Christian Churches of God
The Origins of Christmas and Easter
(Edition 3.0 19980117-20071215-20081215-20100430)
Christians have been conditioned to accept that Christmas and Easter are essentially part of the Christian tradition. The fact is that neither is at all Christian and both have their roots in the Mystery cults, the Saturnalia, the worship of the Mother-goddess system and the worship of the Sun god. They are directly contradictory to the Laws of God and His system.
The Origins of Christmas and Easter
Modern so-called Christianity celebrates two major festivals of Christmas and Easter. One is in December and the other is in March-April. The Bible celebrates no religious festival in December. The March-April festival commanded to be observed by the Bible is called the Passover. It falls in March-April but is not called Easter and does not fall as determined by the calculations for Easter.
More importantly, there are also other festivals commanded by the Bible that are not being kept. The Sabbath, which is the Fourth Commandment, is not kept but the day of the Sun is kept in its stead. How did this happen? How did it all originate? Is it biblical and is it Christian? The answers are all found in history and the answers are fascinating.
There was a festival celebrated in December in Rome. It is necessary to any understanding of what is happening at Christmas. That festival was termed the Saturnalia. It was the festival of Saturn to whom the inhabitants of Latium, the Latins, attributed agriculture and the arts necessary for civilised life (Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 2nd ed., London, 1851, p. 1009). It fell towards the end of December and was viewed by the population as a time of absolute relaxation and merriment. During its continuance, the law courts were closed. No public business could be transacted. The schools kept a holiday. To commence a war was impious and to punish a malefactor involved pollution (ibid.). Slaves were relieved of onerous toils and permitted to wear the pileus or badge of freedom. They were granted freedom of speech and were waited on at a special banquet by their masters whose clothes they wore (ibid.). All ranks devoted themselves to feasting and mirth with presents exchanged among friends.
Wax tapers were given by the more humble to their superiors. The crowds thronged the streets, and Smith says many of the customs had a remarkable resemblance to those of Christmas and the Italian carnival (ibid.).
Public gambling was condoned by the authorities as was later card-playing, and was indulged in even by the most rigid in later times at Christmas Eve. The whole populace threw off the toga, wore the loose gown called the synthesis and walked about with the pileus on their heads. Smith’s Dictionary says this practice is reminiscent of the dominoes, peaked caps and other disguises worn at later Christmas festivals by masques and mummers. The cerei or wax tapers or lights were probably employed as the moccoli are on the last night of the carnival. Our traditions of Christmas lights probably stems from this tradition.
Lastly, for amusement in private society, was the election of a mock king, which is immediately recognised in the ceremony of Twelfth Night (ibid.). We will come across this later.
Sir James George Frazer, in his classic study of magic and religion (The Golden Bough, McMillan, 1976), says this mock king was an allusion back to the idyllic days of the reign of Saturn, and the slaves being given temporary freedom at this time hearkened back to these days when all were free and things were just (ibid., ix, p. 308ff.). Roman soldiers stationed on the Danube in the reign of Maximian and Diocletian are recorded (by Franz Cumont) to have chosen a young and handsome man to resemble Saturn from among them by lot, thirty days before the festival. They dressed him in royal attire to resemble Saturn. He went about in public attended by a retinue of soldiers and indulged his passions no matter how base and shameful. At the end of thirty days, he then cut his own throat on the altar of the god he personated. In the year 303, the lot fell upon the Christian soldier Dasius, but he refused to play the part of the heathen god and to soil his last days by debauchery. He refused to give in to the intimidation of his commanding officer Bassus, and was accordingly beheaded by the soldier John at Durostorum at the fourth hour on Friday 20 November 303, being the twenty-fourth day of the Moon (Frazer, ibid.).
This historical account was confirmed after its publication by Franz Cumont by the discovery in the crypt of the cathedral at Ancona of the white marble sarcophagus in script characteristic of the age of Justinian with the Greek inscription:
Here lies the holy martyr Dasius, brought from Durostorum.
The sarcophagus had been brought there from the church of St Pellegrino in 1848 where it lay under the high altar, and was recorded as being there in 1650 (Frazer, p. 310).
Frazer says this sets a new light on the nature of the Lord of the Saturnalia, the ancient Lord of Misrule, who presided over the winter revels at Rome (ibid., p. 311). Here we see the extent of the traditions and the elements of human sacrifice, which extend into the festivals in both December and at the equinox. Dasius the Christian suffered martyrdom rather than participate in these revels.
As Saturnus was an ancient national god of Latium, the institution of the Saturnalia is lost in remote antiquity (ibid.).
There are three traditions associated with it.
1. It is ascribed to Janus, who, on the sudden disappearance of his benefactor from the abodes of men, erected an altar to him as a deity in the forum and ordained annual sacrifices.
2. According to Varro, it is attributed to the wanderings of the Pelasagi on their first settlement in Italy. Hercules then, on his return from Spain, was said to have abolished the worship and practice of immolating human sacrifice; and
3. The third tradition attributes the Saturnalia to the followers of Hercules who set it up after his return to Greece.
In either of the last two we see a commonality. The practice of this agricultural festival thus has certain common elements with the spring festival of Easter, as we will see later. The element of human sacrifice common to all traditions can also be traced to the worship of Moloch as the Moon god Sin, and also of Ishtar (see the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)). This sacrificial aspect also appeared in the worship of the god Attis (see below).
The erection of temples in historical times is recorded, such as during the reign of Tatius, Tarquinius superbus, to the consulship of A. Sempronius or M. Minucius (497 BCE) or in that of T. Larcius the previous year. It appears that at varying stages the ceremonies were neglected or corrupted, and then revived and extended (ibid.).
The Saturnalia originally fell on 14 Kalend January. When the Julian calendar was introduced it was extended to 16 Kalend January which caused confusion among the more ignorant, and Augustus enacted that three whole days (namely 17, 18 and 19 December) should be hallowed in all time coming (ibid.). Some unknown authority added a fourth day and Caligula added a fifth day, the Juvenalis. This fell into disuse and was later restored by the emperor Claudius.
Strictly speaking, one day only was consecrated to religious observance in the days of the Republic. However, the celebrations lasted over a much longer period. Historically, Livy speaks of the first day of the Saturnalia (Liv., xxx, 36). Cicero writes of the second and third days (ad Att., v, 20; xv, 32). From Novius (Attelanae) the term seven days of the Saturnalia was used and this phrase was also used by Memmius (Macrobius, i, 10) and Martial (xiv, 72; cf. Smith, ibid.). Martial also speaks of the five days enacted by Caligula and Claudius.
These five days have an ancient calendrical significance also.
Smith says that in reality three festivals were involved over this period.
1. The Saturnalia proper commenced on 17 December (16 Kalend December).
2. This was followed by the Opalia (14 Kalend January or 19 December), which was anciently coincidental to the Saturnalia. These two together lasted for five days. This festival was celebrated in honour of Opis who was allegedly the wife of Saturn. Originally, it was celebrated on the same day, and thus the Mother goddess and lover theme is evident in the origins of this festival. We will meet this theme throughout. The followers of Opis paid their vows sitting, and touched the earth of whom she was goddess (Smith, ibid., art. ‘Opalia’, p. 835).
3. The sixth and seventh days were occupied by the Sigillaria which was named for the little earthenware figures that were displayed for sale on the period as toys to be given as presents for children.
Thus, under the Julian calendar, the period ran from 17 December until 23 December when the presents were given to the children.
We now proceed to examine further the theology behind these festivals. The commonality of the traditions of the festivals is too obvious to be ignored.
The Heavenly Virgin as Mother goddess
Frazer notes that:
… the worship of the Great Mother of the Gods and her lover or son was very popular under the Roman Empire, (v, pp. 298ff.)
From the inscription we know that the two (as Mother and lover or Mother and son) received divine honours not only in Italy but also in all the provinces – particularly in Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Bulgaria (ibid.). Their worship survived the establishment of Christianity by Constantine.
Thus, the symbolism of the Heavenly Virgin and the infant child paraded on a yearly basis are not of Christian origin. They stem from the Mother-goddess religion, which is very ancient. We will see more of this later.
Frazer notes Symmachus as recording the festival of the Great Mother. In the days of Augustine her effeminate priests still paraded the streets and squares of Carthage and, like the mendicant friars of the Middle Ages, begged alms from the passers-by (ibid.; cf. S. Dill, Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, London, 1899, p. 16; and Augustine, City of God, vii, 26).
The Greeks, on the other hand, rejected the more barbarous rites in favour of those similar but gentler rites of the worship of Adonis (ibid.).
Frazer says that the same features which shocked and repelled the Greeks were what attracted the Romans and the barbarians of the west (ibid., pp. 298-299).
The ecstatic frenzies which were mistaken for divine inspiration, the mangling of the body and the theory of a new birth and the remission of sin through the shedding of blood, have all their origin in savagery (ibid.).
Frazer holds that their true character was often disguised under a decent veil of allegory and philosophical interpretation, which drew the more cultivated of them to things that might otherwise have filled them with horror and disgust. Modern Pentecostalism draws its inspiration from the ideas behind these religious festivals.
The religion of the Great Mother was only one of a multitude of similar oriental faiths that spread across the Roman Empire, imposing themselves on the Europeans. According to Frazer, this gradually undermined the whole fabric of ancient civilisation.
The entire Greek and Roman society was based on the concept of the subordination of individual to the state, and one’s whole life was dedicated to the perpetuation of the society. If one shrank from supreme sacrifice then it never occurred to anyone that they acted other than for base reasons.
Oriental religion taught the reverse of this doctrine. It inculcated the communion of the “soul” with God and its eternal salvation as the only objects of existence, and in comparison with the prosperity and even the existence of the state was insignificant.
The inevitable consequence of this selfish and immoral doctrine was to draw the individual more and more from the public service and to concentrate contempt for the present life in the individual.
The misapplication of these Mystery doctrines or oriental religions and their application in Gnosticism, when placed on the biblical narrative of the City of God as a spiritual edifice, was to have disastrous consequences for the ordering of society. The effect was to loosen the ties of the family and the state, and to generally disintegrate the political body of the state. The society tended to relapse into its individual elements and thereby into barbarism. Civilisation is only possible through the active cooperation of the individual and the subordination of the interests of the individual to that of the common good (ibid., p. 301).
Frazer holds that this obsession lasted for a thousand years. He held that it only changed at the end of the Middle Ages with the revival of Roman law, of Aristotelian philosophy, and of ancient art and literature to saner and more manly views of the world. The fact of the matter is that if the true biblical model was implemented no such problem would have existed. The problem arose from Oriental Mysteries combined with the Gnostic system, which is more prevalent today. Frazer held that the tide of this oriental invasion had turned at last and was ebbing still. He was wrong in this regard, although he also allows that bad government and a ruinous fiscal system are two major causes which strike down civilisations, as they did the Turkish Empire in his day.
We will look at the effects of the Great-Mother religion, and the Mithras system and its applications under Gnostic influence in Christianity to see that it is still there as strong as ever in more subtle forms. Yet, much of its traditional trappings are the same.
One of the gods who competed for the worship of the West was the Persian deity Mithra.
The immense popularity of this cult should not be underestimated. The monuments dedicated to this system are scattered all over the Roman Empire and right through Europe (a map of the extent of the monuments is found in David Ulansey, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, Oxford, New York, 1989, p. 5).
This was a secret cult whose mysteries were never written down, and so little is known exactly of their ritual except what we can deduce from their shrines and places of worship. However, we do know that they had two forms of worship. The private and secret form was Mithraism. The public form, however, was Elagabalism and we know more of its system from this. Both were based on Sun worship.
Much of its religion was similar to the religion of the Mother of the Gods and also to what was understood to have been later Christianity (cf. Frazer, ibid., p. 302). The similarity struck the Christian doctors themselves, and it was explained to them as the work of the devil by counterfeiting a version of the true faith (ibid.). Tertullian explained how the fasts of Isis and Cybele were similar to the fasts of Christianity (De jejunio 16).
Justin Martyr explains how the death, resurrection and ascension of Dionysius, the virgin birth of Perseus, and Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus were parodies of the true Christian stories written by the demons in advance, even down to the story of Christ riding on an ass which was contained in the Psalms as prophecy (cf. Apol., i, 54).
The conflict between Mithraism and Christianity was so great that for a time the outcome hung in the balance. The fact of the matter is that the result was decided by the adoption of the Mithraic practices and giving them Christian names. The most important single relic of this pagan syncretism is that of Christmas, which Frazer says the Church seems to have borrowed directly from its heathen rival (p. 303).
The Roman army became devotees of Mithras and it is obvious from the records regarding Dasius that the Saturnalia was held in conjunction with the worship of Mithras. Thus, the Saturnalia simply preceded the solstice festival and became a part of it.
Christmas and the Heavenly Virgin
In the Julian calendar, 25 December was reckoned as the winter solstice (Frazer, ibid., p. 303; cf. Pliny, Natural History, xviii, p. 221). It was regarded as the nativity of the Sun as its days began to lengthen and its power increased from that turning point of the year.
Frazer holds that the ritual of the nativity as it was celebrated in Syria and Egypt was remarkable. The celebrants retired into certain inner shrines from which at midnight they issued a loud cry, “The Virgin has brought forth! The Light is waxing!” (ibid.; cf. Cosmas Hierosolymitanus, see fn. 3 to p. 303).
The Egyptians even represented the newborn Sun by an image of an infant which, on his birthday (the winter solstice), they brought forth and exhibited to his worshippers (ibid., cf. Macrobius, Saturnalia, i, 18, 10).
No doubt the Virgin who thus conceived and bore a son on the twenty-fifth of December was the great Oriental goddess whom the Semites called the Heavenly Virgin or simply the Heavenly Goddess; in Semitic lands she was a form of Astarte (ibid., noting Franz Cumont s.v. Caelestis in Pauly-Wissowa’s Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, v, 1, 1247, sqq).
This is the origin of the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of the mother of Jesus Christ. It has no basis in the Bible or in fact. Christ’s mother was not named Mary and the Bible is clear that she bore other children. We will return to this myth later.
The legend of the three kings
25 December was an ancient Sun-worshipping festival and the three kings associated with it do not appear to relate to the wise men from the East in the biblical narrative, but to a perhaps older tradition relating to the so-called twelve days of Christmas. The twelfth-day sequence is associated with the three kings in France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Their names are Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. In Germany and Austria it is known as the Day of the Three Kings (Dreikönigstag) and in France as the Festival of the Kings (Fête des Rois). The kings go around in some areas represented by mummers who sing songs and collect from the householders. It is given a Christian basis but there is no basis in the Bible for assuming there were three people (other than the three types of gifts) or that they were kings. They are recorded as Magi or wise men. This seems to have another basis (cf. Frazer, ix, p. 329). From the customs in Franche-Comte and also the Vosges Mountains, Melchior is supposed to have been a black king, and the face of the boy playing him is blackened (ibid., p. 330). These three are invoked for healing with rituals involving three nails placed in the earth. This smacks of the triune systems of the Celts in France long before the Christian system.
In Czech and German Bohemia, the rituals of fumigation and spices are found being used on the twelfth day. The initials C.M.B (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) together with three crosses are marked on doors after fumigation to guard against evil influences and infectious diseases. They were invoked under the words pray for us now and at the hour of our deaths.
The Lord of Misrule and the King of Beans
In this tradition also we see the Lord of Misrule emerge among the traditions. The full extent of time was from All Hallows eve (31 October, the eve of All Saints day) to Candlemas (2 February). However, it was generally confined to the twelve days at Christmas, termed the twelve nights. The Lord of Misrule was elected from the Court of the Sovereign in England through every office of the land. This Lord of Misrule was also elected at Merton College, Oxford as King of the Beans (cf. Frazer, ix, p. 332).
