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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Origins of Christ-Mass:
Page 4 of 5


Regarding the period when Catholicism originated Christmas, the Catholic Encyclopedia says it was NOT among the early festivals of the Church, because Ireneus and Tertullian, at the end of the second century, omit it from their list of feasts. The first evidence of any observance of the birth of Christ (says this same authority) appears about 200 AD in Egypt. It was not earlier than 330 AD that Dec. 25 was chosen by any "Pope", and it was not universally accepted till long after that--for the position and authority of the "Pope" was then still far from established. In the Schaff-Heroz Religious Encyclopedia, we are told--

"From the beginning of the fourth century, when the restless searchings of the nature and persons of Christ drove men's minds into many singular errors, the Eastern Church began to feel the importance of emphasizing the actual birth of Christ by a separate festival...The date once fixed, Christmas gradually became one of the three great annual festivals of the Church."


And from the Abbott-Conant Dictionary of Religious Knowledge--

"Christmas seems to have first appeared in the Roman Church after the middle of the fourth century. At a somewhat later period it spread into Eastern Asia. It was not received with equal readiness by all the churches. Some denounced it as an innovation... It was not till the sixth century that anything like unanimity prevailed as to the day to be observed.

"The manner in which this festival came to be observed in the Romish Church, and through it to the other churches, is as follows: In this season of the year, a series of heathen festivals occurred, the celebration of which was in many ways closely interwoven with the whole civil and social life of the Romans.

"These festivals had an import which easily admitted of being spiritualized, and tranformed into a Christian sense. First came the Saturnalia, which represented the Golden Age, and abolished for a while the distinction of ranks.

"Then came the custom, peculiar to this season, of making presents, afterwards transferred to the Christmas festival.

"After the Saturnalia came the Festival of Infants [Juvenalia], at which the children were presented with images.

"Next came a festival still more analogous to Christmas, that of the shortest day [Brumalia], the Winter Solstice1, the Birthday of the New Sun, about to return once more toward the earth... Hence the celebration of the Nativity of Christ was transferred to December 25.

"In the Romish Church, Christmas is a very high festival."



Regarding the attitude of early Christians toward such things, Auld says--

"As for the first believers, they had NOT THE SLIGHTEST INTEREST IN ANYTHING OF THE KIND. Hope in the Lord's imminent return from heaven in great power and glory was the flame that fired their devotion."


In the book, The Customs of Mankind, we read--

"Christmas was originally a festival of the Winter Solstice. It was customary to hold great feasts in honor of the HEATHEN GODS. The early teachers of Christianity PROHIBITED THESE FESTIVALS as unsuited to the character of Christ. Yet the symbols and customs of the old festivals are adapted to the new, and so we find Christmas patterned with many customs of pagan origin.

"To the mind of the Puritans, Christmas smelled to heaven of idolatry... The Puritans abolished Christmas as a hateful relic of Popery."


Tertullian--who wrote (says Encyclopedia Britannica) "in a period when a LAX SPIRIT OF CONFORMITY had seized the churches": about 200 AD--says regarding decorating with evergreens and ceremonial candles--

"Let those who have no Light, light their lamps, let them affix to their posts laurels. YOU [Christians] are the Light of the World, a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple [by heathen wreaths]."


Crippen says--

"At the time of persecution, Christians were detected by NOT decorating their houses at the Saturnalia."


Some conformed to the heathen customs to avoid suspicion, and to appear like their neighbors, so they would not be looked on as odd and different. This practice was strongly condemned by the early church. And Campbell relates--

"There can be no doubt that [some of] the early Christians also frequently shared in the frolics of their heathen neighbors; and the fathers of the Church had considerable difficulty in prevailing on their members to refrain from such unedifying pastimes.

"The early Christians discouraged the use of evergreen decorations in Christian homes and assemblies, because their display had long been associated with heathen festivals. Bishop Martin of Braga forbad the use of all greenery and 'other dangerous Kalend customs'."


Crippen remarks --

"So long as heathenism was in full vigor, the ancient Christians were puritanically jealous of anything that might seem like coqueting with idolatry. But when heathenism was declining, there was a disposition to adopt its customs. What had been heathenish became rich with Christian (!) symbol."


Note that last statement. Auld too betrays the same perverted outlook--

"The use of evergreens is one of the happy (!) contributions which PAGANISM made to the Christian festival. At first the Church frowned upon this intrusion of paganism into the sacred season. But altogether, the ancient Church was wisely tolerant (!) in her attitude to heathen IDEAS and customs ... hence the curious and interesting MIXTURES of IDEAS -- pagan and Christian -- which became charmingly (!) entwisted."


After unsuccesfully fighting the adoption of pagan customs, says Campbell --

"The clergy endeavored to transform the heathen revels into amusements which -- if not really more spiritual in character -- had at least the merit of recognizing the authority of the Church."


The Encyclopedia Britannica confirms this --

"As Christianity spread among the peoples of pagan lands, many of the practices of the Winter Solstice were blended with those of Christianity, because of the liberal ruling of Pope Gregory I and the cooperation of the missionaries."


That is, instead of teaching the converts to abandon their old superstitions, and to start a clean new life solely according to the Way of God, the Church found it more practical and profitable to give the old superstitions new names, and mix Christianity with paganism.

And such was the slow but deadly course by which what was originally the faithful and holy Ecclesia of Christ exchanged purity for pleasure, and the friendship and Way of God for the friendship and ways of the world