Thursday, December 21, 2006
Christmas and the Winter Solstice
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. This antique bottle proclaims that this is a holiday to be celebrated. A holiday that falls on the Winter Solstace and has been a worldwide celebration of people of all races and religions since recorded history. A celebration of love, peace, goodwill, and the beginning of a new year. We can call it what we like, but it has allways been a holiday "holy day". So eat, drink, and be merry as we usher in a new year.
Some history on the winter solstice
The Saturnalia was a major holiday for the ancient Romans, with drinking, gift-giving, bonfires, candles, role reversals for slaves and masters. It lasted a variable number of days from 3-7 or more, depending on how successful the emperor was at legislating.
Hanukkah - Jewish Festival of Lights:
Hanukkah (Hanukah / Hanuka / Chanukah) is a festival of lights that is symbolized by the candelabrum known as a menorah. Hanukkah celebrates a lighting miracle when one night's worth of oil lit candles for 8 days. Special foods and gift-giving are also a part of Hanukkah.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti :
Mithras was an Iranian Zoroastrian god who was popular with Roman soldiers. Mithras was created by the chief deity, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. The day of the virgin birth of Mithras was December 25 (the solstice)
In Persian culture
Antiochus and Mithra, with radiate phrygian cap, bas-relief of the temple built by Antiochus I of Commagene, 69-31 BC, on the Nemrood Dagh, in the Taurus Mountains.While in older Zoroastrianism Mithra is seen as a creation of Ahura Mazda, in later Persian culture, Mithra evolved to be an incarnation of Ahura Mazda , and in his role as 'Judge of Souls' as the rewarder of good and annihilator of the bad. Mithra was seen as omniscient, undeceivable, infallible, eternally watchful, and never-resting.
Similarly, while in the Sirozeh, Mithra is also referred to as Dae-pa-Meher, or Creator of Meher, this separation between 'Meher' and the 'Creator of Meher' dissolves in later texts and the distinguishing characteristics of Mithra and Meher blend. Mithra, reincorporated as "Meher", thus also becomes the representative of truth and justice, and, by transfer to the physical realm, the divinity of air and light. As the enemy of darkness and evil spirits, he protected souls, a psychopomp accompanying them to paradise. As heat accompanying light, Mithra became associated with growth and resultant prosperity.
Mithra worship spread first with the empire of the Persians throughout Asia Minor, then throughout the empire of Alexander and his successors.
By at least the 3rd century BC, Mithra was identified as the progeny of Anahita, a mother-entity who is not mentioned in the Gathas of the very early Avesta texts, but is described in the fifth Yasht of the newer texts as "the wide-expanding and health-giving". The largest temple with a Mithraic connection is the Seleucid temple at Kangavar in western Iran (c. 200 BC), which is dedicated to "Anahita, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Lord Mithras".
The Parthian princes of Armenia were hereditary priests of Mithra, and an entire district of this land was dedicated to Anahita. Many temples were erected to Mithra in Armenia, which remained one of the last strongholds of the Mazdaist cult of Mithra until it became the first officially Christian kingdom.
Royal names incorporating Mithra's (e.g. "Mithradates") appear in the dynasties of Parthia, Armenia, and in Anatolia, in Pontus and Cappadocia.
Coin of Hermaeus, with seated Zeus-Mithra.
Coin of Hermaeus, with Mithra, wearing a radiated phrygian cap.
Hermaeus (ca. 90-70 BCE) was one of the last Western Indo-Greek kings, who ruled in the Hindu-Kush territory of the Paropamisadae, with his capital in Alexandria of the Caucasus, near today's Kabul in Afghanistan.