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1. Why is the "Christmas" Tree is so important in the celebration of the Birth of Christ?
A. There is a lot of debate about how exactly the Christmas tree idea caught on. We know that the ancient Romans used evergreen sprigs to decorate their homes around this time of year, as part of their pagan tradition of ushering the warmth of spring back. We know that some European pagans had a tradition of offering bright and pretty shiny things as well as cookies and milk to the spirits of the forest. The tree spirits, some might say fairies, sprites, or wights. But call them by whatever name, they were gifts meant to make friendship with the spirits so that the spirits would not hinder the people, and perhaps even assist with helping the crops flourish. When Christianity came through these parts, such demonic/pagan traditions were outlawed, so the common folk might bring sprigs inside, or bring an entire tree inside to decorate in the privacy of their own home. We also know that our folk also took tree trunks or large branches, carved them in the likeness of the gods nad decorated them with dyes and metals. This practice alone was enough like decorating a tree to cause the early church to ban the practice. In Jeremiah 10:2-4 it says "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (KJV). You can see that this was recorded as happening centuries BEFORE the birth of Christ, so this practice had nothing to do with Jesus. Whatever story about the origin of decorating evergreen trees, one thing they all share in common is that it was a heathen practice that centered on the properties of the evergreen in resisting the death of Winter, and pre-dated Christianity by anywhere from several hundred years to perhaps thousands.
2. What does the Easter Egg has to do with the death and resurrection of Christ?
A The Egg has long been a symbol of both fertility and rebirth. This was a symbol the ancient pagans used during Ostara. Ostara is both the name of the goddess of the spring, as well as the name of the celebration of the return of fertility to the earth that is observed every spring. Her celebration is usually around the spring equinox. Christianity has a history of absorbing the traditions of the religious beliefs in the area when it supplants that religion. This helps it take hold with the populace. The symbolism of the egg falls nicely in the Christian story of the resurrection so it was quickly adopted by the early church. One myth regarding Ostara (or call her by her German name Eostre) is that she found a wounded bird, and to save it she turned it into a rabbit, the rabbit survived, but it remained capable of laying eggs. Generally pagans in Europe painted eggs to symbolise the returning of the sun after the long cold winter. When you use the image of the egg-laying rabbit, you are specifically giving homage to Ostarra, and all of us pagans thank you for that, as does Ostarra, I'm sure.
3. Why do we eat pork on New Year's Day?
A Our pagan ancestors burned an evergreen log in during the twelve days of Yule, which culminated on New Year's Day. They slaughtered livestock (often a pig) for the feast to commemorate the commencement of the next year. For the rest of the answer see question 11!
4. Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?
A The physical love of a woman and man together has always been an important part of our pagan past. Our ancestors knew that it was quite natural and were not ashamed of their sexuality as too many of us are today. There was modesty, and there was appropriate times and places for intimate activity, but such activity was not considered anything unusual, wrong, dirty, naughty, or something over which there should be any guilt feelings! The idea that adults should not engage in adult behavior that doesn't harm anyone is an idea imposed on us by a foreign Eastern religion.
5. In fact, what does a heart pierced by an arrow have to do with romantic love?
A The heart is one of the symbols of Freyja. She is our goddess of freedom, women's liberation, sex, war, runes, magic, and death!! She is one awesome goddess and get the first pick of all the warrior's that die on the battlefield! The heart symbol, represents a woman's buttocks and mons as she is bent over. It is a VERY adult and erotic symbol. Now, I guess you can imagine what the arrow "piercing" the heart represents! It is the phallic counterpart to the very feminine symbol of the heart. In short, the heart with the arrow through it represents the coitus of the male and female engaged in lustful sex!
6. Is there really a Santa Claus? Was there ever? Where did the story originate?
A There are many stories being circulated to try and explain the image and myth of Santa Claus. Once again the Christians absorbed and adopted symbols to help convert people over to Christianity. It was a successful strategy too. To determine the ultimate origin of Santa, let's compare and contrast him to Thor. The Norse god Thor lived in a land of Ice and Snow battling Giants to save the world. He was a hearty stout man who was associated with the color Red. He was often referred to as Red Thor. He had a long Red beard and wore a furry white coat. He had a magical belt of strength fastened around his middle, and special gloves with which to grip his magical hammer. He rode around in a sleigh pulled by goats. His goats were named Thunder and lightning (which in German would be Donner and Blitzen). He often carried a large bag tied over his shoulder, and during Yule (Christmas), he would fly through the air, over a village and drop gifts down THROUGH THE CHIMNEY to the children of families that were loyal to him. Do I really need to go on, because I could. I haven't even mentioned the mild and cookies yet!
7. When did we come up with the concept of Hell? How can we know if it's real?
A Our pagan ancestors knew of several places that various parts of your soul might go after your death. To them, you are a more complex being than just a body, spirit, and mind. They knew about a variety of souls (or think of it as parts of your soul if that makes it easier), and not all your souls stayed together at death. The part that most closely resembled your physical body dissipated... died! The part that contains your family's orlog and accumulated luck (or curses) remained with your family line! The part of you that was honorable, noble, truthful, and strove to better yourself might make it to the land of the gods (Asgard). But if the bigger part of you involved the habit of lying, cheating, stealing, you would likely end up in Hel. Hel is the realm of the goddesses hella and is where most souls end up after death. It is not a place of torment, but a place of waiting. Waiting for What? I knew you would ask! You'll have to delve a bit deeper into Asatru to understand that answer to that.
8. Where did the Easter bunny idea come from?
A See the answer to number 2 above.
9. If the "lord" said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." then WHAT other gods was he talking about?
A The Jewish religion recognizes many hundreds of gods. YHWH, the desert hill god, the one that commanded Abraham to kill Isaac, is the one that kind of took over from all the others and forced the hebrews to worship him. He was referring to all the other Hebraic gods, as well as the gods of the cultures they were in near contact with. He was one among many, then, but his intention was always to become the one and only.
10. What are the twelve days of Christmas and what do they mean?
A They were originally the twelve days of Yule. Since the pagans of the time used a lunar calendar, there were 12 days left over each year that did not belong to the old year, or the new year. These days were considered special, sacred, existing outside of the normal mundane time stream. They started on December 20th, and ended on December 31st.
11. Why do we swear new year's resolutions?
A This is an ancient tradition as old as paganism. The new year is seen as a time to renew your committments, re-pledge your oaths, and set your goals for the coming year. They often swore their oaths over the feast before they ate, pledging their word that they would accomplish certain things, calling on the gods to hear their vows!
12. Is the world really coming to an end?
A Yes. Ragnarok is coming.
References for these Answers:
Asatru FAQ Page The Heathen Kinship's specific perspective