The Festival of Fools
In France, the counterparts of the English Lords of Misrule masqueraded as mock clergy, bishops, archbishops, popes or abbots. This was known as the Festival of Fools and was held either on Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day (26 December), New Year’s Day, or Twelfth Day depending on place.
At these times there were parodies of the most solemn rites of the church where priests, wearing masks and sometimes dressed as women, danced in the choir and sang obscene chants; and laymen disguised as monks mingled with the clergy and the altar was turned into a tavern where the deacons and sub-deacons ate sausage and black pudding or played dice and cards under the nose of the celebrant. The censers were filled with bits of old shoes, filling the church with a foul stench.
In some areas of France, for example at Autun, an ass was led into the church where a parody of the Mass was said over it. A regular Latin liturgy was said over it and the celebrant priest initiated the braying of an ass (Frazer, pp. 334-335).
At Beauvais, on 14 January, a young woman with a child in her arms rode on the back of an ass allegedly in imitation of the flight into Egypt. She was led in triumph from the cathedral to the parish church of St Stephen, where she and the ass were placed on the left side of the altar. A long Mass was said, consisting of scraps borrowed indiscriminately from many church services throughout the year. The singers quenched their thirst in the intervals as did the congregation, and the ass was fed and watered. Afterwards, the ass was brought from the chancel into the nave where the entire congregation, clergy and laity danced round it braying like asses. After vespers, a large procession proceeded to a great theatre opposite the church where they watched indecent farces.
All of this is reminiscent of the rites in North Africa of the effeminate priests of the Mother-goddess system and the Saturnalia. Frazer says there is no direct evidence that one is derived from the other but the Saturnalia, with the licence that characterised it and the temporary reign of a mock king, makes it appear so (ix, p. 339). These traditions were kept up until the nineteenth century when Victorian England and Napoleonic France, following on from the Revolution, did away with them in some fashion. They were replaced, as we will see, with another form of the same errors. Much of the modern insanity derives from the USA and its commercialism.
The twelve days of Christmas, cakes, beans and money
The King of the Bean is also associated with the Festival of Fools in France and there is a more ancient significance to it. The Festival of Fools goes on to the Twelfth Day of Christmas (Twelfth Night is the night of 6 January). The eve, which is 5 January and thus the Epiphany of 6 January, marks the end of the two periods of the pre-Christmas festivities, which are associated with the Saturnalia and the Sun system and which commence from the Solstice on 25 December and continue until 5 January.
In some areas the king has a queen consort and both have an agricultural significance and seem to be related to the rites also of the Saturnalia.
The king and queen are elected by lot on the Twelfth Night (i.e. Epiphany, 6 January) or on the eve of that festival on 5 January. It was common in France, Belgium, Germany and England. It is still kept in some parts of France. The Court acknowledged the practice and each family elected its own king. On the eve of the festival, a great cake was baked with a bean in it. It was divided into portions: one for each member of the family; one for God; one for the Heavenly Virgin: and, sometimes, one for the poor. The person getting the portion with the bean was proclaimed King of the Bean (Frazer, ix, p. 313). Sometimes a second bean was placed in the cake for the election of the queen. At Blankenheim, near Neuerburg in the Eiffel, a black and a white bean were baked in the cake – the black for the king and the white for the queen. In Franche-Comte they used to put as many white haricot beans in a hat as there where people present. Two coloured beans were included and drawn at random by a child. Those receiving the coloured beans were king and queen.
In England, the practice was to put a bean in the hat for the king and a pea for the queen. However, in some places only the king was elected by lot, and he chose his queen himself. Sometimes a coin was substituted for the bean in the cake. This custom was followed in southern Germany as early as the first half of the sixteenth century. It is, however, considered by Frazer to be a variation on the earlier bean custom. It shows reasonably clearly that the placing of coins in Christmas puddings stems from this custom of an earlier time.
In France, the young child present was placed under a table. It was addressed as Phoebe or Tebe and he answered in Latin Domine. The pieces of the cake were distributed according to the child’s direction. The etymology has been attributed to the oracle of Apollo by some scholars. Frazer thinks it may be simply derived from the word for the bean (Lat. faba, Fr. fève).
Every time the king or queen drank, the company cried: “The king (or queen) drinks!”, and they all did likewise. Anyone failing to do so had their faces blackened by corks or soot or the lees of wine. In some parts of the Ardennes, the practice was to fasten great horns of paper in the hair and put a huge pair of spectacles on their nose. This was worn until the end of the festival. This is probably the origin of the Dunce’s Cap.
This is still kept in northern France where a miniature porcelain figure is substituted for the bean and drawn by a child. If it is drawn by a boy he chooses his queen; if drawn by a girl she chooses her king.
These kings and queens placed white crosses on the rafters of houses to ban hobgoblins, witches and bugs. There was, however, a more serious significance to some of the office. In Lorraine, the height of the hemp crop was said to be determined from the height of the king and queen. If the king were taller, the male hemp would be higher than the female and vice versa. In the Vosges Mountains on the border of France-Compte, the practice of dancing on the roof was observed to make the hemp grow tall.
In many areas the beans used in the cake were taken to be blessed by the clergy, and divination was employed on Twelfth Night to determine the month of the year in which the price of wheat would be dearest.
The practice of lighting bonfires is still carried out in some areas and, at the time Frazer wrote, it was still done in the Montagne du Doubs on the eve of Twelfth Night (ix, p. 316). This was seemingly to ensure the fertility of the crops. There seems to be a definite, if distant, relationship to the Yule festivals of the pagans.
While it burned the people danced around it singing: “Good year come back! Bread and wine come back!”
The youth of Pontarlier carry torches over the sowed lands shouting: “Couaille, couaille, blanconnie”, the meaning of which is lost in antiquity.
In the Bocage of Normandy on the same day, it is the fruit trees that are fired. These twinkling lights are everywhere as the peasants celebrate the Ceremony of the Moles and Field-mice (Taupes et Mulots). Villages compete in the blaze, and woods and hedges are scoured for materials. They scour the fields threatening the moles and field mice and thus they believe the crop will be larger that autumn.
The bonfires on the eve of Epiphany were also observed in the Ardennes. It is useful to look at the customs here in regard to festivals of the goddess Hecate in Rome and Europe generally and the fields and the crosses involved there (cf. the paper The Cross: Its Origin and Significance (No. 39)).
Similar fire customs are experienced in the UK in Gloucester and in Hertfordshire, with twelve fires at the end of twelve lands (Gloucester) designed to prevent smut in wheat. There is a thirteenth larger fire lit in both cases – the latter being on a hill (Frazer, ix, p. 318).
This custom of making twelve fires of straw and drinking toasts of cider or ale is called Wassailing and is ancient. Oxen are also toasted in this strange ritual in some areas with a cake placed on the horns of the lead ox and then thrown by tickling the ox.
The explanation of the practice of lighting fires and especially this largest is found in examination against the practice not only in UK and France but also in Macedonia. The large fires are to burn the witches and malefactors that roam the fields at night. They are called by the Macedonians karkantzari or skatzanzari. They are overcome by binding with straw rope. They resume their human shape during the day. Over the twelve days of Christmas, they must be overcome by strenuous effort. Some places start on Christmas Eve and in others it continues or is done on Twelfth Night.
On Christmas Eve, some people burn the karkantzari by burning holm-oak faggots and throwing them out in the streets at early dawn. Here again, we have reference to the Yule festivals of the Druids. The later oak faggots were remnants of the earlier log burning.
In Ireland, they set up sheaves of oats. This was done in Roscommon where they held that “Twelfth Night, which is Old Christmas Day, is greater than Christmas Day itself” (Frazer, ix, p. 321).
They set up thirteen candles in the sheaf, twelve smaller and one greater in the centre and attribute these to the Apostles at the Last Supper; but these are at Christmas and not Passover. Thirteen candles of rushlight named after each member of the family (or relations to make up the number) are placed in cakes of cow dung and burned to determine the length of life of each person (ix, p. 322).
The origin of candles
The use of candles goes back to the ancient Aryan religion, which used them at the Yule ceremony to ward off the gods of thunder, storm and tempest (Frazer, x, p. 264 (n. 4); and also p. 265). They were lit and tied to the sacred oak (ibid., ii, 327).
In some areas (Ruthenia, and Europe generally) they were used by thieves and burglars to cause sleep (Frazer, i, pp. 148-149), and in this case they were made of human tallow (ibid., i, p. 236). Parts of the human anatomy were also used as candles or human bones were filled with tallow made from the fat of hanged men (ibid., p. 149). Sometimes, candles were made from the fingers of newborn or, preferably as they saw it, unborn children. As late as the seventeenth century in Europe, robbers used to murder pregnant women to extract such candles from their wombs (ibid.).
Candles were burnt to ward off witches. They entered Christianity through the Catholic or Orthodox Church (cf. Frazer, ibid., i, p. 13).
Among the Germans, the ancient Aryan practice continued of lighting new fire by means of a bonfire at Easter and sending the sticks to each home to start the fires to ward off the gods of thunder, storm and tempest. The practice was introduced to Catholicism as the Easter candle. This single giant candle was lit at Easter on Saturday night before the Easter Sunday and then all the candles of the church were lit from it. This continued for the year until the following Easter, when the single Easter candle was again lit.
The practice of lighting the candle appears to take place on the night before the day of the Sun, as part of the ancient Sun-worshipping system.
In the Temple, incense was burned. Candles were not burned other than as the Menorah, which was made up of oil lamps and not candles.
This practice of burning lights as candles or tapers was similar to that of the Saturnalia. We know from the Book of Baruch (6:19ff.) that the practice of lighting candles before idols overlaid with precious metals was Babylonian. The practice of lighting multiple candles probably entered Judaism through the Babylonian system. We will deal with it in more detail in the section on Easter.
The Menorah was seven-branched and ordered by God for the Temple. In Solomon's Temple, there were ten lamp stands with seven oil lamps per stand representing the Council of the Elohim, of which the Sanhedrin was a copy. The nine branches in Judaism are given mystical symbolism. There is no biblical authority for them.
The weather of the twelve days of Christmas was said to determine the weather of the forthcoming year.
It is based on what appears to be a form of ancient zodiacal division of dividing the twelve days into four quadrants of three days per quadrant. This was done in the British Isles and it extended through Germany and German Austria into Western Europe.
From the weather on each of the twelve days it was possible to divine the weather of each successive month of the year. It was held to be accurate and apply also to the Twelfth Day itself where the weather on each hour would determine the weather for the corresponding month. The days were thus a system of divination for the year ahead in its agricultural aspects.
In Swabia, the days were called the twelve lot days. More precise divination was determined by making twelve circles divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant represented a quarter of the month. These were drawn on paper and hung over the door. As each day of the twelve days passed from Christmas to Epiphany, the weather on each quarter day was shaded and the weather for that quarter month was determined.
In Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, it was done somewhat differently. On Christmas, New Year’s Day or on another of the twelve days, one sliced an onion in two, peeled off twelve coats, and sprinkled a pinch of salt in each of them. From the moisture left in them the next morning, it was considered possible to determine the weather for the next twelve months of the year.
This was not confined to the Germanic tribes or the Teutons – it was found also in France and among the Celts of Brittany and in Scotland.
In the Bocage of Normandy, the temperature was divined for the year from the temperature of the twelve days. This was considered more accurate than the predictions of the Double-Liégois. In Cornouaille, Brittany, the twelve days were determined from Christmas to the Epiphany – being the last six days of December and the first six of January. In other parts of Brittany and in Scotland the twelve days were determined from 1 January. They were known in Brittany as the gour-deziou or male days. It is said to mean properly the additional or supplementary days. This concept takes us back to another ancient concept of the calendar and the five excess days of the year.
From their almanac, the Scots determine the weather of the forthcoming year by that of the twelve days of Christmas. Thus the weather in January is determined by the weather of 31 December or 1 January (depending on place), and so on, as an infallible rule.
The Celts of Scotland, as elsewhere in France, are divided as to the beginning of the days: either at Christmas, on 1 January, or on 31 December. Frazer considers this an important indicator of the origin of the beliefs (ibid., ix, p. 24).
This concept is very ancient and is found among the Aryans of the Vedic age in India. This predates Christ by many centuries.
They, too, appear to have invested days in midwinter with a sacred character as a time when the three Ribhus or genii of the seasons rested from their labours in the home of the sun-god, and these twelve rest-days they called ‘an image or copy of the year’ (Frazer, ix, pp. 324-325).
Frazer follows A. Weber in this explanation of the common views of the East and West (cf. fn. 3 to ix, p. 325).
The system was thus an ancient system of the Aryans, who conquered India from the Steppes with the use of iron-age implements and harnessed horses about 1000 BCE.
Their relatives took the same festivals west into Europe. These movements are part of the dispersion of the ancient Mysteries of the Babylonian system that found its way into the nomadic Shamans. This religion was Animism.
Ancient calendar systems
The division of the twelve days came from the ancient Aryan calendar, which was divided according to the phases of the Moon and not that of the Sun. The various Aryan languages have the name for month as the name for moon.
The days of the month alternate between twenty- nine and thirty days every two months. These days at fifty-nine times six fall short of the actual solar year by almost twelve days (eleven and one quarter days).
This appears to have been an intercalation to adjust the lunar to the solar year, which was a perversion of the true intercalation system adopted by the Hebrews, the Assyro-Babylonians and the Greco-Romans. It thus seems to have been a perversion of Sun-worship from the earliest days of the movements of the Middle Eastern tribes. The Celtic Hittites, being the first to move into Europe, took the system with them and its implementation corrupted subsequent colonisation from the Assyrian relocations and the movement of the Parthian and Gothic horde.
We now know much more about the calendar system in use in Europe and the midwinter solstice in use in Europe and the UK. The megalithic stone circles were designed to determine the solstice exactly on midwinter’s day.
The twelve days were distinct from the five days, and they appear to have been variously added to or combined in different areas.
It appears that the five extra days of the year making the 365 days, over and above the 360 days considered to be the normal year, was a very ancient belief and system of intercalary practice where, from the Mayas of Yucatan to the pyramids of Egypt, people regarded them as useless for any religious or civil purpose and did nothing on those days. This may have also had some basis for the practices. The texts of the pyramids expressly mention the five days over and above the year comprised of twelve months of thirty days (ibid., p. 340). The Aztecs and the American system, however, have eighteen months of twenty days and so did not follow any lunar system. Because of their mathematical values in the divisions of the calendar, the five days were considered to be useless and the object of no work and a general malaise of the society. This had no relationship to the Hebrew prophetic year of twelve thirty-day months, which is a symbolic idealisation of the actual revolutions of the true intercalary, nineteen-year cycle. This religious symbolism and structure is detailed in the Bible.
The five-day sequence related to the calendar is in use in solar systems or Sun-worshipping systems. The twelve days were an adjustment of the lunar to the solar which one would expect to find in the more ancient Moon-Sun-Morning Star systems that were common at the time of the Exodus (see the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).
The Sun god
25 December was also associated with Mithras, as he was Sun god.
The Catholic liturgist, Mario Righetti (in addition to Duchesne and also Cullman), held that:
After the peace of the Church of Rome, to facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, found it convenient (sic) to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the temporal birth of Christ, to divert them from the pagan feast, celebrated on the same day in honour of the “Invincible Sun” Mithras, the conqueror of darkness (fn. 74, II, p. 67; quote also in Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, Pontifical Gregorian University Press, Rome, 1977, p. 260).
Thus, Mithras was the god of the festival of the solstice on 25th December, which followed immediately on from the Saturnalia. With this deity, we see Sunday-worship emerge in Rome.
