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Thread: Thoughts, responses, critiques... (free academic chatter please!)

  1. #1

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    Lightbulb Thoughts, responses, critiques... (free academic chatter please!)

    Just found this while doing some research....found it interesting form more than one perspective! lol

    Are Holdiays Like Christmas and Easter Pagan or Christian?


    Please keep it friendly and open - I have posted this in the spirtuality forum (as we have no academics discussion forum) so as to allow some free academic discussion and debate, no religion bashing, or personal attacks or offense to be taken by anyone. Would really just like an intelligent discussion, so people should feel free to speak openly!



    would really love to hear from all backgrounds!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    paradise lost Guest

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    I am relatively familiar (academically speaking) with the roots of the dates and celebrations of the Christian/Pagan calendars.

    As to whether the festivals of Christmas and Easter are Christian - yes of course they are. These are days when the intention of Christians is to celebrate in worship the birth or resurrection of the person they consider to be the son of God and an aspect of God himself. How can that NOT be Christian? In worship surely intention is all? I am perfectly capable of sayig the Hail Mary, but i do not feel i am really speaking to the person who gave birth to Jesus, or will have my soul saved by her, because i am not a believer. Likewise if i was on a dessert island but a dedicated Christian in my heart and through lack of ability to work out he right date i celebrated Christmas on the 23rd of December, would it be a Christian celebration of Christmas any less?

    Once can argue for the Pagan roots all one likes (to me) but it is moot. Whatever day a Christian celebrates the birth of Christ, it is that s/he is celebrating. It could be Winter Solstice, it doesn't matter. Likewise all those pagans who gather to celebrate winter solstice are not unwitting Christians if it turns out Christ WAS born on that day, because faith is about intention.

    To me it is the intention and the worship which is important. Do you know Otto von Bismarck, founder of the German Empire, was born on the same day of the month as my DD...? But when i make her a cake and buy her gifts i am NOT celebrating HIS birthday even though i am celebrating ON his birthday. See what i mean?

    So for me, no, Easter and Christmas are not pagan celebrations. They may be celebrated on days significant in the pagan calendar, they may include aspects of imagery from pagan worship, but they are not Pagan, because those who celebrate them as Christians do so with the love of the God they know in their hearts and i reject that one can accidentally worship anyone.

    Bx

  3. #3

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    To me, Christmas is both. Well, CHRISTmas is Christian, Yule/christmas isn't. So the going to Church, the Bible readings, the goodwill to all men, that's Christian. The big tree, the greed, the festival of light... that's more pagan. Santa Claus is a false god in my eyes. There are some gifts, but then there are gifts all year round. It's a good chance to see family, but more because everyone is off work - we do the same in the Summer. And it's not at the right time of year. But then, I don't celebrate my birthday. And I don't celebrate DS's birthday on the actual day either. A little memory is nice, but it doesn't need to be bang on the day or hour.

    Easter. No, it's not. We don't do chocolate eggs or bunnies in our home, it's again about the death and ressurection of Jesus. It's also passover, that's where that date came from. But I'm not celebrating passover, nor a fertility festival. I'm celebrating that Jesus died to cleanse me of my sins.

    It's about HOW and WHY you do what you do as much as when!

  4. #4

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    I do agree that many of our holidays originated from dates of pagan celebrations and many of the traditions also originated from there. However, I also believe that God created every day. So why not use these days to celebrate and remember Him? I don't think God is the great kill joy that He is so often represented as. We celebrate our own birthdays, why not celebrate his as well? Any reason to remember God and the things He has done for us is a good enough reason to celebrate no matter what the day was orginally used for.

    I have heard other Christians refer to having a Christmas tree as idol worship. My husband sings this song every year as we put up our Christmas tree in response to that:

    O Christmas tree
    O Christmas tree
    We worship you, idolically

    Cracks me up every time!

    I guess I come from the line of thinking that the ACTUAL date of Jesus' birthday or of his death and resurrection are not really all that important. What is important is that we remember them.

    I love Christmas and love Easter. We don't do Santa or the Easter Bunny in our house (well in the real sense) - we still talk about them with our kids and still leave cookies out for Santa, but don't pretend they are real. We use them as make believe characters in our house but still enjoy the fun of them. My parents did this with us as kids.

    I think it is a bit sad to throw the good the comes from remembering Christmas and Easter out the window just because the date originated from a pagan celebration. The important thing really is remembering and celebrating God and all the things He has done for us. Anytime is a good time for that!

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    Could also be Hindu (Diwali) or Muslim (Ramadan)....all happen around the xmas/new year period.

    Personally I don't celebrate xmas in any religious way. For hubby and I it is just a time to be happy and grateful for what we have in life and enjoy time together. Nothing more than that. I believe more closely in the Pagan origins as I am not Christian but we don't put any religious significance on it, no xmas tree, no santa, no commercialism. Just us.

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    Oh so sorry but I'm not buying the line that the Devil is tricking Christians into accidentally worshipping false gods by celebrating these holidays (which appears to be the main thrust of the article).

    For one, any act - whether sinful or holy - is made so by the intent of the person who performs it. So if one person is celebrating the birth of Christ at Christmas - and they put their tree up along with their advent wreath - then that is what they are doing. Worshipping the Divine as they encounter it in their life.

    By the same token, a pagan who celebrates the turning of the year at the same time, and does it by bringing in greenery and lighting candles and feasting, is also worshipping the Divine as they encounter it in their life. As defined by their intent.

    The Divine is an awesomely huge mystery...who are we to think that any of us might have a monopoly on that truth?

