February 5th, 2008

junior woodchuck guidebook

And now, for something completely different

Last night, one of my parishioners, who teaches 8th Grade History, asked me for some help identifying primary sources. She has a working group of students who have identified a thesis for a research paper which she feels unqualified to assist much with.

Their thesis is that there is a pagan origin to many Christian holidays. Now, this has been asserted many times. And it has been disputed many times. A month or so ago, we argued over the origins of Christmas here on LJ. I can find a fair assortment of scholars quoting other scholars back and forth.

But she requires her students to cite at least two primary sources; that is, quotations and such from back in the time when Christianity was expanding and solidifying its position in society, creating and/or adapting holidays and new customs for them.

I could think of only one primary source: Pope Gregory's letter to Abbot Mellitus, giving advice to pass on to Augustine of Canterbury. It was written in 601, and is preserved in Bede, who wrote a century or so later. My e-mail to the teacher and Gregory's letter are below the cut, if you're interested.

Anyway, can anybody else help with some primary sources that address this issue?

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