The dedication to Mithra was as Soli invicto Mithrae or the Invincible Sun – the Unconquered Sun as Frazer terms it (p. 304). It was also related to him as Sol Invictus Elagabal in the public form of the religion.
The term Father was a rank held by the priests of Mithra. The term is forbidden to Christians (Mat. 23:9). It entered Christianity with the Mystery cults.
What actually occurred was that the original calendars of the Roman system began the week on Saturday and were in use in the first years of the Augustan era (27 BCE to 14 CE) following the discovery of the calendar of Nola (cf. A. Degrassi, fn. 26, p. 104; cf. Bacchiocchi, ibid., p. 244). This structure appears to be related to the system of Mithras (as we know from the Epicurean Celcus, ca. 140-180 CE) where the Sun occupied the highest place on the ladder of ascent through the seven gates of the Mithraic ladder from Saturn to the Sun. This is classic Shamanism and is practiced by animistic religion throughout the world. In Origen’s Contra Celsum, 6,21-22, we see that Celsus lists the planets in the reverse order, enabling the Sun to occupy the significant seventh position.
We later see this system emerge as the eight-day symbolism in the Roman system for the week beginning on Saturn’s day or Saturday and ending with the day of the Sun or Sunday, which was always a holiday. The planetary week was also not in the accepted order of the planets and people could not account for the difference (cf. Plutarch, Complete Works, III, p. 230; cf. Bacchiocchi, ibid., p. 246).
The differences can be seen also by comparison with the Ziggurat of the Babylonian system and the seven levels of ascent to the Moon god there (cf. the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).
The statement of Tertullian (Ad Nationes, 1, 13, ANF, III, p. 123), attempts to refute the charge of Sun-worship. Tertullian admits that, by then, Christians had commenced praying towards the East and made Sunday a day of festivity. He directly places the responsibility for Sunday-worship over the Sabbath on the Sun-worshipping cults, where he says they selected its day in preference to the previous day of the week (i.e. the Sabbath or Saturday) (cf. Bacchiocchi, pp. 248-249). However, by then, they were both worshipping on that day as well as the Christian Sabbath.
Prayer to the Sun in the East
Apparently, prayer to the East originated by prayer towards Jerusalem, as Irenaeus mentions being the custom of the Ebionites (Adv. Her., 1,26, ANF, I, p. 352). By the time of Clement of Alexandria and Origen, we see the orientation to be towards the source of light that dispels the darkness of the night, although Clement still mentions the ancient temples (Stromateis, 7,7,43, GCS, 3, 32; cf. Bacchiocchi, p. 255).
Bacchiocchi makes it clear that the association between the Christian Sunday and the pagan veneration of the day of the Sun is not explicit before the time of Eusebius (ca. 260-340 CE). Although previous writers associated him as true light and sun of justice, no deliberate attempt prior to Eusebius was made to justify Sunday observance by means of the symbology of the day of the Sun (ibid., p. 261).
The process thus entered Christianity by means of the earlier December festival, which was originally derived from the worship of Saturn and Opis in the Saturnalia, and its association with the Heavenly Virgin or Mother goddess and her infant child.
The Gospels say nothing as to the day of Christ’s birth, and the early Church did not celebrate it.
The custom of celebrating Christ’s birth began in Egypt, being derived from the Mother-goddess cult there, and the Christians there celebrated it on 6 January. By the fourth century it had become generally established in the East (Frazer, v, p. 304). The Western church had never recognised 6 January as the true date and, in time its decision was accepted by the Eastern church. At Antioch this change was not introduced until about 375 CE (Frazer, ibid.).
The origin of the practice is plainly recorded by the Syrian Christians, as we see from Frazer quoting also Credner and Momsen and Usener (v, pp. 304-305).
The reason why the fathers transferred the celebration of the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December was this. It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January. Accordingly, along with this custom, the practice has prevailed of kindling fires till the sixth.
Thus, the Saturnalia led up to the solstice when presents were given to children from 23 December, or now Christmas Eve on 24 December, in the Gregorian calendar. The rites of the solstice then took over from the original Saturnalia, but the period then became lengthened from three to seven days to which was added the twelve days.
When we count five days from 25 December we come to 31 December, from which some of the Celts and Germans begin the count. The addition of St Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day) brings the five-day period from 27 December in line to 1 January.
The pagan origin of Christmas is also evident in Augustine, when he exhorts his brethren not to celebrate this solemn day like the heathen on account of the Sun but on account of him who made the Sun (Augustine Serm., cxc, 1; in Migne Patriologia Latina, xxxviii, 1007). Leo, called ‘the Great’, likewise rebuked the pestilent belief that Christmas was solemnised because of the birth of the new Sun, and not because of the nativity of Christ (Frazer, ibid.; cf. Leo the Great, Serm., xxii (al xxi) 6 and Migne, liv, 198).
However, by then it was a hopeless cause. The entire system was endemic to Christianity and the Mother-goddess cult was entrenched.
Thus it appears that the Christian Church chose to celebrate the birthday of its Founder on the twenty-fifth of December in order to transfer the devotion of the heathen from the Sun to him who was called the Sun of Righteousness (p. 305).
There was a theory put forward by one Mgr Duchesne that 25 December arose from the conformity with the equinox on 25 March and this was the day on which Christ was killed and also on which his mother conceived. This digs an even deeper pit because 25 March was indeed initially adopted in Africa and elsewhere as the date of the crucifixion. However, it was on a Sunday in the only year that 14 Nisan could have fallen on 25 March. It is thus destructive to the theory. Moreover, 25 March is associated with the festival of the god Attis, as Frazer notes in his footnote to page 305. We will examine this in the sections below.
The Goat and the Bear
On the twelve days we also see mummers playing the part of a goat and a bear.
In the highlands of Scotland and St Kilda down until the last half of the eighteenth century at least, a cowherd would wrap himself in a skin on New Year’s Eve. The young people would meet and with staves they would beat the hide as a drum and proceed from house to house, where the one covered with the hide would run three times round deiseil, i.e. in the way the Sun revolves. He was pursued by the crowd crying in Gaelic:
… let us raise the noise louder and louder let us beat the hide (Frazer, viii, p. 323).
They go from house to house repeating verses. On entry, they call down blessings on the house and its cattle, stones and timber, its produce and health. A part of the hide was then burnt and applied to the noses of every person and domestic animal in order to protect the inhabitants against disease and misfortune for the coming year.
This last day of the year is called Hogmanay.
Each of the party, after the rhyme had been said and the Rann Calluin or Christmas Rhyme had been repeated, in return entered and had refreshment. The general thing that was burnt in lieu of the strip of hide was a Casein-uchd made of the breast strip of a sheep (or deer or goat) wrapped around the point of a shinty stick. The shinty stick was singed in the fire and put three times around the family and to the nose of all. No drink was taken until this ceremony had been completed. The purpose was to protect the household against witchcraft and disease.
On the Isle of Man, the feather of the wren was used (viii, p. 324).
The custom appears to be related to an older custom involving human sacrifice. Frazer notes that the Khonds slew a human victim as a divinity and took him from house to house and everyone took a relic of his sacred person (cf. i, pp. 246ff.). The cowhide no doubt substituted for this victim. The communion substituted for the body and blood of the god.
While these customs may not have connection with agriculture, the similar customs of Plough Monday certainly do, and the processions we see in Europe of men clad as animals probably identify with the corn spirit. They may have association with the Gilyak procession of the bear, and the Indian procession of the snake (ibid.).
Often in these processions (as in the last days of the carnival in Bohemia) a man was swathed from head to foot in pease-straw and wrapped around in straw ropes (Frazer, ibid.). This harkens back to the wicca man in ancient Britain.
These festivals of agriculture were associated with both the midwinter solstice and the spring equinox – both heralding the return of growth and warmth and life as the power of the Sun and summer to nature.
The Bohemian man goes by the name of the Shrovetide or carnival bear (Fastnachtsbär).
After he has danced at every house with the girls and maids and the housewife herself, they all retire to the ale-house.
For at Shrovetide, but especially at Shrove Tuesday, every one must dance, if the flax, the vegetables and the corn are to thrive (Frazer, viii, p. 326).
The straw of the bear is put in the nests of the hens and geese. The bear represents the spirit of fertility. The purpose of the dancing is to make fertile both animal and vegetable in all aspects.
In parts of Bohemia, this person is not called a bear but an oats-goat.
In Prussian Lithuania on Twelfth day a man is wrapped in pease-straw to represent the bear and another in oats-straw to represent the goat.
In Marburg in Steiermark, men appear as both a wolf and a bear (Frazer, ibid.).
The man who gave the last stroke at threshing is called the wolf. He keeps the name wolf until Christmas, when he is wrapped in a goat’s skin and led from house to house as a pease-bear at the end of a rope. His dress as a goat marks him out and appears to associate the symbols of goat and bear and wolf in this ancient ritual of the corn-spirit.
In Scandinavia, the appearance of the corn-spirit as a goat is common (ibid.). In Sweden, led about with horns on his head, he personated the Yule-goat. In parts of Sweden they make a pretence of slaughtering the goat that comes to life again (ibid., p. 327). The two men who slaughter him sing verses referring to the mantles of varying colours, red, blue, white and yellow – which they laid on him.
After supper on Christmas evening, the people dance the “angel dance” to ensure a good crop. Yule straw (either of wheat or rye) is made into the likeness of a goat, and thrown among the dancers with the cry of, "Catch the Yule-goat!" In Dalarne it is called the Yule-ram.
In Denmark and Sweden, it is customary to bake cakes of fine meal at Christmas in the shape of goats, rams and boars (Frazer, ibid., p. 328). They are often made out of the last sheaf at harvest and kept until sowing-time, where they are partly mixed with the seed corn and partly eaten by the people and the plough-oxen in the hope of securing a good harvest. The commonality of the customs from the British Isles to Europe and Scandinavia and the East establishes beyond doubt the ancient practice as appeasement of the corn-spirit and the ancient gods. The appearance as a wether and a boar is also ancient and widespread.
The Straw-bear, being performed as it had been for centuries on the day after Plough Monday, was witnessed in Wittlesy, Cambridgeshire by Professor Moore Smith of Sheffield University, in January 1909 (see letter of 13 January 1909; cf. Frazer, viii, p. 329).
Plough Monday is the first Monday of January after Twelfth day. It is beyond dispute that we are dealing with an ancient agricultural festival directed at appeasement of the ancient agricultural gods in the sequence of the midwinter festivals, which run from the Saturnalia to the solstice high day and then on to the twelve days of so-called Christmas to the plough-festival of Plough Monday and Shrove Tuesday.
It appears to have been anciently associated with human sacrifice – perhaps in each of the three aspects or perhaps as single festivals.
Plough Monday in England was normally associated with a team of human plough-bullocks, one of whom was disguised as an old crone called Bessy. They went about leaping and dancing in high fashion, presumably to make the corn grow as high as they leapt. This was similar to the practice of the Straw-bears or Yule-goats on the continent and elsewhere in the UK.
The same practices are found in Thrace and Bulgaria on the same day, i.e. the Monday of the last week of Carnival. One dancer (the Kuker) is a man clad in goatskin. Another dancer (the Kukerica), disguised in petticoats as the old woman or baba, has “her” face blackened.
Bears are represented by dogs that are wrapped in bearskins. A mock court is set up of a king and judge and other officials. The plays of the Kuker and Kukerica are wanton and lascivious.
Towards evening, two people are yoked to a plough and the Kuker ploughs a few furrows and sows some corn. He then takes off his disguise and is paid for his trouble.
The people believe that the person who plays the Kuker commits a deadly sin and the priests also make vain efforts to abolish the customs. The Kuker in Losengrad district has a cake with money in it, which is distributed to those present. If a farmer gets the coin, the crops will be good; if a herdsman gets it, the herds will be good. The Kuker also symbolically ploughs the ground and waves to and fro to imitate the waving corn. The man with the coin is bound and dragged by the feet over the ground to quicken the fertility of the ground. This drawing by lot is reminiscent also of the Saturnalia sacrifice we saw above.
In Bulgaria itself, the festival has the Old Woman or Mother as the leading personage, played by a man in woman’s clothing. The Kuker and Kukerica are subordinate to the “Old Woman”. They wear fantastic masks of human heads with animal horns or birds’ heads and skins with a girdle of lime bark. On their back is a hump made out of rags. This festival in Bulgaria, being the Monday of the last week of Carnival, is called Cheese Monday. It is nevertheless associated with the Ploughing festival.
The same rituals associated in western Europe of going round the house and the blessings conferred by the presence of the “Old Woman” on the fertility of the village is uppermost in the minds of all. Incursion by masked people from any other village is seen as a threat and a drawing away of the fertility of the village. Such incursions are resisted.
The similarity between the Old Woman with the black face of Demeter and the two aides of Pluto and Persephone are probably behind the origins of the custom of the three kings, with the black Melchior representing Demeter.
The festival of Befana in Rome on the night before Epiphany is clearly related to this festival of Demeter, and the term Befana is obviously a corruption of Epiphany. She is clearly an old witch and the noise of this festival is associated with an ancient custom of clearing the area of evil influences (see also below). The same ceremonies involving Befana on the eve of Epiphany were or are observed in Tuscan Romagna and elsewhere in Italy (Frazer, ix, p. 167).
Frazer rightly sees in the Old Woman of the Bulgarian and Thracian system a reference to the Corn Mother-goddess Demeter, who in the likeness of an old woman brought blessing to the house of Celeus, king of Eleusis and restored the lost fertility to the fallow Eleusinian fields. The Kuker and Kukerica, the male and female mummers, represent Pluto and Persephone. These rituals are extant from East to West and represent the oldest of the religious festivals (Frazer, viii, pp. 334-335). We are thus directly in the middle of the Eleusinian Mystery cults and linked with the same Mystery cults of ancient times from the cult of Apollo in early Europe and of Dionysius and of agricultural symbols in the cult of worship of the Sun god. The Bull-slaying cults are thus also involved, and we see from the times of dedication of the bulls sacrificed by the Greeks in Magnesia after its dedication in the beginning of the sowing that we have a common idea of the festival. Zeus is the partner of Demeter and the final product is the slaying of the bull to Zeus in the equivalent of the month of May.
Yule logs, the holly and ivy, and mistletoe
The summer and winter solstice were seen as the two great turning points of the year. Fires were lit on both solstices. The midsummer fires were lit in the open and youths jumped the fires. This practice was found among the Celts in Ireland, Britain and Gaul and also among the North Africans in Morocco and the Atlas Mountains. Their practice is much more ancient than the Islam they also profess. The practice of lighting fires happened anciently among the pagans on May Day and on Halloween (1 November), called All Saints Day. The asymmetric nature of these festivals with that of the solstice should be noted. The Festival of Walpurgis on the last day of April, preceding May Day, is the Festival of the Burning of the Witches. This type of festival is also associated with the twelve days between Christmas on 25 December and the Epiphany of 6 January. Fires of pine-resin are lit on these nights to keep the witches away. The fires are generally larger on Twelfth Night. In Silesia, people burn fires of pine-resin between Christmas and New Year to drive witches away from the farmhouses. This was the “proper time for the expulsion of the forces of darkness”. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, shots are fired over the fields and people wrap straw around the fruit trees to prevent evil forces from doing them harm.
In Biggar, in Lanarkshire UK, New Year’s Eve is the traditional time for this fire, which has been lit since time immemorial.
In 1644, nine witches of flesh and blood were burnt on Leith Links in Scotland (Frazer, ix, p. 165).
