Now, don’t get me wrong---I love Christmas, and I have often written about its spiritual and esoteric (or ‘inner’) meaning. However, this much needs to be made unambiguously clear. The only thing foreign, external and even extraneous to Christmas is---Jesus. Bible-believing Christians keep saying, ‘Put Christ back into Christmas,’ but they fail to realize that, insofar as Christmas is concerned, Jesus---whose historicity hasn't been established beyond all doubt---was and remains an interpolation, that is, something extraneous that was added to, or interjected into, an already existent pagan feast and festival. Indeed, every element and aspect of the Christmas festival predates Christianity.
There is another pagan contender in the ancient Roman world for the origination of Christmas---the official monotheistic Sun god cult of Sol invictus (‘Invincible [or 'Unconquered'] Sun’) [pictured right] with its distinctive festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti ('Birthday of Sol Invictus') which was celebrated on, yes, December 25. This cult, it seems, had its origins in Syria. One would light a candle to encourage the Sun---as well as Mithras (see below)---to reappear next year. In many ways, Christmas owes more to the cult of Sol invictus than it does to the festival of Saturnalia. Even the present pope---Pope Benedict XVI---has stated that Christmas acquired its definitive form in the 4th century CE when it replaced the feast of Sol invictus.
Let's now jump ahead. In the Middle Ages, in the festival of Yule ([‘wheel’]; a pagan symbol for the Sun), the birth of the pagan Sun God/Mithras was celebrated on the shortest day of the year, the idea being that as the Sun God grew and matured, the days would become longer and warmer. I could go on.
Christianity has always had an annoyingly bad habit of stealing from pagan religions and then running those religions out-of-business---often with much violence and bloodshed---and declaring their practices heretical. (Etymologically, a heretic is 'one who chooses' [to be different]. I am proud to be one.)
At the risk of stating the obvious, you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy and celebrate Christmas. Indeed, I won't even say that it helps. (Ha!) So, my friends, don’t let those Bible-believing Christians tell you that we must put Christ back into Christmas. Historically---and also for millions and millions of people throughout the world today---Jesus is not the reason for the season, even though the legends surrounding the birth of Jesus (around whom a whole mass of pagan legends have otherwise been collected) constitute a wonderful object lesson of the 'inner' meaning and significance of the festival, namely, the need for each of us to awaken to our innate 'divinity'---that is, the primal power of be-ing itself---and our true potential as human beings.
Christmas---like Easter---is about renewal and revivification. It’s about the livingness and givingness of life itself. Life forever gives of itself to itself---and as itself---so that life can continue and be renewed. Each one of us is a unique individualization of the livingness and self-givingness of life.
May you rejoice in that fact---and celebrate it at this time … and always.
THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER: THE ETERNAL COSMIC SACRIFICE
THE POWER WITHIN