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The Origin and Practices of Christmas: Christian or Pagan ?
Life and Liberty Ministries ^ | 12/8/06 | Dennis Green

Posted on 12/08/2006 11:47:00 AM PST by 4lifeandliberty

The Origin and Practices of Christmas: Christian or Pagan ?

RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND CALENDARS - AN ENCYCLOPAEDIC HANDBOOK, 1993

Christmas Day December 25

Christmas Sermon - "Is Christmas A Perversion?"

I preached the abouve noted sermon at Dayspring Christian Fellowship on Christmas Day, 2005. It is an important message for the body during this season. Check it out at [url]www.lifeandlibertyministries.com[url]

Christmas is the day on which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic Church designates it as a day of holy obligation on which members of the Church must attend services.

Originally, the birth of Jesus was commemorated in the East on the Feast of Epiphany (January 6) but by 354, the Christmas Feast had taken hold in the West and was observed on December 25. Since the fifth century, most Eastern Orthodox Churches have celebrated the Nativity on December 25; however, some Eastern congregations, called "Old Calendarists," still use the Julian calendar and honor the birth of Christ thirteen days later, on January 7. The Armenian Church continues to celebrate "Old Christmas" on January 6.

As with many traditions surrounding Christmas, the selection of December 25 as a commemoration of Jesus' birthday may be an example of the blending of Christian ideas and the pagan traditions they replaced. December 25 was the date of the Mithric observance of the "Birthday of the Invincible Sun." This also coincided with Saturnalia and the Winter solstice during the period when Mithraism was practiced in Rome. Since the day was already being kept as a holiday, Christians may have adjusted the symbolism of the day, declaring it the birthday of their "Invincible Son." According to events in the Gospel of Matthew, the date of Jesus' birth may actually have taken place much earlier in the year.

The word "Christmas" means "the mass of Christ," and originated in the 11th century as a name for this feast. It was one of the most popular and universally celebrated holidays in Europe during the Middle Ages. During the Reformation, however, the celebration of Christmas began to decline in importance. Reformers engaged in complex doctrinal arguments in an attempt to prove the celebration of Christmas was unscriptural.

In some countries, the Protestant reforms brought about a ban of Christmas celebrations. By the time of the Restoration in 1660, however, the celebration of Christmas as a much more secular holiday was revived in these countries. In New England, Christmas remained outlawed until the mid-nineteenth century, and in Boston classes were held in the public schools on Christmas Day until 1870, with pupils who missed school that day being punished or dismissed. The mass immigration of Irish Catholics to New England brought about the reinstitution of Christmas celebrations. _________________________________________________________________

"Christmas.", DICTIONARY OF CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA, 1990

Both the northern European and North American custom of exchanging gifts at Christmas... are possibly related to pre-Christian celebrations at the close of the year. The celebration of Christmas has sometimes been opposed as pagan by religious leaders. New England Puritans* considered Christmas "popish" idolatry, and the Massachusetts General Court in 1659 passed an act against its celebration, though the law was repealed in 1681." _________________________________________________________________

"Christmas", THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, Vol. 3, "C-Ch", 1997

"The first mention of December 25 as the birth date of Jesus occurred in A.D. 336 in an early Roman calendar. The celebration of this day as Jesus' birth date was probably influenced by pagan [unchristian] festivals held at that time. The ancient Romans held year-end celebrations to honor Saturn, their harvest god; and Mithras, the [sic] god of light... As part of all these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradually became part of the Christmas celebration."

"In the late 300's, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire... The popularity of Christmas grew until the Reformation, a religious movement of the 1500's. This movement gave birth to Protestantism. During the Reformation, many Christians began to consider Christmas a pagan celebration because it included nonreligious customs. During the 1600's, because of these feelings, Christmas was outlawed in England and in parts of the English colonies in America." _________________________________________________________________

"Christmas", COLLIER'S ENCYCLOPEDIA, Vol. 6, 1992

"... The suppression of the Mass during the Reformation led to a sharp change in the observance of Christmas in some countries. In England, the Puritans condemned the celebration and, from 1642 to 1652, issued a series of ordinances forbidding all church services and festivities. This feeling was carried over to America by the Pilgrims and it was not until the nineteenth-century wave of Irish and German immigration that enthusiasm for the feast began to spread throughout the country. Objections were swept aside and the old traditions revived among Protestants as well as Catholics." _________________________________________________________________

