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The Pagan Origins of Christmas Practices and Traditions – Part 1

By: S.L.A. ©

Christmas Question Mark IconDid you know that the majority of all the iconic Christmas practices and traditions are Pagan?  Which ones are they?  A question with a shorter answer is actually: Which ones are NOT Pagan practices?

It is a well-documented fact that the Christians were trying to bring the Pagans to accept Christianity, and in their efforts, they ‘Christianized’ many Pagan traditions and practices to make it an easier way to lure them to Christianity, and the adaptations stuck and have been celebrated and followed by the masses as if it belonged to Christianity.

Let’s explore the origins of these things, and why Christians, nor Muslims should have anything to do with them.

Decorating Trees – The “Christmas Tree”

Christmas tree"Christmas Trees" were Pagan Idols which were explicitly forbidden in the Bible, yet you will find one in practically every Christian home from November until New Years, as well as churches!

Pagans would either worship the trees while in the forest, or would sometimes chop then down and take them home, and decorate them.  The trees were gods to the Pagans. 

The Christian Church sanctioned ‘Christmas trees’ in order to draw them closer to Christianity by merging the custom.  Christians began to then affiliate the ‘Christmas tree’ with the ‘tree in Paradise’ (Tree of Life according to Genesis 2:9).  However if we accept this argument, then they have a contradiction on their hands, because it was clearly forbidden in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 reads:

"Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”

If that isn’t bad enough, there is a story in Northern Germany, explained by an English missionary known as St. Boniface in the 8th century, which said they had once walked up on some Pagans at an oak tree, who were preparing to sacrifice a prince at it, to the Pagan god Thor.  Boniface had cut it down, and then a fir tree supposedly sprouted in its place. 

The Pagans were told by the Christians that they should use fir trees because they were more triangular in uniform and represented the trinity with the three points, which pointed to the heavens.

Think about this for a minute…the Pagans would cut the tree down, and take it home and decorate it, and then come along the Christians, and they would do the same.  This is a clear example of how Christians are unknowingly taking “Tree-gods” (Idols) to their home and beautifying them!  It is blasphemous!

Santa Claus

WodenPagan Germanic and Icelandic people of the past celebrate a winter holiday called Yule. The Pagans had a God named Odin, also known as Woden, being one-eyed, and having a long iconic beard, wielded a spear and wore a cloak and a hat.  One of the many names of Odin was the name Jólnir, meaning "Yule figure", and Langbarðr, meaning "long-beard", in the Old Norse language.[i]

He was said to have animal companions which consisted of two wolves and two ravens which would bring him information from all over.  Hence you can see this as being the origin of “he knows when you are sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or Woden with Horsegood”, attributed to Santa, as having a godly attribute of being ‘all-knowing and seeing”.  This is blasphemous to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Muslims consider such attributes to be shirk, meaning to make partners with God, and would make a person no longer a Muslim.  So consider yourself warned of the shirk of Santa!

The Romans Pagan’s name for Odin was Mercury. Odin (Wodanz) comes from a root meaning “wind, breath, spirit”, an appropriate designation for a sky god.  He had an eight-footed horse known as Sleipnir that could fly in the air to the underworld.


You can see how it was adapted to Santa Claus and his reindeer led sleigh.

Odin (Woden) was the leader of the ‘Wild Hunt” which was a ghostly procession in the sky.  He was known for healing, death, sorcery, knowledge, and battle as well as many other things.[iii]

Interestingly Odin’s (Woden) lineage is traced back to the House of Troy which was descended from Judah’s son Zerah, and he later migrated to northern Europe.[iv]  Back then, kings and gods were considered one in the same. 

Evidence for the worship of Odin can be found in the 9th century Saxon Baptismal vow (Vatican Codex pal. 577) which compelled the Saxons to renounce Wodan, Thunear, and Saxnot.[v]

Now for the Christian’s version of Santa Claus and how he came about.  You can compare Odin’s similarities.

SinterklaasSanta ClausSanta Claus was formerly known as the Dutch Sinterklaas known as Saint Nicholas.  Nicholas was a Greek bishop in the 4th century, of a city named Myra in Roman province of Lycia which is found in the southwest part of Turkey.[vi]

Saint Nicholas was always inquiring about the behavior of children the past year to determine if he would give them a gift.  Over the centuries, Christians changed the gift-giver to the Christ Child or Christkind’l (Kris Kringle).[vii]

Father Christmas was known as a joyful, well-fed bearded man that predated ‘Santa Claus’.  In England in the 17th century he wasn’t known for gift-giving though, but instead as one that was a maker of merry times, and drunkard behaviors, without any connection to gift-giving or children. 

