Christmas in this day and age is celebrated on the 25th of december. But biblical scholars seem to agree that the actual date of the Christ Child's birth is around september 29th. Why move it? Personally, the thought that it was moved to provide a White Christmas strikes a wrong chord in me. It is thought that the church's major motivation in moving Christmas is to take the place of "Carnival" a pagan celebration where there was much wine and sex and other merriment.

The Pagan holiday, Yule, falls on the 21st of December, and is recognised (in some circles) as the day the God is symbolically born into the world to Goddess. This is a cause for much merriment, feasting and music. In modern times (yes, there are still witches/ druids/ misc. pagans about!) feasts are held, candles are lit, songs are sung. It's a time to enjoy the hibernating fertility, just as the God is, in nature. Gaea's sleeping, but you can still see her beauty. Thus the reason to decorate pine trees. To worship nature's beauty. But somehow, an non nature-worshipping religion got into the act. Think about it- why would christians cut down a tree, bring it into the house, and decorate it? A friend of mine once wondered aloud if it had ever occurred to christianity that they were worshipping dead trees. The reason is simple- in order to proselitie, and gain members, the church has to incorporate some mild aspects of pagan-ness, or else nobody would be interested.

Another factor (although it may have been a very small one) in the relocation of Christmas is that (in the days of yore), September was harvest time, and there was much work to be done to prepare for the winter. By the time late December rolls around, all the crops have been dealt with and all that's left to do is sit around shivering and hoping you survive the winter.

Having the massive festival in December rather than September therefor serves a double purpose: it prevents it from interfering with anything important, and it gives the peasantry something to cheer them up and help them get through the horrible, deadly cold.
Actually, the story I heard was that the Christmas celebration was moved to December 25th so that it would coincide with a holiday called "the birth of the Invincible Sun God Mithras" (I am not kidding). Mithraism was a major competitor to Christianity in the religion market in Ancient Rome, and the Christian authorities didn't want to be losing the weak-willed that wanted to feast with everyone else.

As far as the Christmas tree goes, it's not worshipped by most Christian families (if yours is different, I imagine that's ok too). A fir tree was used as a metaphor by a leading English or German preacher in the Middle Ages in a sermon regarding the birth of Christ, and after this, the people in the area brought trees (small at first, then larger every year) into their homes to remind them of it. People decorate pretty much everything, so the rich tradition of ornaments was developed.

In other myth, I had thought that the day of Christ's birth would have been in April or May, since this is when the shepherds stay and watch their flocks by night, etc etc. This is only done near lambing time, which is in the spring.

These aren't "pagan" traditions, but developments of minor innovations over a long period of time...just like everything else.

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