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A question for the Pagans... or anyone else who can answer it...

Posted by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM
  • 12 Replies

Does anyone have a link to a website that lists the different Christian holidays and their Pagan origins?  Was wanting to send it on to DH, but can't seem to find a good unbiased source.  Or if you know the answer, or know of just one or two, will you post it here...

Thank you!

by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:57 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Heather_the_Mom
by Bronze Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:01 PM

bump

Heather_the_Mom
by Bronze Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

thank you for the link...

paganbaby
by Teflon Don on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Ah, bleedinHeart beat me to it.

Heather_the_Mom
by Bronze Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:42 PM

I checked out the different google links, and all of them seem to be for Christian websites, are there any historical/non-religious sites that breech this subject

Arroree
by Ruby Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM

This is an Agnostic/Atheist site but it actually has good detail about the origins of Easter. They put it in a fairly non-biased format. Informative without bashing any religion.

http://atheism.about.com/od/easterholidayseason/p/PaganChristian.htm

Christian Easter vs. Pagan Easter:

Easter is the oldest Christian holiday, but how much of the most public and common celebrations of Easter today remain Christian in nature? Many people go to church — far more than go the rest of the year — but what else? Easter candy isn’t Christian. The Easter bunny isn’t Christian. Easter eggs aren’t Christian. Most of what people commonly associate with Easter is pagan in origin; the rest is commercial. Just as American culture secularized Christmas, it’s secularizing Easter.
Spring Equinox:

Pagan roots of Easter lie in celebrating the spring equinox, for millennia an important holiday in many religions. Celebrating the beginning of spring may be among the oldest holidays in human culture. Occurring every year on March 20, 21, or 22, the spring equinox is the end of winter and beginning of spring. Biologically and culturally, it represents for northern climates the end of a “dead” season and the rebirth of life, as well as the importance of fertility and reproduction.
Easter & Zoroastrianism:

The earliest reference we have to a similar holiday comes to us from Babylon, 2400 BCE. The city of Ur apparently had a celebration dedicated to the moon and the spring equinox which was held some time during our months of March or April. On the spring equinox Zoroastrians continue to celebrate “No Ruz,” the new day or New Year. This date is commemorated by the last remaining Zoroastrians and probably constitutes the oldest celebration in the history of the world.
Easter & Judaism:

It is believed that the Jews derived their spring equinox celebrations, the Feast of Weeks and Passover, in part from this Babylonian holiday during the period when so many Jews were held captive by the Babylonian empire. It is likely that the Babylonians were the first, or at least among the first, civilizations to use the equinoxes as important turning points in the year. Today Passover is a central feature of Judaism and Jewish faith in God.
Fertility and Rebirth in the Spring:

Most cultures around the Mediterranean are believed to have had their own spring festivals: whereas in the north the vernal equinox is a time for planting, around the Mediterranean the vernal equinox is a time when the summer crops begin to sprout. This is an important sign of why it has always been a celebration of new life and a triumph of life over death.
Gods Dying and Being Reborn:

A focus of spring religious festivals was a god whose own death and rebirth symbolized the death and rebirth of life during this time of the year. Many pagan religions had gods who were depicted as dying and being reborn. In some legends this god even descends into the underworld to challenge the forces there. Attis, consort of the Phrygian fertility goddess Cybele, was more popular than most. In other cultures he acquired different names, including Osiris, Orpheus, Dionysus, and Tammuz.
Cybele in Ancient Rome:

Worship of Cybele started in Rome around 200 BCE, and a cult dedicated to her was even located in Rome on what is today Vatican Hill. It appears that when such pagans and early Christians lived in close proximity, they usually celebrated their spring festivals at the same time — pagans honoring Attis and Christians honoring Jesus. Of course, both were inclined to argue that only theirs was the true God, a debate which hasn’t even been settled to this day.
Ostara, Eostre, and Easter:

Currently, modern Wiccans and neo-pagans celebrate “Ostara,” a lesser Saabbat on the vernal equinox. Other names for this celebration include Eostre and Oestara and they are derived from the Anglo-Saxon lunar Goddess, Eostre. Some believe that this name is ultimately a variation on the names of other prominent goddesses, like Ishtar, Astarte, and Isis, usually a consort of the gods Osiris or Dionysus, who are depicted as dying and being reborn.
Pagan Elements of Modern Easter Celebrations:

As you might be able to tell, the name “Easter” was likely derived from Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess, as was as the name for the female hormone estrogen. Eostre’s feast day was held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox — a similar calculation as is used for Easter among Western Christians. On this date the goddess Eostre is believed by her followers to mate with the solar god, conceiving a child who would be born 9 months later on Yule, the winter solstice which falls on December 21st.

