Did Christians Steal Christmas?


Did Christians Steal Christmas? is a 32-page 2007 booklet written by Robert Stovold and published by the National Secular Society (ISBN 978-0-903752-05-3). It describes similarities between the traditional Christmas story and earlier pagan ones, and concludes that Christians did indeed “steal Christmas”. Synopsis The booklet is divided into three sections. Part 1: “The timing of Christmas” notes that not all churches today celebrate Christmas on 25 December, that most scholars only attempt an approximate date for the year of Jesus’ birth, and that the Christmas celebrations superseded similar pagan festivities. Part 2: “The Christmas Story” analyses aspects of the Christmas story itself (the Virgin Birth, the Star of Bethlehem, the Three Kings, the Stable at Bethlehem and the Massacre of the Innocents) by reference to earlier pagan myths. It also looks critically at the attempts of Christian apologists to explain these differences away. Part 3: “Christmas Customs” notes that “In addition to shaping key elements of the Christmas narrative itself, paganism also influenced some of the more secular Christmas traditions” [Footnote: p. 21]. Stovold outlines several such customs (the Pantomime, the Boar’s Head, the Christmas Turkey, and Christmas Evergreens). The booklet had its origins in a 1974 work by R.J. Condon entitled Our Pagan Christmas [Footnote: p. 9] but Stovold's 2007 booklet contains additional material, an extensive bibliography and (in many cases) hyperlinks enabling readers to access the cited material for themselves.
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original title: Did Christians Steal Christmas?
date of publication: 2007

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