Fires are lit in the autumn but are not significant. The festival of the Nativity of the Virgin on 8 September was traditionally accompanied by noise and uproar as associated with Befana at Rome, and traditionally involved assassinations. Prof. Housman noted that when he witnessed the festival at Capri in 1897, a few more than the usual eight or ten were murdered (Frazer, x, p. 221).
Fires are also traditionally lit on the midwinter solstice on 25 December. The difference between the midsummer and midwinter fires is that the midwinter fires are lit indoors and form part of the ritual of the invocation of the Sun god to his place of supremacy in the heavens. Thus, the midwinter fires developed a more cloistered or family type atmosphere.
It is perhaps of significance that in the Shetland Islands, the Yule or Christmas holidays began seven days before Christmas and ended at Antinmas, i.e. the twenty-fourth day after Christmas.
The Shetlanders name these holidays the Yules. Seven days before Christmas, the elves, called Trows by the Shetlanders, are let free from their homes in the earth and dwell above ground if it pleases them. This is the probable origin of the elf symbolism of and with Santa Claus. It seems to relate back to the concept of the misrule of the seven days of the Saturnalia leading up to 25 December.
The most important of the rituals in Yule was the saining, which had to be properly carried out to deal with the grey folk, as the elves were called.
The modern myths emanating from the USA regarding alien ‘greys’ are none other than the revamping of the elves at Yule.
On the last day of the holidays, the twenty-fourth day after Christmas, called up-helly-a, or Uphalliday in Shetland, the doors were all opened and a great deal of pantomimic chasing went on to rid the area of the mischievous elves. People piously read the Bible and displayed iron ostentatiously, “for it is well known that elves cannot abide the sight of iron”. The infants were carefully guarded and sained by learned wise women. No doubt, we have the sign of the evil eye involved here as an ancient custom (cf. also the paper The Cross: Its Origin and Significance (No. 39)).
When day dawned after twenty-fourth night, the Trows or Grey folk had vanished and the Yules were ended.
The customs of banishing evil forces and witches on a night set aside for the purpose in the period of the winter solstice and festivals can thus be traced from Rome and Calabria in the south as far north as the Shetlands. It also runs from Ireland to the Steppes and down to North Africa.
We know that the Germans burnt the Yule log, which was an ancient custom even by the eleventh century. In 1184, the parish priest of Ahlen in Münsterland records bringing a tree to kindle the festal fire at the Lord’s nativity (Frazer, x, p. 247). This was found in Britain in ancient times and was common to the Teutons and apparently the Celts. John Brand is quoted by Frazer as saying that the Yule block is a counterpart of the midsummer fires made within doors because of the cold weather at the winter solstice (ibid., n. 2). This was nothing other than the erroneous application to 25 December of the solstice, which was set aside for the worship of the Sun (Frazer, x, p. 246). This lighting of the tree fire was to assist the Sun to relight its ailing lamp, and the entire system of fires and candles at the nativity before the Heavenly Virgin is the ancient worship of the Mother goddess and her infant child, the Sun. The lamps assist in the lighting of the heavenly fire of the Sun and this is the basic idea behind flame and its use in Zoroastrianism.
The Yule log was also kept among European groups and placed on the fire to ward off thunder and the effects of storms. Thus, the relationship is clearly made between the ancient gods of the Teutons over thunder and lightning and weather, and the Yule log at the solstice.
Mistletoe was sacred in the religion of the Druids. The Druids who came via Egypt as Magi were picked up by the Milesians in Spain from among the Gadelians before the Scoto-Milesians went to Ireland. From there they spread into Britain and Europe (MacGeohagen The History of Ireland, Sadlier, NY, p. 42; cf. Frazer, ii, pp. 358,362; xi, pp. 76ff., 301).
Pliny (Natural History, xvi, pp. 249-251) derives the word Druid from the Greek word for oak, which is drus. It is, however, the same or similar in the Celtic, being daur. The Druids are thus priests of the oak. Their cult is thus ancient and associated with the oak groves. Other scholars prefer to derive the name from the root meaning knowledge or wisdom – hence, they were the wizards or magicians. This is also borne from the title Magi which they held (cf. Frazer, xi, pp. 76-77, n. 1 to p. 76).
The Druidic cycle of the calendar was of thirty years, and there appears to be a common relationship in their worship with that of the Boetians who, like they, worship or conjured the oak and thus both may have a common Aryan connection. The Boetian cycle, in the festival of the great Daedala, was one of sixty years and not thirty. This may have application to the Aryan practice observed among the Indians of the sixty-year cycle based on the sidereal cycle of Jupiter.
The mistletoe is cut with a golden scythe on the first or sixth day of the Moon (Frazer, xi, pp. 77-78). It is associated with fertility and was held to make barren animals and women to bring forth. It was thought to have fallen from the sky and was called the all-healer (Frazer, xi, pp. 77-79,82). Two white bulls were sacrificed at its cutting on the sixth day for this purpose. The priest was dressed in a white robe. It was cut on the first day of the Moon by the Italians and on the sixth by the Druids. This difference is probably accounted for because of the commencement of the lunar month in both systems. Neither cut the mistletoe with an iron implement. It was not allowed to touch the earth and, hence, it was caught in a white cloth.
The Italians believed that mistletoe growing on oak had similar properties, if we accept Pliny, and thus there was a commonality of belief to both systems.
We are thus again back to the fertility system of the Saturnalia and the healing of the Mysteries and Apollo, but in an ancient form common to the Aryans before 1000 BCE.
This system was so ancient that it was common even to the Ainu of Japan who also held it sacred. However, they use mistletoe cut from a willow because that tree is sacred to them. They agree with both the Druids (in its curative properties) and the Italians (regarding the fertility of women for childbirth) in their beliefs (Frazer, xi, p. 79).
This belief extends down to the natives of Mabuig Island in the Torres Strait (ibid.). The common belief is also found in Africa among the Walos of Senegambia (ibid.).
The veneration of mistletoe as an all-healer is found among Swiss peasants and among the Swedes (ibid., p. 82).
The Norse god Balder was said to have been slain by mistletoe, and Frazer gives an extensive account of this matter in his work.
Mistletoe was used as a remedy for epilepsy generally, and by high medical authorities in the UK and Holland as late as the eighteenth century (ibid., p. 83, noting Ray of UK in 1700, Boerhaave of Holland in 1720 and his pupil Van Swieten in 1745).
Mistletoe is held to be a protection against lightning and fire and, hence, associated with the Yule system also (Frazer, xi, p. 85).
It was most commonly used at the midsummer fires and at this time was associated with the death of the god Balder. This seems to have involved actual human sacrifice at this time in Denmark, Norway and Sweden (Frazer, xi, p. 87). The practice of throwing the victim chosen by lot into the Beltane fire and also the Green wolf of the midsummer fires are associated with this system of worship as tree spirits or gods of vegetation (ibid., p. 88).
The worship of mistletoe is associated directly with the cult of the worship of the oak, and was common to all the Aryans. The Celts in Asia Minor worshiped at the grove called Drynemetum, which is pure Celtic, meaning Temple of the Oak. These are the groves, which also contained a phallus, spoken against by the Bible.
Among the Slavs, the oak was the sacred symbol of the great god Perun and the oak ranks first among the holy trees of the Germans. It was adored by them anciently and certain of these practices and attitudes survive to the present day (Frazer, ibid., p. 89).
The oak was also sacred to the Italians, and the image of Jupiter on the Capitol was originally nothing but a natural oak tree. At Dodona, Zeus was also worshipped as being immanent in the oak. Frazer concludes that the Aryans, including Celts, Germans and Lithuanians, commonly held the oak sacred before their dispersion and this common land must have been plentifully supplied with oak. The mistletoe is merely its symbol, as heaven-sent aspect of healing, protection and fertility.
The kindling of sacred fire, whether among the Celts, Germans or Slavs, is always by use of the oak in rubbing two of the sticks together, or by rubbing oak on a grey (not red) stone. The same types of practice are found from Germany to the Highlands of Scotland in kindling the need-fire (cf. Frazer, xi, p. 91).
Frazer says the perpetual fire of Vesta in Rome was fed with oak wood. Oak wood also burnt in the perpetual fire before the sacred oak at Romove in Lithuania. The blocks of oak are burnt also from the midwinter solstice through to the end of the year and replaced with the new log and the ashes are mixed among the seed etc. for fertility.
The common link in all these stories is the burning of the fires and the cutting of the mistletoe. The ancient Aryans believed, as we can deduce from the myth of Balder, that the oak was the god and the mistletoe’s link with it ensured its longevity. The human sacrifice at the midsummer fires ensured the life of the crops. The use of mistletoe and the Yule log at the midwinter solstice also looked to the sacrifice of the god represented by the human who took his place, and the return of the Sun system. This is the underlying symbolism of the Christmas tradition (cf. Frazer, xi, p. 93).
While the mistletoe stood, neither the god nor his substitute could be injured. The cutting of the mistletoe was both the signal and the cause of his death.
Holly and ivy
Holly and ivy allegedly represent male and female. The ivy clings and twines – supposedly representing the female. The holly is prickly and erect – supposedly representing the male.
In Surrey, England, a holly tree is used to pass a child through a cleft to heal rupture, whereas it is usually an ash elsewhere (Frazer, xi, p. 169, n. 2).
The holly-oak was sacred to the Fratres Arvales or Brethren of the Tilled Fields. This was a Roman college of twelve priests who performed public religious rites for the purposes of agriculture. They wore wreaths of ears of corn. Their sacrifices were made in the grove of the goddess Dia some five miles down the Tiber from Rome. This grove contained laurels and holly-oaks. It was so hallowed that expiatory sacrifices were offered every time a tree or even a bough of a tree fell to the ground. This was obviously especially prone to occur with the advent of snow and storms at the winter solstice. Hence, we have the concept also of holly and the white Christmas. More elaborate sacrifices had to be made when one of the trees was struck by lightning. They were then dug up by the roots, split and burnt and others planted in their stead. At the Roman festival of the Parilia, which was for the welfare of flocks and herds, peasants prayed for forgiveness if they had entered a hallowed grove, sat under a sacred tree, or lopped a holy bough to feed sheep (cf. Frazer, ii, p. 123).
Pliny says the woods were formerly the temples of the deities and that even in his time the peasants dedicated a tall tree to a god with the ritual of olden times (Pliny, Natural History, xii, p. 3).
The ivy is the symbol of the Mystery cults. It is chewed by the Bacchanalian feast-goers. It is identified with the god Dionysius, or Bacchus.
Ivy was used by the Greeks as one of the two firesticks. The board of the pair was made out of a parasitic or creeping plant, which was usually ivy. The borer was usually laurel. Oak was also used as the borer.
The ancient Indians used a parasite (the climbing fig) as the borer using the parasite as the male concept. The Greeks seemed to have reversed this concept. The ivy is considered female and the laurel male. Yet in the Greek, the word ivy is masculine and the ivy was identified anciently with the male god Dionysius. The word for laurel is feminine and is identified with a nymph. Thus, we may conclude that the Greeks, like the Indians, considered the concepts similarly in very ancient times but modified them perhaps through expedience (Frazer, ii, pp. 251-252).
Anciently, ivy was prohibited to touch or name (Frazer, iii, pp. 13ff.). Ivy was also sacred to the god Attis and, hence, we come then to the pine tree, which was also sacred to that god (cf. Frazer, v, p. 278 and see the paper The Cross: Its Origin and Significance (No. 39)).
Ivy was also sacred to the god Osirus (Frazer, vi, p. 112) and also for dreams (ibid., x, p. 242). Thus, we see a commonality to the system of the Triune god and the Mystery cults generally which ties in naturally with the solstice system and Sun worship. Thus, the holly and the ivy are the symbols also of the oak and other groves dedicated to the deities so condemned by the Bible.
The Christmas tree
The decorated pine tree stems directly from the Mystery cults and the worship of the god Attis. He is held to have been a man who became a tree and, hence, is the embodiment of the ancient tree-spirit we meet in ancient Indian or Indus mythology from as early as Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. He is clearly a fertility god of corn and wears a Phrygian cap like Mithras (from the statue in the Lateran; Frazer, v, p. 279).
The bringing in of the pine tree decked in violets and woollen bands is like bringing in the May-tree or Summer-tree in modern folk custom. The effigy that was attached to the tree was a duplicate representative of the god Attis. This was traditionally kept until the next year, when it was burnt (Firmicus Maternus, De errore profanarum religionum; cf. Frazer, v, p. 277 and n. 2). It is forbidden by God in Jeremiah 10:1-9.
The original intent of this custom was to maintain the spirit of vegetation intact throughout the coming year. The Phrygians worshipped the pine tree above all others and it is from this area that we derive the Mysteries and the Mithras system. It is probably sacred to the cults in that it is an evergreen lasting through the solstice period over a large area, when other trees are bare. Remember also that pine-resin was burnt at the solstice festivals. The origins are lost in the antiquity of the Assyro-Babylonian system.
The resemblance of the god Attis was changed to the Sun-symbol as a monstrance on the top and then to angels and other types of decorations. The decorations are easily identifiable as the Sun, Moon, and stars of the Triune system of the Babylonians as Sin, Ishtar and Shamash or Isis, Osirus and Horus of the Egyptians (see the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).
Ivy was also sacred to Attis and his eunuch priests were tattooed with the symbol of the ivy leaf (Frazer, v, p. 278).
Pine nuts were used to produce a wine used in the orgiastic rites of Cybele which were in effect counterparts of the Dionysian orgies and Strabo compared them (Strabo, x, 3. 12ff.).
At the festival of Thesmophoria, they were thrown along with pigs and other agents or emblems of fertility into the sacred vaults of Demeter for the purpose of increasing the fertility of the earth and of women (Frazer, v, p. 278). Thus, we are back again to the Demeter festivals and the aspects that have kept on and which are associated with Christmas in Europe generally, as we have already seen.
The term Epiphany means manifestation as the appearance of some divine or superhuman being. It was applied to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria (175-164 BCE).
It was also known as the dies luminum (day of lights), as three kings day or the twelfth day. All of these are dealt with above. The practices associated with it are all derived from the ancient sources we see in the text and have little to do with the Faith.
The name survives in the great festival of Befana at Rome (cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, art. ‘Epiphany’, Robert Appleton, NY, 1909, Vol. V, p. 504). The CE says:
It is difficult to say how closely the practice then observed of buying all sorts of earthenware images, combined with whistles and representing some type of Roman life, is to be connected with the rather similar custom in vogue during the December feast of the Saturnalia (ibid.).
It is hardly difficult to identify. The practices were the same and the term is applied to the manifestation of the Befana as the goddess, as we see above. The attempt to place the reference in Hippolytus on the Sacrament of Baptism is incorrect, as he uses the term theophaneia not epiphania (ibid.).
The first substantive reference is in Clement (Stromateis, I, xxi, p. 45). The CE quotes this text as follows and then goes on to say:
‘There are those, too, who over-curiously assign to the Birth of our Saviour not only its year but its day, which they say to be on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty eighth year of Augustus. But the followers of Basilides celebrate the day of his Baptism too, spending the previous night in readings. And they say that it was the 15th of the month Tybi of the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar. And some say that it was observed the 11th of the same month.’ Now, 15 and 11 Tybi are 6 and 10 January.
Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church try to draw from this practice of the Gnostics under Basilides (teaching at Rome in the middle of the second century) support for the celebration of the nativity as well as the baptism of Christ, but there is no real evidence for this conjecture. The evidence of the festivals themselves indicates that the practice was the ancient fertility festival and the blessing of the produce. From this arose the practice of blessing the waters and the practice of throwing crucifixes into the sea to make the seas productive for fishermen. All are based in ancient paganism and were not evident in Christianity until the fourth century. This addition was well after Origen writing in the third century, as he makes no mention of the Epiphany in his list of the festivals. The first reference to it as a feast of the church is in 361 (cf. CE, p. 505).