Two of Eostre’s most important symbols were the hare (both because of its fertility and because ancient people saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg, which symbolized the growing possibility of new life. Each of these symbols continues to play an important role in modern celebrations of Easter. Curiously, they are also symbols which Christianity has not fully incorporated into its own mythology. Other symbols from other holidays have been given new Christian meanings, but attempts to do the same here have failed.

American Christians continue to generally celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, but public references to Easter almost never include any religious elements. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Easter in decidedly non-Christian ways: with chocolate and other forms of Easter candy, Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, and so forth. Most cultural references to Easter include these elements, most of which are pagan in origin and all of which have become commercialized.

Because these aspects of Easter are shared by both Christians and non-Christians, they constitute the common cultural recognition of Easter — the specifically religious celebrations of Christians belong to them alone and are not part of the wider culture. The shift of religious elements away from the general culture and into Christians churches has been occurring over many decades and isn’t quite complete.


There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy
that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable
to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Arroree
by Ruby Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM

And for Christmas

http://atheism.about.com/od/christmasholidayseason/p/XmasTraditions.htm

Pre-Christian Roman Traditions:

Much of what people associate with Christmas, a holiday that is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus, actually pre-dates Christianity. Traditional Christianity celebrates the death of holy people, not their birth. In 274 CE, though, pagan emperor Aurelian proclaimed Decemer 25th Natalis Solis Invicti, the festival of the birth of the invincible sun. Saturnalia already occurred around this time along with many other celebrations. Christians took over this and other Roman festivals.
Pre-Christian German Traditions:

Germans of the north also held mid-winter festivals. Evergreen trees and holly were important because they held their green colors despite the harshest winters. Another Nordic tradition is the Yule Log — the origin of the word yule is disputed, but it may be related to the god Yolnir, Jol in Old Norse. In his name people celebrated a 12-day festival of eating, drinking, and merriment. One legend about Yolnir has him hanging himself on a tree and piercing himself with a spear.
Christian Traditions:

The most important Christian aspect of modern Christmas is Santa Claus. This character is traced to Saint Nicholas, a patron saint of children on whose day (December 6th) gifts were given to kids. Beyond the idea that that people are supposed celebrate the birth of Jesus on this day, this is all that Christianity has directly contributed. Many Christians acknowledge this and some denominations don’t celebrate Christmas at all, regarding it as little more than a dressed-up pagan holiday.
Washington Irving and Santa Claus:

Santa Claus may have Christian origins, but modern notions of Santa Claus can be traced to the writings of Washington Irving — writings often meant as satire, yet which also often ended up being read as factual. His stories about New Amsterdam being dominated by a cult which celebrated the figure of Saint Nick were popular and he often returned to the figure of Saint Nicholas, even writing about “old fashioned” Christmas celebrations which he simply made up.
Charles Dickens and Christmas Feasts:

Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol has not been his only influence. He seemed obsessive about the holiday, and more than once he depicted lavish Christmas feasts rife with “old fashioned” traditions which were little more than literary creations. Nevertheless, people followed right along, enchanted with the atmosphere he created and wishing to capture it for themselves. As with Washington Irving, people accepted fiction as if it were true and thus allowed life to imitate art.
Queen Victoria, German Christmas, and Christmas Trees:

Queen Victoria came from a German family and unlike English families, she celebrated Christmas with a small decorated indoor tree. Then, as today, people obsessed over royalty and they were particularly infatuated when their teenaged Queen ascended the throne. Then, as today, people wanted to be fashionable and adopt what their role models did — in this case, the tree tradition. It wasn’t quite the Christmas tree we know today, but it was romanticized and took on a life of its own.
Clement Moore, Christmas Eve, and a Secular Santa Claus:

