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Thread: Solstice

  1. #21
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    Hislop's book The Two Babylons explores many historical sources showing that the winter holiday precedes Christ by at least 2,000 years, as earlier mentioned (1957, pp. 97-98).
    A nativity celebration for pagan gods was observed near the winter solstice in both Syria and Egypt. Later, some 400 years before Christ, the Mithraic religion, centering on the Persian sun god Mithras, provided the foundation for the Christmas celebration. Mithraism became very popular in the Roman Empire, and many elements of its worship survive today in Roman Catholicism.

    For example, the noted British anthropologist, historian and scholar Sir James Frazer, knighted for his contributions to our understanding of ancient religions, wrote in his book The Golden Bough:
    "There can be no doubt that the Mithraic religion proved a formidable rival to Christianity, combining as it did a solemn ritual with aspirations after moral purity and a hope of immortality. Indeed the issue of the conflict between the two faiths appears for a time to have hung in the balance. An instructive relic of the long struggle is preserved in our festival of Christmas, which the Church seems to have borrowed directly from its heathen rival.

    "In the Julian calendar the twenty-fifth of December was reckoned the winter solstice, and it was regarded as the Nativity [birthday] of the Sun, because the day begins to lengthen and the power of the sun to increase from that turning-point of the year. The ritual of the nativity, as it appears to have been celebrated in Syria and Egypt, was remarkable. The celebrants retired into certain inner shrines, from which at midnight they issued with a loud cry, 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing [stronger]!'
    Christmas Before Christ: The Surprising Truth! - Good News Magazine | United Church of God

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    The sky has always been our first tabernacle, our first vault of the sacred. That we live in a scientific age does not change this fact. No one need feel offended, defensive or outraged that Christianity's holiest day falls near the turning of the year. It should not be a surprise. In fact, it should serve as a reminder. The solistice was always a holy day.

    We are born of the world and we are born of the stars. None of our changing perspectives, religious or scientific, can change that fact. We once knew it in our bones. Buried down deep we still know.
    Pageants Before Christmas: The Winter Solstice Makes Time : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR

  3. #23
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    It depends on whose history you read as authoritative as to who borrowed what from whom. There is no mention of Christmas trees in the Bible and no record of any use of trees as Christian symbols anywhere in the early years of the church or even after Constantine, in the Fourth century, made Christianity the favored religion of the Roman Empire. And since there are trees on most land areas of Earth, and these predate both paganism and Christianity, there is no reason to believe Christians borrowed the tradition of the Christmas tree from anybody. And even if they chose decorations previously associated with paganism, they made it uniquely a Christian tradition unrelated to any other.

    The evergreen tree was an ancient symbol of life in the midst of winter. Romans decorated their houses with evergreen branches during the New Year, and ancient inhabitants of northern Europe cut evergreen trees and planted them in boxes inside their houses in wintertime. Many early Christians were hostile to such practices. The second-century theologian Tertullian condemned those Christians who celebrated the winter festivals, or decorated their houses with laurel boughs in honor of the emperor:

    "Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple."

    But by the early Middle Ages, the legend had grown that when Christ was born in the dead of winter, every tree throughout the world miraculously shook off its ice and snow and produced new shoots of green. At the same time, Christian missionaries preaching to Germanic and Slavic peoples were taking a more lenient approach to cultural practices—such as evergreen trees. These missionaries believed that the Incarnation proclaimed Christ's lordship over those natural symbols that had previously been used for the worship of pagan gods. Not only individual human beings, but cultures, symbols, and traditions could be converted.

    Of course, this did not mean that the worship of pagan gods themselves was tolerated. According to one legend, the eighth-century missionary Boniface, after cutting down an oak tree sacred to the pagan god Thor (and used for human sacrifice), pointed to a nearby fir tree instead as a symbol of the love and mercy of God. . . .

