Here is some information on Pagan Celebrations that were replaced by the Catholic Church in order to make the conversion of the "heathens" easier:
Many of our modern Christmas traditions began hundreds of years before Christ was born. Some of these traditions date back more than 4000 years. The addition of Christ to the celebration of the winter solstice did not occur until 300 years after Christ died and as late as 1800, some devout Christian sects, like the Puritans, forbade their members from celebrating Christmas because it was considered a pagan holiday. So what is the history behind these traditions?
The Christmas tree is derived from several solstice traditions. The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and placed candles in live trees to decorate for the celebration of Saturnalia. In Scandinavia, they hung apples from evergreen trees at the winder solstice to remind themselves that spring and summer will come again. The evergreen tree was the special plant of their sun god, Baldor.
The practice of exchanging gifts at a winter celebration is also pre-Christian and is from the Roman Saturnalia. They would exchange good-luck gifts called Stenae (lucky fruits). They also would have a big feast just like we do today.
Mistletoe is from an ancient Druid custom at the winter solstice. Mistletoe was considered a divine plant and it symbolized love and peace. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is Druid in origin.
The Scandinavian solstice traditions had a lot of influences on our celebration besides the hanging of ornaments on evergreen trees. Their ancient festival was called Yuletide and celebrated the return of the sun. One of their traditions was the Yule log. The log was the center of the trunk of a tree that was dragged to a large fireplace where it was supposed to burn for twelve days. From this comes the twelve days of Christmas.
Even the date of Christmas, December 25, was borrowed from another religion. At the time Christmas was created in AD 320, Mithraism was very popular. The early Christian church had gotten tired of their futile efforts to stop people celebrating the solstice and the birthday of Mithras, the Persian sun god. Mithras’ birthday was December 25. So the pope at the time decided to make Jesus’ official birthday coincide with Mithras’ birthday. No one knows what time of year Jesus was actually born but there is evidence to suggest that it was in midsummer.
Now, I am NOT anti-Catholic (I have been to many noon services and even to a monastery for a weekend) and I do not hate religion; I just don't like what organized religion has done to us over the thousands of years. To quote Sir Lee Teebing (from the DiVinci Code) "as long as there has been one true God, there has been killing in His Name". Just think about the Crusades.So, if you are celebrating any of the western traditions of Christmas this year, remember that you are actually enjoying the rituals and activities of several ancient religions whose traditions have been borrowed by the Christians over the years for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Hence my problem with Christmas which is reported to be the date of Jesus' birth but as we see above, he was born in mid Summer and possibly (according to some scholars) as late as September. We do know, however, that Jesus was not born in the year 0. He was born in 7 BC. Christmas began with a cover up of the ancient celebrations of Winter and those origins were covered up by organized religion, as a way to control the masses, in the first place. That cover up has been in place for a very long time and we have forgotten the old ways. But now, we have all forgotten the cover up. Christmas is now about how much can I buy for my loved one or how much can I eat or drink or how many lights can I put on my house and I am just as guilty as the next person.
But Mac, what does this have to do with Pickles and the Christmas tree. Well, nothing really. I'm just explaining my problem with Christmas.
I knew the Christmas tree was going to be a problem as soon as I bought it. Donna and I picked a fine White Pine tree this year. Seven feet tall and not too fat...a good tree. We got it at Lowe's on West Broad. Why didn't I cut a tree from a farm? Why do that?! Lowe's had good trees. The needles were still on and best of all...it was already cut! I'm not lazy, just prudent. Why go out, ride a tractor, in the cold, cut the tree, haul it back to the tractor and all of that when Lowe's had nice trees! Besides, if we or someone else didn't get a tree that was already cut they would have just made mulch out of it later. This way, the tree gets to have a home for Christmas just like my broken Christmas ornaments. Anyway, we brought the tree home and put it on the patio then let Pickles out and she ran right to it and began to eat the base. Oh, no...here we go. I sprayed her with the spray bottle so she ran...to the top of the tree and began to chew on that. You can see where this is going. We did this for about 15 minutes then we went inside but every time we went out, this is what we did until I brought the tree in Monday night and put it up. Pickles then thought it would be fun to eat the branches that were on the bottom! She "helped" with the lights and some of the ornaments and if you know Pickles, you know how she "helped". Then it was off to bed.
For the last four day, it's been "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree Chasing Pickels' Doggie Butt" (sung to the tune of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree)! Spraying with the spray bottle and general disorder but at least she didn't eat another battery. I haven't been there because of work so Donna has had all of this fun!
Animal experts say that you should never get or give a dog, or any animal, at Christmas because of the confusion that surrounds the holidays and now I see why but I didn't get Pickles as a gift for Christmas. I just got her because I wanted her and because I couldn't let her sit there any longer. You see, I had this dog shaped spot in my heart that had to be filled and although Pickles is smaller than the dog that left it there, she fills it nicely.
Don't tell Pickles I got her a Christmas present! I don't want to spoil the surprise...or her!