Christmas day and the pagan "Sol Invictus"

(Jon) #21

I understand the argument you are making, I just don’t see any evidence for it. I keep asking you for the key evidence, and you keep not providing it.

But where is the evidence that this is what they did in this situation? Which pagan festival on December 25 were they supplanting? Your entire argument is bereft of evidence, and contra-indicatory. You want to claim that there was a pagan festival (which you can’t quite identify), on December 25, and that the Christians wanted to supplant this date with Christ’s birthday.

Yet you can’t find any evidence of them doing this, so you claim that they did it without mentioning it, in the hopes that no one would notice! This makes no sense at all, because if they successfully supplanted a pagan festival with a memorial of Jesus’ birthday, then people would notice. The whole point of replacing X with Y is that people notice that X isn’t there anymore.


At least it kept Hallmark happy. One wonders why Christians were persecuted if pagans didn’t even notice their holiday was being replaced. Oh wait, I think I know: Starbucks kept their original Sol Invictus cup!!


There is already some good documentation on this page. I usually would just point out that Sol Invictus (or whatever the holiday is called) ends in Dec 23, Christmas is the 25th. So it’s nought to do with Christmas. Close? Sure. But who cares if it’s close?

The late 2nd century or early 3rd century Christians (I don’t know which one) considered Jesus ‘beginning’ to be March 25th. So, as Tim O’Neill has pointed out, if you ‘begin’ on March 25th in the mothers womb, and there’s a nine month gestation, when are you born? Dec 25! So that’s one possibility one how the myth started out. Nothing to do with paganism.

(Jon) #24

I mentioned this previously and cited a couple of sources. George’s response was to claim that the reason why they selected March 25th was specifically to arrive at a birthdate of December 25, in order to supplant a pagan festival which was so well known and important that he can’t tell me what it was, and that the reason they didn’t tell anyone to replace this festival with a celebration of Jesus’ birth is that they didn’t want anyone thinking they were trying to replace this festival with a celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s like a pickpocket who doesn’t want you to think that they’ve picked your pocket, so they decide not to pick your pocket.

(George Brooks) #25


Frankly, you have been the very source of the evidence you keep requesting.

  1. You provided a gorgeous catalog of the various personalities who used various methods to arrive at a birthday for Jesus to be exactly December 25.

  2. Your gorgeous catalog also, according to you, includes the fact that not one of these individuals specifically mention the date December 25.

  3. You and I both know that December 25 is one of the most important, and notoriously important, celestial events of the entire Winter season for pagan civilizations in the Northern Hemisphere.

  4. And you and I both know that the likelihood that Jesus was born at any time in December, January or February is extremely low, since the legendary shepherds that were out watching their sheep at night - - would not be out watching their sheep at night in the middle of the Winter’s coldest months.

So, in the manner of all great and legendary sleuthers - - Perry Mason, Agatha Christy and so forth - - circumstantial evidence becomes the prime method of deduction for what happened, rather than any eye witness evidence or self-incriminating writing.

The early Christians were interested in Jesus being part of the celebrated December 25th day … without making it look like they were just “making stuff up” - - which is, of course, what they were doing (making stuff up).

Why you think we should be able to find quotes of admission - - that they were making stuff up, is beyond me completely, @Jonathan_Burke.

And why you think that without such admissions we should take their writings at face value is also beyond me completely.

If a pagan “thing” like Tammuz can return from the Underworld/Afterlife on December 25, then certainly someone like Jesus, who is God of the entire Cosmos, should also be remembered as being “manifested on the mortal plane” on the very same day!

Jonathan, if you were to tell me that you actually believe Jesus was born on December 25 … this would at least explain to me why you are so doggedly determined to defend the rationalizations of the Christian apologists in the early centuries.

So… do you? Do you believe Jesus was born on December 25 or thereabouts?

(Jon) #26

I demonstrated that a very small number of early Christians (I could only find three), dated Jesus’ conception to a date that would result in a brithdate of December 25, and that these Christians demonstrated no interest in December 25 at all and said absolutely nothing about celebrating Jesus’ birth on that date, or anything about any pagan festival on that date. I also demonstrated that other Christians chose different dates for the birth of Jesus, and you just ignored that.

Correct. Your conclusion from this is that they were trying to replace a pagan festival on December 25. That’s completely irrational.

No I don’t. There’s no evidence that this date had that significance in the Roman Empire at this time. I’ve asked you repeatedly to identify the pagan festival which you claim was held on this day, and you’ve been completely unable to mention a single one.

Yes, which is one of the reasons why I don’t believe Jesus was born on December 25.

I don’t believe any such thing. I’ve never said anything like that.

I don’t. I don’t trust their calculations or reasoning at all.

He didn’t. I’ve explained this to you before. There’s no evidence for this at all

No I don’t believe that at all. I’ve told you this repeatedly, and you just ignore what I write. I’ve never defended the rationalizations of the Christian apologists in the early centuries.


I see. Did you mention that Sol Invictus isn’t on the 25th?

