The IranianFly to Iran


email us

Flower delivery in Iran

Sehaty Foreign Exchange


January 20, 2000

More lessons on Christianity's origin

Mr Tabib has been busy with his dictionary of late ["Too paranoid"]. He prides himself on his ignorance of the English language. However the only thing he learns from my letter is the meaning of a word that most aptly describes his predicament. He needs to pay more attention.

He opens with "Mr. Salardini I presume was so infuriated by me lack of sensible respect for Persia and anything that proves our supremacy that rushed to my condemnation without carefully reading the few words I had put down." There are three problems with this statement:

1- There is a difference between fury and contempt and Mr Tabib is clearly the target of my latter sentiment.

2- Whether Christmas is or is not of Persian origin is of little consequence to our supremacy or otherwise, our national pride rests on much more than cultural interchange. However humility does not dictate the denial of the truth.

3- Whether there were other festivals or not is immaterial to the argument. The Romans who celebrated a festival by the name of "Christmas" borrowed it from Persia, not the Chinese, not the Norse and not the Martians. In Scholarly circle this is mentioned as matter -of-factly as Nero having killed the Christians. Here is an example:

"Saturnalia and the kalends were the celebrations most familiar to early Christians, December 17-24 and January 1-3, but the tradition of celebrating December 25 as Christ's birthday came to the Romans from Persia. Mithra, the Persian God of light and sacred contracts, was born out of a rock on December 25. Rome was famous for its flirtations with strange gods and cults, and in the third century the emperor Aurelian established the festival of Dies Invicti Solis, the Day of the Invincible Sun, on December 25. "Mithra was an embodiment of the sun, so this period of its rebirth was a major day in Mithraism, which had become Rome's latest official religion with the patronage of Aurelian. It is believed that the emperor Constantine adhered to Mithraism up to the time of his conversion to Christianity. He was probably instrumental in seeing that the major feast of his old religion was carried over to his new faith" (Gerard and Patricia Del Re, The Christmas Almanac, p. 17).

Now Mr Tabib wants to argue the point, not based on any historical facts and not because he is informed about the origins and roots of Christmas, but because he just can not imagine how Iranians could have ever had anything worth emulating by others. The existence of other festivals is immaterial to why the Romans celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. In much the same way as the Judeo-Christian roots of Islam are not negated by the existence of other monotheistic religions. I await any historically based link between Christmas and Horus or Odin from Mr Tabib. He needs not to merely list festivals he obviously knows little about in his next letter as he has in his last two.

Mr Tabib calls me paranoid for thinking the fish to be the primary symbol of early Christianity. Well here is what the Catholic encyclopaedia says on the matter:

Among the symbols employed by the primitive Christians, that of the fish ranks probably first in importance. While the use of the fish in pagan art as a purely decorative sign is ancient and constant, the earliest literary reference to the symbolic fish is made by Clement of Alexandria, born about 150, who recommends his readers (Paedagogus, III, xi) to have their seals engraved with a dove or a fish.

Clement did not consider it necessary to give any reason for this recommendation, from which it may be safely be inferred that the meaning of both symbols was unnecessary. Indeed, from monumental sources we know that the symbolic fish was familiar to Christians long before the famous Alexandrian was born; in such Roman monuments as the Capella Greca and the Sacrament Chapels of the catacomb of St. Callistus, the fish was depicted as a symbol in the first decades of the second century.

It seems that the Vatican and Mr and Mrs Del Re are also paranoid and are keen to prove Persian supremacy based on Mr Tabib's logic. He goes on to say that he never said that Mithra was Egyptian or Celtic. Perhaps I am using language that is too complicated for Mr Tabib. The point is that Christmas is rooted in Mithraism and Mithraism is rooted in Persian culture. Mr Tabib feigns ignorance even beyond his own incapacities.