From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a rather late invention and comes to us as a product of late American commercialism. It is derived chiefly from German and Dutch folklore. It has its origins in the entity referred to as ‘Saint Nicholas’.
The man usually known as Saint Nicholas is Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. He died on 6 December 345 or 352 (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, p. 63). He is popular in both the Greek and the Latin church, but there is scarcely anything certain about him except that he was bishop of Myra in the fourth century (ibid., p. 64). He was born at Parara in Lycia of Asia Minor. In his youth, he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine. On his return he was made bishop of Myra and was imprisoned during the persecution of Diocletian. He was released on the ascension of Constantine. The Catholics allege he was present at Nicaea, but his name does not appear on any of the records by their own admission (ibid.).
In 1087, Italian merchants stole his body at Myra and took it to Bari. His cult in Italy dates from this point. It appears this may have been prompted by a cult that had developed concerning him in Europe. The numerous miracles attributed to him are the outgrowth of a long tradition but, as we will see, much of it has pagan origins that would have little to do with the original man.
His cult in the Greek church is old and especially prominent in the Russian church although they were long after him (c. 1000 CE). The emperor Justinian I built a church in his honour at Constantinople and his name appears on the liturgy ascribed to John Chrysostom (ibid.).
His cult in Europe started from the time of Otto II whose wife Theophano was a Grecian. Bishop Reginald of Eichstadt (d. 991) wrote a metric entitled the Vita S. Nicholai. He is, or was, honoured as patron saint in Greece, Russia, the kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Lorraine, the Diocese of Liege, and many cities in Italy, Germany, Austria and Belgium, Campen in the Netherlands, Corfu in Greece, Frieburg in Switzerland and Moscow in Russia (ibid.). He was patron of mariners, merchants, bankers and children.
His relics are still preserved in the church of S. Nicola in Bari. An oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, is said to exude from his relics. It is valued for medicinal purposes. His relationship with the festivals of 5/6 December, are examined below.
One legend associated with him relates to the formation of three golden balls, each made from his wages for one year, and rolled through the window of a needy family of good birth over a period of years. The first ball allegedly landed in a stocking (hence the Christmas stocking). This enabled the needy recipients to marry off their daughters. He was allegedly seen on the last occasion. This is no doubt the origin of the three golden balls of the pawnbrokers and the symbol of his patronage of merchants. These stories we will see have relationship with other myths.
The traditions associated with his generosity caused the practice of Norman French nuns giving to the poor on Saint Nicolas’ day or eve, and this came to be called Boxing Day from the alms box of the church. This became the tradition behind the Boxing Day of 26 December. In Germany, Christ Bundles were also given to the poor and the annual parades took on the Heavenly Mother-goddess tokens of the Mysteries.
The practice of children saving all year for the annual pig at Christmas in Holland led to the introduction of the piggy bank.
The amalgam also of the false Roman robes of the clergy worn on the Festival of Fools, and the tales of Odin’s wild ride, and the beards of the Magi with the elves of the Yule festivals saw a gradual evolution.
Nicholas of Myra was a saint in the Roman Catholic Church until 1969 when he suffered the fate of many other myths.
Sinterklaas – the precursor of Santa Claus
Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicolas, is a typical Dutch folklore, celebrated in the Netherlands and partly in Belgium.
The celebration of Sinterklaas is always on the evening after sunset of 5 December in the Netherlands, and 6 December in Belgium.
In the celebration of the evening and night, the children are assembled around the chimney, singing songs to Sinterklaas:
“Heerlijk avondje is gekomen. Kom maar binnen met je knecht”.
This translates as: “The nice (or lordlike) evening has come. Come in with your servant”.
His servant, Black Peter, is black. He is always portrayed as a Negro with thick lips and earrings and clothed in funny clothes. This probably stems from the Demeter/Melchior nexus and later associated with good and evil being embodied in the legend of Woden and Nöwi.
Sinterklaas himself is as a bishop with mitre and a book with the good deeds and sins. He has the staff of a shepherd and rides on a white horse over the rooftops. Black Peter listens at the chimneys to determine whether the children are singing the right songs and presenting the right offerings to the horse in the form of hay and carrots.
The presents for the children are put through the chimney.
Sinterklaas is a syncretic product of the old Germanic or Teutonic religion. The Germanic roots can be explained as follows:
The god Woden (also known as Odin), who is still remembered by the use of Wednesday, was the most important god of the old Germanic tribes (not the small group of people we understand as Germans today). Woden, who is a figure of history, was made into the personification of the multitude of earlier gods – the gods of wind and war, the god of the dead, the god of fertility, the god of wisdom and the Sun god. We will find him in mythological legends “riding through the air on his faithful white horse, clothed in a flowing robe”. Further, he is described as a figure with a long white beard, and with a big hat on his head. Because he was also held to be the god of wisdom, he had a book in his hand written in rune letters, and he carried a great spear.
In these stories, Woden was accompanied by the giant Nöwi, who had a black countenance because he was the father of the night. He was, according to legend, well versed in making rhymes and poems. He carried a bunch of twigs in his hand as a sign of fertility.
From these aspects – the white horse, the wide robe, the big hat, the book, the spear, and the black Nöwi, with a bunch of twigs, and the poems or poetic traditions – we have so many parallels with our today’s Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) that is beyond mere coincidence. We see here, also, the parallels with Demeter and the three wise kings, one of whom was also the black Melchior.
If we now add to this the traditional customs, we will complete the picture.
After the harvest, the old Germanic tribes or Teutons always left a sheaf on the land for the white horse of Woden. During the Sinterklaas’ time the children offered hay in their shoes at the chimney (stockings at the chimney at Christmas) for his horse.
We see here the same traditions as found among the Celts of burning the twelve fires and the thirteenth major fire of the straw. We also see the black faces of the Mother-goddess system. We can deduce a much earlier origin than that attributed to Woden. This is part of the early cults of fertility related to Apollo as Sun god and master of the Mystery religions among the states of the Danube and into the Hyperborean Celts. He was drawn across the sky in a chariot and often this was pictured being drawn not just by horses but also by geese or swans. The similarity of these feasts was with the old ceremonies of the Saturnalia, which was traditionally prior to Christmas. In the Netherlands, we see a much earlier date than is normal now. It was some thirty days before the Epiphany. It was, however, not thirty days before the solstice as we saw in the Saturnalia examples above. We see the same tradition but removed so that the thirty days of the Lord of Misrule as the god Saturn and Apollo relate to the Epiphany rather than the end of the Saturnalia.
Today’s tradition in the Netherlands is to give letters of chocolate or almond pastry. The connection with the ancient runes seems very obvious. The German Wotan feast was a mixture of sacrifice and fertility festivals during and around the midwinter feasts. The lads and lassies of the Germanic tribes prayed in those early times for a partner. The presents from Sinterklaas were also in the form of lovers made from speculatius or other cakes. Also, presents were of animals in the form of sugar mice and pigs, to substitute for the real animal sacrifices.
Sinterklaas is also the patron of the city of Amsterdam and the seamen who sail from her ports.
The apparel of Sinterklaas is Roman Catholic. It was little wonder that, in the sixteenth century, the Reformation tried to stamp out these customs. It was not entirely successful in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas came to life again after an absence of some centuries (or being underground) in Protestant Netherlands in the first half of the twentieth century. Sinterklaas disappeared in England and Germany and went underground. Many of the traditions simply were moved to 25 December and completed with the Christmas tree and Santa Claus. The acceptance of the ‘rebirth’ of Sinterklaas in Protestant Netherlands was sooner and earlier than the acceptance of the Christmas tree. Today, commercialism has to fight to get Santa Claus accepted in the Netherlands, as many are against this imposter of Sinterklaas, even though its rebirth in the Netherlands was because of what was done in the USA.
Santa Claus in the USA
When migrants went to the United States, they brought with them the Yule traditions from Europe and particularly the three elements that went to make up the Santa Claus myth.
The Dutch contributed the Sinterklaas myth, which was adapted from its traditional place. The Pere Noel tradition of the red robes was also contributed from Europe. The Germans brought with them the Christ Bundle tradition and termed it Christkindl or Christ Child tradition. The name Kris Kringle developed from this term.
Washington Irving in the Knickerbocker Tales (ca. 1820) discusses the elf Santa Claus who presents the stocking, as did St Nicholas.
Clement Clark Moore introduced many new elements in his poem: A Visit from Saint Nicholas, which was renamed: ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. He introduced new elements such as eight reindeer including the traditional representation we see regarding thunder and lightning as the gods of the Yule festival in the form of Donner (Donder) and Blitzen.
Santa Claus was still an elf of the Yule tradition, however, until the American Civil War when Thomas Nast of Harpers Weekly was commissioned to do a series of Santa Claus cartoons. He continued this after the Civil War, and the publishing company McLaughlin Brothers Printing Company experimented with the colour of Santa’s leather and decided on red.
The final change was made in 1931. The Scandinavian Haddon Sundblom was hired by Coca Cola to paint Santa Claus. On the death of his model, he fashioned Santa Claus on his own face. This continued for twenty-five years.
In 1941, the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was written. It was recorded by the cowboy singer, Gene Autry.
The Coca Cola model and colours and the American myths surrounding the figure are now the final product of at least 3,000 years of pagan idolatry wrapped in the crass commercialism that first emanated from the merchants of the Roman Saturnalia and which was perfected in the USA.
There is nothing Christian about so-called Christmas and, indeed, it is so steeped in false religious superstition that it is a direct breach of biblical Law. No Christian can observe it and remain a Christian.
The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (ERE, v. p. 846) states quite clearly that:
“The English name ‘Easter’ is probably derived from Eostre an Anglo-Saxon goddess, to whom special sacrifices were offered at the beginning of spring (Bede de Temp. Rat. xv., Op., ed. Giles London, 1843, vi. 179).
It also says in relation to Easter Day that “This chief festival of the Christian Church was not at first distinguished by any special right from other Sundays.” (ibid.)
Eostre, Eastre, Eostur (The Teutonic Goddess) is mentioned by Bede in de Temperorum Ratione 15 with the goddess Hreda (or Rheda or Href) and the months of March and April were named after these goddesses. The Spring Festival was the festival of Easter beginning from the New Moon of the Equinox and thus what we now term April was called Eosturmonath (ERE, ix, p. 253a, xii, p. 102a).
Bede (ibid.) says that the names of the months were calculated from the moon and were:
Jan: Giuli; Feb: Solmonath; Mar. Rhedmonath; Apr: Eostremonath; May: Thrilmilei; Jun: Lida; Jul. Lida; Aug. Weodmonath; Sept: Halegmonath; Oct: Winterfylleth; Nov: Blotmonath; Dec. Giuli. Thus two months had the same name twice in the calendar.
Giuli had the same name as one preceded the solstice and the other succeeded it and the solstice was of paramount importance in the sun cults. Solmonath ca. February was the “Month of cakes” and cakes were offered to the gods. Sacrifices were offered to the goddesses in Rhedmonath (Rheda) and Eostremonath (Easter or Eostre). Thrimilei was derived from the fact that the cattle were milked three times a day in this month due to the fertility of Britain and Germany in those days. Lida means “Blandus siue navigabilis.” Weodmonath means “the month of tares.” Halegmonath means “mensis sacrorum” the sacred or holy devotions. The blotmonth or bloodmonth denoted the month of sacrifice of the livestock. The year began on 25 December and the eve of that day was called Modrahnit or “Night of the Mothers” (ibid., iii, p. 138b).
The Teutons intercalated in summer and the month was called Thrilidi as there was then three months of Lida (ibid. p. 139a). From some accounts the month of Winterfylleth was so named because they reckoned the winter as beginning on the full moon of this month (ibid.).
The months in the Netherlands differed from those in Germany as did the Danes and Swedes but the fourth month of the Danes was termed “The Sheep Month” and the Swedes called the fourth month Varant meaning spring work. The association with the spring sacrifices and harvests are common.
Enid Welsford, in the ERE, goes on to say that the word Eostre is connected with the Latin Aurora and the Greek ‘hoos, skr., Usas, Lith. Auzra which was the personification of the dawn. The Lithuanian Auzrine or Morning Star is derived from Auzra. “The name Eostur is identical with the Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and Lithuanian names for the goddess of the dawn, or Morgenrothe, probably the same being who is referred to in the Lithuanian and Lettish folk-songs as the “daughter of the sun.” The physical items were distinguished from the actual beings that ruled over them in the old Norse language (ERE, xii, p. 102a).
It is thus clear that the Teutonic was derived from the worship of the Morning Star which became associated with the Goddess Easter who was the Mother of the Morning Star. This is the Mother goddess cult associated with the sun and mystery cults right through the Middle East to India in the Sanskrit. These traditions entered the Norse and “Snorri counts sol as one of the Aysinjur or goddesses” (ERE, ibid.).
The name Friday is derived from Fri the goddess and is translated as Venus. Thus the Morning Star Eostre is the goddess Venus and the festival of Easter venerates Friday and the Sunday as the days of the Morning Star and the Sun which is also a symbol of the Mother goddess (cf. ERE, xii, p. 249b). The Earth mother or Erce was also mixed into a Christian /Heathen brew in this regard.
The name Ea as the root of this word is the name of the Babylonian God (ERE, ii, 296a, 309b, 310b; vi, 250b; ix, 249b; xi, 828b; xii, 42a, 708b,709a) associated with the descent of Ishtar or Eostre (ERE, ii, 315b). Ea is also associated with the ages of the world (ibid., i, 185a). There is a massive amount of information about the cult and worship (ERE Index, p. 173). The Easter Cakes associated with the Friday and also the other days of Lent are derived from the pagan practices of baking cakes to the goddess and other deities (ERE, iii, pp. 60b-61a).
Frazer notes, and correctly, that if it was the case concerning Christmas that the pagans had adopted and syncretised the entire system giving it Christian names, then there is no reason to suppose that the same sort of motives:
… may have led the ecclesiastical authorities to assimilate the Easter festival of the death and resurrection of their Lord to the death and resurrection of another Asiatic god which fell at the same season (v, p. 306).
Frazer goes on to state that:
Now the Easter rites still observed in Greece, Sicily and Southern Italy bear in some respects a striking resemblance to the rites of Adonis and I have suggested that the Church may have consciously adapted the new festival to its heathen predecessor for the sake of winning souls to Christ (ibid.).
Adonis is the Syrian counterpart for Adonai or Lord. Baal or Bel also means Lord.
Frazer considers that this adaptation probably occurred only in the Greek-speaking world rather than the Latin, as the worship of Adonis seems to have made little impression in the West and certainly never formed part of the official Roman religion. He says:
… the place which it might have taken in the affections of the vulgar was already occupied by the similar but more barbarous worship of Attis and the Great Mother (ibid.).
The death and resurrection of the god Attis was officially celebrated at Rome on 24 and 25 March, the latter being regarded as the spring equinox and, therefore, the most appropriate day for the revival of a god of vegetation who had been dead or sleeping throughout the winter. According to an ancient and widespread tradition, 25 March was celebrated as the death of Christ without regard to the state of the Moon. This tradition was followed in Phrygia, Cappadocia, Gaul and, seemingly, also in Rome itself (cf. Frazer, v, p. 306). Tertullian affirms that Christ was crucified on 25 March 29 CE (Adv. Jud., 8, Vol. ii, p. 719, and also by Hippolytus and Augustine; cf. Frazer, v, fn. 5 to p. 306).
