Sun worship characterized many of the early religions. In the Old World it was important in ancient cultures, such as those of Babylon, Egypt, Persia, North India, Greece, Rome. In the the New World it was important in the agricultural southeast and southwest of the United States, and in the cultures of Mexico, Central American, and the Andean region.

Connected with sun worship, the observance of the first day of the week, the sun-day, played an important role in the pagan world. The North British Review called Sunday "The wild solar holiday of all times," and Constantine, in his famous Sunday edict, styled it "the venerable day of the sun."



Bel, the sun-god, whose proper name was Marduk, was the patrol god of the Babylonians. To him they dedicated the first day of the week. Their calendar was adjusted in such a way that the first day of every month was also the first day of the week.

"It is clear that the first day of every month was originally a day of rest and fasting."--Langdon, Babylonian Menlogies and Semitic Calendars, p. 86.



In ancient Egypt the sun-cult originated at Heliopolis. The early sun-god of the ancient Egyptians was Re, and later Osiris, who came to be also the god of the dead and of the resurrection.

"Sunday (day of the sun) as the name of the first day of the week is derived from Egyptian astrology." --Catholic Encyclopedia, Art. Sunday.



"Each day in the week, the planet to which the day was sacred was invoked in a fixed spot in the crypt; and Sunday, over which the sun presided, was especially holy." --Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, p. 167.



Among the Hindus, every Sunday was a holy day. One author writes:

"The different days enjoy degrees of veneration according to certain qualities which [the Hindus] attribute to [the days of the week]. They distinguish, for example, the Sunday, because it is the day of the sun and the beginning of the week." --Albiruni's India, II, p. 185.



"Buddha is reported to have been of solar descent, as were the Incas of Peru and are the present royal house of Japan (whose ancestress is stated to have been the sun-goddess Amaterasu)." --E. Royston Pike, Encyclopecia of Religion, Art. Sun Worship.



"The most ancient Germans being pagans, and having appropriated their first day of the week to the peculiar adoration to the sun, whereof, that day doth yet in our English tongue retain the name of Sunday." --Verstegan, Antiquities, p. 10.



"At Sparta on the first day of every month the king made a sacrificial offering to Apollon [or Appollo], the sun-god, and the same practice was carried on at Athens." --Cook, Zeus, II, p. 237.



"The first day of the week was the Mithraic Sunday before it was the Christian, and December 25 was Mithra's birthday." --E. Royston Pike, Encyclopedia of Religion, Art. Mithraism.


Mithraism and Christianism

The popular worship of Mithra [the "Invincible Sun-god"] became so pre-eminent in the Roman Empire in the days of Constantine, that he decreed "The Venerable Day of the Sun" to be the weekly rest day of the Empire.

One authority points out the influence of Mithraism on Christianity, saying:

"It [Mithraism] had so much acceptance that it was able to impose on the Christian world its own Sun-day in place of the Sabbath, its Sun's birthday, 25th December, as the birthday of Jesus." --G. Murray, Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge, pp. 73, 74.

Still another author says: "The early Christians had at first adopted the Jewish seven-day week, with its numbered week days, but by the close of the third century A.D. this began to give way to the planetary week; and in the fourth and fifth centuries the pagan designations became generally accepted in the western half of Christendom.

...During these same centuries the spread of Oriental solar worships, especially that of Mithra, in the Roman world, had already led to the substitution by the pagans of dies Solis (Sun-day) for dies Saturni (Saturday), as the first day of the planetary week...Thus gradually a pagan institution was engrafted on Christianity." --Hutton Webster, Rest Days, pp. 220, 221.

Contrary to popular belief, there is not the slightest indication in the Bible that Sunday observance may have originated with Christ or the apostles.

The Origin of Sunday Observance pamphlet was printed and distributed by Fortress Books in Roanoke, Virginia.

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