Pagan Revelry

The Days Are Evil


Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.

Deuteronomy 12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.
29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God [NKJV: You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way]: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

1 Kings 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
13:1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 17:32 So they feared the LORD, and [New Scofield: and also; NIV; but they also] made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods [NKJV: yet served their own gods; New Scofield: and at the same time served their own gods; RSV: but also served their own gods], after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;
35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the LORD, and [New Scofield: and also] served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Hosea 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim [RSV: And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals], wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play [NIV: indulge in pagan revelry].
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Galatians 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [NKJV: conduct] received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles [Moffatt: pagans], when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.



Sunday

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911, Vol. 26, p. 94:
"SUNDAY, or the LORD'S DAY ... in the Christian world, the first day of the week, celebrated in memory of the resurrection of Christ, as the principal day for public worship.... There is no evidence that in the earliest years of Christianity there was any formal observance of Sunday as a day of rest or any general cessation of work.... The first writer who mentions the name of Sunday as applicable to the Lord's day is Justin Martyr [100-165 A.D.]; this designation of the first day of the week, which is of heathen origin ... had come into general use in the Roman world shortly before Justin wrote."

James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, 1917, p. 89:
"Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we [the Catholic Church] never sanctify."


Christmas

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 6, pp. 293, 294:
"CHRISTMAS (i.e. the Mass of Christ), in the Christian Church, the festival of the nativity of Jesus Christ.... The earliest body of gospel tradition, represented by Mark no less than by the primitive non-Marcan document embodied in the first and third gospels, begins, not with the birth and childhood of Jesus, but with his baptism; and this order of accretion of gospel matter is faithfully reflected in the time order of the invention of feasts. The great church adopted Christmas much later than Epiphany; and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on the 6th of January, or the 25th of March, or the 25th of December.... As late as 245 Origen, in his eighth homily on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ 'as if he were a king Pharaoh.' ...In Britain the 25th of December was a festival long before the conversion to Christianity, for Bede (De temp. rat. ch. 13) relates that 'the ancient people of the Angli began the year on the 25th of December when we now celebrate the birthday of the Lord; and the very night which is now so holy to us, they called in their tongue modranecht (modra niht), that is, the mothers' night, by reason we suspect of the ceremonies which in that night-long vigil they performed.' With his usual reticence about matters pagan or not orthodox, Bede abstains from recording who the mothers were and what the ceremonies. In 1644, the English puritans forbad any merriment or religious services by act of Parliament, on the ground that it was a heathen festival, and ordered it to be kept as a fast. Charles II. revived the feast, but the Scots adhered to the Puritan view. Outside Teutonic countries Christmas presents are unknown. Their place is taken in Latin countries by the strenae, French etrennes, given on the 1st of January; this was in antiquity a great holiday, wherefore until late in the 4th century the Christians kept it as a day of fasting and gloom."

Brand's Popular Antiquities, New Edition (Hazlitt's Faiths and Folk-Lore), 1905, Vol. I, pp. 117, 118-119, 125:
"Christmas Day ... is observed without any real authority or probability of correctness on the 25th of December.... Upon Wednesday, December 22, 1647, the cryer of Canterbury, by the appointment of Master Mayor, openly proclaimed that Christmas Day, and all other superstitious festivals, should be put down, and that a market should be kept upon Christmas Day.... An order of Parliament, December 24, 1652, directed 'that no observation shall be had of the five and twentieth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day; nor any solemnity used or exercised in churches upon that day in respect thereof.' ...'If we compare,' says Prynne, 'our Bacchanalian Christmasses and New Years Tides with the Saturnalia and Feasts of Janus, we shall finde such near affinitye betweene them both in regard of time (they being both in the end of December and on the first of January) and in their manner of solemnizing (both of them being spent in revelling, epicurisme, wantonesse, idlenesse, dancing, drinking, stage-plaies, masques, and carnall pompe and jollity), that we must needes conclude the one to be but the very ape or issue of the other. Hence Polydor Virgil affirmes in expresse tearmes that ... Christmas disorderes now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalia and Bacchanalian festivals; which (concludes he) should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them.' ...A very intelligent writer in Willis's 'Current Notes' for February, 1854, observes: 'The Christmas-tree has become a prevailing fashion in England at this season, and is by most persons supposed to be derived from Germany: such, however, is not the fact: the Christmas-tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long antecedent to the Christian era ... used in Egypt, at the time of the winter solstice, as a symbol of the year completed."

