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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Celebrating Christmas

7:48 AM By Barry Smyth No comments

Christmas is almost upon us and the countdown has begun. The Christmas tree, the decorations, the yule log, mistletoe, the Christmas wreath on the door, holly and berries all symbols that many people will recognise for this celebrated Christian festival.




But Christmas has its roots far deeper than Christianity, and all of the symbols used to celebrate it are rooted in Paganism, and in celebrating the Winter Solstice or Yule.

The celebration of Yule was so ingrained in culture that Christianity's attempts to stamp out Paganism led to it usurping the festival of Yule to celebrate the birth of Christ, and Christmas (or Christ Mass) was born. In fact nearly every major Christian festival has its roots in Pagan tradition or directly usurps a Pagan festival for this reason.

So, as you put up and decorate your Christmas tree did you know that the tree was an important symbol in pagan yuletide tradition. Originally, it represented the Tree of Life and was decorated with gifts people wanted to receive from the gods. It was adorned with natural ornaments such as pinecones, berries and other fruit, as well as symbols sacred to the gods and goddess.

And mistletoe which represents the female element (hence the act of kissing under the mistletoe), also holds much importance in pagan yuletide tradition. It was used by Druid priests in special ceremonies during yuletide who believed that its green leaves represented the fertility of the Mother Goddess, and its white berries, the seed of the Forest God or Oak King.

Holly, which represents the masculine element, was often used to decorate doors, windows and fireplaces. Because of its prickliness it was thought to capture or ward off evil spirits before they could enter a home and cause harm. The holly leaves, symbolic of the Holly King, represent hope, and the red berries represent potency.

Many people will burn candles, or place a light candle in their window. Candles were another way to have an eternal flame within the home. They symbolised the light and warmth of the sun and were used to chase away evils and lure back the returning sun/son. They were also an invitation to a stranger that the house would welcome and feed them during the festival period.

Bells, another symbol often hung on Christmas trees are another part of the Pagan yuletide tradition. They were often rung during the Winter Solstice to drive away demons that surfaced during the dark time of the year.

Carolling was also another popular Yule tradition when young children honoured the Winter Solstice with song. They would go through the villages, singing door to door. The villagers, in return, would reward them with tokens and sweets and small gifts which symbolised the food and prosperity given by the Mother Goddess to all her Earthly children.

Even the predominant colours of Christmas, Red, Green, White, Silver and Gold are the colours used in abundance during pagan celebrations of Yule. Red represents the waning Holly King. Green represents the waxing Oak King. White represents the purity and hope of new Light. Silver represents the Moon. Gold represents the Sun/Son.

Today many devout christians still follow all of these traditions, keeping the spirit of paganism alive, unaware of the rich history it has or the true meanings behind the symbols themselves. Thank you.


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