Graveyard Shift

Pagan Symbols That Have Made It Into Modern Christianity  

Jacob Shelton
33.9k views 13 items

Crosses, Christmas trees, and robes are just a few of the symbols that were valued long before the Old Testament that Christians have adopted. The most common of these adaptations come from Paganism. Pagan symbols in Christianity often play a major part in the worship of Jesus. Most Pagan symbols in religion remain consistent with their original significance, although there are a few tokens and Pagan rituals whose meaning has been skewed and changed over the centuries. 

For those wondering how paganism became part of modern Christianity, look no further than the passage of time. The influence Satanic symbols have over modern culture prove, if nothing else, how easy it is to accept and absorb anything that holds value. Pagan emblems in Christian communities are no different. 

The Ichthys Fish Got Its Start In Ancient Greece
The Ichthys Fish Got Its Start... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Pagan Symbols That Have Made It Into Modern Christianity
Photo: Messer Woland/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Where did it come from? Ichthys is a Greek word that became an acronym for "Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter," which translates to "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." The acronym was created after Christians decided to use this pagan fertility symbol as a part of their worship. Ichthys - or Ichthus, as it's sometimes written - originally represented goddesses like Atargatis

How was it used? The Ichthys represents life, which is why it has a yonic shape. It's also seen as a symbol of the regenerative properties of the womb. Scholars note that the emblem has been used as far back as 6000 BCE

How is it seen today? The Ichthys is now most commonly known as the "Jesus fish." It was used by Christians to avoid persecution in the Roman empire - if a Christian drew an arch in the sand and a stranger completed the arch, it meant they were both followers of Christ and safe in each other's company. Today it can be found on bumper stickers, license plates, and other Christian merchandise. The Jesus fish caught on in the 1970s and its popularity has only increased.

The Cross Represents A Multitude Of Deities
The Cross Represents A Multitu... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Pagan Symbols That Have Made It Into Modern Christianity
Photo: Max Pixel/Public Domain

Where did it come from? Pagan cultures began using the cross long before Christianity. Ancient Egyptians used the cross-shaped ankh, a symbol representing life, and Pagans interpret the cross as the symbol of Bacchus. Since the cross is so simple and easy to replicate, it has been popular in many cultures throughout history. 

How was it used? Crosses were posted near areas where Pagan worshippers congregated. They were carved into rocks and walls to represent various sun gods. After the Roman conquest of Europe, the symbol was adopted by members of the Christian faith. Initially, it was drawn as an X, but it was later formed into what we now know as the Cross. 

How is it seen today? The cross is one of the most valuable symbols to those of the Christian faith. It draws meaning from Christ's sacrifice on a cross. It is seen as an emblem of Christians' willingness to be humble. If you've watched a horror movie that deals with exorcism, you've also seen the cross used to repel anything that threatens humanity - from The Exorcist to The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Wreaths Represent The Changing Seasons
Wreaths Represent The Changing... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Pagan Symbols That Have Made It Into Modern Christianity
Photo: Clemens Pfeiffer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.5

Where did it come from? Several cultures used wreaths made of twigs, fruits, and leaves for a myriad of purposes. The circular shape of a wreath, however, was originally meant to represent the constant changing of the seasons. 

How was it used? Germanic cultures decorated circular wreaths with small candles as a way to show deference to the warmth of the sun. Romans wore their wreathes as crowns, most commonly during festivals or in parades. In some cultures, wreaths were tossed out to sea as an elegy for a soul. 

How is it seen today? Today, wreaths are used by many celebrants during Christmas, but they were adopted by Christians in the Middle Ages as a way of decorating during the advent - a period of fasting before the celebration of Christ's birth. In an advent wreath, more candles are lit the closer the date draws to December 25. 

'Amen' Originated In Ancient Egypt 
'Amen' Originated In Ancient E... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Pagan Symbols That Have Made It Into Modern Christianity
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Where did it come from? The term "Amen" most likely comes from the name of the Egyptian god Amun (also called Amun-Ra), a deity who ascended to great power during the New Kingdom Period (1570-1069 BCE). Amun was no more powerful than any other god, but he did not have a fixed meaning attached to him, so people could lend him any characteristic they wanted. This led to him ascending in prominence until he was known as the "King of the Gods."

How was it used? It's believed that the term "Amen" was recycled by Jews who settled in Egypt around 1800 BCE. After spending 400 years in Egypt, they likely picked up the phrase and began using it as a way to end prayers, or simply as admiration for their god.

How is it seen today? Today, "Amen" is still used to close prayers in the Christian community. It has been absorbed into the lexicon of anyone who worships Jesus Christ.