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Tracing the Roots of Christmas

No such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century. Long before a festival was celebrated among the heathen at that precise time of the year during the winter solstice [the point when the sun has reached its southern most trek below the equator, where it appears to stand still for three days. After that time it begins to move back toward the northern hemisphere, gaining strength with each passing day “sun is born” or the light comes into the world or “the light of the world is at hand”] to celebrate the birth-day of the unconquerable sun. Far and wide in the realms of paganism was this birth-day observed. Since this event is seen as the reversal of the sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth and rebirth of sun gods have been common and in cultures using the winter solstice. Celebrated with regard to life-death-rebirth of deities. In greek mythology the gods and goddesses met on the winter and summer solstice.

Each culture had a name for the sun god they worshipped.

Romans-Sol Invictus [unconquerable sun]                     Assyrians-Baal

Egyptians- Ra                                                               Greeks- Helios

Cannanites- Moloch                                                      Babylon- Shamash

Also Utu, Tammuz, Adonis, Hercules, Theseus, Altis, etc, all of whom claims were made that they were born of the union of a virgin mother and divine father.

All paganism is basically a worship of nature in some form or other. The sun being a universal deity that was worshipped. The pagan belief system encompassed every part of the follower’s daily life. Holidays were not celebrations of faith but were rituals to be performed either to appease the gods and/or to assure success for the upcoming year. The prevailing theme in all of the celebrations was the welcome of the sun and the joy in the rebirth of the world. The pagans viewed these celebrations of the return of the sun as the fact that good will prevail over evil and the sun will return to the earth.

Sun Worship

Historians have traced sun worship all the way back to Babylon. Which was founded by a mighty hunter named Nimrod [Gen 10:8-9….the beginning of his kingdom was babel- confusion, Babylon, gates of god’s, 894 hebrew lexicon, 894/895 strong’s] The people exalted Nimrod as a hero and begin to worship him. When Nimrod died his wife said his spirit had gone to live in the sun. His wife Semiramis was pregnant. When the child was born, he was the son of the sun-god. He was named Tammuz. Semiramis claimed a full grown evergreen tree sprang up overnight from a dead tree stump which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. A Yule log was burned in the fire place which represented the sun-god Nimrod and the tree represented himself resurrected as his own son Tammuz. The Yule log is the dead Nimrod, deified as the sun incarnate and hence a god, the tree is mystical Tammuz, the slain god come to life again. Almost all the pagan gods, who are nothing more than “Nimrod” reincarnated, all claim Dec 25th as their birth-day (winter solstice). The list is exhaustive.


Before the time of Constantine the ancient world was a virtual melting pot of different religions and cults that existed all over the Roman empire. Christianity was only one of the several dozen foreign eastern religions struggling for recognition in Rome. But the last of the great pagan faiths that held sway before the ascendancy of Christianity was Mithraism.

The religious dualism and dogmatic moral teaching of Mithraism set it apart creating a stability previously unknown in Roman paganism. The parallels to Christianity in Mithraism have long been pointed out. Mithras was said to have been born of a virgin birth, had 12 disciples, was killed and resurrected, performed miracles, was known as a savior, called the light of the world and his birth occurred on Dec 25th. When Mithraism became the chief religion in the late Roman empire, he ( Mithras) was called sol invictus or the invincible sun.


In the year 274 AD Aurelia declared Deus Sol Invictus the official deity of the Roman empire and set the sun’s birth-day celebration on Dec 25th. The ground work is now complete for Constantine to come on the scene.

Constantine is known as the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Constantine was preparing to battle Maxentius for control of the western portion of the Roman empire. Constantine was warned in a dream to make the celestial sign of God upon his soldiers shields and so to join battle. He did as he was bid and with the transverse letter X he marks Christ on their shields. The letter X was just the initial of the name of Christ, being equivalent in greek to CH. “ In this sign thou shalt be a conqueror” said to have been addressed from heaven to the emperor. The letter X not the shape of the cross was the heavenly sign. The X was not intended as the sign of the cross but as the initial of Christ’s name.