It is almost cruel that I should ridicule this simple man's one possible triumph but then again all is fair in love and war. If he had only to look up a reputable dictionary then he would save himself the embarrassment:

HORUS, in Egyptian mythology, god of the sky and of light and goodness. One of the major Egyptian... {Encarta Encyclopaedia}

RA, in Egyptian mythology, sun god with a human body and the head of a hawk. Considered the creator... {Encarta Encyclopaedia}

And again this time from Webster's Dictionary:

Main Entry: Ho·rus. Pronunciation: 'hOr-&s, 'hor- Function: noun. Etymology: Late Latin, from Greek HOros, from Egyptian Hr : the Egyptian god of light and the son of Osiris and Isis

Main Entry: Ra. Pronunciation: 'rä. Function: noun. Etymology: Egyptian r` : the Egyptian sun-god and chief deity

It seems that both Webster's Dictionary and Encarta Encyclopaedia disagree with Mr Tabib's belief that Horus was the Egyptian sun-god. But then they too are paranoid and keen on proving Persian supremacy...

Mr Tabib continues:

"The INTERSTING thing is that SOME of these festivals, which are related to the sun, fertility or harvesting also coincide with Christmas. These festivals include the Persian one, BUT not exclusively the Persian one. That was the gist of my letter. No matter what you call me, Mithraism is not above the rest!"

Which totally misses the point. Again here is another source:

"As ancient as civilization itself is the custom of celebrating a festival at the time of the winter solstice, at the turning of the year, when days begin to lengthen and the sun to return. In Egypt January 6 was honored as the birthday of Osiris; in Rome December 25 was the birthday of Mithra and the feast of Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun. Both dates became identified with Christ's appearance on earth.

"In the East January 6, which had also been a pagan water festival, was fixed as the date of his baptism and marked by the blessing of baptismal waters. In the West it commemorated the adoration of the Magi, the three wise men who came to worship Christ as representatives of the people of the world. Almost everywhere December 25 came to be accepted as the day of the Nativity. The joyous celebrations of the pagan mid-winter festivals were continued by Christians." (Roland H. Bainton, The Horizon History of Christianity, p. 368).

This passage confirms that although there were many winter festivals, December 25th pertains to Mithraism. This does not make it better or worse than others but is a fact. Now why Tabib wants to refute the consensus of historians, beyond his own inferiority complex, is a mystery to me.

After another foray into his ever reliable, Mr Tabib concludes with:

"Finally, in response to my assertion that we were never the center of the world, Mr. Salardini corrects me that: "Mr. Tabib is obviously unfamiliar with the history of the Achaemenian empire." To which I have to say that: No, I am not unfamiliar, but I am also keenly aware of a 20-something boy-soldier named Alexander of Macedon who attacked the Persian empire with a small army and outwitted the rulers of the world and laid their empire to waste. Does that make Alexander or the Greeks the center of the world and the spring-board of all civilization? Never! Neither can the Persian empire of the old make that claim."

British supremacy in the nineteenth century is not negated by their defeat in the hands of the Japanese in the twentieth. Whether Iran was defeated in 300 BC by a 20 year old boy or a nine year old girl for that matter does not reverse the fact that for 200 years Iran was the subject and focus of Greek, Egyptian, Jewish... historians and writers. Histories, Cyropaedia, Anabasis as well as Ezra and Isaiah are concerned with the Persians. Democritus and Pythagoras, the latter the founder of Greek Philosophy, claimed to be the intellectual heirs of Persian Philosophy (Before you go off the deep end and embarrass yourself once moe, borrow Oriental Influences on Early Greek Philosophy by Prof. West and published by Cambridge University Press from your university library). Jewish and Christian theology are heavily influence by Zoroastrianism (again look up entries in the Catholic encyclopaedia or the Dawn and Twilight of Zoroasterianism by Zaener). The Administrative system developed in the time of Darius with its divisions, roads, laws, postal system, standing army and bureaucracy are stupendously modern. This is why I am proud to be Iranian not because we subdued others or because Christmas is of Persian origin.

I like Mr Tabib to research his topic for the next letter so that we can have some semblance of a debate rather than his insecure ramblings. It would have been so easy for Mr Tabib to look up some books and not waste my time with stating the obvious. I have only wrote back in response to this poorly educated man, in observance of the etiquette of correspondence.

Arash Salardini


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.