Our modern incarnation of Christmas involves joy, love, peace and a jolly Santa Claus – but that wasn’t always the case. Christmas has roots that go far back beyond Christianity, into early Pagan traditions. A few of these pleasant traditions were carried through to today, like the Yule log and Christmas tree, but others have (thankfully) been left for the edges and shadowy corners of the month of December. Below are 5 chilling tales and traditions from original Christmas-time celebrations.
3 days ago
Valentine's Day - a day of mixed emotions, too much emotion, and lots of chocolate. It's origins lie neither in deep Pagan traditions nor the pure commercialism of recent decades. Instead, it stems from a combination of Christian martyrs and the medieval poet Chaucer.
Yuletide, essentially an old word for Christmas, lasts from the Winter Solstice on December 21st to January 1st. It was originally celebrated by Germanic Pagan tribes, but has receently had a popular resurgance as more people begin to realize the true origins of Christmas. It is a celebration of light, life and the natural world, as the light returns to us after the darkness of Winter. You can honor this time with as little effort as lighting a candle, or truly dive into the complexities of creating a Yule alar or wreath.
Christmas as we know it today is a mish-mash of multiple Pagan traditions and rituals painted over with the brush of Christianity. In an effort to recruit Pagans to the new faith, priests melded Christian stories with Pagan holidays already in place, like Yule, Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice. Many of our beloved Christmas traditions like the Christmas tree and Santa Claus himself have much older origins.