A Transformation of Heathen Festivals

“The Christmas festival was probably the Christian transformation or regeneration of a series of kindred heathen festivals—Saturnalia, Sigillaria, Juvenalia, and Brumalia—which were kept in Rome in the month of December, in commemoration of the golden age of universal freedom and equality, and in honor of the unconquered sun, and which were great holidays, especially for slaves and children. This connection accounts for many customs of the Christmas season, like the giving of presents to the children and to the poor, the lighting of wax tapers, perhaps also the erection of Christmas trees, and gives them a Christian import; while it also betrays the origin of the many excesses in which the unbelieving world indulges at this season, in wanton perversion of the true Christmas mirth, but which, of course, no more forbid right use, than the abuses of the Bible or of any other gift of God. Had the Christmas festival arisen in the period of the persecution, its derivation from these pagan festivals would be refuted by the then reigning abhorrence of everything heathen; but in the Nicene age this rigidness of opposition between the church and the world was in a great measure softened by the general conversion of the heathen.”[70]

~Philip Schaff

[70] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989 [1910]), 3:398.

Source: http://web.archive.org/web/20150331225339/http://entrewave.com/view/reformedonline/Christmas%20%28web%29.htm#_ftnref70

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