The Origins of Christmas
The word "Christmas" means "Mass of Christ," or, as it came to be shortened, "Christ-Mass." This term came to the modern world from the Roman Catholic Church.
"Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church . . . The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt." "Pagan customs centering around the January calends [the pagan calendar] gravitated to Christmas."--Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 ed., article: "Christmas."
Origen, an early Catholic writer, said this about celebrating birthdays in the Bible:
"In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his [Christ's] birthday. It is only sinners [like Pharaoh or Herod] who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world."--Catholic Encyclopedia, 11th ed., art: "Natal Day."
It must be attended by the faithful, under penalty of mortal sin for not doing so. At this mass--as at every other,--Christ is offered by the priest in a wafer, which they believe becomes the actual flesh of Christ after being blessed; this is the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. The people are to worship this wafer as the living Christ! Vatican statements on this reveal that this worship of a piece of bread remains unchanged during this season: "There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that all the faithful ought to show to this most holy sacrament [the communion wafer] the worship which is due to the true God, as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor is it to be adored any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten."--Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents.
This Vatican II statement reaffirms the doctrinal statement made in 1648 at the Council of Trent. (Session 13: Decree on the Eucharist, chap. 5, Denz 78, 1648).
Notice in the photo at right that the monstrance which holds the wafer is designed to look like the sun (Nimrod/Mithras, etc). Thus the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which centers upon the wafer as the image of worship, is actually nothing more than another excuse to worship an image of the sun!
Exodus 20:4 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” Exodus 20:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them”. God’s commandment is pretty plain- don’t worship or serve any image or likeness of anything!
When in Rome, Do as the Romans
December 25th as you now know was the birth date of many pagan deities, but it was also the date of the Saturnalia, a vile celebration in honor of the Roman god, Saturn, also known as Mithras. The festival was originally 12 days (12 days of Christmas) which began on December 20/21 , which is the time of the Winter Solstice and went through to the pagan new year, we know as January 1. The Winter Solstice to pagans is the birthday of the gods; thus the sun was worshipped while at its lowest point; and rebirth occurred thereafter which was signified by the sun making it’s way back to its original point in the sky by New Year’s Day.
December 25th was indicated on the old Roman calendar as Dies Natalis Invicti Solis -- the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun. The Roman church adopted that date as the birthday of Christ, blending their culture's pagan traditions with Judeo-Christian beliefs as a way of 'converting' souls to Christ. In reality, it was simply a way to maintain authority over the growing number of Christians in the Roman Empire.
Such celebrations were not peculiar to the Romans, however. The ancient Egyptians had long before instituted festivals and even laws which commemorated the birth of the sun. Nearly 1400 years before the birth of Christ, a pharaoh-mystic by the name of Akhenaton made a symbol of the sun with each of its rays ending in a human hand. He called this the Aton (pictured left): the light of the world. Akhenaton declared that Aton gave its light to all nations, to all races, and to creatures of every kind. It did not judge or condemn; it simply gave life and light forever. Today's religious humanists (e.g., Universalists/Unitarians) present a similar picture of God. This is in keeping with the "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" image that is given to our mighty King at this time of year. It’s also wise to note that Catholic literally means ‘Universal’.
HOW AND WHY DID CHRISTMAS GET INTO THE CHURCH?
In one brief paragraph, the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge tells us how the December 25 holiday entered the Christian Church:
"How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia [The December 25 celebration], following the Saturnalia [an eight-day December 17-24 festival preceding it], and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the 'new sun' . . . cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence . . . The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and in manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ's birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival."-- New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, art: "Christmas."
Church leaders adopted a pagan holiday, in spite of the protests of some godly local Christians. It was considered idolatry to do this, since it was nothing more than a heathen day of worship. In addition, the day for this worship had been selected in honor of Mithras, the sun god. December 25 was dedicated to the keeping of his birthday. Therefore, sincere Christians considered it to be a form of sun worship. The sun had reached its lowest angle in the sky on December 21 (the winter solstice), and the 25th was the first observable day in which it began rising in the noon sky. So December 25 had, for centuries, been celebrated as the "birth of the sun god."
But earnest believers recognized that Christians dare not accept pagan practices or pagan holidays. Those heathen customs could not be found in the Bible, so they ought to be shunned by conscientious Christians today.
