Page 15 - lesson1.vp
P. 15

Lesson 1 Hope of Israel Ministries BIBLE Correspondence Course 15

Scotland the function was in the hands of the Parliament: The day was to be a fast and a
Abbot of Unreason. market day, with shops compelled to be open
and plum puddings and mince pies condemned
Houses and churches were decked with as heathen. Ironically, Christmas seems now to
evergreens, and mistletoe was especially have more in common with the Roman
important, being a definite remnant of early Saturnalia than it has had for nearly two
Celtic, druidic religions. The Christmas tree is millennia.
an old German custom which can be traced back
to the seventeenth century, but its popularity in
England owes a lot to Prince Albert, Queen
Victoria’s Consort. It was introduced to France
by Princess Helena of Mecklenburg. The yule
log is a survivor from the calend fires. In
England a tenant had the right to feed at his
lord’s expense so long as the log would burn.
Gervase of Tilbury told how grain was exposed
on Christmas night to gain fertility from the dew
which falls in response to the sacred text “Rorate
coeli.” A tenth-century Arab geographer related
the tradition that trees and flowers blossomed on
Christmas night. In England Joseph of
Arimathea’s rod was supposed to flower at Charlemagne receiving homage after being
Glastonbury, a phenomenon which was crowned by Pope Leo III.
carefully investigated in 1752. This was the year
in which the calendar was changed and the third Following the Saturnalia, which lasted
day of September became the fourteenth. from December 17 to 24, was the festival
Apparently two thousand people watched to see described as “dies natalis solis invicti” or “sol
if the thorn bush would flower on the new style novus” which occurred on December 25. This
Christmas. As it did not, they refused to accept was the feast of the unconquered Sun, on which
the calendar change. the victory of light over darkness was celebrated.
It took place when the lengthening of daylight
The day became a favorite for court became apparent. This day, consecrated to the
ceremonials. On Christmas Day A.D. 800 Pope Sun, was naturally ripe for conversion into a
Leo III inaugurated the Holy Roman Empire by “Christian” festival. It stems from the
crowning Charlemagne. William the Conqueror supposition that the Messiah is equated to the
was crowned on Christmas Day at Westminster. Sun in the “plan of ages” creation myth. It is
Woden and his wife Berchta descended from the possible that the coincidence was accidental,
Home of the Gods between December 25 and with the calculations of December 25 coming
January 6. Other figures traditionally associated first, the adoption of the “sol invictus” trappings
with Christmas are Knecht Ruprecht, Petzmartel coming soon after.
mounted on a wooden horse, St. Martin on a
white charger, St. Nicholas and his modern At the end of the twelve days of
equivalent, who in a sense has elements from Christmas we have the feast of Epiphany and it is
these, Father Christmas. Things apparently got clear that this day, January 6, was an older feast
so far out of hand that under Cromwell in 1644 day than the one on December 25. Originally it
the Dissenters banned Christmas by Act of was probably a pagan feast associated with the

The Pagan Origins of Christmas
   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19