Over the centuries he evolved to that though, and later became known as ‘Santa Claus’, merging the concepts of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas. Later he was attributed to be the gift-giving jolly old man bringing gifts for children by placing them in shoes in front of the fireplace.  Today’s tradition adapted from shoes to become stockings hung on the fireplace mantle.


Due to ‘Christmas’ being unknown to the early Christian writers, it is suggested to have been introduced sometime after 300. 

Writers such as Tertullian and Irenaeus never mentioned anything about a feast on this day. 

Feast of Herod Spinello Aretino 1681

In Genesis, chapter 40, Pharaoh hung his chief baker at his feast[viii], and King Herod beheaded John the Baptist at the request of a dancer that performed at his birthday feast as a token of his pleasure of her performance according to Mark in Chapter 6.[ix] 

The first Christmas celebration didn’t take place until around 336 in Rome, documented in the 4th century, and with the feast introduced after the Emperor Valens had died who had favored this heresy, around 378.[x] The feast was introduced at Constantinople in 379, and at Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.[xi]

Birthdays in General

Origen had explained, that the 12th chapter of Leviticus, commanded women to give one burnt offering sacrifices of lambs and doves after giving birth, and one for sin.[xii]  He also referenced that only two birthdays were celebrated, one of Pharaoh, and the other being King Herod, as explained earlier regarding feasts.  It was only celebrated by the sinners and Pagans.

In Jeremiah, Chapter 20, we see that after praising the Lord, he stated that the day of his birth was to be seen as a curse.[xiii]

Job also cursed the day of his birth, and even proclaimed that there should be no joy celebrated on it, nor it to be even remembered, nor it be cared for by God, nor it be rejoiced for on that day of the year.[xiv]

Continue to Part 2, to read about the iconic things such as: holly, mistletoe, Yule logs, caroling, gift-giving, Star of Bethlehem and the 3 wise men, poinsettias, and candy canes.

Recommended Reading:

Jesus Was Not Born on December 25th

The Three Wise Men: Zoroastrian Priests and Astronomers, or Magicians and Astrologers?

Should Muslims, Christians, and Jews Celebrate Halloween?

Should Muslims Celebrate the Mawlid (Birthday of Muhammad pbuh)?

Is the Crucifixion of Jesus Really Foretold in the Old Testament?

Do Muslims Believe in the Bible?

Bible Corruption Series: Part 1 – Intro to Bible Version Differences

Bible Corruption Series: Part 2 – 1 John 5:7, The Three That Bear Record in Heaven (Comma Johanneum)

Bible Corruption Series: Part 3 – John 7:53-8:11, Pericope of the Adulteress

Bible Corruption Series: Part 4 – Mark 16:9-20, Resurrection of Jesus

Bible Corruption Series: Part 5 – Conflicting Gospels on the Empty Tomb & Ascension of Jesus

[i] Simek, Rudolf (2010) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, pages 372–373.

[ii] McKnight, George Harley (1917). St. Nicholas: His Legend and His Role in the Christmas Celebration and Other Popular Customs, pages 24–26, 138–139

[iii] Vries, Jan de (1970b), Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte, volume 2. 2nd ed. repr. as 3rd ed, Walter de Gruyter, OCLC 466619179 (German)

[v] Ec forsacho allum dioboles uuercum and uuordum, Thunaer ende Uuöden ende Saxnote ende allum them unholdum the hira genötas sint (“I renounce all the words and works of the devil, Thunear, Wōden and Saxnōt, and all those fiends that are their associates.”).

[vi] Domenico, Roy Palmer (2002). The regions of Italy: a reference guide to history and culture. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 0-313-30733-4.

[vii] Forbes, Bruce David, Christmas: a candid history, University of California Press, 2007, ISBN 0-520-25104-0, pp. 68–79.

[viii] Genesis 40:20–22 (NASB) “Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his [a]office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.”

[ix] Mark 6:21-27 (NASB) “A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of [c]his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison,”

[x] Martindale, Cyril Charles."Christmas". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Leviticus 12:6 (NIV) “When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.”

[xiii] Jeremiah 20:14–15 (NASB) “Cursed be the day when I was born; Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A baby boy has been born to you!” And made him very happy.”

[xiv] Job 3:1-7 (NASB) “Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said, “Let the day perish on which I was to be born, And the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’  “May that day be darkness;

Let not God above care for it, Nor light shine on it.  “Let darkness and black gloom claim it; Let a cloud settle on it;

Let the blackness of the day terrify it. “As for that night, let darkness seize it; Let it not rejoice among the days of the year; Let it not come into the number of the months. “Behold, let that night be barren; Let no joyful shout enter it.”

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