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5 pagan parts of Christmas celebrations

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Even if you’re a stickler for the reason for the season, chances are more than a few pagan elements have slipped into your celebrations unintentionally thanks to long-established traditions earlier celebrants borrowed from their festive pagan brethren.

Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience has five examples of those wily pagan ways we keep the spirit of pre-Christianity alive and well.

1. Early Christians had a soft spot for pagans

… Early Christians wanted to convert pagans, [Philip] Shaw [of Leicester University] said, but they were also fascinated by their traditions.

“Christians of that period are quite interested in paganism,” he said. “It’s obviously something they think is a bad thing, but it’s also something they think is worth remembering. It’s what their ancestors did.”

Perhaps that’s why pagan traditions remained even as Christianity took hold. The Christmas tree is a 17th-century German invention, University of Bristol’s Hutton told LiveScience, but it clearly derives from the pagan practice of bringing greenery indoors to decorate in midwinter. The modern Santa Claus is a direct descendent of England’s Father Christmas, who was not originally a gift-giver. However, Father Christmas and his other European variations are modern incarnations of old pagan ideas about spirits who traveled the sky in midwinter, Hutton said.

Full story at LiveScience.

Holiday history.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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