Let me tell you a Christmas story.
Long ago, our people lived all over the land you now call Europe. We were born, we lived, we died, as had our grandparents before us, and as would our grandchildren after us. We loved and fought. We worked and played. We sang and danced. We read and wrote. We farmed and hunted, cooked and ate. We explored the land, the sea, and even the sky. We prayed. We had our religion, a great faith with heroes and monsters and a god watching over everything. And we celebrated, birth, death, marriage, a bountiful harvest, a successful voyage.
In the winter, it got very cold, and very dark. Food was scarce. Life was hard. To keep our spirits up, we needed to celebrate. So in the middle of the winter, on the longest night of the year, we would celebrate. We would celebrate that the hardest days were behind us, that the sun would rise, spring would come, new life would begin, the world would keep turning.
But then, they came. Strangers from another land, and those of us who had chosen to join them, few at first, but more every year. They told us that our religion was wrong. They told us that we must stop following our faith, and follow theirs instead. They told us that if we did not convert, they would kill us. Year by year, law by law, life by life, they hunted down anyone who still practiced the old ways. But the cruelest was yet to come.
They stole our holy days. They twisted our traditions, forcing their symbols and their stories onto what we once held sacred. What we once believed in, they made into demons. Where we once found honor, they made us savages. They forced us to celebrate this, this cruel mockery of our religion. They even raised our children and our grandchildren to think that this was the way things should be, the way things always had been. Our winter celebration was stolen to mark the birth of a baby who wasn't even born in winter.
I hear you asking, who were they? Who were these holiday-thieves?
The first Christians in Europe.