"Christmas," COMPTON'S INTERACTIVE ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1997

THE CHRISTMAS WREATH The use of evergreens and wreaths as symbols of life was an ancient custom of the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews, among other peoples. Tree worship was a common feature of religion among the Teutonic and Scandinavian peoples of northern Europe before their conversion to Christianity. They decorated houses and barns with evergreens at the new year to scare away demons, and they often set up trees for the birds in winter. For these northern Europeans, this winter celebration was the happiest time of the year because it signified that the shortest day of the year--about December 21--had passed. They knew the days would start to get longer and brighter. The month during which this festival took place was named Jol, from which the word yule is derived. Yule has come to mean Christmas in some countries.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE Trees and decorations. Ancient, pre-Christian winter festivals used greenery, lights, and fires to symbolize life and warmth in the midst of cold and darkness. These usages, like gift giving, have also persisted.

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CHRISTMAS GIFT GIVING Gift giving is one of the oldest customs associated with Christmas: it is actually older than the holiday itself. When the date of Christmas was set to fall in December, it was done at least in part to compete with ancient pagan festivals that occurred about the same time. The Romans, for example, celebrated the Saturnalia on December 17. It was a winter feast of merrymaking and gift exchanging. And two weeks later, on the Roman New Year--January 1, houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. As the Germanic tribes of Europe accepted Christianity and began to celebrate Christmas, they also gave gifts.

Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. _________________________________________________________________

"Christmas," THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1966 Edition

THE CHRISTMAS TREE There are several stories about the origin of the Christmas tree. People in Scandinavia once worshipped trees. When they became Christians, they made evergreen trees part of Christian festivals.

The Custom of decorating homes and churches with evergreens began in ancient times. The Romans exchanged green tree branches for good luck on the Calends (first day) of January. The English took this custom over for Christmas.

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THE YULE LOG The custom of burning the Juul (pronounced yool) came from the Norse and Anglo-Saxons. They burned a huge oak log once a year to honor Thor, the god of thunder. After the Norse became Christians, they made the yule log an important part of their Christmas ceremonies. The Scandinavians adopted the word yule to mean Christmas. In Lithuania, the word for Christmas actually means log evening. The yule log became equally important in England. The English considered it good luck to keep an unburned part of the log to light next year's yule log.

MISTLETOE Mistletoe decorates many homes in the United States, Canada, and Europe at Christmastime. No one knows exactly how mistletoe became connected with Christmas. Ancient Celtic priests, called Druids, used to give people sprigs of the plant as a charm. Hundreds of years ago, some people in Europe used it at religious gatherings.

HISTORY In A.D. 354, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun. _________________________________________________________________

EXTERNALS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1917, page 134, authored by John F. Sullivan

SOME CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS

"When we give or receive Christmas gifts, and hang green wreaths in our homes and churches, how many of us know that we are probably observing pagan customs? We do not wish to assert that they are not good customs; but they undoubtedly prevailed long before Christian times. The Romans gave presents on New Year's Day, and our bestowing of gifts at Christmas is a survival of that practice, as well as a commemoration of the offerings of the Magi at Bethlehem. The Yule-log, a feature of Christmas in old England, goes back to the days of the pirate Norsemen. Holly and mistletoe and wreaths of evergreen have been handed down to us by the Druids. And even our friend Santa Claus, that mysterious benefactor of our childhood days, existed in one form or another long before Christianity had attributed his virtues to St. Nicholas; for the god Woden, in Norse mythology, descended upon the earth yearly between December 25 and January 6 to bless mankind.

But, pagan though they be, they are beautiful customs. They help to inspire us with the spirit of "good will" even as the sublime services of our Church remind us of the "peace on earth" which the Babe of Bethlehem came to bestow. May that spirit fill the heart of each of us on every Christmas Day!"

www.lifeandlibertyministries.com


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: christian; christmas; pagan; religion

1 posted on 12/08/2006 11:47:05 AM PST by 4lifeandliberty
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To: 4lifeandliberty

AJNTSA


2 posted on 12/08/2006 11:48:36 AM PST by BenLurkin ("The entire remedy is with the people." - W. H. Harrison)
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To: 4lifeandliberty
Simply about the title: depends on how you see it.