This is an absolute historical and astronomical impossibility and, yet, the notion appears to have become deeply rooted early in the traditions (cf. Frazer, v, p. 307 and the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159)).
It thus appears that this earliest of traditions had some connection with the cult of Attis. Similarly the pine was sacred to the god Attis, and it is no accident that all relics of the cross are composed of pine (cf. the paper The Cross: Its Origin and Significance (No. 39)).
It is the view of Frazer and also of Duchesne that the date of the death and resurrection of Christ was arbitrarily referred to the fictitious date of 25 March to harmonise with an older festival of the spring equinox. This appears to have equated with an older belief that it was on the very day that the world was created (Frazer, ibid., p. 307).
The resurrection of Attis, who combined in himself the characters of the divine Father and the divine Son, was officially celebrated at Rome on the same day. Thus, it is not only the syncretism of the resurrection doctrine with which we are concerned, but we see also the origin of the doctrines of Modalism, where one god has attributes of or different aspects as forms of the one but in distinction, and from which idea the Trinity was formed.
There is also the more recent heresy of the “Jesus is the one true God” concept entering Protestant quasi-Gnostic theology.
This replacement phenomenon, where a heathen festival is replaced by one with Christian names, is seen in a number of pagan or heathen festivals. In line with the Mother goddess and Heavenly Virgin theology, the Festival of Diana was ousted by the Festival of the Assumption of the Virgin in August. Like changes were the pagan Parilia in April, which was replaced by the feast of St George. The midsummer water festival in June was replaced by the festival of St John the Baptist. Each has connection with the typology it replaced. The feast of All Souls in November is the ancient heathen Feast of the Dead. The Nativity of Christ replaced that of the Sun. The Festival of Easter is simply the feast of the Phrygian god Attis at the vernal equinox. It should also be remembered that the Phrygians were the source of the Mithras system and the Mystery cults generally (see also the paper The Nicolaitans (No. 202)).
Mithras was introduced to Rome by pirates captured by Pompey, circa 63 BCE. The places which celebrated the death of Christ at the equinox were the very places that the worship of the god Attis originated or had taken deepest root, namely Phrygia, Gaul and apparently Rome itself. Frazer says it is difficult to regard the coincidence as accidental (v, p. 309).
Another characteristic that is coincidental to the resurrection is that the date is also ascribed to 27 March, two days later, and this is where the shortened period of the Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection occurs. Frazer notes that similar displacements of Christian to heathen celebrations occur in the Festivals of St George and the Assumption of the Virgin (v, p. 309).
It is perhaps the telling item in the syncretism when we see that the traditions of Lactantius and seemingly the Christian church in Gaul placed the death of Christ on the 23rd and the resurrection on the 25th, exactly in accordance with the festival of Attis. This is impossible for any year of the Hebrew calendar that Christ could have possibly been crucified and is directly related to the worship of Attis (cf. Frazer, ibid.).
By the fourth century, the worshippers of the god Attis were complaining bitterly that Christians had made a spurious imitation of their theology or the resurrection of Attis, and the Christians asserted that the resurrection of Attis was a diabolical counterfeit of the resurrection of Christ.
However, we know from history and linguistics that the original dates of the resurrection were based on the Passover, which was based on the lunar calendar and occurred on 14 and 15 Nisan and proceeded to the Wave-Sheaf offering on the Sunday. Thus, the Passover could fall on any two days in the week with a variable gap to the Sunday Wave Sheaf, which marked the ascension of Messiah and not his resurrection, which occurred the previous evening. Easter, on the other hand, was confined to a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection in direct contradiction of Scripture. Originally, it was on fixed dates in the cult of Attis. The word Easter was even inserted in the English KJV translation of the Bible to replace the word for Passover to further disguise the issue.
Candles at the changes of the seasons and Easter
We saw above that candles entered the system of worship from the ancient Aryan religion. It stemmed from a common ancestor central and seemingly associated with the Assyro-Babylonian system prior to the entry of the Aryans to India circa 1000 BCE. This could have been as early as the earliest times of the Assyrians in the second or even during the third millennium BCE.
The ancient Aryan practice continued among the Germans of lighting new fire by means of a bonfire at Easter, and sending the sticks to each home to start the fires to ward off the gods of thunder, storm and tempest. The practice was still found all over Germany, according to Frazer when he wrote. The differences in Protestant and Catholic communities were that the Protestant youth tended the fires and the grown men of the Catholics tended them. The festivals were directly associated with the ancient fertility rites. The church was brought in later as a locus of the procession around which they went according to the revolution of the Sun. The fires are lit on the Easter Mountains.
The practice was introduced to Catholicism as the Easter candle. This single giant candle was lit at Easter on Saturday night before Easter Sunday, and then all the candles of the church were lit from it. This continued for the year until the following Easter when the single Easter candle was again lit. The bonfires continued to be burnt in Catholic countries. The bonfires burnt on Easter eve often have a wooden figure called Judas burnt with them, and the ashes are often mixed with the ashes of the consecrated palm branches and mixed with the seeds at sowing. Even where this sacrificial effigy is omitted, the fires themselves are still called the burning of Judas (Frazer, x, p. 121). Frazer records that in Bavaria the newly kindled Easter candle was used to light the lanterns and the young men ran to the bonfire to light it. The first one there was rewarded by the housewives with red eggs the next day, i.e. Easter Sunday, at the door of the church. The burning of Judas was accompanied by great jubilation (ibid., x, p. 122).
On this same day in the Abruzzi, the holy water is collected from the church as protection against witches and their maladies. The wax from the candles is placed on the hat and is then a protection against thunder and lightning in storms. In Calabria, and elsewhere in Italy, the customs relating to new water are much the same. Similar beliefs are found among the Germans of Bohemia (see also the section Epiphany).
R. Chambers (The Book of Days, London and Edinburgh, 1886, I, p. 421) records that all the fires in Rome were lit afresh from the holy fire kindled in Rome in St Peter’s on Easter Saturday (cf. Frazer, x, p. 125).
The practice of lighting the candle appears to take place on the night before the day of the Sun as part of the ancient Sun-worshipping system. Candles form part of ancient magical rites and were common to the occult systems and among the animist systems stemming from the Assyro-Babylonians.
The practice of lighting candles is of mixed symbolism. The lights in the Temple were specific and limited for special purposes related to the seven lights as the seven spirits of God in the single Menorah, and the seventy lights of the Host in the Temple of Solomon. This was later interpreted by occultists as referring to the seven heavens, and the seven planets. The ascent through the seven levels of animistic Shamanism entered Judaism through Merkabah Mysticism.
The candle itself is held to be a symbol of individuated light and consequently of the life of an individual as opposed to the cosmic and universal life (see Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols, Dorset, 1991, p. 38). This is a distinction among the occult and is not Christian.
The practice of lighting multiple candles before heathen altars and later in Christianity is based on the premises inherent in the godless and blasphemous doctrine of the ‘immortal soul’ and the attempts at isolating holiness to the individual through the action of the spiritual forces involved by the placation of the entity adored. The more entities, the more candles are required. These candles stand as symbols of the pantheistic thinking of the soul doctrine.
The practice in Judaism is based on a thinking that operates at a lower physical level, stemming from the Babylonian captivity and the Mysticism that entered Judaism from that phase.
In Kabbalistic Judaism, one enters the Gate of Kavanah (or concentration) through meditation based on light. The symbols are thus that one elevates the mind by meditation from one light to a higher one. Two of the lights are called Bahir (brilliant) and Zohar (radiant), alluding to the two most important Kabbalistic classics (Kaplan, Meditation and Kabbalah, Weiser, 1982, p. 118). These lights correspond to the Sefirot. These systems were understood by Rabbi Moshe de Leon (1238-1305) in his Shekel ha Kodesh of 1292.
This system of ascent is Shamanism to the seventh great light Ain Sof. These are: Tov (Good) Nogah (Glow) Kavod (Glory) Bahir (Brilliance) Zohar (Radiance) Chaim (Life) and the infinite and seventh is Ain Sof (the crown). Their Sefirot equivalents are Chesed (Love) Geveruah (Strength) Tiferet (Beauty) Netzach (Victory) Hod (Splendour) Yesod (Foundation) (Kaplan, ibid., p. 119).
The ancient Zohar speaks of different colours with regard to fire and this may be derived from Mazdean systems. The colours of the seven levels to the worship of Sin as Moon god were identified with the Ziggurat at Babylon (see the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).
This entire system is straight Mysticism and the use of candles in their various forms is tied directly to magic and mystical practice except where lit in the Temple of God, in which case they are not candles but oil lamps, as the Menorah. Their use at Hanukkah and Purim is examined below.
Passover or Easter
The method of calculating the day of the Sun at the vernal equinox was similar to the calculation of the Wave-Sheaf offering of Leviticus 23, but it was not quite the same. That is why there is a slight difference between the Passover and the Easter system.
The Universal Oxford Dictionary gives the method for determining Easter Sunday or Easter day, which is the true Day of the Sun as Easter.
It is observed on the first Sunday after the calendar full moon, i.e. the 14th day of the calendar moon - which happens on or next after 21 March. Applied colloq. to the week commencing Easter Sunday (1964 print, p. 579).
This is the rule for determining the Easter or Ishtar festival, and not the rule for the biblical Passover.
The arguments are clearly demonstrated in the history of the Quartodeciman dispute, which occurred from the reign of Anicetus to that of Victor (or Victorinus), bishops of Rome from the middle to the end of the second century (ca. 154-190).
Thus, from the Quartodeciman dispute we know that this false dating system emanated from Rome in the second century and was opposed by those in the Church who were taught by the Apostles, namely Polycarp, who opposed Anicetus, and his pupil Polycrates opposing Victor (or Victorinus). The later writings of Socrates Scholasticus (ca. 439 CE) introduce error into the history and are incorrect on a number of grounds, many of which are outlined by the compilers of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (cf. NPNF, 2nd series, Vol. 2, introduction to the text) (see also the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277)).
Socrates records that the Quartodecimans kept the 14th day of the Moon, disregarding the Sabbath (NPNF ibid., Ch. XXII, p. 130). He records that Victor, bishop of Rome, excommunicated them and was censured for this by Irenaeus (ibid.). He tries to introduce, at this later stage, an appeal to Peter and Paul for the support of the Roman practice of Easter and the Quartodeciman’s practice with John (NPNF op. cit., p. 131). He alleges that neither party can produce written testimony to their views. However, we know correctly that the Quartodecimans appealed to John from the writings of Polycarp and Polycrates, who were taught directly by John. No appeal is made to Peter and Paul for support of Easter in any serious way. Moreover, it is absurd to suggest that the twelve Apostles would be divided as to how to calculate the Passover.
Socrates is clear on one thing and that is that the Church and the Quartodecimans did not keep the dates for the Passover in accordance with the modern Jewish calculations (i.e. as at the time he wrote ca. 437, being after the introduction of the Hillel calendar in 358). He holds them to be wrong in almost everything (ibid., p. 131).
In this practice they averred, they conformed not to the modern Jews, who are mistaken in almost everything, but to the ancients and according to Josephus in what he has written in the third book of his Jewish Antiquities.
i.e. Antiquities of the Jews, III, 10 which is quoted here in full:
In the month of Xanthicus, which is called Nisan by us, and is the beginning of the year, on the fourteenth day of the moon, while the sun is in the sign of Aries (the Ram), for during this month we were freed from bondage under the Egyptians, he has also appointed that we should sacrifice each year the sacrifice which, as we went out of Egypt, they commanded us to offer, it being called the Passover.
The sign of Aries finished on 19-20 April and thus the Passover could not fall after this period. The 14th could not fall prior to the equinox, and thus we have the ancient parameters for the Passover. Here we see that the early Church did not follow the later Jewish traditions under Hillel. Most quotations of Socrates ignore this most important piece of evidence.
The Preparation Day of 14 Nisan was thus seen anciently as the commencement of the Passover and that date could fall on the equinox, but 15 Nisan, which was the first Holy Day and the night on which Passover was eaten, could not fall on the equinox. The ancient practice is the basis for the rule now, but after the dispersion the Jews observed only 15 Nisan and not both days as they did previously in accordance with Deuteronomy 16:5-7.
We also see from Socrates here that the Council of Nicaea did not fix the timing of Easter as the Audiani claimed (see NPNF, ibid., p. 131 and fn. 14 to p. 131). It was determined according to ancient tradition and this we know, as it was determined according to the worship of the god Adonis and the god Attis in conjunction with Ishtar or Venus and the worship of the Sun system. It resolved the conflict in the heathen systems of Attis and Adonis. Nicaea simply adopted Easter as the official festival using existing pagan practice, but harmonised it. It did not fix or determine the festival. The Jews had established an entirely false calendar by 358 not long after Nicaea, as we see here from Socrates. This event is much closer to his time and, hence, more accurately noted. Thus, the Christian Passover was all but eliminated by paganism, establishing Easter or a false calendar of rabbinical Judaism, moving the Passover dates in Nisan in relation to the Moon. The Council of Nicaea decreed that the determination of Easter Sunday as the Sunday following the full moon in effect made it virtually impossible (but not quite) for Easter Sunday to fall on the same Sunday as the Wave-Sheaf offering of the Sunday of the Passover – should it fall on 15 Nisan. Thus, it is almost impossible to have Easter and the Passover coincide correctly on some occasions. This was allegedly out of a desire to distance Christianity from the Jews, but in reality it is the determination of the system of a false god to dislocate the true festival and bring it into conformity with pantheistic worship.
The meaning of Easter
The sheer language involved in the English is itself most telling. The Passover was termed Pash in the early Church writings. The term Easter is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon form.
The Universal Oxford Dictionary gives the meaning of Easter as coming from the Old English éastre or the feminine plural éastron. It says:
Baeda derives the word from Eostre (Northumb. sp. of Éastre), a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox (ibid.).
The dictionary then proceeds to ignore this lead in and goes on to associate it with a Christian festival, after identifying its earliest use with the cult of the goddess.
The vernal or spring equinox is the time that the days are beginning to lengthen beyond the length of the night (hence, equinox) and the growth is beginning to quicken. Thus, the symbolism is of fertility.
From this we associate such symbols as rabbits, eggs etc. The rabbit was a symbol of fertility in the ancient Babylonian system and it is found in the archaeological record. Rabbits were used in ancient homoeopathic magic from Africa to America (Frazer, i, pp. 154-155). They were also used in ceremonies to stop rain (i, p. 295).
Not only Christianity adopted the egg symbol in its ritual. Rabbinical Judaism also adopted the practice of including an egg in the Seder table at Passover, thus profaning the Passover meal on a yearly and ritual basis. Coupled with their adoption of the Hillel calendar, they virtually never keep the Passover themselves and prevent any who try to follow their system from doing so by virtue of the false calendar system they have adopted.
Ishtar or Astarte
Easter (fem. pl. Eastron) is actually the name of Ishtar, which is another name of Astarte as we see above. As Ashtaroth, which is the Hebrew plural form denoting various local manifestations of Astarte (Deut. 1:4; Greek Ashtoreth), she was the Canaanite fertility goddess Athtarath, pronounced seemingly Ashtarath or Ashtereth.
From this, the Greeks derived Astarte and the Hebrews in writing the heathen god’s name in the biblical text seemingly kept the consonants but replaced the vowels with the vowels for the word bosheth or shame. Ashtarath or Ishtar became Easter in the Anglo-Saxon prior to their arrival in Britain.
