The celebration of Christmas Eve and Christmas were instituted by the Western Catholic Church in 354 during the papacy of Julius I, although it was the Emperor Justinian in 529 who placed that holiday on the calendar.
The celebration of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were instituted by the Western Catholic Church in 354 during the papacy of Julius I, although it was the Emperor Justinian in 529 who placed this holiday on the calendar.
The date was not selected at random but has a pagan origin, derived from the cult of Mithras (the sun god of the Persians during the 7th and 6th centuries before our era), in which the Indo-European peoples used to celebrate the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which announced the next return of the sun after the cold of winter.
In this way, the Catholic Church assimilated this celebration so old that it referred to the birth of the sun re-spraying it, making it coincide with the birth of Jesus, tracing its relationship with the primitive Christianity with the aim of legitimizing itself, aspect registered in numerous occasions in history, particularly in periods of crisis.
It is not by chance that Pope Francis chose his name in reference to Franciscanism, the order that supported the return to early Christianity from the community of the faithful, which quickly became absorbed in the pomp and circumstance of the curia.
However, the enunciation of this relationship of continuity is vitiated by impositions, since the formation of the Church and the development of early Christianity respond to different historical phenomena, animated by different social classes, mobilized for different reasons.
Although there is no real historical evidence of the existence of Jesus and the apostles, since the Gospel of St. Mark (the oldest of the Gospels) was written almost a century later, early Christianity had its social roots in the sufferings of the poor Jewish peasants expropriated by the Roman Empire.
Separated from the Rabbinate and from Orthodox Judaism, these peasants organized themselves into an infinite number of heretical sects, such as the Essenes, the Zealots, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, etc., who were at odds with King Herod and King Agrippa, the Jewish royalty and the Roman Empire, which imposed heavy taxes in their provinces, leading the most dispossessed areas to the most absolute misery. The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria described the Essenes as those who “lacked property, houses, slaves, land or cattle”.
This sect practiced a primitive or Spartan communism, through the socialization of the poverty of its members, from the few goods of use that they possessed, organized in small communities in rejection of the plutocracy of Rome. On the other hand, the zealots or zealots (because of their zeal in God) constituted the most radical sect that animated the insurrection against Rome and its vassals of the Jewish royalty.
During the Jewish wars of 66-70, they took Jerusalem by storm, although they were eventually defeated by the overwhelming superiority of the Roman army.
The ideas underpinning early Christianity resulted from the syncretism between the mysticism of the Neo-Pythagoreans, the idealism of Plato and the rejection of the desire contained in Zeno and the Stoics.
This mixture was in open opposition to Greco-Roman thought, which formed the most advanced step of humanity, synthesized in the materialistic ideas of Democritus, Epicurus and Horace.
However, Christianity, as a social movement, was the genuine and concrete expression of the peasant impotence to overcome the Roman Empire, supported on a brutal soldier that razed everything in its path, where the redemption of man and his hardships could only be found in the “kingdom of heaven.
Only the slaves had the potential to provide a way out, which proved impossible after the defeat of the great rebellion of Spartacus and his army of 70,000 slaves in arms (year 71 before our era).
Although it began as a marginal movement, it was not until the third century that Christianity took on a mass character, founded on the widespread impoverishment of the provinces that made up the empire.
Rome’s development bore the seeds of its own crisis: while the empire absorbed all the sap of the provinces, whether in currency or in kind, it gave nothing in return. To guarantee this order, a constant flow of soldiers, hired as mercenaries, was necessary.
Thus Rome was sustained on the pillage of the conquered peoples to satisfy the luxury and eccentricity of the Roman patrician classes, leading to the marasmus of the economy of the empire, where the institution of slavery was increasingly onerous.
On the crisis of the slave production mode, emerged in the fourth century the figure of Constantine, the first Roman emperor who assimilated the Christian faith, transforming it into a state religion and ideology of the great rural owners, who extended the feudal economy based on the regime of servitude throughout Europe at the behest of the “barbarian” Germanic peoples.
In this way the Catholic Church acquires its present appearance, homogenizing its dogma in a war extended in time against heretical sects, such as the supporters of Arius, the Samaritans, Montanism, Sabatarianism, etc., as described by the Roman chronicler Procopius in his Secret History, written in the mid-sixth century.
On numerous occasions in history, the oppressed classes resorted to religious ideas as a distorted expression of the class struggle to justify their actions and to constitute themselves into social movements, such as Protestantism in the early 16th century which expressed the ideas of prosperity of a rising bourgeoisie against the asceticism of the princes of the Catholic Church who were part of the landowners of the feudal aristocracy.
Unlike theologians and their transcendental ideas of religion, revolutionary socialists understand reality from flesh-and-blood men and the relationships they contract to produce their livelihoods.
Just as men also produce a certain way of life based on values, customs and a system of beliefs embodied in institutions that naturalize and justify through common sense the domination of the owning classes over the dispossessed classes, guaranteeing the established order.
The relentless critique of religion (in its various forms) is an unavoidable task of conscious workers to unravel the chains of wage slavery of this system, a necessary condition for advancing the emancipation of humanity in a society without exploiters and exploited.