land of Sapmi, they practice ancient Sami shamanism and are known for reindeer herding.
The Twelve Nights of Christmas and the Twelfth Night
The Twelve Days of Christmas also known by Twelvetide and similar to Christmastide is a liturgical season on the Christian Calendar lasting about Twelve days sometimes from Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to January 5 or 6th which is known as the Twelfth Night. The entire Twelve days represent a different celebration on the Christian calendar in both Eastern and Western Christianity. Yet, these Twelve Days were solemnized and made official in the church almost 600 years after Jesus was believed to be born in 567 AD at the Council of Tours.
However, like many other ancient pagan festivals the Twelve Days had a Christian holiday slapped on it instead. The original Julian Calendar was packed with festivals between the winter solstice all through January 6. Remember the Saturnalia started December 17-23 and then another festival named Brumalia took place from into January 7th which then celebrates the worship of Janus from which we get January. January was a God of beginnings much like Ganesh. Etymologically speaking Janus probably originates from the word Ganesh, Janus/Ganus/Ganesh. Brumalia was another winter solstice festival incorporating the worship of the Gods Saturn, Demeter and Bacchus. Brumalia could also have been celebrated the month before leading up to December 25th. The original calendar also celebrated the birth of the sun Gods all into the first week of January just like the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti. They celebrated many pagan Gods and traditions. The traditional midwinter feast lasted for twelve days. The Vikings loved to drink and party but they also loved to test their strength and stamina. They’d drink for the entire twelve days to see who could withstand it. During this time it was very cold and so most activities had to be indoors.
The Three Wise Men and the Star in the East
One prominent theme in the story of Christmas is the story of the three wise men and the star of Bethlehem. Off course these themes need to be explored in length but I will provide some brief information here for comparison.
The birth of the Egyptian God Osiris was announced by the “three wise men” or three stars in the East found in Orion’s belt which itself points to his star in the East, Sirius. Osiris was to be the savior of Egypt. The Egyptian Messiah was heralded thousands of years before Christ by the bright stars in the East. Sirius was important to the Egyptians as it represented the renewal of the land and the coming inundation of the Nile. These three stars in winter also point to the birth of Horus who is the sun.
The three wise men themselves in the biblical story would not have been Christian and neither would they have even been from an Abrahamic religion. The three wise men were called Magi. Magi can be traced back into Old Persian from the word Magus. Magus can be found in the Avesta an ancient Persian Zoroastrian text and refers to the priestly class. Persia is famous for its great astrologers and Magi. Magi is where we derive the English word Magic. It seems Christmas is literally filled with magic, pagan magic.
The Virgin Birth, the Annunciation and the Manger
The core and central theme in the religious Christian aspect of Christmas is the birth of Jesus who is said to have been born of a virgin on the 25th of December. Yet, like the story of the Great Flood which can be found in much older civilizations such as those of Greece, Egypt, Persia and India so can the story of the virgin birth.
In ancient Egypt Horus was the son of the two Gods Osiris and Isis. He was in eternal conflict with the other force of darkness in Egypt with the God Seth. Seth has many qualities that link him as a precursor to Satan. Horus came to save the people of Egypt much like Jesus came to save the Jews. Macrobius in the Saturnalia chronicles an event in Egypt to celebrate the birth of the sun God on December 25th. The Egyptians would bring forth the sun God and present him as a little baby. Epiphanius records the Kikellia a winter solstice festival taking place at the shrine of the Virgin Goddess, most likely Isis in Alexandria. Ancient texts like the Chronicon Paschale which seeks to establish Christian chronology refer to a baby in an ancient Egyptian festival who was laid in a manger. Seth had killed Osiris and his wife Isis conceived of Horus after his death which can perhaps can be perceived as a type of virgin birth. Other virgin birth stories of Gods from the ancient world include Mithras, Hercules, Dionysus, Thammuz, Adonis, Krishna and others. The list is endless and I will expand on this at another time. While the date December 25th is also disputed as the birth date of some of these Gods these ancient events have so many similarities with the birth of Christ that it simply cannot be ignored as coincidence.
