Friday, October 16, 2009

Monograph #1 Mircea Elide

Christmas, an Aggregate of Archetypes

The theory of Mircea Elide that proposes repetition of an archetype is most well shown in holidays that people commemorate and celebrate. Holiday itself is made by people as they repeated a specific archetype from generation to generation. The Christmas would show us not only repetition of an archetype but also the fact that people make rituals based on something that is related with a divine model.

Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. This is a popular holiday that is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians. However, December 25 is not Jesus’ actual date of birth and this day has been chosen to correspond with other holidays that pagans were celebrating. There were many holidays or customs that were corresponded with Christmas.

First one was The Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti which means “the birthday of unconquered Sun” The use of title Sol Invictus allowed several solar deities to be worshipped collectively, including Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god; Sol, the god of Emperor Aurelian; and Mithras, a soldiers' god of Persian origin. Emperor Elagabalus (218–222) introduced the festival, and it reached the height of its popularity under Aurelian, who promoted it as an empire-wide holiday. This day had held no significance in the Roman festive calendar until it was introduced in the third century.

Second one was a winter festival which is the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900.

And lastly, Saturn, a god of agriculture and Mitra, a god of sun of Iranians were worshipped at that day by people.

The earliest reference to the celebration of the nativity on December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome in 354. In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), and this festival included the celebration of the baptism of Jesus. Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.

Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that includes ivy, holly, and other evergreens. Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.

In modern ages, people all over the world are celebrating and considering it a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill, and compassion as opposed to communal celebration and excess.

In the History and origin of Christmas, it is a noticeable fact that Christmas was associated with various pagan customs. And those customs were all derived from a myth and a divine model. Christmas can be considered as an aggregate of various archetypes derived from a divine being. This Historical analysis on Christmas can offer us an important source to explain Eliade’s view. It also shows that archetypes or ritual can possibly interact with each other.

Christmas is mythical. People are celebrating the birth of Jesus whom they have not ever seen. The fact that God, a divine model has come to the earth in appearance of man is attractive enough to make people interested in it. Their interest and desire toward a divine events or being lead to the ritual, and as many people practiced it, it became an archetype that is repeated even today. And as it is mixed up with other rituals or archetypes derived from mythical or divine events or being, it became a good example to explain how people make their rituals and repeat archetypes and how the different archetypes or ritual interact with each other.

Christmas, undoubtedly a most popular and well known holiday has been celebrated more than 1500 years all over the world regardless of religions, and nationality. It is a typical archetype and a ritual which is derived from a divine being. People are celebrating and repeating the event that has happened 2,000 years ago. We will be able to see how exactly Mircea Eliade pointed out the characteristics of an archetype and a ritual through “Christmas”


Christmas. (2009, July 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:50 July 6, 2009, from

The History of Christmas (2009, July 6). Retrieved 19:10 July 6, 2009, from

Christmas (2009, July 6). Retrieved 19:25 July 6, 2009 from

1 comment:

  1. I think it was deleted before accidentaly so I just post it again