The Ancient Origins of Modern Holidays

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I don’t celebrate Holidays. You all know this but rarely have I gone into why. With the high volume of “I don’t celebrate holidays” I’ve had to repeat this year, I thought it would be a good idea to go a bit into the history of Holidays. To put it simply, all Holidays go back to the worship and honor of a God or Goddess. I don’t celebrate Holidays because I don’t believe in worshiping the Gods/Goddesses or taking part in that energy. I do celebrate my birthday (though I honor it differently) and do not consider it a holiday in the way some do. (I do not believe I am worshiping myself by acknowledging my birth). That’s the short version and for the sake of time (because this is already a long post), I will only cover some of the major Holidays.


New Year’s Day – The Babylonian God Akitu, Roman Goddess Janus

In Egypt, the year coincided with the rising of the star Sirius, the Phoenicians and Persians began their new year with the spring equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice. For the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—signaled the start of a new year and represented the rebirth of the natural world. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. During the Akitu, statues of the gods were paraded through the city streets, and rites were enacted to symbolize their victory over the forces of chaos. Through these rituals, the Babylonians believed the world was symbolically cleansed and recreated by the gods in preparation for the New Year and the return of spring.

Later, Julius Caesar instituted January 1st as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of change and beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future.  This idea became tied to the concept of transition from one year to the next.

Valentine’s Day –Lupercalia, Februata, God of Fertility

Originally celebrated on February 15, Valentine’s Day comes from Lupercalia, the “festival of sexual license” and was held by the ancient Romans in honor of Lupercus, god of fertility. Clothed in loincloths made from sacrificed goats and smeared in their blood, the Luperci would run about Rome, striking women with februa, thongs made from skins of the sacrificed goats. The Luperci believed that the floggings purified women and guaranteed their fertility and ease of childbirth. February derives from februa or “means of purification.” To the Romans, February was also sacred to Juno Februata, the goddess of “fever of love”, and of women and marriage. On February 14, small pieces of paper, each of which had the name of a teenage girl written on it were put into a container. Teenage boys would then choose one piece of paper at random. The boy and the girl whose name was drawn would become a “couple,” joining in erotic games at feasts and parties celebrated throughout Rome. After the festival, they would remain sexual partners for the rest of the year. This custom was observed in the Roman Empire for centuries.

Easter- Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, Goddess of War and Sexual Love

Rabbits and eggs have long been part of spring celebrations as symbols of new life; symbols of fertility. (Wreath-circles are symbols of the womb)

The Sumerian goddess Inanna is known by her Babylonian name, “Ishtar”. In ancient Canaan, Ishtar is known as Astarte, and her counterparts in the Greek and Roman pantheons are known as Aphrodite and Venus. In short, she is the goddess of war and sexual love. Her cult practiced sacred prostitution or temple prostitution where women waited at a temple to have sex with the Gods. The word Easter does not appear to be derived from Ishtar, but from the German Eostre, the goddess of the dawn—a bringer of light. Ishtar and Easter appear to be homophones: they may be pronounced similarly, but have different meanings.

In brief, Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols.

Halloween – Samhain (pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ SAH-win, sounds like Halloween), Lord of Darkness

Halloween kicks off the start of some of the world’s major Holidays and it is the time of the year where heavy witchcraft takes place. In fact, from October 31st through November 1st, this is known as the Witches New Year in some pagan circles. The Celts believed that the dead could walk among the living at this time and that during Samhain, the living could visit with the dead. This is why people dress up in costumes. They are representing the dead who, on this night, walk the Earth and visit the living.

According to the book Halloween—An American Holiday, An American History, some of the Celts wore ghoulish costumes so that wandering spirits would mistake them for one of their own and leave them alone. Others offered sweets to the spirits to appease them. In medieval Europe, the Catholic clergy adopted local pagan customs and had their adherents go from house to house wearing costumes and requesting small gifts. Though some would say that Samhain and Halloween are two separate Holidays, they are not. The only difference (as with all the holidays) is that one is ancient paganism (the maintaining of old pagan practices and traditions) and the other is Neo (new) paganism, the incorporation of a more “happy” appearance to seem nice though it is the honoring of the same deity.

Thanksgiving – Ceres, Goddess of Harvest, Grain, Crops

We are taught that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. We are also taught that the real Thanksgiving involved the slaughter of the Natives and the stealing of their land. Both of these accounts are not entirely true. Around this time, I see a lot of people who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving going back to the Natives and while they were a conquered people, it is deeper than that. Thanksgiving, like the other Holidays, go back to the worship of the gods and goddesses. Specifically, this Holiday marks the worship of Ceres, Goddess of Harvest though she has many names. (Ceres is where we get the word Cereal from.) When the pagans had a good season, they thanked their Gods / Goddesses for their bountiful Harvest.

In ancient Rome, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome’s plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as “the Greek rites of Ceres”. Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ceres’ games.

Christmas – Saturn, the Sun God and The Winter Solstice

Christmas has nothing to do with the bible or the real messiah. Instead, it too is an ancient pagan practice. According to the book The Bible as History, December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas Day in A.D. 324 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian, it was recognized as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25th in ancient Rome was the ‘Dies Natali Invictus,’ ‘the birthday of the unconquered,’ (Sun), the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia. In other words, Christmas is the celebration of the Winter Solstice (the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year which began today, December 21st), the Honoring of the Sun God Saturn and the festival of the Saturnalia (party to honor Saturn).

