The True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas, as everybody knows, is not the birthday of Christ. He was not born in the middle of Winter, we know that for sure because the sheep were out in the fields. It would have been very cold at night in the hills of Judea and it has always been the practice of shepherds in that area, not to keep sheep in the fields after about the end of October. It is also extremely unlikely that Herod would have ordered people to travel to their home towns for registration in the middle of Winter.
He was actually born at the festival of Succot (Tabernacles) as I have described in my article on the Birth of Yeshua.
The date would have been important to the Jews for the purpose of recording genealogies, and the authors of the New Testament were obviously interested in the circumstances of the event, but they didn't celebrate birthdays because it was not their custom to do so. It has never been a traditional Jewish custom, except insofar as they have picked up the idea from the Gentiles.
So why do we celebrate Christmas on 25th December? Some people say it's as good a time as any, and it doesn't really matter when Jesus was born as long as we celebrate his birth at some time. But if we are going to celebrate the birthday of Jesus on December 25th, we need to know the reason why we do it on that day because it's also the traditional birthdays of Nimrod, Osiris, Jupiter, and various other representations of the child-god of the Babylonian religious system.
To understand the history of the child-god, we have to begin with Genesis 10:8-10.
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
The Bible does not identify Nimrod's mother, or his date of birth, but Egyptian and Babylonian antiquities identify his mother as Semiramis, and his birthday is celebrated on 25th December. Sometimes Semiramis is referred to as the mother of Nimrod, and sometimes as his wife, leading to the belief that Nimrod married his mother.
The Biblical reference to Nimrod as a "mighty hunter" is important because he was seen as the Saviour of the ancient world for that very reason. People were living in small, scattered villages with little protection from wild animals. Nimrod was more than just a hunter, he was also a charismatic figure who could gather people together to build walled cities where they could live in safety. They were obedient to him as their leader, and considered that their loss of independence was a price worth paying for the safety that Nimrod and his kingdom offered.
There is nothing in the Bible about the death of Nimrod, but the ancient traditions suggest that he died a violent death. One tradition says that he was killed by a wild animal. Another says that Shem killed him because he had led the people into the worship of Baal.
His wife-mother, Semiramis, who had risen to greatness on his account, was not going to disappear into obscurity because of his death. Instead she pronounced him to be a god, so that she herself became a goddess. She produced another son, and proclaimed him to be the resurrected Nimrod. This was not difficult, because she was so promiscuous she produced many children whose father could not be identified. She proclaimed that she had gone down to the world of the dead, rescued Nimrod and brought him back.
Thus began the worship of Semiramis and the child-god, and the whole paraphanalia of the Babylonian religious system.
Egyptians, Romans and Greeks
After the decline of Babylon, the religion was transported to Egypt where they worshipped Isis and her husband Osiris who was mysteriously able to give the seed of procreation even after death, so that the child-god Horus was born. The mother and child deities appeared again in Pagan Rome as Fortuna and Jupiter, and in Greece as Ceres, the Great Mother, with the babe at her breast, or as Irene, the goddess of Peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms.
The myths of death and rebirth have always been associated with the cycle of agricultural seasons. In Egypt it was the inundation of the Nile, but elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere which constitutes most of the Earth's land mass, it was about the death and rebirth of the Sun. The winter solstice used to be on 25 December and people have always held a festival at that time because they knew that the days would start to get longer (a matter of great importance when there was no electric lights and no imported foods, etc.)
Idolatry in the Church
The Roman Catholic Church, in their attempt to make converts from among the pagans, felt that they had to find a way to indentify culturally with them. They had the Biblical story of the miraculous virgin birth of Christ, so they decided it must have happened on 25 December and the pagans were invited to come to church and worship him. Thus there was a position of ambiguity, where some people might have genuinely converted to Christianity while others turned up just to indulge in the latest religious innovation. It was equivalent to the inclusion of Jesus in the Roman pantheon of the gods, a matter which the early church had firmly resisted at the cost of the death of many martyrs.
Thus the Roman Catholic Church established the Madonna and child as the latest manifestation of the Queen of Heaven and her son. The Pagans made no compromises, they didn't need to, they just came and worshipped their new deities because it fitted in nicely with what they already believed.
While it's easy to knock the Catholic Church because of their Maryolatry, the Protestants cannot be left off the hook. The Protestant Reformation dispensed with only a part of the Babylonian system of worship. The celebration of Christmas, inherited from the Roman Catholic Church, via Pagan Rome, via Egypt, via Babylon, is still practiced as the most important event in the Protestant Christian calendar, so from that point of view the Protestants are into as much ambiguity as the Catholics.
So what should we do about it? The Bible tells us: "...Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen .... Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues". (Rev. 18:2-4). It says "Come out of her, MY people", meaning the people who are supposed to come out are people who belong to God, i.e. born-again Bible-believing Christians.
The Christmas Tree
It seems a strange thing to do, cutting down a tree from the forest and putting it in your house, deprived of nourishment because the roots have been cut off. If I wanted to look at a tree I would go into the forest where there are thousands of them, growing taller and more majestic with each passing year, testifying to the glory of God's creation.
The Christmas tree is based on mythology that originated in Babylon. For those who do it in the traditional manner, the Yule Log is thrown onto the fire on Christmas Eve, representing death and destruction. Then on Christmas Day there is the tree, covered in decorations and surrounded with presents, representing new life, the resurrected Nimrod.
It is also a violation of Jeremiah 10:2-5 where it is denounced as a heathen idol:
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. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Are you going to have a Christmas tree in your church this year? Are you going to have one in your house? Are you going to give presents to each other on 25th December in the ambiguous veneration of a multitude of gods, and have you thought of other things you can do that will keep the children happy on that day?
