First, I want to say that I am aware of the many different blogs that have posted something like this, especially around this time of year. I am not trying to copy those blogs, rather I am trying to spread information that loves to be looked over and twisted by our modern culture (which seems to me to despise Christianity.)
One main reason for my posting this is that although there may be many blogs out there saying similar things to what I am going to say many people somehow overlook them, and many more are fed the Mithras or other copycat myths from places like the History Channel or even from their own pulpit.
I am aware that some Christians are opposed to celebrating Christmas because of supposed pagan origins or other pagan elements that they perceive to be part of the Christmas celebration. I think that this is very sad, why should we not celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, even if that celebration happens to fall on an ancient feast day of some pagan deity? I'm sure that if you look hard and long enough that you could find other pagan holidays on the same day as some of our holidays. Stop letting the secular world tell you how to live your life and how to celebrate Christ and start glorifying God!
Let me put it this way, if the Church did put a feast day on the same day as some pagan feast day why would it be wrong to celebrate on that day? Are you celebrating and worshiping the pagan deity, or are you celebrating and worshiping God? Do you not use a Christmas tree because of its pagan roots? Why? Are you celebrating that pagan religion? If not then you are taking something and using it to the glory of God. It is ok to celebrate a Christian holiday that may or may not have pagan beginnings as long as you are doing it for the glory of God, and not trying to worship some false idol or the false god that may or may not be associated with that day.
Now then, I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of tiny details, or wear myself out typing, especially as some great people have been kind enough to do that for me (plus I'm on deployment right now, do you really think I have all kinds of time to type a rough draft fine tune it, polish it, and post it all before Christmas?). So what I am going to do is quote some excerpts from some different websites post their links for you to read, and comment here and there through out.
“Back in the Roman era, Mithraism was perhaps Christianity's leading competitor for the hearts and minds of others. Today Mithraism is religiously a non-factor, but it still "competes" with Christianity, in another way: It is a leading candidate for the "pagan copycat" thesis crowd as a supposed source for Christianity.Our walking papers are laid out for us by over a dozen things that Jesus supposedly has in common with Mithras and, by extension, Christianity allegedly borrowed to create the Jesus character. The points are:
- Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
- He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
- He had 12 companions or disciples.
- Mithra's followers were promised immortality.
- He performed miracles.
- As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
- He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
- His resurrection was celebrated every year.
- He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
- He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
- His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
- Mithra had his principal festival of what was later to become Easter.
- His religion had a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."
- "His annual sacrifice is the passover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement or pledge of moral and physical regeneration."
- Shmuel Golding is quoted as saying that 1 Cor. 10:4 is "identical words to those found in the Mithraic scriptures, except that the name Mithra is used instead of Christ."
- The Catholic Encyclopedia is quoted as saying that Mithraic services were conduced by "fathers" and that the "chief of the fathers, a sort of pope, who always lived at Rome, was called 'Pater Patratus.'"
The above quote and the website associated with said quote gives a nice little list of these so called “similarities” between Mithras and Christianity. And then the author does a rather nice job tearing apart those arguments using two things most lacking in the copycat arguments: scholarship and reliable sources.
Something I would like to point out for those who might be wondering about how we arrived at the date of December 25th for the celebration of Jesus' birth please take a look at the following,
“But now for the meat of the issue: when did it happen? According to St. John Chrysostom, the foundation for the Nativity occurring on the 25th of December is a strong one. In a Christmas Sermon, he shows that the Western Chruches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept the Feast on that day. This fact bears great weight to the Doctor, who adds that the Romans, having full access to the census taken by Augustus Caesar (Luke 2, 1) — which was in the public archives of the city of Rome — were well versed in their history on this point. A second argument he adduces thusly: The priest Zachary offered incense in the month of Tisri, the seventh of the Hebrew calendar, corresponding with the end of our September or the beginning of our October. (This he most likely knew from details of the temple rites which were transmitted to him by a living tradition, supported by Holy Scripture.) At that same time, St. Luke tells us that Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist. Since, according to the Bible, Our Blessed Lady conceived in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (the end of March: when we celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation), then she gave birth nine months later: the end of December.
Because of abuses that crept into the mystery plays (i.e., immoral behavior), the Church forbade these plays during the fifteenth century. The people had grown so accustomed to the Paradise tree, however, that they began putting their own Paradise tree up in their homes on Dec. 24. They did so on Dec. 24 because this was the feast day of Adam and Eve (at least in the Eastern Church). The Paradise tree, as it had in the Paradise plays, symbolized both a tree of sin and a tree of life. For this reason, the people would decorate these trees with apples (representing the fruit of sin) and homemade wafers (like communion wafers which represented the fruit of life). Later, candy and sweets were added.” (Our Redeemer Lutheran Church)
I used a Lutheran source since the Christmas Tree had no place in the Eastern Orthodox Church that I can find, but appears to be German in origin – though I do like how many Orthodox that I know of decorate their trees with little icons. The link above has a little more to say about Christmas Trees than those two paragraphs – please feel free to read.