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911, Vol. 27, p. 236:
"TREE-WORSHIP.... In almost every part of the world travellers have observed the custom of hanging objects upon trees in order to establish some sort of a relationship between the offerer and the tree."

Chambers's Book of Days, 1879, Vol. II, pp. 733-734, 745:
"To investigate the origin of many of our Christmas customs, it becomes necessary to wander far back into the regions of past time.... We have frequently, in the course of this work, had occasion to remark on the numerous traces still visible in popular customs of the old pagan rites and ceremonies. These, it is needless here to repeat, were extensively retained after the conversion of Britain to Christianity, partly because the Christian teachers found it impossible to wean their converts from their cherished superstitions and observances, and partly because they themselves, as a matter of expediency, ingrafted the rites of the Christian religion on the old heathen ceremonies, believing that thereby the cause of the Cross would be rendered more acceptable to the generality of the populace, and thus be more effectively promoted. By such an amalgamation, no festival of the Christian year was more thoroughly characterised than Christmas; the festivities of which, originally derived from the Roman Saturnalia, had afterwards been intermingled with the ceremonies observed by the British Druids at the period of the winter-solstice, and at a subsequent period became incorporated with the grim mythology of the ancient Saxons.... In the early ages of Christianity, its ministers frequently experienced the utmost difficulty in inducing the converts to refrain from indulging in the popular amusements which were so largely participated in by their pagan countrymen. Among others, the revelry and license which characterised the Saturnalia called for special animadversion. But at last, convinced partly of the inefficacy of such denunciations, and partly influenced by the idea that the spread of Christianity might thereby be advanced, the church endeavored to amalgamate, as it were, the old and new religions, and sought, by transferring the heathen ceremonies to the solemnities of the Christian festivals, to make them subservient to the cause of religion and piety.... The result has been a strange medley of Christian and pagan rites which contribute to make up the festivities of the modern Christmas."

Hone's Every-Day Book, ca. 1847, Vol. I, p. 1635:
"The old and pleasant custom of decking our houses and churches at Christmas with evergreens is derived from ancient heathen practices. Councils of the church forbad christians to deck their houses with bay leaves and green boughs at the same time with the pagans; but this was after the church had permitted such doings in order to accommodate its ceremonies to those of the old mythology."


New Year's Day

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911, Vol. 19, p. 594:
"NEW YEAR'S DAY, the first day of the year.... The Jews have always reckoned their civil year from the first day of the month of Tishri (Sept. 6-Oct. 5), but their ecclesiastical year begins at the spring equinox (March 21).... The Romans, after the adoption of the Julian calendar, kept the 1st of January as a general holiday. Sacrifices were made to Janus; gifts and visits were exchanged, and masquerading and feasting were general.... Participation in the ordinary New Year's Day observation as well as in the Saturnalia of December was from the first discouraged by the Church. Christians were expected to spend the day in quiet meditation, reading of scripture and acts of charity. When about the 5th century the 25th of December had become a fixed festival commemorative of the Nativity, the 1st of January assumed a specially sacred character as the octave of Christmas Day and as the anniversary of the Circumcision."


Valentine's Day

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911, Vol. 27, pp. 850-851:
"VALENTINE, or VALENTINUS, the name of considerable number of saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on the 14th of February — the one, a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni (Ineramna).... For the peculiar observances that used to be commonly connected with St Valentine's Eve and Day, to which allusion is frequently made by English writers, such works as John Brand's Popular Antiquities (edited by W. C. Hazlitt, vol. ii. pp. 606-11, London, 1905), W. Hone's Every-Day Book, and Chambers's Book of Days may be consulted. Their appropriateness to the spring season is, in a general way perhaps, obvious enough, but the association of the lovers' festivals with St Valentine seems to be purely accidental."