Krishna is the story of the Hindu God from the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavad Purana. It is one of the oldest stories of the divine birth. Unlike Horus, Mitra and others we are all familiar with Lord Krishna. Lord Vishnu came to earth to save the people from the adharmic deeds of the King Kamsa. When Kamsa’s sister Devaki married Vasudeva a voice prophesied that her eighth child would destroy Kamsa. This sounds akin to the archangel voicing the birth of Jesus (known as the Annunciation in Christianity found in the Bible under Luke. This is an event also found in the Quran and the Dead Sea Scrolls). Meanwhile after Krishna was born of Devaki, Kamsa tried to kill him much like Herod wanted to destroy Jesus. Not only was Krishna the real King but he had to be raised outside of his true heritage by less wealthy parentage as Jesus was raised by the Mary and Joseph, the carpenter. The circumstances surrounding Krishna’s birth also proves he was of a “virgin birth” so to speak. In Hinduism Gods are not conceived in the same way as humans and so Krishna was born through the Maya as an incarnation of Vishnu NOT a reincarnation like a regular being. The date for the Mahabharat War according to a culmination of unbiased Indic scholarship surveys around 3361 BCE so almost five thousand years ago however some date the war to an even older epoch using archaeoastronomy. This gives us an idea of the age of Krishna’s Itihaasa (history).
Modern celebrations of Christmas and Christmas over the centuries
In the fourth century due to the Arrian controversy (Christian theological disputes), Christmas was celebrated on the down low for centuries until emperor Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day in 800 AD. For many centuries Christmas was not even celebrated prominently due to its very pagan associations as seen by early Christians. Christmas was even banned by some denominations such as Puritans during the Protestant Reformation for the very pagan activities of the Roman “Lord of Misrule” festival which included drunkenness and misbehavior and was only restored as holiday in 1660 England. The Presbyterian Church of Scotland disapproved of Christmas celebrations and the Scottish Parliament had banned Christmas from 1640 and was not made a public holiday again until 1958! In 1620 the Puritan Pilgrims to America showed their contempt for Christmas by working right through it meanwhile Boston outlawed it. Christmas was more popular in Germany than America even during the American Revolution so much so that George Washington attacked Hessian (German) soldiers in the Battle of Trenton on December 26 (but that would have been practical for the Americans anyway). In 1781 Hessian soldiers set up the first tree before heading out to attack Americans.
Christmas does not even appear on early Christian lists of holidays given by Tertullian and others. The celebration of birthdays itself was seen as pagan and heavily criticized as recorded in the writing of Origen and Arnobius, early Christian writers. Apparently Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays as it is professed as unbiblical. The celebration of Christmas as we know it with the amalgamation of trees, presents, decorations, characters, festivities and pomp did not really catch on until the early 19th century with the books of Washington Irving and Charles Dickens which emphasized the family spirit and characters like Santa Claus. Charles Dickens made Christmas popular again with his novel “A Christmas Carol” in 1843 which highlighted the spirit of family, charity and yet still infused it with magic. Do I need to go into the pagan origins of magic?
Christmas has been controversial even with Christians over the last 2000 years for its pagan origins and has been indicated countless times by many Christian writers, thinkers and clergy for debasing the church due to its pagan connections. However it is these connections to our ancestral pagan past that continuously bring us much joy and has caught the attention of the world for millennia when it comes to Christmas. Christmas is great for Christians and the observance of their religious holiday but many of us especially those who practice the last remaining of the worlds pagan religion not the least of which are Hindus need to be conscientious that when you are celebrating Christmas you are celebrating Europe’s version of your own pagan festivals and Gods including Sun worship and Surya Deva. Enjoy your Christmas and remain conscious of its pagan origins and your pagan past!