and God-hood - Pagan similarities
The winter solstice occurs about December 21 each year. It is the day of the
year when the night is longest and the daytime shortest. It was, and is,
the traditional date for followers of many different Pagan religions to
celebrate the rebirth of the sun. Following the solstice, each succeeding
day has slightly more sunlight than the previous day. It was seen as a promise
that warmth would return once more to the earth. Numerous pre-Christian
Pagan religions honored their gods' birth or rebirth on or about that day.
Their deities were typically called: Son of Man, Light of the World, Sun
of Righteousness, Bridegroom, and Savior. Some examples are:
Roman Religion: Attis was a son of the virgin Nana. His birth was celebrated
on DEC-25. He was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to
mankind. He died about March 25, after being crucified on a tree, and descended
for three days into the underworld. On Sunday, he arose, "as the solar deity
for the new season." His followers tied an image of Attis to a tree on "Black
Friday," and carried him in a procession to the temple. His body was symbolically
eaten by his followers in the form of bread. Worship of Attis began in Rome
circa 200 BCE (aka BC).
Greek Religion: Dionysus is another savior-god. He was worshipped throughout
much of the Middle East as well. He had a center of worship in Jerusalem
in the 1st century BCE. In later years, his flesh and blood were symbolically
eaten in the form of bread and wine. He was the son of Zeus, the
Father God. He, too, was killed and resurrected after the third day. Dyonisus
is often pictured with a lion and lamb.
Egyptian Religion: Osiris is a savior-god who had been worshipped as far
back as Neolithic times. Three wise men announced his birth. His followers
ate cakes of wheat which symbolized his body.
Persian Religion: Mithra was a Persian savior. Worship of Mithra became
common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among the Roman civil service
and military. Mithraism was a competitor of Christianity until the 4th century.
Their god was believed to have been born on December 25, circa 500 BCE. His birth
was witnessed by shepherds and by gift-carrying Magi. This was celebrated
as the "Dies Natalis Solic Invite," The "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he
performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated
a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He ascended to heaven at the time of
the spring equinox, about March 21.
The Babylonians celebrated their "Victory of the Sun-God" Festival on
Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from December 17 to 23 in
the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with a number
of birth celebrations of savior Gods from other religions, into a single
holy day: December 25. After much argument, the developing Christian church adopted
this date as the birthday of their savior, Jesus. The people of the Roman
Empire were accustomed to celebrating the birth of a God on that day. So,
it was easy for the church to divert people's attention to the Jesus' birth.