Chambers's Book of Days, 1879, Vol. I, p. 257:
"The origin of these peculiar observances of St Valentine's Day is a subject of some obscurity. The saint himself, who was a priest of Rome, martyred in the third century, seems to have had nothing to do with the matter, beyond the accident of his day being used for the purpose. Mr Douce, in his Illustrations of Shakespeare, says: 'It was the practice in ancient Rome, during a great part of the month of February, to celebrate the Lupercalia, which were feasts in honour of Pan and Juno, whence the latter deity was named Februata, Februalis, and Februlla. On this occasion, amidst a variety of ceremonies, the names of young women were put into a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. The pastors of the early Christian church, who, by every possible means endeavoured to eradicate the vestiges of pagan superstitions, and chiefly by some commutations of their forms, substituted, in the present instance, the names of particular saints instead of those of the women; and as the festival of the Lupercalia had commenced about the middle of February, they appear to have chosen St Valentine's Day for celebrating the new feast, because it occurred nearly at the same time. This is, in part, the opinion of a learned and rational compiler of the Lives of the Saints, the Rev. Alban Butler. It should seem, however, that it was utterly impossible to extirpate altogether any ceremony to which the common people had been much accustomed — a fact which it were easy to prove in tracing the origin of various other popular superstitions. And, accordingly, the outline of the ancient ceremonies was preserved, but modified by some adaptation to the Christian system.'"

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001:
"Saint Valentine's Day ... Western European Christian holiday, originally the Roman feast of Lupercalia."
"Lupercalia ... ancient Roman festival held annually on Feb. 15th."


Fat Tuesday

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001:
"Shrove Tuesday ... day before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent). In the Latin countries it is the last day of the carnival, called by the French Mardi Gras."

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001:
"Mardi Gras ... last day before the fasting season of Lent. It is the French name for Shrove Tuesday. Literally translated, the term means 'fat Tuesday' and was so called because it represented the last opportunity for merrymaking and excessive indulgence in food and drink before the solemn season of fasting. In the cities of some Roman Catholic countries the custom of holding carnivals for Mardi Gras has continued since the Middle Ages. The carnivals, with spectacular parades, masked balls, mock ceremonials, and street dancing, usually last for a week or more before Mardi Gras itself.... For a full discussion of this subject, see carnival."

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001:
"carnival ... communal celebration, especially the religious celebration in Catholic countries that takes place just before Lent. Since early times carnivals have been accompanied by parades, masquerades, pageants, and other forms of revelry that had their origins in pre-Christian pagan rites, particularly fertility rites that were connected with the coming of spring and the rebirth of vegetation. One of the first recorded instances of an annual spring festival is the festival of Osiris in Egypt; it commemorated the renewal of life brought about by the yearly flooding of the Nile. In Athens, during the 6th cent. B.C., a yearly celebration in honor of the god Dionysus was the first recorded instance of the use of a float. It was during the Roman Empire that carnivals reached an unparalleled peak of civil disorder and licentiousness. The major Roman carnivals were Bacchanalia, the Saturnalia, and the Lupercalia. In Europe the tradition of spring fertility celebrations persisted well into Christian times, where carnivals reached their peak during the 14th and 15th cent. Because carnivals are deeply rooted in pagan superstitions and the folklore of Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was unable to stamp them out and finally accepted many of them as part of church activity.... The Church succeeded in dominating the activities of the carnivals, and eventually they became directly related to the coming of Lent. The major celebrations are generally on Shrove Tuesday (see Mardi Gras)."


Ash Wednesday and Lent

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 2, p. 734:
"ASH WEDNESDAY, in the Western Church, the first day of Lent (q.v.), so called from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of penitence, in the service prescribed for the day."

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001:
"Lent ... Observance of Lent [by Christians] is as old as the 4th century.... The Christian observance of Lent may have a parallel in the fasting practiced in Greco-Roman mystery religions."

Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1959, p. 106:
"'It ought to be known,' said Cassianus, the monk of Marseilles, writing in the fifth century, and contrasting the primitive Church with the Church in his day, 'that the observance of the forty days had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolate.' Whence, then, came this observance? The forty days abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess [Astarte]. Such a Lent of forty days, 'in the spring of the years,' is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians.... Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt, as may be seen on consulting Wilkinson's Egyptians. Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the Christian festival.... To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity — now far sunk in idolatry — in this as in so many other things, to shake hands."


April Fools' Day

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 2, p. 231:
"APRIL-FOOLS' DAY, or ALL-FOOLS' DAY, the name given to the 1st of April in allusion to the custom of playing practical jokes on friends and neighbours on that day, or sending them on fools' errands. The origin of this custom has been much disputed, and many ludicrous solutions have been suggested.... What seems certain is that it is in some way or other a relic of those once universal festivities held at the vernal equinox, which, beginning on old New Year's day, the 25th of March, ended on the 1st of April. This view gains support from the fact that the exact counterpart of April-fooling is found to have been an immemorial custom in India. The festival of the spring equinox is there termed the feast of Huli, the last day of which is the 31st of March, upon which the chief amusement is the befooling of people by sending them on fruitless errands."