Technically, a lot of the physical parts of Christmas are connected to Saturnalia and paganism. Christmas trees, yule logs (misletoe was sort of a peace thing--hence the kissing, originally a sort of diplomatic European kiss), Santa Claus (not Saint Nick), etc.

On the other hand, Christmas has been Christianized. Saint Nick merging with Wodin in Santa Claus, Christmas songs, and the point of the day, the birth of God on Earth.

Could be interesting to see other freepers' opinions....

3 posted on 12/08/2006 11:51:37 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Warning: fuming.)
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To: 4lifeandliberty
It does not matter what the origin of Christmas celebrations are. I know the spirit in which people of this country have celebrated Christmas for years.

This pagan origin stuff is meant to say: "It is OK to remove Christmas from public practice, because you Christians don't know Christmas is Pagan anyway. Please thank us for telling you what is in your heart and for saving you from the pagan Christmas tree"

4 posted on 12/08/2006 11:52:04 AM PST by Last Laugh
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To: BenLurkin

It isn't as though you're forced to read these threads.


5 posted on 12/08/2006 11:53:20 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Warning: fuming.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
St. Nick didn't merge with Wotan ~ rather the Sa'ami shaman figure departing the tent up the flu was merged with Little Red Man (with the red and white color scheme). Wotan, after all, didn't have "flying reindeer", nor dwarfs, nor did he and the other Norse gods work all year making crafts for sale to the Norse people.
6 posted on 12/08/2006 12:05:10 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_Santa_Claus#Germanic_folklore.
7 posted on 12/08/2006 12:08:38 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Warning: fuming.)
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To: Last Laugh

Actually I think it's mostly turnabout. There's a vocal chunk of Christianity that likes to trumpet the pagan origins of Halloween as good reasons not to celebrate that. And two months later there are some folks that enjoy Halloween that like to trumpet the pagan relationship to Christmas to thumb their nose at the anti-Halloween crowd.


8 posted on 12/08/2006 12:10:03 PM PST by discostu (we're two of a kind, silence and I)
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To: 4lifeandliberty

Both.

NEXT!


9 posted on 12/08/2006 12:10:49 PM PST by Killborn (Age of servitude. A government of the traitors, by the liars, for the sheep.)
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To: discostu

Personally, anti-Halloween. In contrast to Christmas, Halloween has definitely not lost its paganism.


10 posted on 12/08/2006 12:13:10 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Warning: fuming.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox still celebrate St. Nicholas' feast day on Dec. 6 with all the Old World pageantry.

Santa Claus and St. Nicholas are two different things.


11 posted on 12/08/2006 12:13:56 PM PST by Joseph DeMaistre (There's no such thing as relativism, only dogmatism of a different color)
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To: 4lifeandliberty

Most Christians celebrate Christmas as a special holiday of giving to others with perhaps only slight recognition of the fact it is the supposed birthday of Jesus. Probably, that birthday was later during the year ( because it was reported there were shepherds in the fields with their flocks at about that time ). The actual birthday doesn't matter, because neither Jesus or his disciples ever suggested remembering his birthday. Jesus seemed to be a person who preached the spirit of laws rather than rote celebration, with the possible exception of the last supper; it is assumed by many Christians that the command to his disciples to participate in that ceremony extended to all later followers. I don't think there will be any divine grading points one way or the other regards observance of a holiday such as Christmas.
Before someone accuses me of being a scrooge on the point, I am a Christian and do like Christmas and have no problems with participation therein.


12 posted on 12/08/2006 12:16:18 PM PST by gb63
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

Depends on how you want to look at it. As far as the acoutrement of the holidays are concerned both are seriously steeped in paganism, almost all of the generally accepted decorative symbols of both holidays come straight from the non-Christian side. As for the spirit of the holidays that largely depends on the individual celebrant, living down here in the Southwest with a large Mexican Catholic population I see a lot of the Christian side of the celebration of the evening before All Saints Day. For most Americans Halloween is just an excuse to where funny clothes and do silly thing, neither Christian nor pagan. Just as for many Americans Christmas is just an excuse to buy presents for loved ones, drink eggnog, and eat their favorite holiday cookie (I'm fond of Pfeffernusse myself); again neither Christian nor pagan.