At Ras Shamra, in the form of Anat, she plays the leading role during the eclipse of the Sun god Baal as the vegetation deity (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 254). She is less conspicuous in Palestine as Ashtaroth than as Astarte, who assumes the role of Anat there. What we are seeing is the same role played by this goddess under different names, seemingly depicting some local or other aspect of significance. This is seemingly the same as the Artemis-Diana distinction. The seasonal rituals of the fertility cult of Baal and Astarte are noted in early Israel (Jdg. 2:13; 10:6; cf. Interp. Dict., ibid.). Samuel at Mizpah at the election of Saul ordered Israel to put away the Baalim and Ashtaroth, thus indicating they were associate and plural (1Sam. 7:4). Israel did not do so and confessed its apostasy after the defeat by the Philistines (1Sam. 12:10). From 1Samuel 31:10, we see her cult at Beth-shan which was not occupied by Israel, being destroyed at the time of David. Hence, her cult was general to the area. She is called Ashtaroth of the Horns (Ashteroth-karnaim). This city was a city of the Rephaim and within the territory of Og, king of Bashan (Deut. 1:4; 3:10; Josh. 12:4). Cherdorlaomer raided the Rephaim there (Gen. 14:5). It later was settled by Machir (Josh. 13:12,31) and became an Israelite city of refuge (1Chr. 6:71; cf. Josh. 21:27). This is representative of the goddess Astarte depicted as the horned goddess and represented in the same way as Hathor, the cow goddess of Egypt. This is the representation of Ishtar with the Moon god Sin whose upturned horns are identified in the crescent moon on the horizon, with Venus as the evening star (cf. the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)). The system was thus ancient and was central to the Rephaim and the religious systems of Egypt and Asia Minor generally, but centred on the Assyro-Babylonian system.
The form of the word Ashteroth (a. soneka) is also a common noun meaning young of the flock or breeding stock, referring to productivity of sheep (cf. Deut. 7:13; 28:4,18,51). The ancient etymology of the terms suggests the connection with the breeding or fertility system and may even be why the sun sign of the month of the equinox was named as Aries or the Ram by the ancients.
Astarte, or Easter in her various forms, is the Mother goddess mentioned above and was associated with the son-lover as Lord, which is the meaning of Baal, Adonis etc. As the Heavenly Virgin or Mother-goddess figure, she was involved, as we see, in the symbolism of the golden calf that led Israel astray at Sinai under Moses (cf. ibid.). In this Trinity of the Star, the Sun and the Moon we see her as goddess of sensual love as evening star (hence, also Venus) and goddess of war as morning star. This war role was attributed to Aphrodite. This title is directly related to Satan from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. She is related to the Moon god Sin from where we derived our concept of the word and is in association with the Sun as the third member of the Trinity. The festivals are tied to this symbolism.
The cult of Ashtoreth was patronised by Solomon (1Kgs. 11:5). Her cultic place established on the Mount of Corruption on the Mount of Olives across from Zion was abolished during Josiah’s reformation. In both cases, this cult is tied to the Phoenicians and, particularly, the Sidonians. Thus, the Bull system of Sin and the sacrifices of the Minotaur in Crete are also associated here through the early maritime system of the Sea Lords. Her worship is directly linked with the worship of Milcom, god of the Ammonites, and Chemosh of the Moabites. They appear to be associated with her in the form of Athtar, the astral Venus, of which Ashtoreth is the female form. She is the consort and ally of Baal in the conflict with the Sea-and-River in the Ras Shamra texts and, in the text from the nineteenth dynasty in Egypt, she was the bride claimed by the tyrant Sea. She was associated with Baal as the Giver of Life or Death in the saga of king Keret from the Ras Shamra texts. Here, the king invokes a curse in the name of Athtarath-the-name-of-Baal. Thus the name is associated with Baal and has both male and female aspects as consort and giver of fertility. At Ras Shamra, her place was usurped by Anath, sister of Baal but, from the biblical and Phoenician inscriptions, she was the most prominent deity anciently (Interp. Dict., ibid., art. ‘Ashtoreth’, pp. 255-256; cf. the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).
The Egyptians, under the Ptolemies at Edfu, depicted Ashtoreth as a lion-headed goddess. This is again an association with the lion-headed Aeon and the Mysteries. As Quodshu or holiness, holding a papyrus plant and a serpent, she stands on a lion between the Egyptian fertility god Min and Resheph, the Semitic god of destruction and death. Her hair is worn in the stylised fashion of the horns of the cow-goddess Hathor. Bronze figurines from Gezer depict a nude figure with horns, which are considered to be that of Ashteroth. Her cultic systems flourished at Beth-shan from the fifteenth to the thirteenth centuries BCE and, in the second century BCE, there was a cult centre at Delos to Astarte of Palestine (ibid., p. 256). The fertility symbols found are of the goddess with the horned headdress and the breasts pronounced, often holding a lotus flower and a serpent. Where the Mother goddess is depicted, it is Ashera and it has a dove clutched to the breast. She is also associated with the Phoenician god of healing, Eshmun, from an undated inscription from Carthage. This role is endemic to the cult throughout and is found among the Celts and Druids, who were exposed to the Sea Lords very anciently. A name associated with her in the Assyrian form Ishtar is Ishtar-miti-uballit or Ishtar make the dead to live (ibid.). Thus, the resurrection theme is associated with her at Easter as Easter.
The Queen of Heaven
The prophet Ezekiel condemns the women in Israel for weeping for Tammuz (Ezek. 8:14). This Syrian deity was mourned as the dying god in idolatrous Israel.
Tammuz was associated with the Queen of Heaven, who was also the Heavenly Virgin, as we have seen. Cakes were baked to her, and the prophet Jeremiah condemns this practice outright (Jer. 7:18; 44:19).
The Queen of Heaven was, as we see, an ancient Oriental goddess. She was associated with the harvest also, and the last sheaf and corn of the harvest were often dedicated to her and was called the Queen (Frazer, ii, p. 146; vii, p. 153).
The Queen at Athens was married to the god Dionysius (ii, pp. 136ff.; vii, pp. 30ff.). It appears that the consummation of the divine union, as well as the espousals, was enacted at the ceremony. It is not known whether the part of the god was played by a man or an image. Attic law required that the Queen be a burgess and have known no man but her husband (Frazer, ii, p. 136). She was assisted by fourteen sacred women, one for each of the altars of Dionysius. This Dionysian ceremony of the Mystery cults was enacted on the 12th of Anasterion (or around February). The fourteen were sworn to purity and chastity by the Queen at the ancient shrine of Dionysius on the Marshes, which was opened on that day of the year only. Her marriage seemingly took place later and, according to Aristotle (Constitution of Athens, iii, p. 5), at the old residence of the king on the north-eastern side of the Acropolis and known as the Cattle stall. It was nevertheless part of this ancient fertility festival of the vines and fruit trees of which Dionysius was the god (Bacchus to the Romans) (cf. Frazer, ii, pp. 136-137 and n. 1).
The Queen became consort of the gods but remained the fertility goddess and Mother goddess. In this role, the Queen of the corn-ears was drawn in procession at the end of the harvest.
The Queen of Egypt was also the wife of Ammon (ii, pp. 131ff.; v, p. 72) and thus personified the goddess in her person. This degenerated in later years where the divine consort was a young and beautiful girl of good family who led the loosest of sexual relations until she reached puberty and was then mourned and given in marriage (Strabo, xvii, I, 46, p. 816). The Greeks called these Pallades after their virgin goddess Pallas.
This prostitution appears to have anciently been associated with the worship of Ishtar and, indeed, most of the devotees of Easter or Ishtar spent some time at least enrolled as a temple prostitute as a young girl in the cult centres of Asia Minor. At Corinth, prostitution was general and virtually everyone in the city was at one time or another involved with it.
The prophetess of Apollo also had this role of consort. So long as the god tarried at Patara, his winter oracle and home, his prophetess was shut up with him every night.
As Artemis, the many-breasted goddess of fertility at Ephesus, the goddess had consorts who were termed Essenes or King Bees and seemed to have been entirely celibate for a fixed period of time, being dedicated to the goddess. The records or inscriptions at Ephesus indicate some were married.
She had a grove of fruit trees around her temple (Frazer, i, p. 7). She was thus associated with Demeter, who was termed the fruit bearer (vii, p. 63). In this way she was also identified with Diana, who was patroness of fruit trees as was she herself (i, pp. 15ff.). This Mother goddess is identified by Frazer with the King of the Wood and his woodland goddess Diana at Nemi. This appears to make perfect sense and would explain why the crowd at Ephesus, in Acts, referred to the goddess as Diana of Ephesus. This aspect has been transferred to the cult of the Virgin and fruit trees are blessed on the day of the Assumption of the Virgin (Frazer, i, pp. 14ff.). The cult of the Virgin in Christianity is nothing but the cult of Ishtar, Astarte, Diana or Artemis in ancient paganism in new guise and sometimes in the same clothes.
The relationship with the Mysteries in Egypt carries on to the cult of Osirus, whose worshippers were forbidden to injure fruit trees (Frazer, vi, p. 111). Dionysius was also a god of fruit trees (vii, pp. 3ff.). We see an intertwined relationship here, which shows that these are not really different gods but different aspects of the same system of worship with variations on a theme.
These Essene at Ephesus were expected to have no intercourse with mortal women, just as the wives of Bel and Ammon, from early times, were expected to have no intercourse with mortal men. There seems to be a logic in the celibate dedication to the Queen of Heaven as Mother goddess. That is why the priests dedicated to her were celibate or eunuchs. This practice entered Christianity from the pagan cults and Gnosticism in its adaptation of the Mystery cults (see the paper Vegetarianism and the Bible (No. 183)). The females in the Ishtar cult in Asia Minor were not celibate, but promiscuous. It is probable that Pliny called the Sons of Zadok at Qumran as Essene from the fact that some of their orders were celibate ascetics. They themselves used no such title and the application of the name of priests of a pagan god would have been offensive in the extreme.
As Queen of May, the goddess was representative of the spirit of vegetation (ii, pp. 79,84) both in France (ii, p. 87) and in England (ii, pp. 87ff.).
It seems to be a common view that the Mother was also goddess of the Corn, and the last of the harvest is often dedicated to her in symbolism and a special cake is made of this last of the harvest and dedicated to her. The symbolism runs throughout Europe in varying forms and has the same symbolism being identified with this Queen of the harvest (cf. Frazer, vii, pp. 149-151).
A sacrificial cake is baked of new barley or rice (Frazer, viii, p. 120). The barley harvest is at Easter or Passover. Among the Hindus, sacrifice was made at the beginning of the harvest, either at the new or full moon. The barley was reaped in spring and the rice in autumn. From the new grain a sacrificial cake was set forth on twelve potsherds sacred to the gods Indra and Agni. A pap of gruel or boiled grain was offered to the pantheon of deities, the Visve Devah, and a cake on one potsherd was presented to Heaven and Earth (ibid.). This is similar to the record of presenting the cakes to the Queen of Heaven referred to by Jeremiah and appears to have been anciently common to all the Aryans. The sacrifices in the Hindu system were of the first-fruits and the fee of the priests was the first-born of the cattle and, thus, we are seeing the ancient first-fruits system among the Aryans entering Hinduism. The harvest goddess is Gauri, wife of Siva. Rice cakes or pancakes are offered to a plant-formed effigy of Gauri. On the third day, it is thrown into a river or a tank. A handful of dirt or pebbles is brought home from the spot and thrown about the house and gardens and trees to ensure fertility. This is the same effect as the custom of sweeping churches in Italy on the third day of the Easter festival, and shows an ancient common tradition much older than Christianity. The cakes have become hot cross buns in Christianity.
The same practice is among the Chins of Upper Burma as an offering of first-fruits to the goddess Pok Klai.
This Mother-goddess figure entered Buddhism and the East as the goddess Kuan-yin, who became the Avalokitesvara of the Mahayana system.
She entered Christianity as the Heavenly Virgin called Mary. She was made the mother of Jesus Christ and blasphemously termed Mother of God.
The Black Madonna
We can see now that the Mother-goddess figure entered Christianity as the Virgin Mary. She is termed the Madonna. We can see that her aspect as goddess of the spirit of vegetation was emphasised in the application of a black face to the goddess in her role as Demeter or the spring goddess of fertility in her aspects of Artemis or Diana.
In Christianity, this aspect seems to be known as the Black Madonna.
There was no cult of the Virgin Mariam or Mary in the early centuries of the Church. The ERE in dealing with the cult of Mary says:
No mention of Mary’s name, nor reference to her, occurs in the notices of Holy Communion in the NT; nor in the liturgical thanksgiving in the 1st epistle of St. Clement of Rome; nor in the Didache; nor in Justin Martyr’s or Tertullian’s account of the Eucharistic services. The only place where an invocation of St. Mary could come in is at the Commemoration of Martyrs and the Commemoration of the Departed; and on this all that St Cyprian has to say is:
‘Ecclesiastical discipline teaches, as the faithful know, that at the point where the martyrs are named at the altar of God, there they are not prayed for but for others who are commemorated prayer is offered (Epp. i, [Opera, Oxford, 1682, p. 81])
There is no direct evidence that among ‘the martyrs’ the Virgin was so much as mentioned (ERE, Vol. 8, pp. 475-476).
The introduction of Mariolatry was some time later from the introduction in the Eastern rites. After the Church was adopted by the Roman Empire the heathen practice or heresy was adopted, and the practice is recorded by Epiphanius:
… as heresy (Her, lxxix) that ‘certain women in Thrace, Scythia, and Arabia’ were in the habit of adoring the virgin as a goddess and offering to her a certain kind of cake [kollurida tina] whence he calls them ‘Collyridians’. Their practice (cf. Jer. 44:19) and the notion underlying it were undoubtedly relics of heathenism always familiar with female deities.
These cakes were made to the Queen of Heaven at her festival, the festival of Ishtar or Easter or Astarte, since long before the Babylonian captivity.
Epiphanius was adamant that Mary (her name was actually Mariam and Maria was her sister) was not to be worshipped. In the Liturgy of St Mark (Alexandrian), Mary was originally included in the prayer that God would give rest to the holy dead (ERE, ibid., p. 478). Mary or Mariam was seen as being quite dead and among those awaiting the resurrection.
The Trinitarians, particularly the Cappadocians, elevated Mary in response to the arguments of the non-Trinitarians later called Arians (cf. ERE, ibid., p. 476). They elevated Christ to God and then elevated ‘Mary’ as Mother of God and, hence, the Mother goddess and mother of the gods. These ideas were purely heathen and did not originate until the end of the fourth century. W. R. Ramsey argues that:
… so early as the 5th. cent. the honour paid to the Virgin Mary at Ephesus was the recrudescence in a baptized form of the old pagan Anatolian worship of the Virgin Mother (Pauline and Other Studies, p. 126; cf. ERE, ibid., p. 477, n. 1).
The Virgin Mary was none other than Artemis or Diana of Ephesus that Paul so boldly opposed (Acts 19:24-35).
By the medieval period up to the close of the council of Trent in 1563, we see that Mary had been elevated in the liturgy, being mentioned by name as:
… the most holy, stainless, blessed, Our Lady, Mother of God and the sequence of thought, which still shows she is prayed for is interrupted by a salutation ‘Hail thou that art full of grace ... because thou did bring forth the saviour of the world’ (ERE, ibid., p. 478).
There is no doubt Mariam, or Mary, the mother of Christ, was originally thought of as dead and was prayed for and not to and this was eroded by the Mother-goddess cult whose place she took.
The Mother-goddess was given a black face as Demeter, goddess of fertility, in the December rites, and as the Black Madonna she was thus related to the fertility and Mystery cults. Her cult, in any form, is pagan and an affront to Christianity.
The Council of Trent tried to reduce the idolatry associated with Mary and make distinction in the concepts of worship accorded to God, Jesus, Mary and the saints.