The Roman world was essentially pagan and many converts to Christianity had come to enjoy those festivities, and did not want to forsake them after baptism into the Christian church. When these half-converted church members rose to leadership positions, they made policy changes in agreement with contemporary heathen customs. And that is how we got Christmas.
"A feast was established in memory of this event [Christ's birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed." --Encyclopedia Americana (1944 edition), art: "Christmas."
If the Bible contained no certain knowledge of when Christ was born, then we should not select a definite day on which to worship Him. Instead, we should remain with the only weekly worship day God ever gave us: the Seventh-day Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11), which is Saturday.
Sol means "sun" in Latin, and was another name for Mithras, the sun god. A strong controversy arose in the Christian church over this latest apostasy by Western church leaders: "Certain Latins, as early as [A.D.] 354, celebrated on December 25th which was then a Mithraic feast . . . or birthday of the unconquered sun . . . The Syrians and Armenians accused the Romans of sun worship and idolatry."--Encyclopedia Britannica, (1946 ed).
MITHRAS AND THE DAY OF THE SUN
All this time there was no particular day that was used for his heathen worship. But then, about the time of Christ, or a little before, the various days of the week were dedicated to specific pagan gods--dies Solis--the day of the Sun, dies Lunae--the day of the Moon, and so on.
The sacred day of the Jews and Christians was the memorial of Creation--the true Sabbath--the Seventh day--the only Sabbath given in the Bible. The sacred day of paganism was the memorial of the Sun-god--the first day of the week. His day was called, "the Venerable Day of the Sun" or Sunday.
Sunday-keeping never occurred in the Old or New Testament, nor was it commended. In the time of Christ and the Apostles, the official religion of the Roman government did not have a sacred day, but gradually Sunday-keeping began to become common among the non-Christian people of the empire. Sunday was never commemorated by the Apostles, they met everyday to break bread (Acts 2:46-47). Also, it wasn’t kept because Jesus rose on Sunday; He rose Saturday evening! Do the math, read the signs He gave (Matt. 12:39-40) - going by the traditional method of a Good Friday death and Sunday resurrection makes the sign He gave us a lie! If the traditional method where accurate He was raised sometime Monday. Now, getting back on point…
The planetary week, each day named after a different planet in the sky, played a very important part in the worship of the sun. By the time of Christ, Sun worship was most powerfully represented in Mithraism. Now, Mithra (or Mithras) was originally an ancient god of Iran, and had been worshipped as the god of strength and war by the descendants of the Persians. But by the first century A.D., he had been transformed, oddly enough, into the leading Sun god, and the foremost pagan god of any kind, of the western civilized world. The Romans often called him by a new name, Sol invictus, "the Invincible Sun." During the early centuries of the Christian Era, Mithras was the greatest pagan rival of Christianity.
And this was not without a carefully developed plan; for Satan had arranged that this religion would closely approximate in several ways the only true religion in the world—Messianic Christianity. It had such features as a dying, rising savior, special religious suppers, a special holy day out of the weekly seven--the Sun Day, initial baptism of its converts (in the blood of a slaughtered bull), and other similarities. It counterfeited the religion of the true God more cleverly than any other religion up to that time in history.
Gradually, large numbers of non-Christians began observing Sunday as a holy day in honor of Mithra. He was especially liked by the Roman soldiers, for his worship included athletic feats of skill and "warlike manliness."
Gradually, the worship of the Invincible Sun became even more popular and wide spread among the Roman Empire. Emperor Aurelian (270-275 A.D.), whose mother was a priestess of the Sun, made this solar cult the official religion of the empire. His biographer, Flavius Vopiscus, says that the priests of the Temple of the Sun at Rome were called pontiffs. They were priests of their dying-rising savior--Mithra, and vicegerents in religious matters next to him. (Sounds like the Vatican today huh? That’s because it is!)
By this time, the middle of the second century, worldly Christians, apparently from the records in Alexandria and Rome more than anywhere else, in order to be better accepted by their pagan neighbors, began keeping Sunday with the rest of the pagans, and in order to excuse their practice, since it was not Scriptural, they called it "the Lord's Day." Sun worship continued to be the official religion of the empire until Constantine I defeated Licinius in 323, after which it was replaced by Romanized Christianity which is simply a blending of the Mithraic and Babylonian Mystery religions with Christianity.
