Bible Review 14:6, December 1998

Santa and His Asherah

By William H.C. Propp

The ancient Near Eastern roots of American Yuletide customs are manifold and fascinating. I will concentrate here on just two major points: that the Christmas tree was originally a symbol of the Canaanite goddess Asherah and that Santa Claus is an avatar of Asherah’s consort, the high god ‘El, who is equivalent to the Israelite Yahweh. I will conclude by showing that the customs of Christmas were brought to America by the Canaanites themselves.

The coniferous Christmas tree, whether real or stylized (made of metal or plastic), is customarily hung with bright votive offerings: tinsel, metallic globes, colored lights, etc. Small figurines of humans and animals may also adorn the shrub. The custom of decorating a Christmas tree is very old, as shown by a second-century C.E. description of Syrian practice:

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