My favorite church in Italy is a beauty called the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, or “Mary on Top of Minerva.” Around 1280 Christians built the church right on top of the site of a temple to Minerva, the pagan goddess of wisdom, medicine — and war. (Important note: Professor Minerva McGonagall of Hogwarts is the goddess’s namesake.)
Maria sopra Minerva illustrates the way religious traditions evolve, taking from other traditions what they like, and also what they need to draw in the followers of those traditions.
You won’t find Christmas trees or Santa Claus in the New Testament — they and other Christmas customs evolved over time, sometimes passively influenced by pagan traditions, and sometimes deliberately co-opting and replacing those traditions. Many other Christmas traditions may come from rituals surrounding the winter solstice, which marks the shortest day and longest night of the year.Enough Christmas traditions arise from the solstice and other pagan sources that some Christian sects have banned the holiday over the years. Some examples of the interplay between solstice and Christmas — and, even earlier, Hannukah:
1. Many believe that Christmas is celebrated on December 25th to muddy the focus of the solstice’s celebration of the sun god, which fell on the same date on the Julian calendar. (In modern times the solstice takes place within a few days of Christmas.) Pagans and Christians would observe similar traditions, making it easy to transition from worshiping pagan forces to venerating Jesus and the Christian God.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-christmas-and-hanukkah-co-opted-paganism.html#ixzz2ojDduwUZ
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-christmas-and-hanukkah-co-opted-paganism.html#ixzz2ojE2qOwq
4. The Yule log may be the current manifestation of the “Juul” log that pagans burned on the solstice to honor the sun, which was about to start hanging around longer each day. “Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun.” Christians changed the symbolism: ”the fire came to represent the light of the Savior instead of the light of the Sun.”
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-christmas-and-hanukkah-co-opted-paganism.html#ixzz2ojGIWU3s
Religions and holidays evolve over time, but it is interesting how certain elements of an observance — like fire and green vegetation in the winter — can stay the same for thousands of years.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-ways-christmas-and-hanukkah-co-opted-paganism.html#ixzz2ojGz9yyv