The Encyclopedia AMERICANA, 1969 edition, says: “CHRISTMAS. The name derives from the old English Chrites Maesse, or Christ’s Mass, and the present spelling probably came into use about the sixteenth century. All Christian churches except the Armenian church observe the birth of Christ on December 25. This date was not set in the West until about the middle of the fourth century and in the East until about a century later. The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is usually held that the day was chosen to
correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days began to lengthen, to celebrate the “rebirth of the sun”. Northern European tribes celebrated their chief festival of Yule at the winter solstice to celebrate the rebirth of the sun (god) as a giver of light and warmth. The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and to the renewed power of the sun) also took place at this time, and some Christian customs are thought to be rooted in this ancient pagan celebration. It is held by some scholars that the birth of Christ as ‘Light of the World’ was made analogous to the rebirth of the sun in order to make Christianity more
meaningful to pagan converts. Many early Christians decried the gaiety and festive spirit introduced into the Christmas celebration as a pagan survival, particularly of the Roman Saturnalia.”

With Voyager satellites sending back astounding pictures of the planet Saturn, with its impressive rings of debris and its many moons, the planet Saturn has been much in the news of late. one of the
greatest festivals of the pagan calendar was that of Saturn, originally celebrated near the end of December. The festival began, anciently, on the 19th, and extended for seven days, which would include the 25th and 26th of December! All classes of ancient Romans exchanged gifts during this celebration of the solstice of the sun, one of the more common forms of gifts being that of a clay doll. The dolls were especially given to children, and it was believed they represented the original sacrifices of human beings to the “infernal god”. There was a
tradition that human sacrifices were once offered to Saturn, and Greeks and Romans gave the name of “Cronus” and “Saturn” to a cruel Phoenician baal to whom children were sacrificed at Carthage! The
Saturnalia was finally instituted by Romulus, the founder of Rome, under the name of “Brumalia,” which meant “winter solstice”. A solemn custom of kindling fires has prevailed in parts of Europe, with the “Yule log” a prominent feature, just as firesidedinners and the exchanging of gifts are still prominent features of modern American celebrations of “Christmas”. More this subject later