In so doing, Christianity, already a pastiche of the Cult of the Dying
God (Isis & Osirus) and whatever else was going around at the time, adopted
a great deal of pagan culture and symbology. All the major Pagan holidays
were adopted, with a little renaming (in the case of Easter they didn't
even bother renaming) and assignment of Christian mythology to them. Many
favorite local deities were convert to saints.
© 2008 Clove Garden
Whether or not Jesus the Christ was actually a living person is still hotly debated. Unlike the Buddha of 550 years before we don't have detailed contemporaneous records of his life, appearance, travels and dietary preferences. Despite high hopes no certifiable physical evidence has been found by modern archaeology - nor was any found by Origen (185 - 254 ce), an early and influential father of the Church.
This point, however, is of almost no importance - relevant only to our current very literal age. It would have been of little interest in the time of Christianity's founding - but if he was actually born it was in the spring, not at Christmas time. Tax time during the Roman Empire was in the spring as it is today, and shepherds and their flocks would not have been out in the hills in winter.
The birth of Jesus was conveniently assigned to the Saturnalia, a holiday the Pagans were not about to give up. Despite a few manger scenes and Christmas carols, our current Christmas celebration is far more in keeping with the Saternalia than it is with any specifically Christian ritual.
This serves as an example of how Christianity, already descended largely from Pagan (and possibly Jain and Buddhist) thought, adapted rather freely to the cultures it absorbed. Egypt, on the other hand, converted rather easily because the people didn't see a whole lot of difference between Jesus and Mary and Isis and Osirus.
Ambitious Christian leaders, however, finding in Christian doctrine no justification for a powerful authoritarian church, fixed that by adopting the vigorously authoritarian Jewish scriptures and tacking their own material onto the back end of it. In my opinion this Old Testament material should be ignored by anyone calling themselves Christian, and some sects do reject it.
This list does not include all sources used to prepare this page but those listed are particularly informative.
©Andrew Grygus - firstname.lastname@example.org - Linking and non-commercial use permitted