Ive done a lot of research on this subject because I was raised Christian and my fiance is pagan. I completely respect her religion. in fact, if I beleived in a higher being, I'd become Pagan.
Paganism is certainly looked down upon to most Christians, but I don't think they realize just how much paganism influenced the beliefs that they share today. I'll make a list of a few things. Please add your own!
*alters, candles, incense, talisman, chanting....very popular in Catholicism. These things are also how pagan's worship.
* The catholic trinity - The Son the father and the holy ghost you say?....its actually for the Pagan Maiden Mother and Crone.
* The wedding ring (since marriage is an institution from God or whatever they call it) - A ring is a circle (you've probably noticed that) and a circle has very
strong magical connotations. The circle is endless and timeless
suggesting a repetitive unbroken wholeness in time and space. It even
suggests reincarnation to some people.
* Holiness -
The word 'holy' may have been derived from the Old English hālig
, which means 'wholeness', or the Old High German hulis
, meaning 'holly', which was considered a sacred plant to Pagans.
* Our modern calendar - (which I guess isn't really religious unless you look at it as being made in a christian nation? lol idk but...) , is based on Pagan practices, astrology and mythology. - the phases of the moon represent the stages of the maiden mother and crone.
* Fish Symbol - Sometimes called the 'Jesus Fish' because of its link to the ancient Greek Ichthys. Ichthys which is the fish symbol turned RIGHT side up, means fertility. Currently vogue, the curious fish symbol is not as widely recognised as the cross. It means nothing to most non-Christians and so is largely known only 'in-house
* Icon worship - idolatry and iconolatry
"Since there are Crusading 'Christians' who kill people, sincerely believing they are doing God's work whilst ignoring a
basic Commandment "Thou shalt not kill"9, it is not surprising that most Christians ignore another: "Thou shalt not make to thee any graven image"10. (Jews and Muslims have similar laws about murder and idolatry.)
This prohibition of idolatry is not usually interpreted in isolation or literally: the pope hired Michelangelo, Eastern Orthodox churches display icons, Catholic churches contain statues, Protestant
churches hang drawings, and they all have one or more crosses. Since
pre-Christian times we have wanted to see our god. But we cannot
physically see into a different dimension, so we erect effigies of what
we think our god looks like. Often, however, these items become idols in
their own right and people start to worship them. (Muslims similarly
understand the Qur'an to forbid images of Muhammad, and yet there are
many such examples in public institutions in Istanbul, Vienna, and other
An idol can be something coveted, like a statue, a cross, a Bible, a stained glass window. It can be a deep green, ecological perspective of
Earth; not far removed from Nature Worship. An idol can overtake God in
the importance we place on it. Consider the millions of pilgrims, who
for decades have touched the spiritual grotto
at Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France. And since many have
physically and spiritually benefitted from the visit, it's hardly
surprising that people revere the place."
* The cross is a pagan symbol meaning "life".
Christmas - Saturnalia
was a festival held between 17th and 24th December, which began in the days of the Roman Empire. This was a week of feasting, gift-giving and an excuse for an orgy during the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice. The objective of the debauchery and dancing around (carol1) was to give the Sun a nudge and send a message to Mother Earth to begin reproducing for the Spring. This seemed to work quite well because sure enough, in Spring things started growing again.
The traditional Christmas colours of red and green, being complementary colours, represent the fertility of the male and incubation by the female. Other Pagan things still seen around Christmas include the red berries and green leaves of holly, mistletoe and wreaths. Yule festivities are a mixture of customs and beliefs going back thousands of years.
Celebrating the winter solstice was forbidden by the early church, but customs survived anyway and it didn't take much to tempt Christians to join in the solstice feast in honour of the Pagan god Mithra. So the church provided an alternative with a festival in honour of the birth of Christ and celebrations were definitely in order.
In the 2nd century, the winter solstice was 6th January and Christians celebrated both the birth and the appearance of God's Son on that day, Epiphany Day. By the 4th century, the date for the winter solstice was moved to 25th December and Pope Julius I declared that Jesus' birthday celebrations would also be on that day. (The appearance of Jesus to the Magi continued to be celebrated on 6th January.) This effectively transformed the Pagan occasion into a Christian holy day (holiday).
This was not, however, merely a convenient way to 'Christianize' a Pagan celebration. There is no historical evidence to prove what date Jesus was born on, or the season, or even the year. (Certainly winter seems unlikely because we read that the shepherds were watching over their flocks, and sheep are brought inside during the winter.) The important thing for Christians is to celebrate the birth of Jesus because that showed God's love for us. It doesn't really matter a hoot when the birth is celebrated; the important thing is to celebrate it. So since the 'why' is much more important than the 'when', 25th December has been good enough for Christians ever since. (See Meaning of the Cross.)
Nine months before the birth of Jesus, Christians acknowledge the Feast of the Annunciation (the conception of Jesus) and this is set as March 25th. Consequently, this day is known as Lady Day (after the Blessed Virgin Mary) and until 1752 in England, this day was the first day of the calendar year. (When the Julian Calendar changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, January 1st was recognised as New Year's Day.) Lady Day, or the date adjusted for lost days of the calendar change, April 6th, was the traditional day for starting new work contracts or tenancies. For this reason, the fiscal year began on April 6th and is still the start of the tax year in the UK.
The work schedule of today's UK accountants was largely determined in the 4th Century by Pope Julius.
Children are taught that Santa Claus evolved from the good Saint Nicholas, and most people are happy to leave the story there. But followers of Paganism know a bit more about our Jolly Santa. A tough old Pagan god named Odin3, was imagined as a paunchy white-bearded old man in a long cloak. A mixture of the characterisations of both St. Nicholas and Odin is thought to result in Father Christmas, whom for the past eighty years or so has sported the Coca Cola colours4.
When we are young children, we are told about Santa's existence. Later, when we're about seven years old (or maybe seventeen!) we find out that he's really just a fictional character. And then we learn that, OK, he doesn't exist now, but he used to. Childhood can be very confusing.
Some of this was copy and pasted. and trust me there is a lot more to add to the list, I just don't have the time right now. Please make your own contributions!