4 Myths about Christmas and Late Antiquity

Just to debunk some ideas. Happy Christmas – the official birthday

The Patrologist

Perhaps not the most common myths about Christmas, but these are the ones I regularly have to interact with online.

1. Christmas is a Christianisation of celebrations for Sol Invictus

Given that the first indisputable *dating* for Christmas to Dec 25th is the same document (the Chronicon of 354) that first attests to a birthday for Invictus, possibly Sol Invictus, it’s impossible to assert that Christmas is derivative of Sol Invictus’ birthday, any more certainly than the opposite.

2. Christmas involved a deliberate strategy of taking over Pagan holidays

Patristic authors never talk about such a strategy, pagan opponents never accuse such a strategy, and Christian theologians generally spend their time telling believers to stay well away from pagan holidays. The earliest argument for this view is not until the 17th and early 18th century, with proponents like Paul Ernst Jablonski and Jean Hardouin. The earliest suggestion of deliberate ‘takeover’…

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2 thoughts on “4 Myths about Christmas and Late Antiquity

  1. Paul Braterman

    Easter and wit sonar biblically anchored to Jewish holidays. 25 Dec is suspiciously similar to 25 Kislev, Hannukah, which in turn was deliberately linked, according to the Maccabees’ self-serving account, to the anniversary of the pagan festival when Antiochus desecrated the Temple. Dec 25 is probably not a good time to be watching your flocks by night on the Judaean hills, and is certainly not biblical. If it was not chosen to match previous festivals, how was it chosen?

    More generally, I’m suspicious of assumptions based on similarities that Mithraism influenced Christianity,since the formative periods of the religions overlapped. I suspect something similar of Zoroastrianism and Judaism. IIRC, however, Deutero-Isaiah does say in the name of YHWH, “from me comes both good and evil”, which to my non-scholarly ear sounds very much like the deliberate expression of a difference.

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