Christmas is most often associated with Christianity and the birth of Jesus Christ. However, the history of Christmas is closely linked to Roman and North European pagan traditions that were then incorporated into Christianity when the Romans and North Europeans first became Christian. Here are some of those pagan traditions that have become associated with Christmas:
- Exchanging Gifts – The Romans celebrated Saturnalia during what then became the Christmas season. As part of Saturnalia, they would exchange gifts for the sake of good luck. The idea was to give a gift in the hope of bringing in a bountiful harvest the next year. Rather than have huge lists of gifts to give, the Romans shared only one gift with one other person.
- Santa – Santa is today considered to be a man with a white beard dressed in red. It is said that there are many similarities to the concept of Santa and the Norse god, Odin. He was traditionally portrayed as an old man with a long, white beard with an 8-legged horse called Sleipnir he would ride through the skies, just like Santa’s reindeer.
- Christmas Stockings – In Norse tradition and during the winter, kids would fill their booties with carrots and straw and leave them by the chimney for Sleipnir to feed on. Odin would fly by and reward the children with little presents in their booties, much like people do with Christmas stockings today.
- Christmas Carols – Anglo-Saxon pagans used to have a tradition called ‘wassailing.’ The rather funny word comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase of ‘waes hael,’ translating to ‘good health.’ Every year, wassailers would roam through their villages in small groups, singing loudly to banish evil spirits and wish good health to those around them. In the 13th century, St. Francis took inspiration from these happy choirs and started the tradition of Christmas carolling.
- Christmas Trees – Besides feasting, drinking, and exchanging gifts during Saturnalia, Romans also hung small metal ornaments on trees outside their homes. Each of these little ornaments represented a god – either Saturn or the family’s personal patron saint. Early Germanic tribes practiced a similar tree decorating tradition with fruits and candles to honor the god Odin throughout winter solstice.
IF ALLAH (SWT) HAD WILLED IT, THEN IT WOULD BE FOR THE MUSLIMS.
As salaam alaikum wurahmatulah wa barakatuh, as a revert its natural to have an aversion to this event. Me personally before Islam this was the best day of the year, but I gave it up. But my biggest challenge now is having to watch Muslims celebrate then having after so many years try to explain to my non muslim family why some Muslims have no issues in joining in. May Allah guide us all to what is correct and pleasing to Allah ameen.
wa aliekum Assalam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
Thank you for writing Sr. Christine.
Please read this excerpt from the latest NMA blog post regarding your challenge:
” Another issue is, it may be confusing to us and our non-Muslim family members to see other Muslims participating in these holidays. Why, you might ask, does this happen? Unfortunately some Muslims do not have a solid understanding of their faith and due to this fall into many vices. Others just want to be accepted and liked by others so they go along with it all. There is also a category of Muslims who justify and rationalize their wrong behavior, using twisted reasoning and misappropriating Islamic concepts.
In all circumstances, we should look to the source of Islam – not the actions of Muslims – and follow what God has commanded and stay away from what He has prohibited, regardless of what we may see others doing or what our own feelings and sensitivities dictate to us.”
Here is a link to the complete blog post: https://www.newmuslimacademy.org/navigating-the-celebrating-with-consideration-kindness/
Hope this helps! Ameen to your dua.
May Allah bless you and guide us all.
Jazakalah khair for the information.
I have understood alhamdulillah