Why do we celebrate Christmas as we do today? What do the Christmas symbols mean: Santa, an evergreen tree, adornments, bells, mistletoe, reindeer, elves, socks filled with gourmet... where do they all come from? Are they pagan in origin?

  • 3
    This question is really broad. I don't know enough to write an answer, but my understanding is that most of these "Christmas symbols" have different origins. You might get better responses if you restricted this question to one specific "Christmas symbol", i.e. asked a question only about the origin of Santa
    – user62
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 22:49
  • I don't know if this is mythological so much as it is cultural, but I could be wrong.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 0:46
  • 1
    I agree with @hamlet. If you ask questions about a number of specific traditions (the tree, the stocking, mistleoe) you'd probably get some decent answers. Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 11:48
  • 3
    @Hamlet I'm voting to reopen it with this slight edit. This would allow for a narrower answer that isn't required to look at every little thing, but instead draws an overall picture. Hope this helps.
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


Well, from what I remember, it was because of the winter solstice, and getting new followers. That's what I remember....

The beginning of the article I'm about to talk about, mentions saturnalia, a roman feast to the god Saturn.

Then, there's Sol Invictus and Mithras, which was a feast by Roman Emperor Aurelian. The Mithraists (Mithras) are linked because they believed Mithras, and sol were the same God, just with different forms.

The feast of Sol Invictus was the attempt by the Roman emperor Aurelian to reform the cult of Sol, the Roman sun god, and and reintroduce it to his people, inaugurating Sol's temple and holding games for the first time in A.D. 274. Not only was this festival not annual, it also cannot be historically documented as having been established on December 25 by Aurelian (cf. Steven HijMans, Sol Invictus, The Winter Solstice, and the Origins of Christmas, Mouseion, Series III, vol. 3, pp. 377-398).

According to inscriptions on candle votives and other ancient works of art, there is a link between Mithras and Sol Invictus. In some cases it appears the Mithraists believed that Mithras and Sol were two different manifestations of the same god. In others they appear to be two gods united as one. These connections are difficult to understand given our limited knowledge of the Mithraic belief system, but they are important because they help to explain why skeptics claim the birthday of Mithras was celebrated on December 25.

Another Christian mentioned records that Pope Gregory the great, told St. Augustine of Canterbury to co-opt pagan festivals, and sacred space, and make them Christian, so that supports what I remember.

At least that's what was mentioned, though, mentions from other records show that people from that time, actually wanted to distance themselves from pagans. Here's the exact quote from the person I mentioned.

2 Michael Paul - Crook, Colorado

There doesn't have to be a pagan holiday that Christmas or other Christian feast days were intentionally replacing (though we know that Pope Gregory the Great told St. Augustine of Canterbury to co-opt pagan festivals and sacred space and make them Christian, so this practice did take place).

For one thing, Romans had a holiday about every three days, so every saints day, or event in the life of Christ would likely fall close to a Roman holiday and was not necessarily intentionally placed on that date to coopt a pagan festival.

Secondly, St. John Chrysostom gave a homily on Christmas (in fact, five of his Christmas sermons survive) about 386 AD (Migne, Patriologus Graecae, vol. 49, cols. 351-362, esp. Section 5, col. 357) in which, by looking at the Gospel of Luke, he was able to argue that Christ was born in late December; he didn’t argue that it was merely an effort to replace a Roman or pagan festival. He argued that if Zachary was serving in the Temple "and all the multitude of the people was praying without" (Lk 1:10), it must be the greatest Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs in late September or early October. Zachary returned home, Elizabeth conceived soon thereafter, and the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary while Elizabeth was “in her sixth month” (not after six months), which would be late March, and Jesus was born nine months after that, in late December. So Christmas doesn’t have to be a coopted pagan festival.

December 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm PST

Another reason for Dec. 25, is because it's mentioned that Dec. 25, is nine months from March 25, the time they believed that the world was created on. Even though it's mentioned in previous quote, humor me. 😕

16 Charles Jackson - Arlington, Texas

Dec 25th is 9 months from March 25 and March 25th is 6 months from Oct 25th. October 25th in the Jewish year of 3760 was the Day of Atonement. As you know, the Day of Atonement is the one day of the year the High Priest goes into the Temple to light incense, in atonement for his sins and sins of the Jews. The year 3760 was the year Zechariah was chosen by lot to go into the Holy of Holies. There he was visited by the angel Gabriel and told his barren wife would have a child. That day correlates to Oct 25 th Gregorian calendar. Six months from that time Gabriel visited Mary and headed to the hill country to visit Elizabeth. Count 9 months from 25 March and you have 25 Dec. So in a sense you can say Christmas can be determined from Luke and Deuteronomy. 3760 + 2015=5775 which is the Jewish year we are in. January 1, 2015 at 11:25 am PST

Another person mentions that Dec. 25 is the day Jesus died, and that Christmas is a mockery to him, here's his quote.

12 mar castro - Dublin, California

Dictionary.com is a modern translation of Christianity. They disguised the true meaning. Read the book written by Catholic Church.

If you are an honest, sincere and discerning Christian, please read on; if not, you might as well stop right here. The World Book Encyclopedia defines "Christmas" as follows: "The word Christmas comes from "Cristes Maesse", an early English phrase that means "Mass of Christ." (1) It is interesting to note that the word "Mass", as used by the Roman Catholics, has traditionally been rejected by the so-called Protestants, such as Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and so on. The word "Mass" is strictly a Catholic word and thus, so is "Christ-Mass."

As previously stated, the word "Mass" in religious usage means a "death sacrifice." The impact of this fact is horrifying and shocking; for when the millions of people are saying, "Merry Christmas", they are literally saying "Merry death of Christ!" Furthermore, when the fat man in the red suit laughs boisterously and says, "Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas", he is mocking and laughing at the suffering and bleeding Saviour, who died for our sins. He does this while parents place their little children into his waiting arms to hear his false promises of gifts that he says he will give them. Consider what you are saying when you say "Merry Christmas.

December 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm PST

13 mar castro - Dublin, California My references:

Christmas Chist = Jesus Chirst Mas - death sacrifice

  1. World Book Encyclopedia, vol.3, p. 408, 1986 ed., World Book Inc., Chicago, IL

  2. The Catholic Encyclopedia, R.C. Broderick, 1975 ed., Nihil Obstat, Richard J. Sklba, Censor Librorum. Imprimatur, Archbishop William E. Cousins, Milwaukee, WI.

  3. The Mass In Slow Motion, Ronald Knox, 1948, Sheed & Ward, Inc., New York, NY. Nihil Obstat, E.C. Messenger, Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur, E. Morrogh Bernard, Vic. Gen.

December 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm PST

Here's the URL, for the website that I quoted on.


For the symbols, like mistletoes, here you go. The informations a plenty, so it would behoove me to just give you the link. It's a lot to read, and I found it quite interesting honestly.


P.S. What's interesting, is that the mention I found relating to Christmas, is actually about sol.

What is the TRUE ORIGIN of Christmas? Where did it come from? Did you know Yeshua the Messiah was born nowhere NEAR December 25, but that was the "birth day" of the sun- god, "Sol Invictus" or "Mithras"? Did you know December 25 was the concluding day of the pagan winter festival called the "Saturnalia"? Where did "Santa Claus" come from? The "Christmas tree"? How did this pagan feast become connected with "Christianity"? Here is an amazing "whale of a tale"!

This is from, http://www.hope-of-israel.org/cmas1.html I'm not able to put three links, sorry, and also it's very opinionated.


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