If you look up the word Pagan it literally says “a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.” And yet this word was/is used to shame people. Ha. Just another way that the majority marginalized people who were not like them.
But on to the matter at hand. Long ago, Romans tried to Christianize this thing called Saturnalia (a Pagan fest consisting of inverted societal hierarchies, feasting, and drunken fucking–all in the name of the god Saturn). You see, Romans were trying to take over, and they needed their customs to be respected as well. Christianity was very important to the Romans and they wanted the world to convert.
The Pagan traditions were too strong in the culture of people Romans were trying to dominate. So instead of fighting against years of tradition, they decided to try and overwrite it. They would place Christian holidays on the same days as Pagan ones so that it would be a lot easier for them to convert. The Romans essentially thought that since Saturnalia was so big, the only way to combat it would be to say that the celebration of Jesus’ birth would also be happening around the same time. Clever. I guess?
I wont even get into how the evergreen tree symbolized prosperity since it was the only thing that could survive winter in a lot of places. It is for this reason that it decorated many Pagan temples and was very important during the times that would surround present day Christmas.
And we don’t even have to talk about how this spirit of giving gifts was in celebration of the spring season that was coming. In a time when people lived off the land and technology levels were what they were, people needed something to keep hope alive.
After some time of consistent appropriation of Pagan traditions, Christmas became a solid Christian practice and withheld it’s prominence for centuries. But fast forward a bit and The Puritans wanted to separate themselves from the ‘perverted’ practices of the Church of England. The Pagan Christmas was one of them. They came to The New World hoping to do so by outlawing Christmas. The practice was so much a part of the definition of Christianity that the temporary set back didn’t last long. And besides, the companies of ‘MURICA found a way to financially capitalize off of the holiday through the concept of gift-giving and so it made a speedy return.
Everything you know is political. And if you’re not at the top making all the rules, you’re at the bottom trying to break them all (or living in ignorant bliss). Merry Christmas 🙂