I recently read an article by a colleague warning against the pagan elements of Christian holidays. On one hand, I agree with him– there are many rituals, objects, practices and liturgies within Christianity that originated in paganism. For example, our present day church architecture is modeled after pagan temples. All pagan temples had a sacred altar at the front on which to place sacrifices. Every Sunday morning following the prayer of dedication at Zion, we walk our offering (sacrifice?)to the front of the church and lay it on the altar. Very pagan. Very Christian.
The act of blessing, the fish symbol, the wedding ring, and the calendar date given to Christmas all have their origin in a pagan religious practice. This is partly because in the 2nd century pagans converted to Christianity brought their pagan practices with them and because in 325CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine began the process of converting the official pagan religions of the Roman Empire to Christianity. In lots of cases, Constantine took a pagan celebration and after giving it a few Christian trappings, declared it Christian.
My colleague suggested we strip Christianity of anything left from its pagan heritage. Not only would that be impossible (do you really want to change the date of Christmas?) it would also be a huge loss. So what if easter lilies were adopted from a ritual involving the Goddess of Fertility? When I see easter lilies, I think of the church at Easter.
Are there any “pagan” aspects of Christianity in which you have found meaning?