Pope stole Christmas
Historians say that early Christian leaders like Pope Gregory the Great were responsible for appropriating pagan traditions and using them for Christian holidays.

Inspired by past blogs the ULC has written about pagan traditions being co-opted by Christian missionaries, ULC Minister Cindy Armstrong submitted the following guest sermon as a commentary on the history of the Christmas season. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To submit a sermon, please email it to sermons@ulc.org.

How the Pope Stole Christmas

Once in ol’ England, both ancient and vast,
Lived folks with traditions, long held and steadfast.
They danced and they sang when winter was nigh,
Under the stars, beneath the cold sky.

The solstice was coming, the shortest of days,
They prepared for the feast in so many ways.
With holly and ivy, they decked every hall,
And a Yule log was burned, a tree once so tall.

But just West of Rome, sat a man robed in white,
Pope Greg, in his Vatican… was his hat too tight?
For he pondered and prayed with his furrowed brow,
"How can we bring these pagans to vow? VOW! VOW! VOW! VOW!

"To our faith, to our fold, in the Christ Child believe,
And their old pagan ways they must surely leave."
So he plotted and planned, found a few saints to send,
“We must change their tradition, Saturnalia must end!

Shouting, "Let us take over this pagan delight,
And make it about the Holy Birth Night.
We'll infuse their rituals with our good Christian grace,
And Christ's Mass will slowly take the solstice's place."

So it happened o’er time, to the pagans' surprise,
Their meals and their dances became Christianized.
Their feasting was now for the Christ Child's birth,
And their parties lost some of their ol’ heathen mirth.

Where Odin once rode ‘cross the sky on Sleipnir,
Soon Saint Nicholas would soar, with eight tiny reindeer.
All the mistletoe, holly, ham, trees, and wassails,
Would all stick around, though the Pope’s plan prevails.

For the people adapted, they bent and they swayed,
But the essence of joy in their hearts, it still stayed.
They embraced the new faith, yet remembered the old,
In the stories they recounted, both spirited and bold.

Pope Greg had succeeded, but maybe not as he planned,
For the spirit of solstice in their hearts still fanned.
The magic of yule, it forever remained,
Hiding inside the message that Christmas contained.

And so, my dear reader, has our tale closed?
Is babe Jesus the victor, to reign unopposed?
Or could his day be stolen out from under his manger?
As Jeff Bezos circles… is “Christmas” still in danger?

Perhaps the real lesson is that the season’s so large,
That there is no need to leave just one group in charge.
For the joy and the love, in each heart does reside,
No matter the reason, or the faith that's applied.

We hold one goal in common, or at least we should,
And that dream is just: to do that which is good.
So we’ll wrap up our poem, though last but not least:
Who sitting here will carve the roast beast?

P.S. – If you'd like to share the poem on Facebook, we also posted it there:

How the Pope Stole Christmas 😂

Posted by Universal Life Church Ministries on Friday, December 15, 2023


  1. Susan Colmenares's Avatar Susan Colmenares

    I love this! Europe has always celebrated the return of the light in winter. Christmas is just the latest incarnation of the old tales.

  1. Brien's Avatar Brien

    Wow. Nothing ruins my holidays more than being reminded of how much the zealots have corrupted. I think I will just double my efforts to enjoy time spent with family and friends.

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Beautiful, loving and practical! Well written and said! 💚😃❤️

  1. Melinda Fulk's Avatar Melinda Fulk

    Beautiful and thoughtfully done! (Imma gonna go share it now.)

  1. David George Promis's Avatar David George Promis

    It’s not the day…it’s the symbolism Your faith isn’t the responsibility of anyone but you, and if real it will not waver because of others.

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    Wouldn't consider that a sermon but it is one fine poem. And you kept it positive. Thank you

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    Terrific poem.
    Buona Saturnalia!

  1. Merlin's Avatar Merlin

    The "Church" mixed pagan celebrations with Christian practices to sway pagans to its control. Worked very well.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      You are exactly right with your comment there, Sir Merlin. 🙌🏼


  1. TheStranger's Avatar TheStranger

    There once was a Book

    Many out there mistook

    As truth to behold

    Rather than fables told.

    This caused much strife

    In many a life.

    So celebrate as you will

    But I’ve had my fill

    Of all the intolerance and hate

    Disguised as pious and faith.

    A wish now for happy tidings

    Without all the religious bindings.

  1. Rev. Carol M Anaski-Figurski's Avatar Rev. Carol M Anaski-Figurski


  1. Catherine's Avatar Catherine

    Why not make more effort to think the best, be our best, be decent to each other every day?

    It's cute, though it omits incomprehensible bloodshed that christianity brought to bear for centuries to serve egos and power mongers. None of which Jesus or God would likely approve.

    We have what we have in the present, so why not make the best of that? Yet same as with the origin of Mother's Day, I wish there were no such holidays.

    People would do well to hold in mind what the christian christmas cost in lives and countless sufferings of innocents. Terrible history should not be repeated, yet ways are found to celebrate the worst of human actions.

    1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      Well, Jesus anyway. Got was pretty bloodthirsty back in the day, more so than most gods.

      Otherwise yes, I agree. We live in a different time and different place. We have access to much more information now than ever. Why we have to make life harder on eachother in the name of whatever god we follow is just ridiculous and cruel, and so very unnecessary.

  1. Alexander Arends's Avatar Alexander Arends

    Not sure who carves roast, due to its price But other than that, this sermon was nice. 'T was the pope who stole Yuletide, we all know that now But greed stole it back, an-all time low blow.

    1. John Robert Peters's Avatar John Robert Peters

      Nice...should be added to the poem sermon, maybe as a last verse.

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    What can I say, but my how well done!.

  1. Mark Bell's Avatar Mark Bell

    Well, there is more truth than fiction in this poem. Anyone who can read Scripture would know that Yeshua was not born in December, he was 6 months younger than his cousin which would make his birth in September or October. Given that fact. Why December 25? It is just a coincidence that it coincides with the winter solstice and the pagan belief that tamise was born on that day.

    Isn’t it interesting what you learn when one actually reads and studies Scripture and history!

    1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      I think originally it was chosen with the idea that it was a celebration of his life, not exactly his birth. I think the nativity story just confused the issue and it eventually morphed into his birth.

  1. TheStranger's Avatar TheStranger

    Comment removed by user.

  1. TheStranger's Avatar TheStranger

    Comment removed by user.

  1. TheStranger's Avatar TheStranger

    Comment removed by user.

  1. Tom Herman's Avatar Tom Herman

    The Catholic church of the time used what worked. The people of the time still had to choose what they wanted to believe. This is a beautifully written poem and I would enjoy it simply for its artistic value. However you enjoy the season, spread peace, love and acceptance of all. Happy Holidays.

    1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

      I think religions that stand the test of time have to shift with the understanding and needs of the people to some degree if they are to continue being relevant. I think that's why so many are turning from churches lately, or even changing religions, because the older ways are just not serving anymore.

  1. James Riggle-Johnson's Avatar James Riggle-Johnson

    The Who's in Whoville are singing...

    Fahoo fores dahoo dores Welcome Christmas, Christmas day

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