    See more here:
    Why Do We Have Christmas Trees? | Christian History
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    Mithra was the god of light in ancient Iran. The symbol of Mithra is Sun. Iranians used this symbol in their flag for at least the last 2500 years. The period of 17th to 24th of December was the duration of this feast. The 21st of December, which is the solstice of winter, is still celebrated in Iran. It is called “Yalda” and it represents the victory of light over darkness, which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.

    Mithraism was brought to Europe by Greek soldiers after the defeat of the Persians by Alexander and by the forth century AD it was the predominant religion of Europe and the main rival to Christianity. The worship of Mithra spread throughout Asia to Europe where he was called Deus Sol Invictus Mithras. Romans adopted this festivity to celebrate the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god during the winter solstice. The winter holiday became known as
    Saturnalia and began the week prior to December 25th. The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and the priests of Saturn called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession.
    http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina21224.htm

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foxfyre View Post
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    It depends on whose history you read as authoritative as to who borrowed what from whom. There is no mention of Christmas trees in the Bible and no record of any use of trees as Christian symbols anywhere in the early years of the church or even after Constantine, in the Fourth century, made Christianity the favored religion of the Roman Empire. And since there are trees on most land areas of Earth, and these predate both paganism and Christianity, there is no reason to believe Christians borrowed the tradition of the Christmas tree from anybody. And even if they did, they made it uniquely a Christian tradition unrelated to any other.

    The evergreen tree was an ancient symbol of life in the midst of winter. Romans decorated their houses with evergreen branches during the New Year, and ancient inhabitants of northern Europe cut evergreen trees and planted them in boxes inside their houses in wintertime. Many early Christians were hostile to such practices. The second-century theologian Tertullian condemned those Christians who celebrated the winter festivals, or decorated their houses with laurel boughs in honor of the emperor:

    "Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple."

    But by the early Middle Ages, the legend had grown that when Christ was born in the dead of winter, every tree throughout the world miraculously shook off its ice and snow and produced new shoots of green. At the same time, Christian missionaries preaching to Germanic and Slavic peoples were taking a more lenient approach to cultural practices—such as evergreen trees. These missionaries believed that the Incarnation proclaimed Christ's lordship over those natural symbols that had previously been used for the worship of pagan gods. Not only individual human beings, but cultures, symbols, and traditions could be converted.

    Of course, this did not mean that the worship of pagan gods themselves was tolerated. According to one legend, the eighth-century missionary Boniface, after cutting down an oak tree sacred to the pagan god Thor (and used for human sacrifice), pointed to a nearby fir tree instead as a symbol of the love and mercy of God. . . .

    See more here:
    Why Do We Have Christmas Trees? | Christian History
    Whose history do you think is authorative when it comes to the origin of the Christmas holiday. There are so many. Since the pagans were already celebrating Solstice, the return to light, it makes sense to me that Christmas would be conveniently celebrated at the same time since Christ is considered by Christians to be the light of the world.

    I don't see how that would be insulting to Christians.

  6. #26
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    The National Geographic Society’s book “Great Religions of the World,” page 309 writes; “By Jesus’ time, East and West had mingled here for three centuries. Down columns of boulevards walked Roman soldiers loyal to the Persian god Mithras.” Mithras was a Persian deity. He was also the most widely venerated god in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. The Catholic Encyclopedia as well as the early Church Fathers found this religion of Mithras very disturbing, as there are so many similarities between the two religions, as follows:

    1) Hundreds of years before Jesus, according to the Mithraic religion, three Wise Men of Persia came to visit the baby savior-god Mithra, bring him gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense.
    2) Mithra was born on December 25 as told in the “Great Religions of the World”, page 330; “…it was the winter solstice celebrated by ancients as the birthday of Mithraism’s sun god”.
    3) According to Mithraism, before Mithra died on a cross, he celebrated a “Last Supper with his twelve disciples, who represented the twelve signs of the zodiac.
    4) After the death of Mithra, his body was laid to rest in a rock tomb.
    5) Mithra had a celibate priesthood.
    6) Mithra ascended into heaven during the spring (Passover) equinox (the time when the sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length).

    MITHRAS = CHRISTIANITY

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