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Ancient Roots of Christmas

Ancient Roots of Christmas

The darkest night of the year was called mothers’ night, because now the sun god, lover of the goddess, is reborn in the lap of the Earth. In this night the goddess gives birth in the darkest place on Earth, during the quietest hour, to the reborn sun-child.

Here are more ancient myths, activities, and symbols of Christmas:

Astronomical date: Solstice, mid-winter.

Mythology: Wotan and the Wild Hunt; Christmas wights (creatures of the woods); the rebirth of the sun; Saturnalia.

Symbols: Fir tree, world tree, tree of knowledge, evergreens, mistletoe, holly, wintergreen, straw stars, opium poppy seedpods, fly agaric mushroom, angels, red and white, green and white.

Ritual Activities: Incense burning or smudging with herbs, drinking rituals, Jul libations, Christmas presents, gift-giving rituals.

Plant Rituals: Tree cults and the cutting of winter greens; blossom miracles (plants that bloom in midwinter); oracle plants; sowing the Barbara wheat.

Read more: Spirit, Inspiration, , , ,

Adapted from Pagan Christmas by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling (Inner Traditions, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Pagan Christmas by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling (Inner Traditions, 2003).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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Pagan Christmas

The plants, spirits, and rituals at the origins of now


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6:25PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012


9:26PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011


4:19AM PST on Jan 2, 2011

No, Stephen, violence IS inherently bad. The problem is that we can't avoid it sometimes.

10:51AM PST on Dec 7, 2010

Thanks for the article. Good to know the history.

8:17PM PST on Nov 24, 2010

For me, Christmas is a time of peace. On Christmas day, and Christmas Eve, we humans should stop the violence. Preferably all physical violence, but more than that. We should dig into the philosophical trenches and take a brake. No arguing or doing any sort of spiritual battle. Just peace.

No matter how just the cause, how vile the enemy, on Christmas day at least we should dig into the trenches and have peace. Rest. Sure, not everyone will abide. Certain types of militant atheist and christian fundamentalist defy the peace each year. But the rest of us can lay down are arms, so to speak.

Violence is a part of nature. It is a part of life. It is not inherently bad, although it can be used for evil. Still, to have one or two days dedicated to peace/relaxation can be a good thing.

8:09PM PST on Nov 24, 2010

Shauna P.

Way to miss the point and turn a blind eye to the truth. Fail...

4:28AM PST on Nov 10, 2010

Thanks for the article.

9:00AM PDT on May 12, 2010


2:00AM PDT on May 8, 2010

Interesting, thanks.

12:24PM PDT on May 7, 2010

I knew some of this already.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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