Brand's Popular Antiquities, New Edition (Hazlitt's Faiths and Folk-Lore), 1905, Vol. I, pp. 12, 13:
"Maurice, speaking of 'the First of April, or the ancient Feast of the Vernal Equinox, equally observed in India and Britain,' tells us: '...the boundless hilarity and jocund sports prevalent on the first day of April in England, and during the Huli Festival of India, have their origin in the ancient practice of celebrating, with festival rites of the period of the Vernal Equinox, or the day when the new year of Persia anciently began.'"


Easter

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 8, pp. 828, 829:
"EASTER, the annual festival observed throughout Christendom in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The name Easter (Ger. Ostern), like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology. According to Bede (De Temp. Rat. c. xv.) it is derived from Eostre, or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called Eostur-monath, was dedicated.... There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament, or in the writings of the apostolic Fathers.... The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals, though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed.... It is not the purpose of this article to enter on the wide subject of the popular observances, such as the giving and sending of Pasch or Easter eggs as presents. For such the reader may consult Brand's Popular Antiquities, Hone's Every-Day Book, and Chambers's Book of Days."

Hone's Every-Day Book, ca. 1847, Vol. I, pp. 407, 415:
"The Saxons called [April], Oster or Eastermonath, in which month, the feast of the Saxon goddess, Eastre, Easter, or Eoster is said to have been celebrated.... EASTER-DAY is distinguished by its peculiar name, through our Saxon ancestors, who at this season of the year held a great festival, in honour of the goddess Eastor, probably the Astarte of the eastern nations."

Brand's Popular Antiquities, New Edition (Hazlitt's Faiths and Folk-Lore), 1905, Vol. I, p. 201:
"Gebelin informs us that this custom of giving eggs at Easter is to be traced up to the theology and philosophy of the Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks, Romans, & c., among all of whom an egg was an emblem of the renovation of mankind after the Deluge."

The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909, Vol. 5, p. 227:
"Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring.... The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simrock, Mythologie, 551)."

Chambers's Book of Days, 1879, Vol. I, p. 337:
"Our hot cross buns at Easter are only the cakes which the pagan Saxons ate in honour of their goddess Eastre, and from which the Christian clergy, who were unable to prevent people from eating, sought to expel the paganism by marking them with the cross."


May Day

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1911, Vol. 17, p. 931:
"MAY, the fifth month of our modern year, the third of the old Roman calendar. The origin of the name is disputed; the derivations from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom the Romans were accustomed to sacrifice on the first day of this month, is usually accepted. The ancient Romans used on May Day to go in procession to the grotto of Egeria. From the 28th of April to the 2nd of May was kept the festival in honour of Flora, goddess of flowers.... In medieval and Tudor England, May Day was a great public holiday. All classes of the people, young and old alike, were up with the dawn, and went 'a-Maying' in the woods. Branches of trees and flowers were borne back in triumph to the towns and villages, the centre of the procession being occupied by those who shouldered the maypole, glorious with ribbons and wreaths. The maypole was usually of birch, and set up for the day only; but in London and the larger towns the poles were of durable wood and permanently erected. They were special eyesores to the Puritans. John Stubbes in his Anatomy of Abuses (1583) speaks of them as those 'stinckyng idols,' about which the people 'leape and daunce, as the heathen did.' Maypoles were forbidden by the parliament in 1644, but came once more into being at the Restoration, the last to be erected in London being that set up in 1661."


Halloween

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 12, pp. 857-858:
"HALLOWE'EN, or ALL HALLOWS EVE, the name given to the 31st of October as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints' Day. Though now known as little else but the eve of the Christian festival, Hallowe'en and its formerly attendant ceremonies long antedate Christianity. The two chief characteristics of ancient Hallowe'en were the lighting of bonfires and the belief that of all nights in the year this is the one during which ghosts and witches are most likely to wander abroad.... Further, it was a Druidic belief that on the eve of this festival Saman, lord of death, called together the wicked souls that within the past twelve months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals. Thus it is clear that the main celebrations of Hallowe'en were purely Druidical, and this is further proved by the fact that in parts of Ireland the 31st of October was, and even still is, known as Oidhche Shamhna, 'Vigil of Saman.'"


See also Birthdays.


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