The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 2
Christmas Trees: *The evergreen tree was decorated by the pagans at the feast of the winter solstice. The evergreen tree was a sign that winter would end.
*Pagan and Christian families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the limbs so you could tell when a spirit was present. Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat. The colors of the season, red and green, also are of Pagan origin, as is the custom of exchanging gifts."
*Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshiping huge trees.
*Ancient Babylonian "Christmas tree" became known as a symbol of fertility throughout the ancient world. The pole, balls, and tinsel (phallus, testes, semen) represented various aspects of male fertility.
Gifts under the Tree: *Pagans celebrated a festival involving a heroic figure that visits an evergreen tree and leaves gifts on December 25th. According to ancient Babylonian tradition, Semiramis (who eventually became known as the goddess Astarte/Asherah/Ashtoreth/Isis/Ishtar/Easter in other pagan religions) claimed that after the untimely death of her son/husband Nimrod , a full grown evergreen tree sprang up overnight from a dead tree stump. Semiramis claimed that Nimrod would visit that evergreen tree and leave gifts each year on the anniversary of his birth, which just happened to be on December 25th.
*To the ancient Babylonians, these holiday trees came to be worshipped as the "Queen of Heaven", and gifts were brought to the "groves" of trees that had been grown in her honor and placed beneath them as offerings.
Yule Logs/ 12 Days: *The word "yule" means "wheel," a symbol representing the sun. Early pagans thought the sun stood still for 12 days at the end of the year. A log was cut large enough to burn for this time period to burn away last year's evil.
*Traditionally, the log should burn for one whole night, smolder for twelve days (twelve days of Christmas; signifying the twelve months of the year) and then be put out ceremoniously. It was considered good luck to sit on it before it was burned and it was bad luck if the fire went out quickly. After the holidays had ended a piece of the log was saved to rekindle the next year's log.*The Yule Log also symbolizes the light coming back to conquer darkness. Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means "," the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun.
*Yule logs were traditionally lit throughout northern Europe to honor the pagan god Thor. The festival would continue until the Yule log burned out - which could take up to twelve days.
Wreath/ Evergreen Wheel: *The wreath is a ring made of flowers, leaves, fruits, cones, twigs, etc. It is an old Pagan symbol and to associate it with a cross may at first appear strange. Yet we must remember that the cross too, was used by Pagans long before the arrival of Christianity.
*Germanic tribes used wreaths in the winter and decorated them with small candles. This was to encourage the onset of spring - the circular wreath representing the turning seasons and the candles representing the warmth of the sun.
*Wreaths were always fashioned in a circle to represent female fertility. It also symbolizes the Circle of Life/Wheel of the Year, and it marks the Solstices and Equinoxes.
*The Babylonians also used wreaths to represent the nativity of the sun, since they were objects that depicted the "womb" of the Earth mother.