13 posted on 12/08/2006 12:20:29 PM PST by discostu (we're two of a kind, silence and I)
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To: Joseph DeMaistre
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_Santa_Claus#Ancient_Christian_origins.
14 posted on 12/08/2006 12:21:12 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Warning: fuming.)
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To: 4lifeandliberty
First Apology St. Justin Martyr

Chapter 34. Place of Christ's birth foretold.

And hear what part of earth He was to be born in, as another prophet, Micah, foretold. He spoke thus: "And thou, Bethlehem, the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come forth a Governor, who shall feed My people." Micah 5:2 Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judæa.

Against Marcion: Tertullian

And yet how could He have been admitted into the synagogue—one so abruptly appearing, so unknown; one, of whom no one had as yet been apprised of His tribe, His nation, His family, and lastly, His enrolment in the census of Augustus—that most faithful witness of the Lord's nativity, kept in the archives of Rome

The Liturgical Year: Dom Gueranger

And firstly, with regard to our Saviour's Birth on Dec. 25, we have St. John Chrysostom telling us in his homliy for this Feast, that the Western Churches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept it on this day. He is not satisfied with merely mentioning this tradition; he undertakes to show it is very well founded, inasmuch as the Church of Rome had every means of knowing the true day of our Saviour's Birth, since the acts of the enrollment, taken in Judea by command of Augustus, were kept in the public archives of Rome.The Holy Doctor adduces a second arguement, which he founds upon the Gospel of St. Luke, and he reasons thus: we know from the sacred Scriptures that it must have been in the fast of the sevent month (Lev 23.the 7th month, Tsiri, corresponded to out Sept, beginning of October) that the Priest Zachary had the vision in the Temple; after which Elizabeth, his wife, conceived St. John the Baptist; hence it follows that that the Blessed Virgin Mary having, as the Evangelist St Luke relates, received the Angel Gabriel's visit, and conceived the Saviour of the world in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, that is to say March, the Birth of Jesus must have taken palce in the month of December.

* Now, it is a historicl fact that the Acts of the Enrollment were kept in the Public Liberry in Rome. Converts regularly were shown them as part of their catechesis...So, itt seems an odd way to spend Advent by undermining the date of Jesus Birth.

Just to be fair, I will post from a protestant website that references what I have just referenced plus a few other things.

As to the Pagans - Fortitute, Temperance, Pruduence, and Justice had already been estanlsihed as Cardinal Virtues by them. The Incarnation set in motion what resulted in the the perfection/completion of ALL the Cardinal Virtues - Faith, Hope, Love.

Given what they had, the pagans didnt do too badly...Even St. Paul cited the works of the pagan poets in the New Testament :)

15 posted on 12/08/2006 12:21:42 PM PST by bornacatholic
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To: discostu

Agree with your last sentence. There are also predominantly non-Christian countries such as Japan which have a decidedly atheistic "Christmas."


16 posted on 12/08/2006 12:23:18 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( Warning: fuming.)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

http://www.truthorfables.com/Christmas.htm#Part%202:%20Historical%20Proof%20of%20December%2025th%20Date


17 posted on 12/08/2006 12:23:56 PM PST by bornacatholic
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

The early Christian traditions about St. Nicholas are the modern traditions in my Church.


18 posted on 12/08/2006 12:53:38 PM PST by Joseph DeMaistre (There's no such thing as relativism, only dogmatism of a different color)
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To: Joseph DeMaistre

A'hem.

Some of us celebrate St Nicholas feast day on the 19th.

(Old Calendar)


19 posted on 12/08/2006 12:59:41 PM PST by kawaii
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To: kawaii

It's still Dec. 6th, but on the Julian reckoning.


20 posted on 12/08/2006 1:00:43 PM PST by Joseph DeMaistre (There's no such thing as relativism, only dogmatism of a different color)
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To: bornacatholic

Shh. Don't tell them. Christmas=Christ Mass.


21 posted on 12/08/2006 1:03:13 PM PST by Carolina
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To: Joseph DeMaistre

that is true...


22 posted on 12/08/2006 1:03:31 PM PST by kawaii
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To: Joseph DeMaistre

St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Commemorated on December 6 (December 19 Old Calendar)

Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.

As the fruit of the prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant, while still in the baptismal font, stood on his feet three hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. St Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he would not accept milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.