    By the way, the season of commercialism and false-seeking-of-happiness-though-material-goods is no more pagan than it is christian. It's a non-spiritual behaviour and should not be falsely ascribed to any spiritual tradition.

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    As a card carrying pagan the imagery of both yule & ostara is very much been "borrowed" by the christians for their celebrations.

    The yule log, the colour schemes etc are all pagan based. It is the celebration rebirth of the Sun, which is the promise of spring and life even on this the darkest day. It is also sometimes celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God (the sun).
    Also known as: Yuletide, Alban Arthuan, Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year. It is from this point that the days begin slowly to become longer and longer. The sun is at its most southeastern point over the Tropic of Capricorn in the northern hemisphere and has no apparent northward or southward motion. In the time of the ancient tribes this was a time of celebration, for it meant the turning point of winter and the eventual return of spring. Yule is the time when we honor the Goddess for giving birth to the sun once more. It is the time when the Oak King is victorious over the Holly King. The Holly King represents death and darkness that has ruled since Samhain, and the Oak King represents rebirth and life. The waning (diminishing) sun is overtaken by the waxing (increasing) sun, thus the days become longer after the victory of the Oak King.
    The rebirth theme is very much ostara, as well as the symbolism of eggs, chicks, rabbits etc. It is a time for planting and celebrating the first signs of fertility and rebirth.
    Vernal or Spring Equinox, the Rites of Spring, Lady Day, Alban Eiber and Bacchanalia.The Spring Equinox occurs between March 19th and 21st. Ostara marks the day when night and day are equal and balanced. The Sun God's strength increases. The Maiden celebrates her fertility. Ostara, her symbol the egg and her animal the rabbit, is the Norse Goddess of fertility, and it is Ostara that is honored this day. Life begins anew at this time. This is a time to plant the seeds of our flower, herb and vegetable gardens.
    Also the Devil/Satan is a Christian "creation", (most) Pagans believe in a system of duality, of male/female, good/evil - balance.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosehip_Fairy View Post
    The big tree, the greed, the festival of light... that's more pagan.
    Nope not Pagan, its commercial.

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    Alexis, nice to have an academic discussion .

    I think it is interesting that many christians are not aware of the pagan imagery in some of their celebrations. However, I think agree that their intent is much much more important, and obviously their intent in celebrating Christmas and Easter is not pagan at all. Make sense?

    The dates of easter and christmas mean very very little to me. I see the christmas tree, the easter egg, the holly, all those things... as a commercial thing now even more than a pagan ritual.

  10. #10

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    I think most Chrirtians, even those who celebrate with abandon, are aware of the pagan roots of a lot of Christian celebrations and traditions. The article was right in that at the time of emperor Constantine there were a lot of forced "conversions" of people from all the many religions of the empire to Christianity. Most of those people didn't willingly give up their beliefs, they simply got incorporated into the new religion they were forced to follow.

    It has been so long now since that happened though, that Christmas and Easter celebrations as we know them now can be said to be Christian. There are a lot of Christians though who will quietly celebrate both those without using the pagan symbols in their celebrations, for example we don't have a Christmas tree or give/eat chocolate eggs.

    But I think what tends to bother most Christians nowadays is not the pagan roots of the celebration but the huge commecialisation that has happened around these holidays. For a lot of the western world Christmas is not a time to celebrate Jesus' birth but a time to be greedy, eat and drink till you're sick and get into huge debt. That is neither pagan nor Christian but simply wrong.

  11. #11

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    I think its both.

    Yes the origins in most of the holidays are Pagan, but they are now reworked and recognised by Christians and they symbolise and celebrate their faith. Even the celts have parts of their faith that was passed down from other areas such as Nordic Pagan faiths. Its not the first time in history its happened so I don't think there's need for crucifying (no pun intended) Christians due to some similarities. I think its important to appreciate the history of your faith, but not necessary to be compared in some elitist way.

    Whilst I'm not Christian myself, I love Father Bob's take on all this he has some great (and funny) interpretations.

    Christianity is a modern religion when you really think about it. Given Judaism and Islam were the faiths of god prior to the life of Jesus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugenia View Post
    But I think what tends to bother most Christians nowadays is not the pagan roots of the celebration but the huge commecialisation that has happened around these holidays. For a lot of the western world Christmas is not a time to celebrate Jesus' birth but a time to be greedy, eat and drink till you're sick and get into huge debt. That is neither pagan nor Christian but simply wrong.

    Couldn't agree more .

  13. #13

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    I always smile when I see offerings at Mary's feet. Because to me Mary is the embodiment of the Goddess. The female God.

    I think the most of the imagery from Christmas is pagan in origin. For this was the faith of Britain/Europe prior to the enforced belief in Christ. The tree, the wreath, even the mistletoe. The date! Similarly with Easter.

    Those who worship Jesus Christ and enforced that belief (way back when ) adopted those dates to make the conversion simpler. So folk now who hold Christianity in their hearts are still worshipping Christ regardless of where some of the ritual was derived from.

    The "old religion" is alive and well within the walls of Christianity as well I believe.

    Like other posters I think it's the intent that matters. The intent is to worship Christ regardless of when and how that is done.

    I do think though the argument that it is a "coincidence" about dates, rituals etc is a little amusing...

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flowerchild View Post
    The "old religion" is alive and well within the walls of Christianity as well I believe.
    is it ever ..... yes I sit in services that I've been dragged along to and pick out all the components that we have as part of our rituals - quick example is cakes & ale (bread & wine) - but the one that blows me away the most is a catholic funeral service, using the 5 elements

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