Our Pagan Christmas


by R.J. Condon

The Persian sun-god Mithra had a large following in Rome, particularly among the military. At midnight, the first moment of December 25th, the Mithraic temples would be lit up, with priests in white robes at the altars, and boys burning incense, much as we see in Roman Catholic churches at midnight on Christmas Eve in our own time. Mithra, his worshippers believed, had come from heaven to be born as man in order to redeem men from their sins, and he was born of a virgin on December 25th. Shepherds were the first to learn of his birth, just as shepherds are said (according to “Luke”, alone among the evangelists) to have been the first told of the birth of Jesus. At sunrise, the priests would announce: “The god is born” Then would come rejoicing, followed by a meal representing the Last Supper which Mithra ate with his disciples before his ascension into heaven.

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