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The Real News Network
Historian, author and educator Anthony Browder summarizes the African origins of Christmas.
QUESTION: What are the African origins of what is often now considered to be the "Christmas" or "holiday" season?
ANTHONY BROWDER: Generally what we consider to be holidays were in fact holy days in Africa, specifically in Egypt, culture and civilization. And these holy days were timed to coincide with the relationship between specific celestial phenomenon. The heavens, stars, constellations, the sun and planet earth. And that relationship literally affects everything on the planet. And because there was a specific impact on the way that the earth's relationship to the sun, as it revolves around the sun, affects everything on the earth, there's specific times for certain holy celebrations were, were organized.
So this season, this winter season, is a time where we're approaching the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. And we have celebrations now, Hanukkah, festival of lights. We have Christmas, with Christmas lights. These lights refer to the fact that on the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, day in which in the Northern hemisphere we have 19 hours of night. And then the winter solstice expands from four days, December 21-24. And then after that four-day period of time, then the sun is born on December 25. That is, the length of the day begins to increase by approximately one minute per day.
And that time frame was viewed in ancient Africa as the birth of the sun, the S-U-N. In other cultures or traditions, that tradition came down to us as the birth of a savior, who is viewed as the son, the son of God. But many of the traditions that we now find in Christianity, for example, the birth of Jesus on December 25, the birth of Jesus in a stable, all refer to specific phenomena that were happening in the heavens, and were acknowledged by Africans in Kemet, in the Nile valley, over 6,000 years ago.
QUESTION: How is any of this known?
BROWDER: We know this because we can look up in the sky at night and we can see specifically the constellation of Orion dominates the nighttime sky. And the constellation of Orion was known to the ancient Egyptians as Sahu. That was the constellation associated with a primary deity by the name of Asar or Osiris. He was the lord of resurrection. And according to the story, Asar was murdered by his brother. And after his death, his spirit came and impregnated his virgin wife, Auset, who then nine months later gave birth to their son Heru on December 25.
Now, this story sounds familiar because it's a story, it's an African story, that's over 6,000 years old. Haru was born on December 25, the same birthday as his father. He was born to avenge the murder of his father and restore his father's kingdom. So this is a story, this is a myth that was a metaphor to help explain specific phenomena that were happening in heaven. So the priests in ancient Kemet were aware of this phenomenon, and they in turn created rituals that will allow the people to maintain a certain system of order.
After foreigners came in to Kemet, they adopted many of the traditions of the Nile valley, and they adopted many of the personalities and changed their names. So Asar was renamed Osiris, Auset was renamed Isis, Heru was renamed Horus. And then that story is a story that is later modified after the Romans conquer Egypt in 30 BCE, took Egypt away from the Greeks. And they then took these same personalities and they were known to their people as the Madonna and child, the black Madonna and child. And ultimately when Rome began to establish Christianity as the state religion, they then took this story of Asar, who is known as the lord of resurrection, and his son Heru, and morphed them into the religion that we now know as Christianity, with the birth of Jesus on December 25.
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