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The Christmas story

Jesus's birth happened during the fall. We
celebrate his birth on DEC-25 because it
was the birth date of many Pagan deities:

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When was Jesus actually born?

  • Luke 2:8 states that when Jesus was born, shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks in the fields. According to the Talmud, flocks were put out to the pasture in March and returned to pens in early November. That would make Jesus birth sometime during late Spring, Summer, or early Fall. During late December, the flocks would have been penned up and would not require 24 hour monitoring by the shepherds

  • A near proof that Jesus was born during the Jewish month of Tishri appears on Hilke Dokter's web site. Dokter says:

    "During the time of King David, there were so many priests, that they had to be divided into 24 'courses' or groups. Each course would serve in the Temple for a period of 1 week, starting with the first Sabbath of the year (Month of Nisan). During the 3 annual Holy Days, when all of Israel had to gather in Jerusalem, all the priests would serve together, then resume the group rotation the following week.
    Since Zechariah belonged to the 8th group, he would be in the Temple during the 9th week of the year. ..."

    "This would put Zechariah's turn to serve in the Temple during the month of Sivan. When he completed his week of service, he returned home. It is reasonable to assume that Elizabeth became pregnant later that month, (Sivan).

    John the Baptist was then born 40 weeks (9 months) later, during the month of Nisan. Since John was about 6 months older than Yeshua (Luke 1: 36), The birth date of Yeshua must be during the month of Tishri. 1

    The lunar month of Tishri occurs during our September or October.

This calculation is not precise. Both John and Jesus could have been born either prematurely or after their due date. However, there does not appear to be any way in which Jesus' birth could have delayed until close to the end of our year, in December.

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So, if Jesus' actual birthday was during the fall, why do we celebrate his birthday on DEC-25?:

Jesus is often referred to as "The Reason for the Season." However, this appears to be in error.

In ancient times, there were many different Pagan religions active in the Middle East and Europe, each with a single deity or pantheon of deities. Many of these gods and goddesses were believed to have been born on DEC-25. around the time of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The solstice -- the shortest daytime in the year and the beginning of Winter -- actually happens on DEC-21, 22, or 23, depending on the year. However, with the techniques available to people in ancient times, it was only by DEC-25 that they were able to detect that the daytimes had become noticeably longer. So they settled on DEC-25 the turning point of the seasons.

This time of year was important to people at the time. It showed that the daytime was lengthening again and that warm temperatures would return. Thus, crops would grow during the next years growing season. It became recognized as the birth date of their god or one of the main gods in their pantheon.

Listed below, in alphabetic order, are fifteen Pagan goddesses and gods whose birthday was celebrated on DEC-25. There are probably more. Several of these ancient deities have life events in common with those attributed to Jesus, such as a virgin birth, an attempt on their life, formation of a group of twelve disciples, death, visiting the Underworld, resurrection, etc.

  • Apollo, a greek god. He was believed to be the son of Zeus and Leto. He had a twin sister Artemis, and was the god of music, archery, healing, light, and truth. Every day he would harness a four-horse chariot to the Sun and drag it across the sky. 2

  • Attis, originally a Phrygian god of vegetation. He died and was resurrected in similar way that fruits die in Winter and rise again in the Spring. He was also adopted by the Greeks. 3

  • Baal, the chief god of the Canaanites and Phoenicians. He was believed to be the child of El and Asherah. He was a fertility god of farming and childbirth, the Sun god, and the storm god. He is mentioned frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). 4

  • Bacchus, the Roman god associated with wine and ecstasy. He was equivalent to the Greek god, Dionysus. 5

  • Dionysus (or Dionysos), the Greek god of the grape harvest, wine making and wine, ritual madness, and ecstasy. A real party goer! He was the son of Zeus and was a major Greek savior god who was worshipped by Mycenaeans in Greece and Minoans in Crete. He was sometimes included in the list of the 12 Olympian gods. 6

  • Helios (a.k.a. Hyperion or Hyperionides), the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. On a daily basis, he was thought to rise from the East in the form of the sun, driving four horses. He disappeared during the evening in the West. 7

  • Hercules (a.k.a. Heracles), a Greek god. He was believed to be the son of Zeus and was known for his strength, and sometimes portrayed as a "muscle-bound buffoon" in Greek comedies. 8

  • Horus (a.k.a. Harseisis, Heru-sa-Aset , Heru-ur, Hr, and Hrw) was considered to be the son of two major Egyptian deities: the god Osiris and and the goddess Isis. In adulthood, he avenged his father's murder, and became recognized as the God of civil order and justice. Ancient Egyptians regarded each of the Egyptian pharaohs as the living embodiment -- an incarnation -- of Horus. The pharaohs derived a great deal of authority from this linkage.

    Tom Harpur, an author, journalist, Anglican priest, and theologian, studied the works of three authors specialized in ancient Egyptian religion: Godfrey Higgins (1771-1834), Gerald Massey (1828-1907) and Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963). Harpur incorporated some of their findings into his book "Pagan Christ." 17 He argued that all of the essential ideas of both Judaism and Christianity came primarily from Egyptian religion, including the concept of monotheism. He wrote in his book:

    "[Author Gerald] Massey discovered nearly two hundred instances of immediate correspondence between the mythical Egyptian material and the allegedly historical Christian writings about Jesus. Horus indeed was the archetypal Pagan Christ." More details.

  • Jupiter (a.k.a. luppiter or Jove), the supreme Roman god, was copied from Zeus in Greek mythology. He was the father of Venus the goddess of love; of Ceres Proserpina, the goddess of Springtime; of Apollo, god of the Sun; of Diana, the moon goddess; and of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. The largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter, was named after him. He was the god of the heavens and sky, and was the patron deity of the Roman state in charge of laws and social order.

