Christmas is said to mark the birth of Christ, and it is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians around the world. But this holiday has close ties to an older festival known as the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun.” The impact this pagan tradition had on how Christmas was celebrated is one of the ways in which Christianity became corrupted as it developed after the fourth century.The winter solstice is the time when the Sun reaches its southernmost rising and setting points in the northern hemisphere and the Suns apex at noon is at its lowest point of the year. The days are short and the nights are long.
December 25th was the date of the winter solstice in the calendar Julius Caesar devised for Rome in 46BC. Today the winter solstice usually occurs on December 21st. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice as the birth of the Unconquered Sun. After this day, the Sun would begin to stay in the sky longer each day, the Sun would win the battle of night and day. There would be feasts; evergreens would be brought into the house to be decorated and lit with candles to pay tribute to the Sun.
These practices go way back to Mesopotamia. In contempt for God, the rebel Nimrod married his own mother, Semiramis. After his untimely death, his mother-wife, Semiramis, taught the lie that her husband-son was a spirit god. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth to new life of the dead Nimrod (note how this corrupted the prophesy about the Messiah at Isaiah 11:1). She taught that on the anniversary of his birth, which was December 25th, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. The historian, Professor Hislop, says: “Now the Yule Log is the dead stock of Nimrod, deified as the sun-god, but cut down by his enemies; the Christmas-tree is Nimrod redivivus—the slain god come to life again.” The Two Babylons, pages 97, 98.
Amazingly, the practice of decorating a tree was condemned by the prophet Jeremiah as idolatry: ‘It is a mere tree out of the forest that one has cut down..with silver and gold one makes it pretty..(Jer. 10:3-5) Nimrod was worshiped as the “divine son of heaven. Pagans believed that life and immortality proceeded from Nimrod, and so they worshiped the never-dying sun in the heavens as the personification and representation of Nimrod’s “divinity.” Mother and child, Semiramis and Nimrod, became chief objects of worship. The pagan world idolized this combination. In Egypt they were worshiped as Isis and Osiris, in Asia as Cybele and Doius, in pagan Rome as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer. Even in China, Japan, Tibet and in other non-Christian lands is to be found the counterpart of the Madonna, held sacred in Christendom. Pagans thus adored these symbols long before the birth of Christ.
There is nothing in the Christian Bible to specify the day of Christmas. However, the fact that we know Jesus’ ministry lasted three and a half years (four Passovers), and began as he turned 30, clearly indicates his birth at late September or early October in our calendar. There is nothing scriptural about commemorating Christ’s birth, and clear evidence the early Christians did not do so. Origen of Alexandria (A.D. 185-254) discerned: “In the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday.” Prior to the fourth century, Christ’s birth had incorrectly been associated with Three Kings Day on January 6. But the pagans and the newly converted were a major problem to the church because they were still celebrating the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Nothing the church did or said made a difference; the winter solstice was just too important a festival.
To Emperor Constantine, unity, political and religious, within a fragmenting Roman Empire was priority. What they did in this dilemma, was to fuse the two festivals. Between AD 354 and 360, a few decades after pagan Constantine’s nominal conversion to Christianity, the celebration of Christmas was begun on the day of the Unconquered Sun. But the tradition of the sun god lived on a long time. The Romans adopted the idea of the sun god from the Syrians. Their sun god, Deus Sol Invictus, became the chief god of the Roman State under Aurelian. The Church however, insisted that Christ was the true Sun God, and said that any celebrations for the Sun were really in celebration of Christ. Both the Sun worshipers and the Christians saw the solstice/birthday as a transition from darkness to light. Christ conquered the darkness, as did the Sun. Since the theme was similar, the traditions of one blended with the other. Such is the manner ignorance beclouds truth.
People still carry on these traditions, though their earlier pagan roots have been ignored. “Christmas” trees are still brought into the house. Coloured lights and candles light the darkness. Gifts are exchanged, food and drink consumed. James M. Gillis, C. S. P., editor of the Catholic World (December 2, 1945), makes this candid confession: “It is a well-known fact that the popes and councils in the early Church deliberately placed a Christian festival on or near the day of a previously existing pagan carnival, with the purpose of ousting the heathenish and generally licentious celebration.” In some Churches, on Christmas Eve, the electric lights are dimmed. In the semi- darkness, the Christmas story is told, and near the end, a single candle is lit. It signifies the movement out of the darkness.
Gift giving, acceptable scripturally (Acts 20:35) is more welcome spontaneously, than tied to a lie. In summary, should Christians celebrate Christmas out of a pure heart to the honour of God? His Word answers: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? ” So it is a choice of accepting Christmas and losing God, or accepting God and receiving his favour and losing Christmas. The right choice should not be hard to make.—2 Cor. 6:14-18
Thanks to: Kathy Miles(1995), Winter solstice and Christmas