The Origin of Christmas

The Christian church began to veer off course in the very first century after it’s birth. Jesus warned us that this would happen and the apostles Paul and Peter reported the beginnings of it in some of their epistles.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:4-5
 

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. I Corinthians 1:10
 

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9
 

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. II Peter 2:1

Prior to Constantine the Great, martyrdom and persecution were the order of the day for Christians in the Roman world. Those who were not killed were forced into hiding. The only ones left in the open were those who had capitulated to the will of the state.

By the fourth century, “Christianity” barely resembled the original church. Constantine the Great proceeded to turn Christianity on its head by blending it with pagan religions that the people were familiar with. It is out of this unholy syncretism that the Catholic church was born. The protestant reformation fell short in its opposition. The trappings of sun worship abound in the various denominations to this day. It is amazing that the Catholic church doesn’t mind exposing it’s pagan roots.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Constantine the Great (Historical Appreciation)
Constantine can rightfully claim the title of Great, for he turned the history of the world into a new course and made Christianity, which until then had suffered bloody persecution, the religion of the State. It is true that the deeper reasons for this change are to be found in the religious movement of the time, but these reasons were hardly imperative, as the Christians formed only a small portion of the population, being a fifth part in the West and the half of the population in a large section of the East. Constantine’s decision depended less on general conditions than on a personal act; his personality, therefore, deserves careful consideration. Directly after his victory Constantine granted tolerance to the Christians and next year (313) took a further step in their favour. In 313 Licinius and he issued at Milan the famous joint edict of tolerance. This declared that the two emperors had deliberated as to what would be advantageous for the security and welfare of the empire and had, above all, taken into consideration the service which man owed to the “deity”. Therefore they had decided to grant Christians and all others freedom in the exercise of religion. Everyone might follow that religion which he considered the best. They hoped that “the deity enthroned in heaven” would grant favour and protection to the emperors and their subjects. This was in itself quite enough to throw the pagans into the greatest astonishment. When the wording of the edict is carefully examined there is clear evidence of an effort to express the new thought in a manner too unmistakable to leave any doubt. The edict contains more than the belief, to which Galerius at the end had given voice, that the persecution were useless, and it granted the Christians freedom of worship, while at the same time it endeavoured not to affront the pagans. Without doubt the term deity was deliberately chosen, for it does not exclude a heathen interpretation.
 

Long before this, belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. The world was fully ripe for monotheism or its modified form, henotheism (belief in one god without excluding others), but this monotheism offered itself in varied guises, under the forms of various Oriental religions: in the worship of the sun, in the veneration of Mithras, in Judaism, and in Christianity. Whoever wished to avoid making a violent break with the past and his surroundings sought out some Oriental form of worship which did not demand from him too severe a sacrifice; in such cases Christianity naturally came last. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Leo the Great in his day says that it was the custom of many Christians to stand on the steps of the church of St. Peter and pay homage to the sun by obeisance and prayers (cf. Euseb. Alexand. in Mai, “Nov. Patr. Bibl.”, 11, 523; Augustine, “Enarratio in Ps. x”; Leo I, Serm. xxvi). When such conditions prevailed it is easy to understand that many of the emperors yielded to the delusion that they could unite all their subjects in the adoration of the one sun-god who combined in himself the Father-God of the Christians and the much-worshipped Mithras; thus the empire could be founded anew on unity of religion. Even Constantine, as will be shown farther on, for a time cherished this mistaken belief. It looks almost as though the last persecutions of the Christians were directed more against all irreconcilables and extremists than against the great body of Christians. The policy of the emperors was not a consistent one; persecution was at first friendly towards Christianity; even its grimmest foe, Julian, wavered. Caesar Constantius, Constantine’s father, protected the Christians during a most cruel persecution.
 

Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas. Consequently Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun. According to Eusebius, the heathen also were obliged on this day to go out into the open country and together raise their hands and repeat the prayer already mentioned, a prayer without any markedChristians character (Vita Const., IV, xx).
 

(Origin of Date) Natalis Invicti
The well-known solar feast of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont’s epoch-making “Textes et Monuments” etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355. Mommsen (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, 12, p. 338) has collected the evidence for the feast, which reached its climax of popularity under Aurelian in 274. Filippo del Torre in 1700 first saw its importance; it is marked, as has been said, without addition in Philocalus’ Calendar. It would be impossible here even to outline the history of solar symbolism and language as applied to God, the Messiah, and Christ in Jewish or Chrisian canonical, patristic, or devotional works. Hymns and Christmas offices abound in instances; the texts are well arranged by Cumont (op. cit., addit. Note C, p. 355).
 

The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cypr., “De pasch. Comp.”, xix, “O quam pręclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol … nasceretur Christus. ” - “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born … Christ should be born.” - In the fourth century, Chrysostom, “del Solst. Et Ęquin.” (II, p. 118, ed. 1588), says: “Sed et dominus noster nascitur mense decembris … VIII Kal. Ian. … Sed et Invicti Natalem appelant. Quis utique tam invictus nisi dominus noster? … Vel quod dicant Solis esse natalem, ipse est Sol iustitię.” - “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December … the eight before the calends of January [25 December] …, But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord …? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.” Already Tertullian (Apol., 16; cf. Ad. Nat., I, 13; Orig. c. Cels., VIII, 67, etc) had to assert that Sol was not the Christians’ God; Augustine (Tract xxxiv, in Joan. In P. L., XXXV, 1652) denounces the heretical indentification of Christ with Sol. Pole Leo I (Serm. xxxvii in nat. dom., VII, 4; xxii, II, 6 in P. L., LIV, 218 and 198) bitterly reproves solar survivals -- Christians, on the very doorstep of the Apostles’ basilica, turn to adore the rising sun. Sun-worship has bequeathed features to modern popular worship in Armenia, where Chistians had once temporarily and externally conformed to the cult of the material sun (Cumont, op. cit., p. 356).

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