The 360-Day Year of the Ante-Deluvian World
Why did the gods have their birthdays on 25 December? It might have had something to do with the length of the ante-deluvian year, which can be calculated from the story of the Flood as follows:
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (Gen. 7:11)
And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days. (Gen. 7:24)
And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. (Gen. 8:3-4)
So they had a calendar in which 5 months makes up 150 days, so it appears they had 30 days in each month. If this was the same for twelve months they would have 360 days in a year, which is 5.25 days shorter than the year as we have it today. Is there any reason to believe that the length of the year might have changed during the Flood? Yes, there might be, because Noah needed reassurance that the seasons would continue:
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Gen. 8:22)
Why should Noah have needed that type of reassurance unless there had been some astronomical changes? If the year was lengthened, it means the earth's orbit had been extended, or the earth's rotation had been speeded up, and in either case the sun, moon and stars would all be rising and setting at different times.
There are various theories about what caused the Flood, and one of them is that a large object from space came close to the earth and had a gravitational effect. This would have caused the "fountains of the great deep" to be broken up, releasing huge quantities of water, but it could have also affected the earth's orbit and rotation, and the tilt of the earth's axis.
Now, it just happens that in Egypt, one of the most ancient civilisations to develop after the Flood, they had a 360-day civil calendar followed by five days of festivities, each representing the birthday of a different god. These were Osiris, Horus, Seth, Isis and Nephtys. They were known by the Greeks as the Epagomenal Days, or the "days out of time". When the five days were ended, the new year would begin, but it had to be formally proclaimed by the rising of the star Sirius at dawn, and a sixth day was added if necessary to prevent the seasons from drifting. The heliacal rising of Sirius occurs in the summer (the exact time depending on where you are in the world), so it has nothing to do with the winter festivals that have always occurred elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.
The Egyptians were not concerned about summer and winter as we are, they were more concerned with the inundations of the Nile, on which their own agricultural seasons depended. However, for the purpose of calculating the birthday of the gods, it doesn't matter which calendar you use. You just transport the mythology from one culture to another and you can have the birthday of your god when you want it. In the Gregorian calendar that we use today, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are as follows:
In a normal year:
In a leap year:
Christmas has always been a two-day festival, for as long as anyone can trace it back. On the first day you give presents to your family and friends, and on the second day there was a tradition of giving Christmas boxes to the poor, so it became known as "Boxing Day". One of these days is always the 360th day of the year, and the church made it into the birthday of Jesus. After Boxing Day there are five days when nobody knows what to do, until we have the New Year festival. During these five days the shops are open and public transport is running (but only just), but otherwise most people are off work and you try to avoid doing anything important because somehow, somebody will screw it up. Unlike the Egyptians, we are monotheistic and we haven't got any more gods to worship once we are finished with the baby Jesus, so we just potter about looking for things to do. Some people go to the shops looking for post-Christmas bargains while others stay at home watching TV or playing with their toys if they are not already broken. Otherwise, they are waiting for New Year to end so they can go back to work and earn some money because after Christmas they are broke.
Is there any meaning to this festival of day 360? If you cut out all the mythology about the birthdays of the gods, the date is derived from the pre-Flood calendar when the length of the year was 360 days. In that case, if anything is supposed to happen on 25 December, an Ark celebration would make more sense than a celebration of the birth of Christ which never happened on the 360th day in anybody's calendar.
Since about 1994 our family has abandoned Christmas and celebrated the Jewish festival of Hannukah. We don't consider this to be an "alternative Christmas", because to do so would be to degrade a Jewish festival that exists for entirely different reasons. For some time before we abandoned Christmas we were celebrating both Christmas and Hannukah. We celebrated Christmas because we didn't know any better, and we celebrated Hannukah because it represents a historic event that we wanted to remember - the restoration of the Temple in 165 BC, after it had been desecrated by the Hellenistic Syrians. Then we realised there was something wrong with Christmas, so we abandoned it and continued with Hannukah. As far as I am aware, Hannukah is purely historical and there are no mythologies about birthdays of the gods.
The dates of the Jewish festivals vary from year to year as the Jewish calendar moves back and forward against the Gregorian Calendar. Hannukah lasts for eight days and it's customary to open one present each day. Our children are all grown up now, but they used to open a small present on each of the first seven days, like the "stocking fillers" they have at Christmas, then on the eighth day they would open a larger present. Sometimes one of these days might coincide with Christmas, but on that day they didn't open anything. They just played with the toys they had already opened because we wanted it to be as normal as possible. I think they enjoyed the Hannukah festival because having fun for eight days is better than just one day, and we enjoyed it also because we never made the mistake of letting them open everything at once and then trying to retrieve all the packaging to find out where everything came from.
Now we are more involved with elderly parents and all their problems, and the wider family, and it isn't so easy to ignore Christmas and do something different. But I always try to get them thinking about why they do it. This year I pulled a Christmas cracker and out dropped the usual party hat, so I held it up and said "The reason why we celebrate Christmas is because there are 360 degrees in a circle", and I told them about the 360-day year of the pre-Flood world and Egyptian calendar, and all the rest of it. Maybe sometime we will do an Ark Festival, if I can find out how it was done in the ancient world (and there are some records of such events).
For details of how the Babylonian system of religion has been passed on the the church via Egypt and Rome, I recommend that you should read: The Two Babylons, Rev. Alexander Hislop, Partridge, ISBN 0-7136-0470-0.
For details of the Egyptian calendar, see: Ancient Egypt History and Chronology, Dariusz Sitek.