As December and #ForReal Winter arrives, some larger animals go inside to hibernate and some Human animals start to get ready to be with their friends and families and eat lots of food because no one wants to go outside for more than 15mins at a time. We Humans have been doing it for years, in fact thousands of years, in fact, ummmm, we’ve been celebrating Christmas or Winter Feasting since waaaaay before Jesus was born.
The truth is there is no mention in the bible of December 25th as Jesus’ Birthday. There are instead, several mentions of facts that indicate that Jesus was probably born in the Fall, and definitely not in Winter. In the bible it says that the Shepherds were in the field watching their flocks when Jesus was born (Luke 2:7-8). But December wasn’t the time for the shepherds to be in the fields (it’s pretty cold). Also, Mary and Joseph were voyaging to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census, but the census would never have been taken during the winter because temperatures were below freezing and the roads were at their worst; it would have been counter-productive to ask the pastorals to travel to the cities then.
The truth is that the midwinter date was always celebrated by Polytheists, the ones whom the church named “Pagans” and “Heretics”. Since time immemorial, polytheism differs from monotheism (in most cases) by one defining characteristc: Polytheists usually worship gods that represent the different aspects of Nature (The God of Thunder, the God of the Sea) while Monotheists worship one god who is a representation not of nature but of humanity (*That humans were His favorite and so made in His image*). So the Polytheists, or Pagans, had holidays that revolved around the changing of the weather (the different facets of Nature), like worshiping the Sun God during the Winter Solstice, to pray for a lush and vibrant spring and to feast and celebrate the bounty of the past year, made possible by the grace of the Sun-God’s presence. The Pagan midwinter feast included almost all of the staples of modern Christmas, from the gathering of families for a feast to gift-giving, to the adorning of houses with forest decorations to celebrate the abundance of Nature.
Before the dawn of recorded history, many tribes and populations of men and women have worshiped the Sun-God as the most powerful or one of the most powerful Gods in their Pantheons, and when Christianity began to incorporate these pagan traditions, it did its best to fuse Jesus into the role of the sun god. That is where the Halo comes from. Thousands of years before the birth of Christ, the Egyptian Sun God Ra was always depicted with a Halo above or around His head (the Halo representing the Light and the Sun). In the 15th Century, during the Middle Ages, Christian paintings began to use the Halo around the heads of Saints and of Jesus. That is why in so many paitings of Jesus and of Mary there is a light that comes either from behind their whole bodies or from behind their heads, creating a Halo.
The Egyptian Sky God Horus, who looked almost exactly like Ra but without the Halo, was worshipped on the 25th of December, and was the Son of Isis and Osiris (In many interpretations, this having been a Virgin Conception). Later Egyptian Cultures fused the already similar Gods Ra and Horus into Ra-Horakhty (Ra, who is the Horus of two horizons) and eventually Jesus inherited Horus’ birthday and Immaculate Conception and Ra’s Halo.
So, if you do celebrate the Winter Holidays this year, remember that the Winter Feast has many lives, and while it doesn’t need to be taken away from Christians per se, one can also choose to celebrate Nature, the awesome power of the Sun and the amazing cycles of plants that sprout straight up from the ground to feed us.