CONSTANTINE AND A STATE CHURCH
On the retirement of Emperor Diocletian in A.D. 305, it was an uphill fight among several men for the coveted title of Emperor. Fighting continued on and off from 305 till 323. But out of it Constantine emerged as the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire. The crucial battle occurred just north of Rome in October of 312, following which by the Edict of Milan, he gave Christianity full legal equality with every other religion in the empire. More favors to the church soon followed.
Then, on March 7, 321, was issued the first national Sunday Law in history. This was the first "blue law" (-) to be issued by a civil government. Here is the text of Constantine's Sunday Law Decree: "Let all judges and townspeople and occupations of all trades rest on the Venerable Day of the Sun [Sunday]; nevertheless, let those who are situated in the rural districts freely and with full liberty attend to the cultivation of the fields, because it frequently happens that no other day may be so fitting for plowing grains or trenching vineyards, lest at the time the advantage of the moment granted by the provision of heaven be lost. Given on the Nones [seventh] of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls, each of them, for the second time."--The Code of Justinian, Book 111, title 12, law 3.
- A blue law, in the United States and Canada, is a type of law restricting activities or sales of goods on Sunday, which had its roots in accommodating Christian Sunday worship, although it persists to this day more as a matter of tradition.
Five additional Sunday Laws were to be issued by Constantine within a few years to strengthen this, his basic one.
It is to be observed that Constantine's Sunday law was just that--a Sunday law--and nothing more. It was a Sunday law that both Mithraites and compromising Christians could easily accept. In that law, Christianity is never mentioned. The day is called "the Venerable Day of the Sun, "(venarabili die solis). This was the mystical name for the Day of the Sun god. Both the heathen and the Christians well knew this. It is a historical fact that when Constantine issued this first imperial Sunday edict of 321, enforcing the observance of Sunday by the people of the Roman Empire, he was still a worshiper of Sol invictus--"the Invincible Sun," as well as being the Pontifex Maximus (supreme pagan pontiff or priest) of Roman heathen worship as the state religion.
But though Constantine meant the law to unite all contending religions into one giant compromising conglomerate, Christian leaders in Rome saw it as a great victory.
The Pope has amended a Vatican pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church was the "only way to salvation", saying that “Heaven is open to all as long as they are good.” He said at an audience that "all of the just on Earth, including those who ignore Christ and his Church" were "called upon to build the kingdom of God". -Electronic Telegraph (Posted on www.telegraph.co.uk) ISSUE 2023 Friday 8 December 2000 by Bruce Johnston in Rome)
VATICAN CITY, (ZENIT.org) - "How is it possible to explain the unique character of Christ and of the Catholic Church to a Jew or a Lutheran, a reporter asked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, during a press conference to present the "Dominus Jesus" declaration, which is concerned, precisely, with the unique and universal salvation of Christ and the Church.
Referring to a believing Jew, Cardinal Ratzinger clarified that "we are in agreement that a Jew, and this is true for believers of other religions, does not need to know or acknowledge Christ as the Son of God in order to be saved, if there are insurmountable impediments, of which he is not blameworthy, to preclude it. However, the fact that the Son of God entered history, made himself part of history, and is present as a reality in history, affects everyone.”(Interview by Zenit News Agency)
This was again Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the highest appointed teacher in the Roman Church on Doctrine. He is now known as Pope Benedict XVI.
Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea (270-338), generally considered to be Constantine's outstanding flatterer in the church, made this remarkable statement:
"All things whatsoever it was duty to do on the [Seventh day] Sabbath, these we [the church] have transferred to the Lord's Day [Sunday]."--Commentary on the Psalms, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, volume 23, column 1171.
This was the beginning of something new and ominous within the Christian Church. Rome, itself, the capitol of the mammoth empire, was more licentious, dissipated, and political, than any other city. The influence of it all had reached to the local Christian church there, and a concern to meet the world's standard, as well as a fascination with power-politics had gripped it.
In 325 A.D. the Council of Nicea met, at which time the church leaders decreed that all honor the resurrection of Christ by keeping the Easter festival--and only on a certain Sunday of each year. Immediately, following this ruling, Constantine issued an imperial order commanding all Christians everywhere to obey the decree of this council. Church and State had united, and whenever in history this has happened persecution of religious dissenters has generally followed. Trouble was ahead for the people of God.