In a book by historian Jack Finegan, Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World, “the worship of the sun-god continued widely throughout the empire, and under Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) the cult was restored to its former high estate. In the year 274 Aurelian declared the god — now called Deus Sol Invictus — the official deity of the Roman Empire; he built a temple of the sun in Rome and set the sun’s birthday celebration (naturalis solis invicti) on December 25, the date then accepted for the winter solstice (also in his solar character the birthday of Mithras.) In the time of Constantine, the cult of Deus Sol Invictus was still at its height, and the portrait of the sun-god was on the coins of Constantine….Likewise, it must have been in this time and with the intent to transform the significance of an existing sacred date that the birthday of Jesus, which had been celebrated in the East on January 6… was placed in Rome on December 25, the date of the birthday celebration of Sol Invictus. This date appears in a list of dates probably compiled in A.D. 336 and published in the Roman city calendar, edited by Filocalus, for the year 354 (Finegan, p. 211-212)”.

(Finegan mentions January 6th but this is also a pagan Holiday. It is called Epiphany. The truth is no one knows exactly when Yahoshua, the real messiah, was born.)

In short, when Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he fused ancient pagan practices with the Bible in order to unite the pagan world. As a Pagan High Priest himself, he sought to reconcile and blend pagan practices with Christian beliefs, to merge paganism with the Roman church. This included sometimes killing off some pagans in the process who refused to accept the Christianizing of their Gods / Goddesses.

Sources:

The Bible as History

http://www1.cbn.com/the-pagan-roots-of-halloween

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/the-thanksgiving-truth_b_1105181.html

Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States)

https://list25.com/25-popular-holidays-with-surprisingly-pagan-origins/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day

Halloween—An American Holiday, An American History

https://rcg.org/articles/ttbsvd.html

Greek and Roman Mythology Names


I AM SOUL, my short poetry book with select poems from this blog is now available. CLICK HERE.

The Honor of the Mother Goddesses #MayChallengeDay7-8

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For many people, today is a time of reflection on childhood upbringing, celebration, and honor of mothers, grandmothers, and mother guardians in their lives. It’s a day of BBQs, gatherings, and festivities. However, what is the truth concerning the origin of this day? Is it the honor of mothers or Goddesses?

The worship of women go back centuries, decades, worlds…. you get the point. In fact, the first form of the worship of women began with the worship of the Gods. When The Watchers fell, a class of angels in which some came down to have sex with human women and produced therefore on the earth a race of Giants, it was because they became obsessed with human women and mankind’s ability to reproduce. They wanted to come down, get themselves wives, and have them children. In short, these Watcher angels began to worship the woman’s womb. In fact, in ancient cultures, women were worshiped as a way into heaven and thus are the beginnings of the sacred feminine.

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Fast forward some and we can trace Mother’s Day back to the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. However, it can actually be traced back further than this. Greece and Rome got their worship of the Gods from Egypt after plundering Egypt and taking the worship to Europe. The worship can also be traced back to ancient Babylon and ultimately from the direct worship of the Gods themselves. The honoring of the mother goddess can be traced, not only back to the Greek Goddess Rhea, but also back to Nimrod’s Mother-Wife Semiramis, and the Mother Goddess Isis of ancient Egypt. In fact, The Mother Goddesses, also known as The Queen of Heaven, have been worshiped in all cultures. For Greek and Rome specifically, mother goddesses were worshiped during the springtime with religious festivals. The ancient Greeks paid tribute to the Goddess Rhea, the wife of Cronus, known as the Mother of the Gods (Queen of Heaven) and the Romans held a three-day Roman festival in Mid-March called Hilaria, to honor the Roman Goddess Magna Mater, or Great Mother.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe, the honoring of the Mother Goddesses became disguised and the worship of the Mother Goddesses conformed to the honor of the “Mother Church”. In fact, the worship of the Gods and Goddesses, which in ancient times was simply called Paganism, became part of Christianity by the Council of Nicaea — the group of people who decided what doctrines should make up Christianity. By Christianity, I do not mean the original biblical practice of the saints, brothers, and prophets who did not call themselves Christians but were referred to as Kristianos meaning smeared ones – a derogatory term placed on them because they said they were smeared with the blood of the messiah. We’re talking about the Christianity that sprang from the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council after they decided to take pagan beliefs with biblical ones. To do this successfully meant to take what the pagans were already worshiping and change the names of the pagan gods to those that would appear to correlate with scripture, and to change the worship of the Gods and Goddesses to that which appeared in some way, biblical.

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They disguised the worship of the Gods by conforming them to the worship of something that would appear more innocent. The ancient pagan festival of Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture (from which we get the word Cereal) became Thanksgiving; the ancient pagan festival of Saturnalia, celebration of the Winter Solstice, became Christmas; the ancient pagan festival of Ostara (or Eostre) representing the Spring Equinox became Easter, and The fourth Sunday in Lent, a 40-day fasting period before Easter (also pagan) became known as Mothering Sunday. To show appreciation for their mothers, the people often brought gifts or a “mothering cake” and over time, it began to coincide with the celebration of the Mother Church. Mothering Sunday and Mother Church eventually merged into a single holiday called Mother’s Day. On this day, the worship of the Goddesses continued in the form of honoring mothers. The day always falls on the second Sun-day of May, and like so many other holidays rooted in pagan sun-worship including Father’s Day which always falls on the third Sun-day of June, it was important that the day fell on a day in honor of the pagans most powerful god — The Sun.