December 08, 2014

8th day - Pagan roots

This isn't spooky at all, but pretty interesting. A lot of Christmas symbols & traditions have Pagan roots! 
I had no idea! Let's explore.

Winter Solstice - The shortest day of the year. The triumph of life over death. The beginning of longer / warmer days. Also known as Yule or Saturnalia. The festival Saturnalia began the week prior to December 25th. The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and downright debauchery, as the priests of Saturn carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the Roman temples. 

Evergreen boughs - symbolize eternal life because they are ever-green. The Vikings thought that the evergreen represented their sun god, Balder. 

Many of the plants used at Christmas are symbols of fertility. Mainly, the holly, the ivy, and the mistletoe. 

Holly, with its pricking leaves, white flowers, and red berries symbolizes the male reproductive urge. The Romans thought holly was the special plant of their agricultural god, Saturn.

Ivy, holly's mate, in ancient Grecian rites took its name from the girl who danced with such abandon and joy before Dionysius that she fell dead at his feet. The pagan god was moved by her dance and turned her into the ivy that she might entwine whatever is near. 

Mistletoe was especially sacred to the Druids who offered it in prayer to the gods. It has been regarded as mysterious and sacred, the symbol of the sun, bestower of life, an aphrodisiac, and protector against disease and poison. 

The Druids came up with the Yule log to illuminate darkness and banish evil spirits. Fire was an important element of most solstice festivities, this explains that string of lights around your tree and candles in the windows.

Santa and his reindeer also have roots in pagan tradition. According to Norse mythology, Thor flew through the sky in a chariot pulled by magical flying goats named Gnasher and Cracker. Scandinavian Father-god Odin also rode through the sky, but on an eight-legged horse. Odin was also believed to have left special gifts under the evergreen tree during Yuletide. 

Most people assume Santa was actually the Catholic St. Nicholas, a bishop in the 4th century. He is portrayed as a tall, dignified, white-haired & bearded old man, but with an odd habit of riding thru the skies on a white horse, followed by his Dark Helper. 

In Germany, Saint Nicholas' Dark Helper is a frightening little man, swarthy & horned. He is known by many names: Knecht Ruprecht (servant Ruprecht), or in Bavaria, Pelz Nickel, meaning 'fur-clad Nick.' In Tyrol, the picture is even clearer; there the Dark Helper is Kllaubau, a scarier version of the British Herne the Hunter, a chained, furry, black-faced horned creature".  Sounds like Krampus to me!

There are a lot more sources out there that dig deep into the Bible and have come to conclusions that December 25 isn't even close to Jesus's birthdate. It was chosen because in order to get people to convert to Christianity, they'd use a time when big celebrations are already happening and people would be more likely to change their ways. 


source 2 (warning - this site comes off as very fanatical!) 


  1. Yes it is amazing how many of the religions through out history have "borrowed" ideas from one another for their mythology and holidays.

    1. I guess sometimes other cultures have better ideas!


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