25 March 2013
Mythic Dimensions of Literature
“The Origins of Christmas”
Christmas is a holiday celebrated by members of the religion of Christianity. The holiday acknowledges the birth of the Christian prophet Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on December 25th by an estimated two billion members of the Christian religion. The holiday is also celebrated by many non-Christians, who highlight the secular aspects of the holiday. Many of the symbols, traditions, and rituals widely attributed to Christmas have been discovered by scholars and historians to have pagan origins. This essay will identify aspects of Christmas that have non-sacred origins, why they have been adopted by Christians and incorporated into Christmas, and also inquire as to why the birth of Christ is observed on the 25th of December.
The modern day celebration of Christmas is not complete without an exchange of gifts, the singing of songs commemorating the holiday, also known as Christmas carols, decking the halls with boughs of holly, wreathes and mistletoe, and children anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus and his reindeer. All of these traditions associated with the birth of Christ, were actually conceived beforehand and are rooted in pagan practices. The singing of carols were not originally intended for Christmas. The term is derived from the European term “carole” where singers danced around in a circle. The songs that they sang were meant to celebrate the dawning of the Winter Solstice on December 22nd. Early Christians utilized some of the pagan traditions, such as caroling during the winter solstice, in an attempt to recruit more converts by allowing them to keep traditions that they were already familiar with.
Modern day Christmas decorations include hanging mistletoe from the ceiling, placing wreaths on the doors of the home, stringing boughs of holly up in the halls of the home. In Pagan culture, the evergreen plant, which includes holly and mistletoe, symbolizes...
Cited: Baker, Margaret (2007 ). Discovering Christmas Custuoms and Folklore: A Guide to Seasonal Rites Throughout the World, page 62. Osprey Publishing.
Fanny Dolansky, "Celebrating the Saturnalia: Religious Ritual and Roman Domestic Life," in A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), p. 484.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, 2001.
Beryl Rawson, "Adult-Child Relationships in Ancient Rome," in Marriage, Divorce, and Children in Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 19.
The Origin of the American Christmas Myth and Customs – Ball State University. Swartz Jr., BK. Archived version retrieved 2011-10-19.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document