Christmas Traditions: December 25 – Birth of Mithras (1-4th century AD)

Mithras. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is second in a series of 12 posts on historical Christmas traditions. I didn’t note my sources, but please trust I did verify the information.

About the time Jesus was born, the Romans were big into worshiping a god named Mithras in a highly elaborate cult. Mithras began as a Persian Zoroastrian god of oaths, but was assimilated by the Romans because of his popularity with soldiers. Some researchers suggest he may have been the god of choice of a pagan, Romano-Celtic King Arthur. Like Jesus, Mithras was said to have been born on December 25 and was as a reconciler between the forces of good and evil who was buried in a tomb and rose from the dead after three days. Like the Celtic gods celebrated at Yule, he was a child of the sun. Sources differ over whether or not Mithras became ever human like Jesus (and some Greek gods) did. Mithraism is sometimes viewed as a rival of early Christianity.

Have you ever heard of Mithras?

I hadn’t until I started researching what religion a pagan Arthur might have followed, and boom, there you go.