CHRISTMAS is a contemporary Christian observance of the birthday of Jesus Christ, for whom the religion is named. It is modeled after the much older pagan celebration of Yule or the Winter Solstice. In the 4th Century, all official Christian Holy Days (holidays) were celebrated synchronously with the ancient wheel of the year. St. John the Baptist Day falls directly on the Summer
Solstice. The “Feast of All Souls” replaced Samhain and the “Feast of the Assumption” is observed on Lughnassadh…
—excerpted from ARCANUM by Joshua Free
Druidic traditions of the Winter Solstice surface to mind more quickly, since they are the most relatively recent customs and rites observed in the Western Europe and our known history, from which America is founded. Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians also observed the astrophysical phenomenon of the solstice.
Ancient “pagans,” understood the Winter Solstice as a turning point or renewal of the year. The strength of the Sun grows from this point, being the darkest day, until the Summer Solstice (the longest day). The Norse people were the ones to
call the festival “Yule,” meaning, “wheel,” which qualifies us to believe that they too
understood this symbolism.
During the winter season, at a time when the wildlife is hibernating and quiet and the Green World of Nature appears to have recessed into a state of retirement, the evergreen trees stood out among other trees. They were revered for their ability to sustain the harsh season, observed to be better equipped to handle the pressure of wind-storms and the weight of snow. Their resilience and longevity was attributed to this very fact; they were able to “bend” gracefully to external influences, while still maintaining their own independence.
YULE LOGS existed in pre-Christian Phrygia/Galatia (Turkey) and Mesopotamia all the way across Europe to the British Isles. It was kindled on the remains of the log saved from the prior year’s observation, after the ashes have been removed. The large log was fed into the hearth over a period of twelve nights (until “Twelfth Night”).
Meanwhile, the ashes from the previous year are ritually cast about the field to ensure fertility for the coming year. A part of the Yule Log is always kept to use in kindling the next year’s fire. This is retained for use as a sacred amulet of protection for the household all year long, often kept near the hearth to ward away lightning.As much as the Christmas tree has essentially nothing to with the religious event of Jesus’ birth, the Elven-Norse symbolism of the “Holly King” or “Santa Claus” has even less.
Today, a mythos of Santa Claus is recognized that is far removed from its original form. The Yuletide colors have always been red and green and occasionally white, gold and silver. These are the earth tones that Santa originally wore. In the early 1900s, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company used their own color scheme to harmonize their product with Santa and the holidays. The motif stuck. They were successful in directing a cultural shift in accepting this now famous red and white suited archetype.