From his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his nephew. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to instruct the flock.

In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency with questions of faith he was like an Elder, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, in unceasing prayer, the priest Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards the afflicted who came to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor.

There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desparation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man's poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. St Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, St Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.

The Bishop of Patara decided to go on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, and entrusted the guidance of his flock to St Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, Nicholas asked his blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. St Nicholas saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Through his prayer a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured was also restored to health.

When he reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and came to Golgotha, St Nicholas gave thanks to the Savior. He went to all the holy places, worshiping at each one. One night on Mount Sion, the closed doors of the church opened by themselves for the great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, St Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but he was stopped by a divine voice urging him to return to his native country. He returned to Lycia, and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle. But the Lord again indicated another path for him, "Nicholas, this is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for Me. Return to the world, and glorify My Name there." So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia.

Upon the death of Archbishop John, Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the bishops of the Council said that a new archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The bishop went to the church at night to await Nicholas. The saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the bishop. "What is your name, child?" he asked. God's chosen one replied, "My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant."

After his consecration as archbishop, St Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love for people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians for refusing to worship idols, sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture. The Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the accession of St Constantine (May 21) as emperor, St Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received their guide and intercessor.

Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, St Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.

In the year 325 St Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and he stood up against the heretic Arius with the likes of Sts Sylvester the Bishop of Rome (January 2), Alexander of Alexandria (May 29), Spyridon of Trimythontos (December 12) and other Fathers of the Council.

St Nicholas, fired with zeal for the Lord, assailed the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his episcopal rank and placed under guard. But several of the holy Fathers had the same vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop.

Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, uprooting heresy, nourishing his flock with sound doctrine, and also providing food for their bodies.

Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, denounced by St Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.

Witnessing this remarkable event were three military officers, who were sent to Phrygia by the emperor Constantine to put down a rebellion. They did not suspect that soon they would also be compelled to seek the intercession of St Nicholas. Evil men slandered them before the emperor, and the officers were sentenced to death. Appearing to St Constantine in a dream, St Nicholas called on him to overturn the unjust sentence of the military officers.

He worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain there. More than once, the saint saved those drowning in the sea, and provided release from captivity and imprisonment.

Having reached old age, St Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His venerable relics were preserved incorrupt in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087, his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (See May 9).

The name of the great saint of God, the hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, a speedy helper and suppliant for all hastening to him, is famed in every corner of the earth, in many lands and among many peoples. In Russia there are a multitude of cathedrals, monasteries and churches consecrated in his name. There is, perhaps, not a single city without a church dedicated to him.

The first Russian Christian prince Askold (+ 882) was baptized in 866 by Patriarch Photius (February 6) with the name Nicholas. Over the grave of Askold, St Olga (July 11) built the first temple of St Nicholas in the Russian Church at Kiev. Primary cathedrals were dedicated to St Nicholas at Izborsk, Ostrov, Mozhaisk, and Zaraisk. At Novgorod the Great, one of the main churches of the city, the Nikolo-Dvorischensk church, later became a cathedral.

Famed and venerable churches and monasteries dedicated to St Nicholas are found at Kiev, Smolensk, Pskov, Toropetsa, Galich, Archangelsk, Great Ustiug, Tobolsk. Moscow had dozens of churches named for the saint, and also three monasteries in the Moscow diocese: the Nikolo-Greek (Staryi) in the Chinese-quarter, the Nikolo-Perervinsk and the Nikolo-Ugreshsk. One of the chief towers of the Kremlin was named the Nikolsk.

Many of the churches devoted to the saint were those established at market squares by Russian merchants, sea-farers and those who traveled by land, venerating the wonderworker Nicholas as a protector of all those journeying on dry land and sea. They sometimes received the name among the people of "Nicholas soaked."

Many village churches in Russia were dedicated to the wonderworker Nicholas, venerated by peasants as a merciful intercessor before the Lord for all the people in their work. And in the Russian land St Nicholas did not cease his intercession. Ancient Kiev preserves the memory about the miraculous rescue of a drowning infant by the saint. The great wonderworker, hearing the grief-filled prayers of the parents for the loss of their only child, took the infant from the waters, revived him and placed him in the choir-loft of the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) before his wonderworking icon. In the morning the infant was found safe by his thrilled parents, praising St Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Many wonderworking icons of St Nicholas appeared in Russia and came also from other lands. There is the ancient Byzantine embordered image of the saint, brought to Moscow from Novgorod, and the large icon painted in the thirteenth century by a Novgorod master.

