The Zoroastrian maiδ-yaar “mid-year” festival, starts on December 31 and ends on or about January 4th. Maiδ-yaar ranks after Vernal Equinox, as the SECOND MOST FESTIVE and SACRED thanksgiving holiday in the Zoroastrian religious calendar.
The Avestan word yaar reminds us of a time that YEARS were counted by the passage of WINTERS. The time to celebrate maiδ-yaar corresponds very closely with the winter festivities of Yuletide in the Pagan Scandinavian Europe.
The importance of maiδ-yaar as “the second most important holiday” is cited throughout the ancient Avestan texts. We read in an Avestan ritual text: “In the case that a person does not celebrate “Maiδ-yaar,” he/she must be expelled from among the community of the Mazda worshippers.”
In the Avesta, the word yaar refers also to “auspicious, turning points during seasons, and cycle of time.” The six most sacred, religious holidays in ancient Zoroastrianism, known today as gahan-bár or “gatha banquets,” are called yaair.iia ratvö “sacred rituals/year round festivities” in the Avestan original.
The Avestan word yaar is very ancient, and goes back to Proto Indo European ancient past. A number of cognates are Old High German jār, Gothic jēr, Old English gēar, German Jahr, Old Church Slavonic jara, Luvian āra/i, and Greek hôrá. The reconstructed Proto Indo European form is *yéhrom also *yóhr̥, (See Didier Calin Encyclopedia of Indo European poetic and religious themes.)
In the ancient Germanic, mystic alphabet, rune *jērą “year, cycle of time, turning point(s),” has the same ancient Proto Indo European root as the Avestan yaar.
Andreas Nordberg suggests that (much like the Zoroastrian yaair.iia ratvö “sacred rituals/year round festivities,) the heathen Scandinavian calendar was also divided into auspicious, turning points, marked with festivals and religious gatherings such as Yuletide.
Rune Jera teaches “right timing,” and to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature, and seasons of the year. Living in tune with nature was believed to result in happiness, abundance and plenty. An Old English rune poem says:
Ger byÞ gumena hiht, ðonne God læteþ,
halig heofones cyning, hrusan syllan
beorhte bleda beornum ond ðearfum.
Year is a joy to men, when God lets, / the holy King of Heaven, / the earth bring forth / shining fruits for rich and poor alike.
The theme of the holy kings of heaven in the above rune poem, reminds one that the Zoroastrian maiδ-yaar ceremonies end a day or two before Epiphany or the time when the three Kings/Wise Men, or more accurately the three Zoroastrian MAGI (priests) have supposedly visited the Christ child.
There is NO record in the entire Zoroastrian literature that would independently corroborate the Epiphany story. However, it is important to understand the symbolic meaning of Epiphany for the early Christian Church fathers. Epiphany emphasized the physical manifestation of Jesus to the children of Japheth.
In the biblical tradition, Japheth is the ancestor of the Indo European peoples of the ancient world, from Europe to west Asia. Magi represented the hereditary, Zoroastrian priesthood of the ancient Aryans. So any supposed visit by the Wise Magi Priests to the Christ child was considered a strong confirmation of Jesus “revelation to the gentiles.”
The early Christian Church fathers saw their mission as universal in scope, but during his earthly ministry, Jesus of Nazareth explicitly declared his mission to be focused only on the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24,) a statement made upon Jesus’s initial refusal of a Gentile woman who asked for healing for her daughter.
The Magi story validated the extension of the Christian message to the children of Japheth without having any basis in historical realities.