Clement Moore is credited with writing the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas which almost singlehandedly created the modern American conception of Santa Claus, what he looks like, and what he does (without ever using the name Santa Claus). At this point Santa Claus is fully secularized. There is no reference to sainthood, Christianity, or Jesus. Instead, Santa has a pagan image — he is, after all, described as an elf. Nast also establishes Christmas ideas like hanging stockings by the fireplace.
Thomas Nast and Santa Claus:

Illustrator Thomas Nast is the one who gave America the physical pictures of Santa Claus, thus providing a common, shared vision of the primary symbol of an increasingly secular holiday. Nast also added numerous key details about his life which hadn’t been used by others before: Nast’s pictures showed Santa reading children’s letters, watching their behavior, writing the naughty and nice lists, and living at the North Pole.
Francis Church and the Meaning of Christmas:

An editorial writer of the New York Sun, Francis Church wrote the famous response to Virginia O’Hanlon about Santa Claus. As Tom Flynn describes, Church united “strands of Christian mysticism, nineteenth-century Transcendentalism and Romanticism, and general distrust of scientific skepticism.” Church described a coherent vision of what Christmas was supposed to be, replacing a literal Santa that children believe in with a metaphorical Santa representing a spirit of generosity and love.
Christmas Shopping and Commercialization:


It was just after World War II that people complained about over-commercialization of Christmas and started to try to “put Christ back into Christmas.” But why at this point in history? Blame it on the war: during the conflict, people had to shop early in order to get Christmas gifts to the troops overseas in time. Merchants, of course, benefited from the early shopping and made a point of reminding people to shop early — even after the war ended.

Thus the lengthy holiday shopping season was born and it’s been getting longer ever since. Over time people have learned to try to shop even earlier in order to beat the maddening holiday rush — and retailers, being the good public servants that they are, have sought to accommodate them with earlier and earlier holiday sales. By and large, the spirit of giving has become predicated upon a spirit of buying.

Such is our modern Christmas: a large number of ancient pagan practices, a few pieces of Christian traditions, and a large number of modern creations which are almost entirely secular in nature, no matter where they got their inspiration from. I see little room and little need for any “Christ” in all of this - but more importantly, I see little place where a “Christ” could be put back into the mix.

So when you find someone talking about putting Christ back into Christmas, you can ask them what part Christ really played in Christmas to begin with. Although you may not be interested in celebrating holidays with any religious trappings whatsoever, Christianity’s hold on Christmas, from a religious perspective, is rather tenuous. If you’re an atheist who would like to enjoy the holiday, you should be able to do so without giving Christianity a second thought.


There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy
that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable
to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Heather_the_Mom
by Bronze Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Thank you for these posts.... I've been telling DH this for years, but sadly all of my books on the matter were lost in a move.

PattyMomof3boys
by Silver Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 3:11 PM


Quoting Arroree:

This is an Agnostic/Atheist site but it actually has good detail about the origins of Easter. They put it in a fairly non-biased format. Informative without bashing any religion.

http://atheism.about.com/od/easterholidayseason/p/PaganChristian.htm

Christian Easter vs. Pagan Easter:

Easter is the oldest Christian holiday, but how much of the most public and common celebrations of Easter today remain Christian in nature? Many people go to church — far more than go the rest of the year — but what else? Easter candy isn’t Christian. The Easter bunny isn’t Christian. Easter eggs aren’t Christian. Most of what people commonly associate with Easter is pagan in origin; the rest is commercial. Just as American culture secularized Christmas, it’s secularizing Easter.
Spring Equinox:

Pagan roots of Easter lie in celebrating the spring equinox, for millennia an important holiday in many religions. Celebrating the beginning of spring may be among the oldest holidays in human culture. Occurring every year on March 20, 21, or 22, the spring equinox is the end of winter and beginning of spring. Biologically and culturally, it represents for northern climates the end of a “dead” season and the rebirth of life, as well as the importance of fertility and reproduction.
Easter & Zoroastrianism:

