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added the evidence of the rabbins, especially of Maimonides.1 This rabbinical testimony is indeed of later date, but it may with much greater probability be referred to Jewish tradition than to an unfounded conjecture of the fathers.
The feast of tabernacles, celebrated by dwelling in booths, and by more numerous and larger offerings than any other, clearly has, like the passover, a twofold relation, to historical truth and to the season of the year. The historical reference is indicated both by the name and by the significant act of dwelling in booths, to the manner of life of the Israelites in the wilderness. The Isra elites, dwelling in their settled habitations in the promised land, kept this day in joyful remembrance of the guidance of Jehovah, which brought them in safety through their pilgrimage to this promised possession. It was also a festival of thanks in honor of the vintage and the gathering in of the fruits; and was therefore called the feast of the ingathering. In both respects it served to unite the people to the Lord, their guide, their protector and their provident benefactor. The sensual gratifications connected with the occasion gave place to higher and more refined enjoyments, and each found in the other a natural foundation and expression. This was also the conclusion of the series of great festivals, and as the crowning festival was styled the feast of feasts, the greatest of all feasts. The circumstance that it was a feast of thank. offerings for the fruits of the year, and celebrated, it may be, with excessive demonstrations of joy, led Plutarch to regard it as a bacchanalian festival, as might be very natural and grateful to a pagan. But this theory is justly rejected by a late writer on the festivals of the Jews.3
In all these festivals, admitting the truth of what has been said respecting the historical reference of the pentecost, we notice a twofold relation; the remembrance of great deliverances wrought of old for Israel, and a thankful recognition of divine goodness in the continued providence of God and the annual bounties of the year. They address themselves both to the sensual and spiritual nature of man, and harmonize, both in form and spirit, with the theocracy of the Old Testament.
In the Tract, More neboch. 1. 41. In the more ancient book, Cosri, by R. Jehudi Hallevi, pentecost is styled memoria datae legis, p. 165, ed. Buxtorf. Comp. Buxtorf, Synag. c. 20. p. 438. According to Pesach. F. 68. 2, it was in memory of the giving of the law on Sinai.
2 Exodus 23: 16. 34: 22.
Quaest. Sympos. Lib. 4. p. 671, 746. Wytenbach George. Die Jud. Feste, p.
Relation of the Jewish and Christian Festivals.
The transfer of the first two Jewish feasts to that of Easter and Whitsunday is very apparent. Easter in the Christian church is a feast of deliverance in a sense infinitely surpassing that of the passover. It is not merely the deliverance of a nation from the power of their oppressor, but the triumph of a world over the power of death and the grave. It is deliverance from sin, and restoration to a new and heavenly life. It is not the offering of the paschal lamb, but one infinitely surpassing that made for the sins of the world; not the first fruits of the earth, which are of no account in the sight of God, but the first fruits of them that sleep in the earth. It is the Prince of Light, once dead; now coming forth in the greatness and glory of his power to renew the earth and reap an immeasurably precious harvest. Easter is also a festival in honor of spring; the springing, not of the natural, but of the moral world. The verdure which here quickens and thrives is to flourish in immortal vigor.
The Jewish and the Christian pentecost have also similar relations. The one celebrates the promulgation of the law; the other, the first remarkable communication of the Spirit for the spread of the gospel; the one, the letter of the law engraven on stone for the institution of a visible theocracy; the other, the new law of the Spirit, inscribed on the heart to establish the invisible kingdom of God; the one, a harvest-festival in the kingdom of nature; the other, in the kingdom of grace; the one ends the harvest as a joyful conclusion of the festive season of the seven weeks of harvest; the other begins the spiritual harvest with the thousands converted by Peter on this occasion. The interval between the passover and the pentecost was esteemed sacred in the Jewish church; and in the Christian, the same is religiously observed.
The feast of tabernacles has not indeed the same clear analogies to any Christian festival, but it has many points of resemblance to the Christmas holidays, both in its import and its mode of celebration. "It was a season of universal joy; all was hilarity; everything wore a holiday appearance; the varied green of the ten thousand branches of different trees; the picturesque ceremony of the water-libation, the general illumination, the sacred solemnities in and before the temple; the feast, the dance, the sacred song; the full harmony of the choral music; the bright joy that shone in every countenance, and the gratitude at harvesthome that swelled every bosom-all conspired to make these days a season of pure, deep and lively joy, which in all its ele
ments finds no parallel among the observances of men."1 The analogy between all this and the festivities of the christmas holidays is sufficiently obvious. Still it must be acknowledged that the observance of christmas as the nativity of Christ is ascribable rather to pagan than to Jewish influence in the Christian church.
The analogies which have been traced between Jewish and Christian festivals to say nothing of others, would not have been specified had they not been adduced by distinguished fathers and teachers in the church; manifestly indicating that the connection between the feasts of the Jews and of Christians was formerly better understood than at present.
