A Christmas Story

Did you know Christmas was a pagan celebration?

Jesus was actually born in Spring. When missionaries first carried Christianity to the peoples of northern Europe, Pope Gregory instructed these missionaries not to interfere with any traditional belief or religious observance that could be harmonized with Christianity. Therefore, many pagan ideas and practices had been introduced into Christianity.

©Aaron Burden

December 25 was at the heart of the northern European mid-winter festival, where there was a fearful superstition that as autumn days became shorter and shorter the sun might sometime completely disappear below the southern horizon and never return. Each year, the coming of the winter solstice dispelled this fear, and the people rejoiced that the sun would again come back to warm their northern lands. Early Christian missionaries chose to link this important pagan celebration with the birth of Christ.

The Christmas tree was a substitute for the sacred oaks and other trees used in pagan rights … interpreting the evergreen as the symbol of the everlasting Christ, in place of the leaf dropping trees of paganism. The green, gold and red lights which the pagan used in their trees to coax the sun-god to return, were re-interpreted to represent the frankincense, gold, and myrrh which the wise men brought to Jesus.

©Simon Wilkes

Then, the sign of Christ’s crucifixion was given “in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month.” (3 Ne. 8:5) This meant that Jesus Christ’s mortal life lasted almost exactly 33 years, and therefore his birth and crucifixion occurred in about the same season of the year. This would have been early spring because the New Testament indicates that Christ was crucified at Passover time, which falls in that part of the year.

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