We celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th as a compromise to Mithraism, the main religion in Rome and Persia during early Christianity. December 25th is actually the day the Vedic solar deity Mithra was born. The annual festival of Mithra on the 25th was hugely popular and unlikely to be done away with as was its Roman counterpart, natalis solis invicti, "birth of the unconquered sun". Sometime around the year 273 C.E. the day was declared to be the birth of the Son, not the Sun. With Emperor Constantine making Christianity the state religion, the Roman festival was outlawed, then finally the cult of Mithra was outlawed during the reign of Emperor Gratian (367-383 AD) leaving December 25th entirely to the Christians who, by then, had adopted all the pagan pageantry and symbolism.
Actually, the earliest Church fathers fought against celebrating Christ's birth at all. Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods. But not all of the early fathers agreed and arguments ensued, especially when attempting to determine Jesus' date of birth. No one knew; but most agreed, oddly enough, that it should occur on a Wednesday because the sun was created on the fourth day. Go figure. It seems that the symbol of light and the source of that light prevailed in the minds of most men.
There are a lot of similarities between Mithraism and Christianity:
Merry Christmas to all,
Thanks, Bonita, for the historical points. Rather than suffering planetary quarantine, our world and its people could have taken a normal course, as described by a Secondary Lanonandek Son of the Rserve Corps,
Think what it would mean on your world if somewhere in the Levant there were a world center of civilization, a great planetary university of culture, which had functioned uninterruptedly for 37,000 years. And again, pause to consider how the moral authority of even such an ancient center would be reinforced were there situated not far-distant still another and older headquarters of celestial ministry whose traditions would exert a cumulative force of 500,000 years of integrated evolutionary influence. It is custom which eventually spreads the ideals of Eden to a whole world. (587)
Customs and traditions of olden times become modified and expanded. What we view today on our world is changing ever so slowly.
All modern social institutions arise from the evolution of the primitive customs of your savage ancestors; the conventions of today are the modified and expanded customs of yesterday. What habit is to the individual, custom is to the group; and group customs develop into folkways or tribal traditions — mass conventions. From these early beginnings all of the institutions of present-day human society take their humble origin. (767)
Institutions are not persons. Our world depends upon the persons involved in some way with our various social and religious institutions to inspire and move the people of those institutions forward. My guess is that many people of every faith are doing this already and perhaps uncousciously very slowly. So slowly that we, ourselves, are not so aware of the changes. In the Paper called THE FAITH OF JESUS, we are told:
The time is ripe to witness the figurative resurrection of the human Jesus from his burial tomb amidst the theological traditions and the religious dogmas of nineteen centuries. Jesus of Nazareth must not be longer sacrificed to even the splendid concept of the glorified Christ. What a transcendent service if, through this revelation, the Son of Man should be recovered from the tomb of traditional theology and be presented as the living Jesus to the church that bears his name, and to all other religions! Surely the Christian fellowship of believers will not hesitate to make such adjustments of faith and of practices of living as will enable it to “follow after” the Master in the demonstration of his real life of religious devotion to the doing of his Father’s will and of consecration to the unselfish service of man. Do professed Christians fear the exposure of a self-sufficient and unconsecrated fellowship of social respectability and selfish economic maladjustment? Does institutional Christianity fear the possible jeopardy, or even the overthrow, of traditional ecclesiastical authority if the Jesus of Galilee is reinstated in the minds and souls of mortal men as the ideal of personal religious living? Indeed, the social readjustments, the economic transformations, the moral rejuvenations, and the religious revisions of Christian civilization would be drastic and revolutionary if the living religion of Jesus should suddenly supplant the theologic religion about Jesus. (2090)
All the best on this remembrance day,