Thursday, December 5, 2013
Christmas Morning at Stonehenge
The Winter Solstice (Christmas) sunset at Stonehenge as viewed from the alignment of the earthen gateway.
The Winter Solstice has been celebrated in pagan religions all over theworld for thousands of years. The beginning of the solar year was the celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun. In ancient northern Europe, it was known as Yule, derived from the Norse god, “Jul,” meaning wheel.
Many of the current Xmas traditions have their origins in the pagan world of Sun worship. The tradition of mistletoe, yulelogs, exchanging of presents, kissing under the mistletoe decorating the Yule tree, wreaths, candles, holly, laurel, turkey, eggnog, spiced cider, caroling, all have their origins with the pagan sun worshippers.
The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. For this occasion, they decorated their homes with evergreen wreaths. The northern European Druids and priests of the ancient Celts, also adorned their temples with evergreen wreaths, that were symbolic of everlasting life.
In the 4thCentury B.C., Christian leaders imported the Saturnalia festival on December 25th as Jesus' birthday. Christian leaders were able to convert the pagans to Christianity by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. This led many in the Church to ask, whether the pagans had converted to Christianity or the Christians had converted to paganism and solar worship.
Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.”