Lynn's Reviews > Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide

Pagan Christmas by Christian Rätsch
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's review
Dec 20, 2011

it was amazing
Read in January, 2010

The authors, two PhD anthropologists with specialties in ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and art history, have written a fascinating look into the origins of so many varied things we associate with Christmas today. Colors, plants, spices, sweets, shaped breads and cookies, chocolate, tree cult customs, traditional songs, and even the Church's calendar have direct links to pre-Christian and early Christian traditions and beliefs from all over Europe. Over hundreds of years, the Church successully melded worship of Christ with these pre-Christian practices to insure a complete transition to Christianity as the dominate faith. But this melding also made modern Christmas seasonal celebrations rich with all the colors, scents, sounds, and delicacies we so warmly associate with the season today. Yes, these origins have very little to do with the birth of Christ, but so what? Recognizing the ancient cultural significance of fir trees, miseltoe, nutmeg, red and green, and sleighs pulled by flying reindeer (from Siberian shamanic tradition) doesn't diminish anyone's celebration of Christ's birth. Rather, it connects us with thousands of years of our ancestors greeting midwinter with joy over the birth of the Sun/Son.

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