Many of the symbols associated with Christmas are derived from the traditional pagan celebrations. The decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of wreaths, holly, mistletoe, etc. are all historically pagan practices associated with Yule or winter solace.
So why have we been using these pagan traditions in our Christian celebration?
An old English historical writing helps us understand how this came about. It contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons.
Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.
Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas. As Christians let’s not be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what we have. Listen to what Pope Gregory said and rather than condemn the pagan traditions, give them Spiritual meaning. We should try to use these dark traditions to spread the “Light” into the darkness. (John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”)
Search this website www.trainupthechild.org for the history of various objects associated with Christmas and see how to relate them to the birth of Christ. Just type in the search bar the tradition you wish to learn more about.