The History of Christian Holidays

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 24th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3tz4ij4u/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Holidays & Celebrations

Why do we celebrate Halloween? What is the original meaning of Easter? Was Jesus born on December 25? Why do we celebrate certain holidays?

Christians Were Told Not To Observe Special Days

Pagans did most everything based on the cycle of the sun and the moon. They planted and harvested based on these cycles. Pagans had many holidays which often involved the lunar cycle, or the sun itself.

Christians took this to mean that the pagans worshiped the sun and the moon (indeed many pagans did have sun and moon gods). Christians were told not to have any special days other than the Sabbath itself (which was originally Saturday, the seventh day of the week).

As many people converted from paganism to Christianity they had a hard time giving up the holidays they had come to enjoy for years, namely Easter, Samhain, and Saturnalia (aka Mithras). Early Christian leaders tried very hard to get them to stop celebrating but it was futile and eventually they just reassigned Christian meaning to these days.

The Brief Origins of Easter

Easter still has its original name, a tribute to the fertility Goddess known as Eastre, which could also be spelt Oestre and Isthar. The date is based on the lunar cycle which is why it changes from year to year.

All the traditions associated with Easter, such as bunnies, chicks, and lambs, are fertility symbols that were to honor the fertility Goddess herself.

The Easter bunny himself is male. There are different stories that explain his origins, but one is that he was Ishtar's lover, and was originally a bird, but she changed him into a rabbit and he lays eggs because of his past as a bird.

The Brief Origins of Halloween

Halloween was originally a celebration known as Samhain to celebrate the end of the harvest and preparations for winter.

Bonfires were common, as was playing games of chance. Trick or treating originated as young men would dress as women and collect food from farmers to prepare for a feast. Tricks would be played on those who did not donate food.

Older animals were butchered and their skulls displayed to honor their lives.

The souls of people who had died that year were thought to be able to return at this time to get revenge on those who had wronged them, or to simply say farewell to their loved ones, they were not feared, unless you were a person who had wronged somebody that had died earlier that year.

Christians were determined to stop this holiday too by making claims that it was about devil worship (the pagans did not believe in the devil) and eventually moved a holiday known as All Saints Day from the spring to November 1 in order to assign new meaning to Samhain, and the night before (October 31) became known as All Hallow's Eve, and eventually Halloween.

The Brief Origins of Christmas

Christmas originated as a day to celebrate the return of the sun to the sky in the Northern Hemisphere, or the rebirth of the sun god. In different areas it had different names such as Saturnalia or Mithras.

The date this typically fell on was December 25, but when we adopted the modern calendar system that changed and the winter solstice now falls around December 21, however the celebration remains on the 25th.

In the older traditions manger scenes were made to honor the rebirth of the sun god, who had a virgin mother. Evergreens were brought inside as they were magical (they stayed green even in the winter). Gold balls were used as decorations because they represented the sun.

Summary

At one time some areas actually had laws preventing Christians from celebrating Christmas due to its pagan origins and some Christian groups still refuse to observe/celebrate this holidays.

Note if you want to read more I have included a link to each holiday at the start of each section.


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Tags

History, Origin Of Christmas, Origin Of Easter, Origin Of Halloween, What Was Mithras, What Was Samhain, What Was Saturnalia

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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Comments

author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
25th Oct 2015 (#)

Mark, thanks for sharing such an excellent article. I found the history of our holidays to be very interesting. Tell Brenda that I love her art work.

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author avatar Carol Roach
25th Oct 2015 (#)

I have studied a lot about all these things. It is believed that that Jesus was actually born in October when the Jews celebrath succoth and they construct a tent out side, this is believed to resemble the manger scene even though Jews won't acknowledge that. Gregorius had to choose a date for Christ's birth for the new calendar and he choose Dec 25 which was also the birthday of Mithra

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
25th Oct 2015 (#)

Carol, I was reading your comment and I was wondering who is Mithra?

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
26th Oct 2015 (#)

Nancy - Mithra was a sun god!

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
26th Oct 2015 (#)

Thanks Mark for answering my question. I learn as I go.

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author avatar brendamarie
25th Oct 2015 (#)

Great article, thanks for sharing the history.

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author avatar jak2010
26th Oct 2015 (#)

Interesting article, great to know how our holidays started, thanks.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Oct 2015 (#)

Good to understand where we came from and the reasons attributed to special days. Give and take should help us along.

In most beliefs the interpretation and meaning of celebratory days are divergent and contested. Sadly, some are ready to kill others if they dare to disagree!

I take a view we will never know for sure as some were passed down from generation to generation, word by mouth even, and lose their original meaning - siva

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author avatar Ptrikha
27th Oct 2015 (#)

Great history.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
30th Oct 2015 (#)

Interesting post!

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author avatar peachpurple
30th Oct 2015 (#)

thanks for the elaboration of christians festivals

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