(Jon) #28

I sure did. George chose not to address any of the scholarship I cited on that point.

(George Brooks) #29

No… that’s not my conclusion.

My conclusion is that they wanted to establish Jesus as having equally reasonable credentials to be celebrated in connection with December 25.

Over the course of centuries, this enabled December 25 to be replaced by a Christian celebration.

You act as if nobody would ever want Jesus connected with some pagan notion. But the whole idea of resurrection connects Jesus with many forms of Paganism, right?

The story of the the disuse of the term Pontifex Maximus - - and then re-use of the term by the Pope - - is a perfectly fine demonstration of the desire to connect Christianity with important symbols of Paganism, and in so doing, eventually eliminate the pagan connection in future generations of the popular audience!

From the time of Theodosius I (r 379–395), the emperors no longer appear in the dignity of pontiff, but the title was later applied to the Christian bishop of Rome.[39]

In 382, the Emperor Gratian, at the urging of Ambrose, removed the Altar of Victory from the Forum, withdrew the state subsidies that funded many pagan activities and formally renounced the title of Pontifex Maximus.[40: “In the latter part of his reign Gratian was greatly influenced by St. Ambrose. Out of deference to the Christian church, he omitted the words pontifex maximus (“supreme priest”) from his title—the first Roman ruler to do so—and ordered the removal of the pagan statue of Victory from the Senate in Rome. An embassy of the senators, led by Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, failed to persuade him to rescind his instructions on this matter.” ]

In one of the more even-handed discussions of the Pagan term, we read the following:

“The last traces of emperors being at the same time chief pontiffs are found in inscriptions of Valentinian, Valens, and Gratianus (Orelli, Inscript. n1117, 1118). From the time of Theodosius I (379–395), the emperors no longer appear in the dignity of pontiff…”

"It is said that Pope Damasus I was the first Bishop of Rome to assume the title
[FN17: “[per] Mark Bonocore Retrieved February 15, 2009. This seems to be based on the Theodosian Code, XVI.i.2, which refers to Pope Damasus merely as a pontifex, not as the pontifex maximus. The Christian Apostolic Succession, The Role and Function of Thelemic Clergy in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Retrieved February 15, 2009. states that Damasus refers to himself as Pontifex Maximus in a petition to the Emperor for judicial immunity, but gives no source for this statement.”],

"…other sources say that the use of such titles by bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, came later.
[FN18: ““Christian emperors relinquished the title Pontifex Maximus as too closely tied with the pagan past (Schimmelpfennig, 34). Bishops, including the bishop of Rome, sometime thereafter, began to make use of pontifex as a title for themselves” (John D. Beetham, Papal Prerogatives and Titles, 5 September 2001 (emphasis added). Retrieved February 15, 2009.”]

"The title pontifex continued to be a title for both the bishop of Rome and other bishops. In Emperor Theodosius’s edict De fide catholica [FN19: De Fide Catholica, per ]

. . . of February 27, 380, enacted in Thessalonica and published in Constantinople for the whole empire, by which he established Catholic Christianity as the official religion of the empire, he referred to Damasus as a pontifex,
[FN20: “Unlike episcopus (from Greek ἐπίσκοπος), the word used for the bishop from the Greek-speaking East, pontifex is a word of purely Latin derivation. Retrieved February 15, 2009.” ]

. . . . while calling Peter an episcopus : “… the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria … We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians …”

Some see in this an implied significant differentiation, but the title pontifex maximus is not used in the text; pontifex is used instead: “… quamque pontificem damasum sequi claret et petrum alexandriae episcopum…” (Theodosian Code XVI.1.2; and Sozomen, “Ecclesiastical History,” VII, iv. [FN21: Emperor Theodosius I. “IMPERATORIS THEODOSIANI CODEX Liber Decimus Sextus” (web Retrieved 2006-12-04. Retrieved February 15, 2009.])."

@Jonathan_Burke, I would think you would be more embarassed on behalf of the Church, to suggest that these early apologists genuinely thought Jesus was born in December - - rather than to give them the most plausible of denials - - that they wanted to make sure that Pagan audiences would not see Jesus as deficient in terms of gravitas that was otherwise provided to other pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice.


What do you have to say about the fact that pagans never said anything about December 25th? Are you even aware that this date has no relevance to paganism?

(Jon) #31

He keeps dodging this point. It’s like he read “The Two Babylons” and doesn’t want to admit that it’s nonsense.

(Ronald Myers) #32

Certainly the standard teaching is that December 25 is, religiously, an arbitrary date. No apostolic
i.e. Biblical statement supports it or any other specific date and it is improbable that Joseph and Mary would be traveling in very late fall in the coldest times of the year. We have a habit of filling the blanks in the Biblical narrative to make it more understandable to us. This appears to be another instance of this. One can conclude that Jesus was born at night because the shepherds were told that this day a savior was born. Since the Jewish day starts at sundown and it was still night, Jesus was born after dark, but what of it? it is important that Jesus was born and heralded not that he was born at 10 pm or some such hour or on a specific day.