    His father,Saturn, had a bad habit of devouring his children immediately after birth. Jupiter's mother -- Ops, the Earth mother -- hid Jupiter as soon as he was born and offered Saturn a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes instead. He ate it. this caused a major internal digestive upset. In ridding himself of the rock, he disgorged all of Jupiter's previously devoured siblings, apparently none the worse for having traversed Jupiter's alimentary canal. 9

  • Mithra (a.k.a. Mithras, Mihr, and Mitra), an Indian deity mentioned in the Indian Vedas holy books which were written circa 1400 BCE. He later became a Persian god. In common with Jesus, he was born in a cave, described as 'the Way,' 'the Truth,' 'the Light,' 'the Life,' 'the Word,' 'the Son of God,' [and] 'the Good Shepherd'." He often referred to as a Lamb, and was believed to be a mediator between God and humanity. He was perceived as the "light and power behind the Sun." The sacred rock of Mithraism was named "Petra" which is "Peter" in Greek -- the name of Jesus' main disciple. Mithra was born of a virgin and had twelve disciples. 10

  • Nimrod was a child-god in the ancient Babylonian religion. He was believed to be either the wife or the son of Semiramis, perhaps both! After he died, Semiramis pronounced him to be a god. He was viewed as the Savior by Babylonians. 11 David J. Stewart wrote:

    " She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th, was the birthday of Nimrod. This is the real origin of the Christmas tree." 12

  • Osiris was the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, resurrection, and fertility. He was also the ruler of the Underworld, the brother and husband! of the goddess Isis. He fathered the god Horus, from whom some theologians believe most of the events in the life of Jesus were derived. He was believed to have given the ancient Egyptians the gift of barley. 13

  • Perseus was a Greek god, the son of Zeus and Diana, and the wife of Andromeda. He and his mother were locked in a chest and thrown into the sea by his grandfather. Helped by two deities, Athena and Hermes, he killed Medusa, the woman with snakes on her head. She had the power of turning a person to stone if they looked at her. He later threw a discus in an athletic contest that accidentally killed Acrisius, his grandfather , thus fulfilling a prophecy made before Perseus' birth. 14

  • Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun) was the the Roman sun god and principle deity of the City of Rome. Worship of Sol Invictus was established by the Roman emperor Aurelian in 274 CE. The faith group survived until at least the 5th century because St. Augustine preached against them at that time. The Romans celebrated a festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (The birthday of the Unconquered Sun) on DEC-25. There is disagreement over whether this festival or the Christian celebration of Christmas came first. But one appears to have been based on the other. 15

  • Tammuz (a.k.a. Di'uzu, Di'zu, Dumuzi, and dumuzid) was a Near Eastern patron god of herdsmen. He became Adonis in the Greek pantheon of gods. Like Jesus, he died, visited the underworld, and was later resurrected. Wikipedia quotes Paul Carus as writing:

    "The ancient Tammuz is one of the most important prototypes of Christ. He is a god-man, an incarnation of the deity who is born as a human being, dies in the course of time, and takes to life again." 16

This is only a partial list of deities whose birthday was celebrated on December 25.

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Conclusions: The true origin of Christmas:

The Christian Church adopted this day from the Pagans as the time to celebrate Jesus' birthday, even though it is a few months later than his actual birth. This was a common policy of early Christianity. They often built their cathedrals where Pagan holy places once were, and often adopted Pagan holidays, beliefs, and practices as their own. This helped the common folk convert from Paganism to the new religion.

Thus, Jesus is not the actual "Reason for the Season." The origins of Christmas can be traced back to the alleged birth day of a multitude of Pagan gods and goddesses in Egypt, the Middle East, Greece and Rome. December 25 was chosen, in error, because it was the best estimate by ancient people of the date of the Winter Solstice. That date marks the beginning of Winter and actually occurs between December 21 and 23. The Solstices and Equinoxes happen because of the 23.5º tilt of the earth's axis to the plane of the ecliptic.

The true "Reason for the Season." can be traced back to a mistaken estimate by ancient astrologers/astronomers.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Hilke Dokter, "The Messiah's True birth date" at: http://www.members.shaw.ca/hdokter
  2. "Appolo," Greek Mythology, at: http://www.greekmythology.com/
  3. "Attis," Wikpedia, as on 2015-SEP-21, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. "Who was Baal?," Got Questions, at: http://www.gotquestions.org/
  5. "Bacchus - Roman God of Wine,"Crystal Links, at: http://www.crystalinks.com/
  6. "Dionysus,"Wikipedia, as on 2015-NOV-25, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. "Helios," Theoi Greek Mythology, at: http://www.theoi.com/
  8. "Heracles | Hercules," Greek Mythology, at: http://www.greekmythology.com/
  9. "Jupiter (mythology)" New World Encyclopedia, at: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/
  10. "D.N. Murdock, "Mithra: The Pagan Christ," at: http://www.truthbeknown.com/
  11. "The true meaning of Christmas, Anno Mundi Books, at: http://www.annomundi.com/
  12. "The Plain Truth about Christmas," News and Articles,
  13. "Osiris," The British Museum, Ancient Egypt, at: http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/
  14. "Perseus, "Greek Mythology, at: http://www.greekmythology.com/
  15. "Sol Invictus," Wikipedia, as on 2015-OCT-31, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  16. "Tammuz, " New World Encylopedia, at: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/

  17. Tom Harpur, "The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light," Walker Books; (2005), Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
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Copyright © 2015, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted on 2015-NOV-19
Latest update: 2015-NOV-20
Author: B.A. Robinson
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