Two depictions of the wonderworker are especially numerous in the Russian Church: St Nicholas of Zaraisk, portrayed in full-length, with his right hand raised in blessing and with a Gospel (this image was brought to Ryazan in 1225 by the Byzantine Princess Eupraxia, the future wife of Prince Theodore. She perished in 1237 with her husband and infant son during the incursion of Batu); and St Nicholas of Mozhaisk, also in full stature, with a sword in his right hand and a city in his left. This recalls the miraculous rescue of the city of Mozhaisk from an invasion of enemies, through the prayers of the saint. It is impossible to list all the grace-filled icons of St Nicholas, or to enumerate all his miracles.

St Nicholas is the patron of travelers, and we pray to him for deliverance from floods, poverty, or any misfortunes. He has promised to help those who remember his parents, Theophanes and Nonna.

St Nicholas is also commemorated on May 9 (The transfer of his relics) and on July 29 (his nativity).


23 posted on 12/08/2006 1:05:37 PM PST by kawaii
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To: 4lifeandliberty

According to my Bethlehem Savings and Loan towel calendar for the year "0", December 25th was in red for some reason.


24 posted on 12/08/2006 1:14:53 PM PST by N. Theknow ((Kennedys - Can't drive, can't fly, can't ski, can't skipper a boat - But they know what's best.))
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To: All

http://www.biblebelievers.com/Morton_legalism-liberty.html

I am compelling all of you to read this article. One of the biggest dangers we face as Christians is fighting with each other over things that do not affect our faith but are rather born in pride.


25 posted on 12/08/2006 1:57:47 PM PST by liberty or death
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu
Stick with the Sa'ami version. Believe me at 9,000 years + age they are more reliably the oldest version going.

I don't think the Germans even existed then.

26 posted on 12/08/2006 2:25:01 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

SANTA/SATAN....Same letters...


27 posted on 12/09/2006 12:59:31 AM PST by Iscool (Anybody tired??? I have a friend who says "Come unto me, and I'll give you rest"...)
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To: Jedi Master Pikachu

Agreed


28 posted on 12/09/2006 6:36:47 AM PST by snugs ((An English Cheney Chick - BIG TIME))
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To: Joseph DeMaistre

Where does that leave Father Christmas :o)


29 posted on 12/09/2006 6:37:21 AM PST by snugs ((An English Cheney Chick - BIG TIME))
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To: gb63

When I was a child my church did not even have a service on Christmas Day they do know but not then. Christmas day was as you say a day for giving and receiving presents.


30 posted on 12/09/2006 6:39:01 AM PST by snugs ((An English Cheney Chick - BIG TIME))
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To: Iscool

Thats why I prefer Father Christmas


31 posted on 12/09/2006 6:41:00 AM PST by snugs ((An English Cheney Chick - BIG TIME))
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To: snugs
Originally, the birth of Jesus was commemorated in the East on the Feast of Epiphany (January 6) but by 354, the Christmas Feast had taken hold in the West and was observed on December 25. Since the fifth century, most Eastern Orthodox Churches have celebrated the Nativity on December 25; however, some Eastern congregations, called "Old Calendarists," still use the Julian calendar and honor the birth of Christ thirteen days later, on January 7. The Armenian Church continues to celebrate "Old Christmas" on January 6.

Originally, Christmas was not celebrated at all by Christians. Originally, Christians kept the biblical feast days that Christ created and that Christ observed. Antisemitism was one of the factors that caused the early Roman church to abandon these biblical holy days and create their own holidays.

These Christ given holy days are listed in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus and there is a biblical record of Christ observing them in the four gospels.

32 posted on 12/09/2006 7:03:20 AM PST by DouglasKC
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To: 4lifeandliberty
Definite pagan roots but that's okay. Taking their symbols and using them for our purposes -- that's victory.
33 posted on 12/09/2006 7:19:28 AM PST by Yardstick
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To: snugs

Where does that leave Father Christmas :o)

As an irrelevancy created by Protestants.


34 posted on 12/09/2006 8:36:29 PM PST by Joseph DeMaistre (There's no such thing as relativism, only dogmatism of a different color)
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