Christmas

 Krampus, the Christmas Devil

Krampus, Son of Hel: The Ancient Origins of the Christmas Devil

It is well known in America that Santa Claus maintains a Naughty and Nice list for when he comes to town. Good kids get presents; bad kids get coal. This makes for a great Christmas carol but it is...
Skeletons in the Attic and Babes in the Wood: Surprising and Spooky Yuletide Traditions

Skeletons in the Attic and Babes in the Wood: Surprising and Spooky Yuletide Traditions

Although we nowadays associate ‘Happy Holidays’ with celebrations during Advent and the run-up to Christmas Day and then on to New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay in Scotland) not that many years ago the ‘...
Harking Back: The Ancient Pagan Festivities in our Christmas Rituals

Harking Back: The Ancient Pagan Festivities in our Christmas Rituals

When we think of the Romans, gift-giving, carol-singing and celebrating the birth of Christ don’t immediately present themselves. Waging wars, general oppression and a never-ending desire to rule the...
‘Festa di Pales, o L'estate’ by Joseph-Benoît Suvée

The Busy Romans Needed a Mid-Winter Break Too … and it Lasted for 24 days

In the Doctor Who Christmas Special from 2010, Michael Gambon’s Scrooge-like character remarks that across different cultures and worlds people come together to mark the midpoint of winter. It is, he...
The Medieval Origins of The Carol: How Christmas Songs Have Survived Through the Centuries

The Medieval Origins of The Carol: How Christmas Songs Have Survived Through the Centuries

Singing and Christmas seem to go naturally together, like plum pudding and custard. Even those who would not normally attend a choir concert or church service throughout the year might happily...
The Holly and the Ivy: How Pagan Practices Found Their Way into Christmas

The Holly and the Ivy: How Pagan Practices Found Their Way into Christmas

Every year, almost without thinking about it, we incorporate certain plant species into out Christmas celebrations. The most obvious is the Christmas tree, linked historically in England to Prince...
Why Ghosts Haunt England at Christmas but Steer Clear of America

Why Ghosts Haunt England at Christmas but Steer Clear of America

A few years ago, the Downton Abbey Christmas special featured a ouija board which communicated a message from a dead character. American reviewers were extremely puzzled by this incursion of the...
Can Astronomy Explain the Biblical Star of Bethlehem?

Can Astronomy Explain the Biblical Star of Bethlehem?

To understand the Star of Bethlehem, we need to think like the three wise men. Motivated by this “star in the east,” they first traveled to Jerusalem and told King Herod the prophecy that a new ruler...
What Star is This? The Pagan Origins of Christmas Symbols

What Star is This? The Pagan Origins of Christmas Symbols

Rooted in the cyclical pagan year, Christmas can be linked back to the celebration of the Winter Solstice around December 21st, a time when the night was at its longest, and the coming of the “light...
What Would You Have Eaten for Christmas in Medieval Times?

What Would You Have Eaten for Christmas in Medieval Times?

With Christmas almost upon us, there will be plenty of frenzied present shopping and meal planning. Haven’t made that Christmas cake yet? Fear not. If you were preparing the festive meal 600 years...
The Obscure Mangiapane Cave in Sicily

The Obscure Mangiapane Cave in Sicily: Prehistoric Cave and Site of Modern Feasts

Mangiapane Cave (known also in Italian as Grotta Mangiapane) is a cave that has been occupied on and off since prehistoric times. In addition to being a prehistoric site, Mangiapane Cave is also well...
Tang court ladies carrying precious treasures, from the tomb of Princess Yongtai in the Qianling Mausoleum, near Xi'an in Shaanxi, China. 706 AD.

The Spirit of Giving and Charity in Ancient China

By Cindy Chan , Epoch Times As we prepare for and take part in holiday festivities this time of year, celebration and merriment may come with increased demands that can add stress to our lives. But...
Country Church on Christmas Day

The Story of Silent Night

Walk into any public square or shopping mall at this time of year and an encounter with a traditional Christmas carol is well-nigh unavoidable. We may not sing them ourselves with anything like the...
Full moon over a winter landscape

Rare Holiday Full Moon Will Provide Special Christmas Light for First Time since 1977

A full-moon calculator indicates the moon was full on December 25, 1 AD, in the old Western calendar, and it will be full again this year, 2015 years later. This is the first time we have had a...
The Annunciation by Fra Angelico

Virgin Mothers and Miracle Babies: The Ancient History of Miraculous Conceptions

At the centre of the annual Christian festival of Christmas, particularly among those of the Catholic faith, is the sacred narrative of the Virgin Birth. In the New Testament Gospels of Matthew and...
Painting entitled ‘Saturnalia’ (1783) by Antoine Callet.

Saturnalia: The December Festival of Joy and Merriment in Ancient Rome

Saturnalia was a festival celebrated by the ancient Romans. Originally, this celebration was held annually for a day on the 17th of December, but the festival was so popular that it was extended to a...

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Top New Stories

The theory that Tsar Alexander I craved a holy life as a monk is based on him seeking forgiveness for coming to power after the murder of his father, Paul I. Source: Vesti Tomsk
Officially, Alexander I died of typhus aged 47 on December 1, 1825, but evidence suggests he faked his demise and lived as a holy man. Genetic analysis is soon to be used to determine whether Tsar Alexander I lived for almost four decades as a modest monk after his supposed - and unexpected - death in Taganrog on the Azov Sea, a senior Russian churchman has indicated.

Myths & Legends

Fossils were viewed very differently in the past; usually through wilder... more fantastical interpretations.
Whenever a person thinks of fossils today, lively images of dinosaurs or other primordial beasts emerge within one's mind. Indeed, most people nowadays would connect fossils with museums, excavation digs, or research laboratories. However, people have viewed fossils very differently in the past; usually through wilder... more phantasmic interpretations.

Ancient Technology

New Revelations When 3,000-Year-Old Prosthetic Toe is Examined with Cutting Edge Technology
Egyptologists from the University of Basel have discovered details of production techniques and usage of one of the oldest prosthetic devices in history after re-examining it with the help of other experts. The find is nearly 3,000 years old and was discovered in a female burial from the necropolis of Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna close to Luxor, Egypt.

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At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

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By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

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View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)