Constantine now embraced the god of the Christians, essentially legalizing Christianity. He sought to reconcile, blend, and mesh pagan practices with Christian beliefs and merge paganism with the Roman church. He issued the Edict of Milan in 313 which proclaimed religious tolerance of all religions throughout the empire and to stop the persecution of Christians. In 321 he instructed that Christians and non Christians should be united in observing the vernerable day of the sun. All evidence suggests that Constantine viewed Christ as one of the many gods and that this new Christian god could be used as a tool to solidify his power and prestige as well as bringing a total homogeneity of culture to Rome as witnessed by his calling of the council of nicea in 325. The first ecumenical council of the catholic church, which resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine called the creed of nicea.

Pope Julius I in the fourth century commanded a committee of bishops to establish the date of the nativity of Jesus. Dec 25th was decided upon. Thus the ancient festival of the winter solstice, the pagan festival of the birth of the sun, came to be adopted by the Christian church as the nativity of Jesus and was called Christmas [Christ-mass]. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day.

Influence of Constantine

All evil starts at Babylon-Mother of it all. Rev 17:5- and upon her forehead was a name written mystery Babylon the great, The mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. God warned Israel not to follow after the ways of the heathen 2 kings 17:9-12 ..and the children of Israel did secretly these things that were not right against the Lord their God and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city And they set them up images and groves in every high hill and under every green tree…burnt incense as did the heathen…served idols whereof the Lord had said unto them ye shall not do this thing. V15-16- they rejected his statues and his covenant ..they followed vanity and became vain and went after the heathen that were round about them concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. 2 Chr 36:14- all the chief of the priests and the people transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen and polluted the house of the lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. Jer 10:1-4,8- ..learn not he ways of the heathen and be not dismayed at the signs of the heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain, for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold then fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not. V8-but they are altogether brutish and foolish, the stock is a doctrine of vanities. Deut 12:29-30…take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them(heathen) after that they be destroyed from before thee and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying how did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Ezek 8:16-18- he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house and behold at the door of the temple of the lord between the porch and the altar were about 5 and twenty men with their backs toward the temple of the lord and their faces toward the east and they worshipped the sun toward the east. 17- hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? For they fill the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger and Lo they put the branch to their nose[ Hebrew lexicon-2156- vine,branch,twig,shoot, referring to the Persian custom of worshipping the rising sun holding in their left hand a bundle of twigs of the plant barsom] Abomination and paganism crept into Israel and Constantine brought it into the church. Paganism invaded the church, infiltrated it and seduced it from within. Paul warned that after his death grievous wolves would enter in among them not sparing the flock [Acts 20:28-29]. Isa 1:10-17,21-22- ..to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? ..bring no more vain oblations..my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me, I am weary to bear them…how is the faithful city become a harlot it was full of judgement, righteousness lodged there but now murderers v22-thy silver is become dross, they wine mixed with water (doctrine no longer pure). The apostate church fornicated spiritually with the heathen pagan religions of the world. 1Cor 6:13-15-..now the body is not for fornication but for the lord, and the lord for the body..know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. When the early church departed from God and imbibed pagan errors, she became Babylon. Jer 51:6- flee out of the midst of Babylon and deliver every man his soul…Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand. In 1 Cor 10 Paul talks of Israel and that those are examples to us. “neither be ye idolaters as were some of them, as it is written the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication as some of them committed and fell in one day three and twenty thousand…flee from idolatry. Ye cannot drink the cup of the lord and the cup of devils, ye cannot be partakers of the lord’s table and the table of devils.

2 Cor 6:14-17… what concord hath Christ with Belial?.. what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?..wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you.


Works cited/Resources

Constantine I “Encyclopedia of world Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com 2feb 2012 http://www.encyclopedia.com

W.K.F. Browning “Mithraism” a dictionary of the bible 1997. Encyclopedia.com 2feb 2012 http://www.encyclopedia.com

Mithraic Mysteries http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/mithraism

Http://www.the mystica.com/mystica/articles/c/Christ_constantine_Sol_invictus.html 2feb2012

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/nimrod feb2 2012

Winter solstice-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/winter_ solstice 2 feb 2012

Jones A.T. ancient sun worship and its impact on Christianity. Http://temcat.com/L-1-adv-pioneer-lib/usmith/ancient sun worship.pdf

Laing, Gordon J. Sun worship, in early Christian period. Http://www.crcbermuda.com/ref/holidays-and observances/493-sunworship

The two Babylons by Alexander Hislop

Gesenius Hebrew/chaldee lexicon

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