By: Lynzi Acree
Have you ever wondered what a pine tree has to do with Christ’s birth? Or mistletoe? Or what the Easter Bunny and his eggs have to do with Jesus waking up three days after being crucified?
The answer, to be perfectly honest, is absolutely nothing. These are all traditions which vastly predate Christianity. But why are they related now? Wonder no longer, dear reader, as your questions have been answered here!
Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25 when Jesus was probably born around September? Well, you have Roman Emperor Constantine to thank for that. In the fourth century, Constantine converted to Christianity and took all of Rome with him. There was a Pagan Winter Solstice celebration of the changing seasons every year on the 25th called Brumabia and a celebration leading up to it called Saturnailia taking place December 17-24. When Rome converted to Christianity, they didn’t want to lose their celebrations, so the festival became Christmas, no longer a birthday party for the Sun God, but now for the Son of God.
Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Mistletoe was sacred to the Sun God and was thought to have great healing power. Kissing under the mistletoe was a celebration of the changing seasons, the death of the “old sun” and the birth of the new winter.
Why do we bring trees inside to celebrate? This tradition was first found in Egypt. Among many other cultures, the Egyptians treasured plants that remained living when everything else died. When winter solstice arrived, green palm leaves were brought inside to symbolize life’s triumph over death. Pine trees ended up being the universal “Christmas Tree” because they always stay green, even when everything else freezes over.
Who’s Santa Claus? Not to burst your bubble, but St. Nicholas (the closest person to Santa that ever lived) has been long dead for centuries. He was a Roman Catholic Bishop who gave dowries to the three daughters of a poor man thus beginning the tradition of giving gifts in secret. This tradition was continued with the idea of Santa and, in some areas, the three wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus.
What other Pagan traditions are still around? Pagan traditions are hanging around everywhere from the exchange of wedding rings to Valentine’s Day and, as we’ve seen, Christmas. Easter was originally a celebration of Eastre, Pagan Goddess of spring and fertility. Eastre had a pet rabbit who laid eggs, representing fertility. Hence, the Easter Bunny and his eggs. Our collective past as humans is everywhere, understanding it is only half the story; appreciating it is the other.