The effects of the Council were later eroded by successive popes, down to the present day.
Hanukkah and Purim
A festival of the Jews that mirrors the influence of the Persians and the Greeks is that of Hanukkah. It has no religious significance and work is not ceased. It is a festival of the 25th of the ninth month called Chislev or Kislev, which approximates December.
We know from Baruch 6:19ff. that the Babylonians lit candles before their idols and this was mentioned somewhat disparagingly in Baruch. The Greeks had also taken over this system, as we see from the references above. From the time of the Seleucid kingdom and its influence over Judah, the Hellenisation of Palestine was unavoidable.
Its political influence was considered marginal over Jerusalem, according to Hayyim Schauss in his work The Jewish Festivals: History and Observance, Chanukkoh (Schocken Books, p. 211). One only has to look at the fact that the grove of a Greek god was at Bethlehem (see below) to see the naivety of this statement. He admits on page 212 that the Hellenisation process was of political and economic interest. The governing party in Jerusalem under Syrian rule was the Hellenistic aristocratic party. The conflicts from this system reached its head under Antiochus Epiphanes. The High Priest was the Hellenised Jew of the aristocratic pro-Syrian party, Jason (altered from Joshua). He erected a gymnasium at Jerusalem and introduced Greek games. Jews adopted Greek names and culture (cf. Schauss, p. 213). When the Syrian-Egyptian war broke out the conservative Jason was deposed by the more radically pro-Greco-Syrian, Menelaus (Menachem). A rumour that Antiochus had been slain on the battlefield emboldened Jason to enter Jerusalem with 1,000 men and attack Menelaus. Antiochus entered Jerusalem and commenced to slaughter every advocate of the Egyptian party. He plundered the Temple and removed the treasure and all the gold and silver utensils. Menelaus was left in charge. A year later Antiochus again marched against Egypt, but was ordered to withdraw by the Roman senate and he was forced to comply (cf. Schauss, p. 214). Antiochus was then forced to consolidate the empire against Roman and Egyptian power. To do this, he demanded the worship of Greek gods. The Jews did not comply and he was impelled to send an army into Palestine to force compliance. The Temple was turned into a Grecian temple. The death penalty was introduced for observance of the Jewish faith.
A new strictly nationalist party emerged under Judah Maccabee and his brothers of the Hasmonean family.
On 25 Kislev they rededicated the altar of the Temple and instituted a yearly eight-day festival commencing on that day. They forced the repeal of the anti-Jewish laws of the Syrians and began to erect an independent Jewish kingdom in Palestine. This kingdom lasted less than 100 years before being swallowed up by the Romans.
Schauss makes a telling statement on page 216. He says:
For centuries since the Babylonian captivity they were a small and weak community in the little land of Judah ... It was only through the revolt and victory of the Hasmoneans that the latent forces of the people were aroused, and the various trends in Jewish spiritual life attained distinct forms. Jews grew enormously in numbers and power during that period.
Hanukkah is allegedly to commemorate the victory of the Hasmoneans. What we see is a period of total religious syncretism with the support of a party of the Jewish people. The practice of lighting tapers or candles over an eight-day period commencing in early December often coincides with the Saturnalia or the festivals of Demeter and the Mother goddess in Egypt, as we see above. It is indicative of the adaptation of a foreign practice to commemorate the victory of a Jewish aristocratic party and appropriate to itself the legitimacy of the previous aristocracy in the eyes of the people. This practice has no biblical sanction. Haggai 2:10-19 speaks of 24 Kislev as the period of the Temple restoration. The wrong date is involved for the application of this prophecy (see also the paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)).
An indication that the same thinking is involved in these Jewish festivals is the note 305 by Schauss (on p. 310) to the text on Purim and the practice of eating beans there, where he says:
The primitive source of this custom must be sought for in the primitive character of Purim as a season festival. For, exactly like beating and masquerading, legumes were also, in the belief of the peoples, a charm against the spirits. For this same reason beans are also eaten at a wedding.
Note the beating and masquerading attendant with the eating of the bean. It is also the practice, however, now only among oriental Jews, of the burning Haman at Purim.
In the same process, Judas is burnt among the Roman Catholics of Europe. The same aspects of beating and masquerading are common to all.
Schauss says in relation to Purim and the consumption of Kreplech and the Hamantaschen:
The word Kreplech obviously comes from the German and like many other forms of Purim observance was taken over from ‘Shrove Tuesday’ of the Christians and made a part of Purim. From Purim, it must be assumed the custom of eating Kreplech was carried over to the day before Yom Kippur and to Hashano Rabboh (ibid., p. 270).
He suggests the jesting explanation has been made that they are eaten on the days when beating is done – hence, the day before Yom Kippur when men flog themselves; Hoshano Rabboh when the willow branches are beaten; and Purim when Haman is beaten (p. 270).
The practice anciently was to burn lights at Hanukkah. Haman was burnt at Purim on the gallows. This is the origin of the Christians objecting to the practice on the grounds that it was identified with Christ. When this was done, ten candles were lit for the sons of Haman.
We see here the concept of candles as the single soul of the individual and the burning of the candles to create light. This practice can only be Assyro-Babylonian in origin and of pagan animist derivation. It has died out with the burning, but it was coupled with it. The candles are lit to placate the spirits of the ten demons.
Schauss shows that the practices of the theatrical aspects of the festivals began at Chanukkoh (or Hanukkah), but were predominate at Purim in the ghetto.
He says of the Purim masquerade:
It is ordinarily assumed that the Purim masquerade originated among the Jews of Italy, through the influence of the Christian Carnival, and that from Italy it spread to Jews of other lands. It is more logical to assume, however, that the masquerade belonged to Purim from the very start, together with the noise making. Both the noise-making and the masquerading were originally safeguards against evil spirits, against whom it was necessary to guard oneself at the change of the seasons. It would be truer to say that the Purim Mask and the Christian Carnival have the same heathen origin, with the season of the year and the approach of spring and both later took on new significance (p. 268).
He notes the custom among the Talmudic academics, until recently, of electing a Purim-rabbi (p. 269). This custom developed from the custom of electing the Purim-king, which was akin to the election of the King of the Bean or the King of Fools in Europe (see above).
These clearly and admittedly heathen practices associated with festivals not commanded to be observed indicate that we are dealing with the ancient primitive festivals of the fertility cults that entered Judaism from the same sources as they entered the Roman and Orthodox systems, namely from the Assyro-Babylonians, and then the Greeks and Egyptians. They lead up to the Passover in the same way as the other systems lead up to Easter.
The traditions of Judaism are as perverted as those of mainstream Christian sects. Indeed, they are of a common heathen origin; Babylon the Great rules the entire world.
The worship of Adonis at Easter
The remnants of the cult of the worship of Adonis are found to this day in Sicily and Calabria. In Sicily, gardens of Adonis are still sown in spring as well as in summer, from which Frazer infers that Sicily as well as Syria celebrated an old vernal festival of a dead and risen god. Frazer says:
At the approach of Easter, Sicilian women sow wheat, lentils and canary seed in plates, which they keep in the dark and water every two days. The plants soon shoot up; the stalks are tied together with red ribbons, and the plates containing them are placed on the sepulchres, which with the effigies of the dead Christ, are made up in Catholic and Greek churches on Good Friday, just as the gardens of Adonis were placed on the grave of the dead Adonis. The practice is not confined to Sicily but is observed in Calabria and perhaps in other places (Frazer, ibid., v, pp. 253-254).
The gardens are also still sown in Croatia and are often tied with the national colours.
Frazer draws attention to the widespread nature of this cult in Christian guise. The Greek church incorporated the festival in the procession of the dead Christ around Greek cities from house to house, bewailing his death.
Frazer is of the view that the church has skilfully grafted the festival of the dead god Adonis onto the Easter festival of so-called Christianity. The dead and risen Adonis became the dead and risen Christ. The depiction of the Greek artists of the sorrowful goddess with the dying lover Adonis in her arms resembles and seems to have been the model for the Pieta of Christian art of the Virgin with the dead body of her son in her lap (ibid., pp. 256-257). The most celebrated example of this is the one by Michelangelo in St Peter’s.
Jerome tells us of the grove to Adonis located at Bethlehem. Where Jesus wept, the Syrian god and lover of Venus was bewailed (ibid., p. 257). Bethlehem means the House of Bread and thus the worship of Adonis, as god of the corn, came to be associated with Bethlehem rather than the bread of life that was Messiah.
This was itself probably deliberate to assimilate the belief in the Syrian god Adonis and his lover Ishtar or Astarte, the Venus of the Romans.
The first seat of Christianity outside of Palestine was Antioch, and it was occupied by the Apostle Peter, as bishop. It was here that the cult of Adonis was entrenched and the death and resurrection of the god was celebrated annually with great solemnity.
When the emperor Julian entered into the city, which was at the time of the celebration of the death and resurrection of the god Adonis, he was greeted with great salutations so much so that he marvelled at them as they cried: “The Star of Salvation has dawned upon them in the East” (Ammianus Marcellinus, xxii, 9. 14; cf. Frazer, v, n. 2 to p. 258).
Rain-making at Easter
In order to ensure the growth of the crops, it was necessary to have rainfall by the equinox to get spring under way.
In order to do this, various rain-making ceremonies were held anciently by exposing the gods to various forms of hardship. In Italy, Palm Sunday, the Day of the Sun god at the Easter festival, was used to hang the consecrated palm branches on trees. The churches were swept and the dust was sprinkled on the gardens (see also above). Special consecrated candles were also lit to ensure rain. The statue of St Francis of Paola is credited with annually bringing the rain when he is carried every spring through the market gardens.
In the great drought of 1893, it is recorded that after some six months of drought the Italians could not induce the saints to bring rain by candles, bells, illuminations, fireworks and special masses and vespers. They banished the saints after they had scourged themselves with iron whips to no avail. At Palermo, they dumped the statue of St Joseph in a garden to see the state of things for himself and with the intention of leaving him there until rain fell. Other statues were turned to the wall like naughty children. Others were stripped of their regalia and banished from their parishes, being dunked in horse ponds and were threatened and grossly insulted. At Caltanisetta, the statue of the Archangel Michael was stripped of his golden wings and robes and given pasteboard wings instead and a clout was wrapped around him. The statue of St Angelo at Licata fared even worse as it was stripped and left naked. The statue was reviled, put in irons and threatened with drowning or hanging. The angry people roared at him shouting: “Rain or the rope!” (Frazer, i, p. 300).
This story, as farcical as it is, was carried out with deadly seriousness some 100 years ago in a civilised so-called Christian country with the knowledge and consent of the Catholic Church. The activities demonstrate the connection in the minds of the peasantry with the ancient agricultural system, and the so-called statues of the saints have simply replaced those of the ancient gods of the harvest, namely Adonis, Attis, Astarte, and Zeus as the god of rain etc.
These practices were based on the same ideas and concepts found in ancient China and elsewhere in the East. In 1710 on the island of Tsong-ming in Nanking province, the viceroy, after attempting to placate the deity, shut up his temple and placed locks on the doors after banishing the deity. Rain fell soon afterwards and the deity was restored. In April 1888, the Mandarins of Canton prayed to the god Lung-wong to stop the incessant downpour of rain. He did not heed them and so they put him in a lock-up for five days and the rain duly ceased. He was then restored to liberty (Frazer, i, pp. 298-299). The ideas are thus exactly the same and precede Christianity by millennia. However, they were absorbed into it and were prevalent into this century.
In fact, the ideas still exist within the legends and minds of a superstitious peasantry, encouraged by ignorance and a manipulative priesthood.
The Morning Star
The cult of Adonis involved the divine mistress of Adonis whose ancient name was Astarte, who was identified with the planet Venus. Thus, the star was the symbol both of the god and his lover.
It is also biblically the symbol of Satan and hence the visions of the Virgin are related to the Morning Star and can only be of demonic significance. The Adversary poses as an angel of light.
Astarte, the divine mistress of Adonis, was identified with Venus by the Babylonians, whose astronomers made careful notation of her transition from Morning to Evening Star, drawing omens from her appearance and disappearance (Frazer, v, p. 258). It is reasonable, then, to assume that the festival of Adonis was timed to commence with the appearance as the Morning or Evening Star. As the star that the people of Antioch saluted was seen in the East, and if it was indeed Venus, it can only have been as the Morning Star. From this we can deduce that the term Easter relates then also to the word for East and relates to this pagan goddess of the dawn.
Frazer holds that the festival of Astarte at the ancient temple at Aphaca in Syria was timed to start with the fall of a meteor from the heavens, which on a certain day was timed to fall from the top of Mt Lebanon to the river of Adonis (v, p. 259). This seems a little too convenient and it may be that the morning star he attributes to Antioch and elsewhere is this same meteor that represents the star of the goddess falling from Heaven into the arms of her lover (ibid.). The placing of the temple at Aphaca in relation to Mt Lebanon and the River Adonis would give, therefore, a precise location of the temple in relation to the rise of the morning star on the first day of the Sun following the vernal equinox of each year. Fairly accurate triangulation should locate the temple with a fair degree of accuracy on this hypothesis.
Frazer’s attempts to locate this star with Bethlehem and the wise men cannot possibly be correct.
The link, however, with the god Adonis and Astarte is absolute. The coupling of these festivals with Adonis and also Attis as the dead and risen god – to which the pine was sacred, as we see with Attis – is conclusive (Frazer, v, p. 306). The symbol of the dead man hanged on the tree and absorbed with it and then resurrected is the basis behind the relics of the cross being all of pine. The Easter system with its rekindling of new fires or need-fires is entirely non-biblical and anti-Christian.
Christianity compromised with its rivals in order to accommodate a still dangerous enemy. In the words of Frazer, the shrewd clerics saw that:
If Christianity was to conquer the world it could only do so by relaxing the too rigid principles of its Founder, by widening a little the narrow gate that leads to salvation.
He makes the telling but incorrect argument that Christianity was like Buddhism, where both were essentially ethical reforms which could only be carried out by a small number of disciples who were forced to renounce their family and the state. For the faiths to be accepted, they must be substantially reformed to appeal to the prejudices and passions and superstitions of the vulgar. This happened in both Judaism and in Christianity.
In this way, the faith of Messiah was subverted by worldly secular priests, who accommodated the Faith to the religions of ancient Rome and the sun-worshipping Mystery cults. This perversion of the Faith started with the basic festivals, which replaced the festivals of the Bible with those of the sun-worshippers. They introduced Christmas and Easter and then Sunday worship, which replaced the Fourth Commandment regarding the Sabbath. They invented the myth of the perpetual virginity of a woman they called Mary, rather than Mariam, to disguise the fact that they had murdered her sons and their descendants, the brothers and nephews of the Messiah of the world, the Son of God who came to teach them the truth and save them from themselves (see the paper The Virgin Mariam and the Family of Jesus Christ (No. 232)). The Christmas symbolism involves this Virgin bringing forth an infant from a cave year after year, as the eternal Sun comes forth in its infancy at the solstice.
The symbolism conveyed by the true Feasts of God contained in the Bible is deliberately obscured so that no growth in the Faith and in the knowledge of the One True God is possible.
The ignorant teach their children lies in the misguided belief that somehow that will make them happy. The society reduces its people to idolaters on the basis of commercialism and greed, following practices steeped in paganism and false religion. Keeping Christmas and Easter is a direct involvement in the sun-worshipping and Mystery cults and is a direct breach of the First and Fourth Commandments among others.
Christ called them hypocrites and quoted God speaking through the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 29:13):
This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Mat. 15:8-9; Mk. 7:6-7).
God has given His Laws through His servants the prophets. Soon, the Messiah will return to enforce those Laws and that system.