Analogy between the festivals of the Christian church and of Pagan
Inasmuch as the Christian festivals, like the Jewish from which they were in a measure derived, have a certain reference to the seasons of the year, we might naturally expect in these festivals some analogy between them and pagan festivals, which were evidently based on the seasons. Still the difference between the festivals of pagans and Jews was great, and between the former and those of the Christians it must of necessity be much greater. Ancient paganism was the religion of nature. Its festive seasons in honor of its gods must be expected to harmonize with nature in the changes of the seasons, now reviving the face of the earth, now pouring forth from her full horn the blessings of the year, and now again overspreading with decay and death the gay scenes of her own creation. Paganism contemplates the sun, the moon, the stars, and the varying seasons as they roll, exciting hope, inspiring joy, and bringing sorrow in endless succession; and but dimly descries, in the imagery of nature, the moral lessons which she conveys. Christianity, on the contrary, as a spiritual religion more intent on moral relations than on the natural order of events, contemplates, not so much the vi. cissitudes of nature in the revolutions of the seasons as the providence displayed in their endless roll. When in her festivals and her fasts she commemorates scenes of joy or of sorrow, these are not such as come in the ordinary course of nature, but from a higher source. The festivals of the church, however, have still a reference, though remote and secondary, to scenes in nature, and
1 The above extract is inserted in place of original remarks more brief but of a similar import by the author.
Pagan feasts in January and February.
were derived in some degree by tradition from other systems of religion. It seems proper therefore to trace the mutual relations between these and the pagan festivals of antiquity by noticing their coincidences in chronological order and a few of their most striking resemblances. These analogies have been drawn out at length by the learned, so that we may with more propriety restrict ourselves to a limited comparison.
January, the portal of the year, was named from the god Janus. The first day of the month was sacred to him and to Juno; and though not a festival, was joyously celebrated by giving presents styled the januae and the strenae.2 The second of January commemorated the return of Isis from Phoenicia, by the use of cakes made in the likeness of a hippopotamus bound in chains. The custom of giving new year's presents remains with manifold modifications until the present day. The first of January was also a triumphal feast in honor of the conquest of Jupiter over Briareus, or of the sun over winter; the festival of the return of the sun towards the summer solstice.
January sixth, the day assigned by the Greek church to the baptism and epiphany of Jesus, was, in Egypt the festival of Osiris returned, or found again.3 In this we may notice a pagan feast which was evidently transferred to the Christian church, and remains in part to this day. In the time of Chrysostom it was customary, on the night before epiphany, to draw water in a vessel and keep it as holy water. The consecration of holy water on this occasion is one of the imposing solemnities of the Greek church. The Armenians celebrate epiphany especially by the baptism of a cross, by immersion, and the Abyssinian Christians religiously bathe on this occasion and receive the benediction of their priests; which travellers have understood to be a renewal of baptismal vows.
February was the month for purification, when all impurity, physical and moral, political and religious was supposed to be put away. Juno Februa was the goddess of purity; the meaning of februare being to cleanse, to purify. Such was the import
1 Hospinian, De Festis Judaeorum et Ethnicorum, and De Festis Christianorum Tiguri. 1592. Hamberger, Rituum quos Romana ecclesia a majoribus suis gentilibus in sua sacra transtulit, enarratio, Götting. 1751. Von Hammer, in den Wiener Jahrbh. 1818. B. 3. p. 149. Bähr, Symbol. des Moses. 2. B. 545–565.
* Strenam vocamus quae datur die religioso, omnis boni gratia.-Test. s. h. v. p. 343.
3 The connection between these two festivals is ably discussed by Jablonski, Diss. I. II. tom. III. p. 317-375, ed. Te Water.
of the month not only among the Romans, but also with the Egyptians and Persians. The latter are accustomed to prepare for themselves talismen to protect them against wild beasts, and the tutelary divinity for this month is Sapandomad, the pure and the purifier. They have also at this time a feast by torch-light processions as well as of purification, both of which are united in the Christian festival of the purification or candlemas, celebrated on the second of this month of purification, and by torch-light processions.
On the thirteenth of February the Romans celebrated the Faunalia, appropriately a pastoral feast and also a funeral festival, Manibus parentatur. During this month it was customary to put away whatever had become old; the remains of the dead which were impure were entombed anew. The family of Brutus and Cato began their funeral solemnities in December, about the time of All-souls in the Christian church.
The luperci, also a pastoral festival, occurred on the fifteenth of this month. This was attended with phrenzied excesses. With only a small covering upon the loins, the people ran like madmen through the streets, striking all whom they might meet with thongs of goat-skins. All distinctions of rank were disregarded, and all badges of office laid aside.
On the twentieth of February the Romans held a family festival when parents invited all their near relatives to a feast, analogous to the love-feast of the church.
March was sacred to Mars, the spouse of Venus, and the impersonation of the powers of nature. It was the opening of spring, universally celebrated as a festive occasion. There is the strongest reason to believe that the Egyptians celebrated this festival at Papremis with dramatic representations by the priests.
At Rome was observed on the fifteenth of March the feast of Anna Porsenna, which was the Roman feast of tabernacles. It was both a vernal and a political festival, commemorative of the secession of the plebeians. On this occasion the people gave themselves up to festivity and rejoicing, building for themselves booths on the Tiber and Numicius, eating and drinking. After the death of Caesar, on the Ides of March, it became associated with sorrowful recollections and was named the parricidium.
The feast of Isis was held at the beginning of March as a naval festival, while it also had a reference to spring. The Indians kept an inconsiderable feast to Durea, the god of nature. In