European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies

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Christmas,Yalda, and MithraÏsm,What is the origin of Christmas?

While the Christians all over the world are preparing themselves for celebrating Christmas, the Iranians in Iran and outside are getting ready to celebrate one of their most ancient celebrations, yalda.

Is it a mere coincidence that these two celebrations are so close to each other, Christmas is celebrated on Dec. the 25th.( the longest night in Europe) and yalda is celebrated on the night of Dec. the 21th.( the longest night in Iran) the night before the first day of winter?!

Yalda and its related ceremonies which are held at the night of the first day of winter, the longest night of the year This very ancient tradition is related to Mehr Yazat ( Mithra or the sun and protecteur of promesses). Yalda is an Aryan ceremony and the followers of Mithraism have celebrated it for thousands of years in Iran. Yalda is the night of Mehr or Mithra,'s birth.
Yalda is also called Chelleh (Shab-e Chelleh) and as mentioned earlier is the night of birth of the unconquerable sun, or Mehr.

In the 4th century, Christianity replaced Mithraism in the Roman Empire. As the former did not have any ritual tradition of its own, it absorbed nearly all of the rituals and the symbolic dates of the Mithraists.
In particular the 25th of December, Mithra’s date of birth, became that of Christ. Sunday (day of the sun), holiday of the Mithraists, became the holiday of the Christians. The Christmas tree, holy bread and more other things entered, in this way, the Christian traditions. The Christian priest would furthermore be called “my Father”, following the title of the great master of the 7th degree of the Mithraists. Centuries later the Mithraism became a basic part of freemasonry
Until that time the birthday of Jesus Christ was celebrated in January the 6th. But the religion of most of the Romans and the people of many of the European countries was still Mithraism. But when Christianity spread, the priests, since could not stop the practice of celebrating Mithra's birthday on December the 25th. declared this day as Jesus's birthday which is still so.

Since the first night of winter( 21th of December) is the longest night and from that night on the days get longer and the warmth and light of the sun increases, that night was supposed to be the time for the re-birth of sun. The Aryan tribes, in India, Iran and Europe celebrated sun's birth at the beginning of winter.
Yalda is a Soriani word meaning birth. The Roman used the word natalis for birth. The whole Mithraism rituals suchChristmas tree, white cloths, entered the Christianity.
There are so many common believes and customs (sometimes hidden from our notice!!) between different nations and religions. Let's know those customs and talk about them, so that we may bring friendship and peace among the people of the world.
We take advantage of this opportunity, and wish to all our Christian members, friends and to all Christians in world a very Happy Christman , and a New Year full of joy and happiness.

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