Christmas, the most venerated holiday of the Christian religion, takes many of its traditions and rituals from pagan Earth worshipers. Before Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion, there was Earth worship. While some people connote the word pagan with something evil, paganism is really nothing more than a celebration of nature. Naturally many Pagan celebrations and traditions will revolve around earthly things like trees, plants, water, etc.
The Christmas Yule Log which burns prettily in fireplaces at Christmas time, and has even evolved into Yule Log shaped cakes for Christmas gifts and celebrations was actually a pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. The Germanic pagans across Europe used the Yule Log to honor Thor, the god of thunder.
Everyone loves to kiss and mistletoe is a frequent Christmas decoration used to promote a quick smooch. Kissing under the mistletoe came from ancient Druid traditions where the girl would stand under the plant, the boy would pick a berry and get a kiss. When the berries ended, so did the kisses. In cultures across Europe, before there was Christianity, mistletoe was considered a symbol or representation of the male essence.
In Christianity, the wreath symbolizes the coming of Jesus and is hung on doors and in homes as Christmas approaches. However the wreath got its start in Greece and a classic tale of the Greek Gods. Apollo, Zeus’ son and the god of life and light, fell in love with the nymph Daphne. She apparently did not care for his advances so she asked the river god Peneus to help her. Peneus turned her into a laurel tree. From that day forth, Apollo wore a wreath of laurel on his head.
Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas Tree. Well, the first trees erected for a celebration on December 25th had nothing to do with Christ. In Babylon, 1500 years before Christ, pagans erected trees to worship the birth of the sun god on December 25; when days were noticeably longer after the winter solstice.
In pagan Rome, the celebration of the Winter Solstice began on December 17 with the feast of Saturn. Through December 23, the Roman world engaged in merrymaking and the exchanging of gifts in honor of Saturn, the god of sowing and husbandry. In the 4th century, the Emperor Constantine designated December 25, the birthday of the Roman Sun-God Mithra, as the birthday of Jesus Christ too. Constantine succeeded in drawing Christians into the pagan celebrations of Rome, which got him the religious unity he needed for the success of the Holy Roman Empire.
Humans beings are ritualistic creatures, apparently by nature. Evidence is found throughout the history of man’s time on Earth of our celebrations, customs and traditions. Religions plagiarise each other to develop the varied story lines, and borrow traditions from ancient man and remake them into their own. So when you stand under your mistletoe at a Christmas party this year, you may be participating in an ancient Druid tradition!