The Pagan Symbols of Christmas Part 4
Candles/Lights: *Ancient Romans lit candles to ward off evil, and to convince the sun to shine again. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.
*Possibly stemming from celebrations of both the Persian sun god Mithra and Roman god Saturn, among others, the tradition of adorning homes inside and out with lights and candles arose with a simple desire for warmth and light during dark winter nights, and tributes to the various pagan gods that were believed to be responsible for keeping that big yellow orb floating in the sky.
*Candles, of course, have long been a typical item in Wiccan rituals.
*From the earliest Roman festivals and pagan rituals, through Europe and Africa to the Americas, candles and their humble light have been one of the key factors in the celebration of the winter holidays.
*As a witch, the symbolism of a candle is about representing the element of fire, and representing God and Goddess and sends healing and protection when needed. Candles are thought to have originated in ancient Rome when they gifted them to each other during Saturnalia. The flame was thought to chase away dark winter demons and urge the Sun back into the sky.
Red/Green/White: *The traditional Christmas colors of red and green, being complementary colors, represent the fertility of the male and incubation by the female. Pagan decorations still seen around Christmas include the red berries and green leaves of holly, mistletoe and wreaths.
*On Winter Solstice Asar [Osiris] dies. Aset [Isis] with the magic help of Nebt Het [Nephthys] creates a Djed Pillar [artificial penis] for Her husband and impregnates Herself. For three full days (December 22-24) Asar lies dead and the Twins grow in Aset’s belly. On this day (December 25th) the Twins are born, the reincarnation or resurrection of Their Father. The green tree is a symbol of the green-skinned Asar, God of fertility and vegetation. The colored lights are symbols of Aset, Goddess of magick and divine light. Red, green, and white are the traditional candle colors of Bast (this was Her birthday alone for several thousand years of early Kemetic history), later being adapted to red for Aset (the color of the Mother’s menstrual flow), green for Asar (the color of vegetation), and white for the Twins (the color of pure light).
Stars: *A five-pointed star, the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree.
*The Star of David, the Jewish six-pointed star we put on top of the tree, symbolizes the perfect union between male and female. The inverted triangle represents the feminine (Shekinah); the upturned phallic triangle represents the male (Yahweh).
*In Germany and in Amish lore, the 5-Pointed Star provides protection from fire and lightning or a protection for livestock, good fortune, hope, love, fertility, energy and harmony. The Eight-Pointed Star symbolizes goodwill, good omens, light and protection. The Triple Star represents good luck, success and happiness.
*Before becoming a prominent symbol of Judaism, the six pointed star was used by alchemists and was said to have been used by Druid priests as protection against evil ghosts.
Bells: *Bells were rung at pagan winter celebrations. It was thought that evil spirits could be driven out by loud noises, and bells often accompanied singing and shouting.
*The Pagans jingled bells to scare away evil spirits and to cleanse the area.
*Pagans, at their festivals, would originally ring bells to drive away the “demons” that surfaced during the cold, dark time of the year.