The earliest reference we have to a similar holiday comes to us from Babylon, 2400 BCE. The city of Ur apparently had a celebration dedicated to the moon and the spring equinox which was held some time during our months of March or April. On the spring equinox Zoroastrians continue to celebrate “No Ruz,” the new day or New Year. This date is commemorated by the last remaining Zoroastrians and probably constitutes the oldest celebration in the history of the world.
Easter & Judaism:

It is believed that the Jews derived their spring equinox celebrations, the Feast of Weeks and Passover, in part from this Babylonian holiday during the period when so many Jews were held captive by the Babylonian empire. It is likely that the Babylonians were the first, or at least among the first, civilizations to use the equinoxes as important turning points in the year. Today Passover is a central feature of Judaism and Jewish faith in God.
Fertility and Rebirth in the Spring:

Most cultures around the Mediterranean are believed to have had their own spring festivals: whereas in the north the vernal equinox is a time for planting, around the Mediterranean the vernal equinox is a time when the summer crops begin to sprout. This is an important sign of why it has always been a celebration of new life and a triumph of life over death.
Gods Dying and Being Reborn:

A focus of spring religious festivals was a god whose own death and rebirth symbolized the death and rebirth of life during this time of the year. Many pagan religions had gods who were depicted as dying and being reborn. In some legends this god even descends into the underworld to challenge the forces there. Attis, consort of the Phrygian fertility goddess Cybele, was more popular than most. In other cultures he acquired different names, including Osiris, Orpheus, Dionysus, and Tammuz.
Cybele in Ancient Rome:

Worship of Cybele started in Rome around 200 BCE, and a cult dedicated to her was even located in Rome on what is today Vatican Hill. It appears that when such pagans and early Christians lived in close proximity, they usually celebrated their spring festivals at the same time — pagans honoring Attis and Christians honoring Jesus. Of course, both were inclined to argue that only theirs was the true God, a debate which hasn’t even been settled to this day.
Ostara, Eostre, and Easter:

Currently, modern Wiccans and neo-pagans celebrate “Ostara,” a lesser Saabbat on the vernal equinox. Other names for this celebration include Eostre and Oestara and they are derived from the Anglo-Saxon lunar Goddess, Eostre. Some believe that this name is ultimately a variation on the names of other prominent goddesses, like Ishtar, Astarte, and Isis, usually a consort of the gods Osiris or Dionysus, who are depicted as dying and being reborn.
Pagan Elements of Modern Easter Celebrations:

As you might be able to tell, the name “Easter” was likely derived from Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess, as was as the name for the female hormone estrogen. Eostre’s feast day was held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox — a similar calculation as is used for Easter among Western Christians. On this date the goddess Eostre is believed by her followers to mate with the solar god, conceiving a child who would be born 9 months later on Yule, the winter solstice which falls on December 21st.

Two of Eostre’s most important symbols were the hare (both because of its fertility and because ancient people saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg, which symbolized the growing possibility of new life. Each of these symbols continues to play an important role in modern celebrations of Easter. Curiously, they are also symbols which Christianity has not fully incorporated into its own mythology. Other symbols from other holidays have been given new Christian meanings, but attempts to do the same here have failed.

American Christians continue to generally celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, but public references to Easter almost never include any religious elements. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Easter in decidedly non-Christian ways: with chocolate and other forms of Easter candy, Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, and so forth. Most cultural references to Easter include these elements, most of which are pagan in origin and all of which have become commercialized.

Because these aspects of Easter are shared by both Christians and non-Christians, they constitute the common cultural recognition of Easter — the specifically religious celebrations of Christians belong to them alone and are not part of the wider culture. The shift of religious elements away from the general culture and into Christians churches has been occurring over many decades and isn’t quite complete.

This is fascinating! Thanks for sharing! They all sound like great reasons to celebrate this time of year. I cherry-pick them all!! ^_^ (especially the ones that get me my peeps!)

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Heather_the_Mom
by Bronze Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 3:20 PM

I, personally, am a very spiritual person, but not necessarily religious.  I'm not going to go into what I believe or how I view religion, but lets just say hubby and I have different views considering he comes from a very Roman Catholic family.

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