(Ronald Myers) #33

In these discussions consider the question: How does this affect our understanding of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit and our response to God and His works?

(Jon) #34

Great, evidence please. And you can explain why mainstream scholarship doesn’t say this.

When you say “replaced”, please tell me what was being replaced. You keep alluding to this mysterious pagan festival on December 25 which you’re totally unable to identify.

No I don’t. I’m talking about one single claim made with regard to one simple issue.

No. But even if it did, it’s irrelevant. The resurrection of Jesus didn’t emerge from paganism, it emerged from mainstream Second Temple Period Judaism.

Not this again. You and I already agreed about how “pontifex maximus” was recycled by Christians, so re-posting another half page of copypasta on this subject is completely irrelevant.

No I wouldn’t. Let’s just stay with the facts, shall we? Let me know when you have some.

(George Brooks) #35

You three are pretty good examples of why we are having troubles with Creationists.

@Korvexius, your assertion that December 25th is irrelevant to paganism is laughable. I assume you are angling towards the idea that the Winter Solstice is December 22, not December 25. This is true. But it is also true that during the week of the Winter Solstice, there is the appearance of a three day pause, whereafter the Sun starts to move its position again on the way to its reunion with the Summer Solstice. Many non-Christian religions and cultures take note of that 3 day period.

@Jonathan_Burke, I certainly haven’t read “The Two Babylons”.

@Ronald_Myers, I actually agree with the spirit of your statement: “… December 25 is, religiously, an arbitrary date. No apostolic i.e. Biblical statement supports it or any other specific date and it is improbable that Joseph and Mary would be traveling in very late fall in the coldest times of the year.”

And yet, it is the zeal with which our earliest Christian thinkers attached to Jesus being born on (or around) December 25 that is most convincing. If there is no scripture that specifies a date and/or there is scripture that would actually make a December date impossible (i.e., Luke), then we really do have to look around for likely reasons for why the Church found it so comfortable to make December 25 “the big day”!

When you have Jesus, God of Resurrection Himself, standing around waiting for his birthday cake, there is no day like the Winter Solstice to mark the glorious day!

(Jon) #36

How many pagan Greek or Roman celebrations were on this most significant date, during the early Christian era?

You are ignoring the fact that most of them spent no time on this date at all, and several of them gave completely different dates for December 25. Why?

(George Brooks) #37


First of all, why would we limit the scope of celebrations to Greek or Roman? The Levant was a melting pot of many cultures and religions, from Egyptian to Zoroastrian…

Secondly, I don’t think many people are convinced that December 25 was either
A) completely irrelevant, or
B) was never a consideration …

When all you have to do is subtract 9 months from the date they said they were focused upon, and - - amazingly (what a coincidence!) - - you have three methods converging on December 25.

I assure you, @Jonathan_Burke, if you are going to contradict Luke’s description of the Nativity … just so you can put Jesus (coincidentally) on December 25 - - it is not a coincidence!

(Jon) #38

Sure, go right ahead, as long as you can demonstrate they were known to the Christians at the time. But thus far you haven’t cited a single one. Why not? Where are they all?

I less concerned with what “many people” think, than I am concerned with the evidence.

Of course it’s not a coincidence, but you are completely ignoring the point. The aim was not to place Jesus’ birth on a specific date, the aim was to place Jesus’ conception on a certain date. That’s why the conception date was contrived, and why such a big deal was made of the conception date, while the birth date was basically ignored for a couple of centuries.

(George Brooks) #39

@Jonathan_Burke, Wouldn’t you agree that your last post was the first time you asked for specific names of Pagan cults that embraced December 25?

It’s past midnight at the moment, so I trust you can hold onto your pants for a little while longer. It’s time for me to retire.

As to your wonderful assertion that it was Jesus’ conception that was so crucial - - rather than his birth - - I think it would be fairly clear to all of us if that were true: because we’d be exchanging gifts on the day of his conception… not on the day of his Birth !

The Day of his Conception was very important … because if calculated carefully (and incorrectly) you get a god being born on the Winter Solstice + 3 (December 25) - - and that’s exactly what the Christians wanted for their God of Resurrection.

(Jon) #40

No. I’ve been asking this for several days. I asked it three days ago.

Then I asked it again.

Then I asked it again.

Then I asked it again.

Then I pointed out that I had asked you several times and you hadn’t answered.

Then I asked you again.

So yeah, I’ve asked you this repeatedly, and I’ve previously pointed out that I’ve asked you repeatedly, and you still haven’t answered.

News flash George, there’s this thing called the Feast of the Annunciation, which celebrates Jesus’ conception. Of course his birth date became important later. No one is denying this. What you have yet to prove is your claim that the early Christians who made so much of his conception date and did not mention his birth date, were in fact secretly more concerned with his birth date, and were specifically concerned with his birth date so they could replace a pagan festival with a celebration of Jesus’ birth. Where’s the evidence for this?