Q&A: Where is the evidence that Christmas is a “pagan” holiday?

Question by angus: Where is the evidence that Christmas is a “pagan” holiday?
Before you start ranting at me, I’m not ignorant. I know that:

– Christmas was created by the Roman Church in the 4th century to celebrate the Nativity, and was most likely placed on December 25 to compete with an existing pagan holiday (Birth of the Unconquered Sun) so that it would be easier to convert pagans to Christianity.

– Many of the elements of Christmas such as gift-giving, trees, Santa, lights, etc. have secular origins and themes.

But which of these elements are specifically 100% pagan, and where is the evidence? The Christmas tree originates in 16th century Christianity, so it does not have a direct pagan origin. Santa is a mix of the St. Nicholas and possibly some part of the Odin myth, so not 100% pagan origin.

Why do people call it a “pagan” holiday when it’s more like a Christian and secular holiday with some pagan influence to a few select customs?

Best answer:

Answer by Santa Christ
Further evidence lies in the fact that a lot of the story of Jesus’ birth, life, and death took cues from earlier pagan myths.

Add your own answer in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Q&A: Where is the evidence that Christmas is a “pagan” holiday?

  1. You have a good point. Many Christians know the origin of Christmas but at the end of the day it has been claimed as a Christian celebration no matter how many people try to put it down they will still be celebrating what is now a Christian holiday.

  2. I think your own first comment sheds what light you need on it. Christmas as such is not pagan (looking at the word itself and the reason for that particular holiday). What is pagan is the very celebration of that particular time of the year, and as you’ve already stated, Christians found it convenient to use an already existing holiday for their own purpose. What is stupid in this whole debate about Christmas is that Christians find it odd that atheists celebrate it since they see it as a Christian holiday. My point is that Christians in no way have any exclusive right to celebrate that time of year. Thankfully, in Swedish, Christ is not mentioned in the name of the holiday. We call it ‘jul’ (compare English ‘yule’) which is an ancient word, most likely far older than any Christian Christmas festivities, for the celebration of the winter solstice.

  3. Because Jesus wasn’t born in December? So why celebrate it in December? In my opinion it may aswell be a pagan holiday since the most important aspect of Christmas (birth of Jesus) wasn’t in December.
    Edit: The ten points have to go to peetr, that was hilarious, genuinely did make me laugh.

  4. Well, the dancing around the tree naked is pagan in origin.
    Oh, you don’t dance naked at the christmas tree?
    Hmmmm, well you could start a new family tradition.

  5. It should be noted that the first mention of celebrating christ’s birth appears in the early 200s in egypt, where it eventually spread to the rest of… well, Christendom isn’t the right word but close enough. St. Athanasius writes in 220 that the Egyptian church celebrates Christ’s birth near the winter solstice because they believe that jesus was concieved on the spring equinox, based on the fact that Jesus is the second creation and Jewish tradition states that the First creation (genesis) began on the spring equinox. Whether or not this is the reason that the entire Church chose Dec. 25th to be the day… its impossible to say, as we have no records of the decision. The argument for co-opting (if it was chosen after the Peace) or hiding within (if before) the pagan celebrations at the time… thats also a compelling argument.

    That all aside, whether or not its ‘pagan’ makes no real difference. We’re still celebrating Christ’s birth. Is it on the actual day of his birth? No. That was earlier in the year. But we’re not secretly engaging in pagan rituals when we celebrate Christmas. Our hearts and minds are directed towards Christ, and it is he that we wish happy birthday to. Just because you share a birthday with someone doesn’t mean that when you wish person A a happy birthday, you’re also wishing person B, whom you have never met, a happy birthday as well.

    And Santa is Odin? Well, thats new. Wonder when he’s gonna lose an eye? 🙂

  6. Maybe you could look at the origin of the word ‘pagan’…

    From memory it is anyone who is not of my religion… like infidel.

    pa·gan   /ˈpeɪgən/ Show Spelled
    [pey-guhn] Show IPA

    1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
    2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
    3. an irreligious or hedonistic person.

    1325–75; ME < ML, LL pāgānus worshiper of false gods, orig. civilian (i.e., not a soldier of Christ), L: peasant, n. use of pāgānus rural, civilian, deriv. of pāgus village, rural district (akin to pangere to fix, make fast); see -an 1 Oh, I was right... aren't a clever little cat. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pagan

  7. Considering christ was born in Mar or Apr 7 BC, then 25th dec is wrong. the 25th dec was a pagan ritual to celebrate the Sun. The Church of Rome made it christs birthday so christians would not celebrate the sun. Footnote: I cant believe there is so much info out there to find the historical proof and christians fail to see it.

  8. Trees, Yule Logs, Wassailing aren’t secular. They are Germanic pagan…. the mistletoe, all of which have religious meanings to pagans.

    Actually Dec 25th was Bruma, the Roman winter solstice (they used the Julian calendar – it corresponds to our Dec 21st on our calendar). Sol Invictus was not celebrated in the sense that Christmas is. Saturnalia, on the other hand, most certainly was and it normally ended on Dec 25th (Julian calendar). These traditions ALL have pagan origins… religious pagan origins. Not secular. Secularism is actually a fairly new concept in terms of traditions.

    What? You don’t think there were pagans in the 16th century? I don’t think you understand what paganism was and is today. Or how it is actually viewed by the Bible.

    Hitman, hun, YOU can celebrate it any way you want to. Just because it’s considered a federal holiday and people get that day off, doesn’t mean they celebrate it in the same way Christians do. Otherwise, you would have to accept that every Saturday, no matter what you do, you are celebrating Saturnus – Roman god of agriculture. Monday, Mani’s day – Moon day. Tuesday/Tiwaz day/Tyrs Day. And so on.

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