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Christmas: The Birthday of Sun Gods

Traditional Winter FestivitiesJesus-Sun

Midwinter festivities are far older than Christianity and have appeared in every culture of the northern hemisphere. When Christianity, on controlling Europe, first reached England, Northern Germany, and Scandinavia, its missionaries found Pagan rites already celebrated on Christmas day. The early Christians tried to convert Pagan celebrations to Christian ones but with only partial success. In the resulting tangle, Paganism has partially held its own and many objects associated with Christmas are explicable only as deep folk memories. So, Christians incorporated many of these rites into their Church festival.

The root of midwinter rituals is the winter solstice, the shortest day which falls on or around 21 December. In the days before the solstice, rituals were devised to prevent the sun getting any weaker. When they worked, with the day getting longer after the solstice, was the time for celebration. The date of 25 December was when the sun visibly began to rise again after three days at the lowest ebb. It was the Roman festival of the “unconquered sun”, Mithras, proving by his rising again that he was again unconquered. It was chosen deliberately to Christianize this traditional celebration. In Scotland, never subject to the Romans, the main midwinter festival is still the entirely non-Christian one of Hogmanay, the New Year, although the Christmas celebration has advanced in popularity in recent years. continue…


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