For “Scripture Sunday”:
Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?
“People around the world celebrate Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25. However, this date held no particular significance to Jesus Himself. But other days did.
Some people believe it is okay to celebrate holidays originally rooted in paganism because they have now been Christianized. But is God okay with this?
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For millions of Christians around the world, the only time of the year they go to church is Christmas and Easter. These are sometimes called CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only attendees).
According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, only 20 percent of American Christians actually attend church on a weekly basis. (The number is even lower in Europe.) Many churches report that their attendance nearly doubles on Christmas, and there is a significant spike in Google searches for “church” in late December.
Why do people who normally don’t go to church show up on Christmas?
Well, only those people can really answer that, but it’s likely because they see it as a special celebration of Christ’s birth, so they want to do what they believe honors Him.
But consider this question: Does Christmas hold the same significance to Jesus Himself?
Missing from the Bible
To answer any question about Jesus Christ, our first (and really only) logical source is the Bible—particularly the four Gospels and the later writings of His contemporaries. When you study those documents, it’s striking that the most prominent celebration associated with Christianity is totally absent. Nobody—not Jesus, not Peter, not John, not Paul—gives any hint that he had ever celebrated Jesus’ birth in December (or any month).
Some people believe it is okay to celebrate holidays originally rooted in paganism because they have now been Christianized. But is God okay with this? That is not to say that the Bible doesn’t talk about Jesus’ birth, but it actually gives very few details about it. It is only covered in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Mark and John never discuss it). But if you read Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2 closely, you discover there are only a few verses that directly discuss the actual day of His birth (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7-16). The rest of these sections describe events that surrounded His birth, but did not actually occur on the same day.
What is typically called “the Christmas story” inaccurately squeezes almost all the events described in Matthew 2 and Luke 2 into one single day in late December.
Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?
“If Christ is truly the reason for the season, would He celebrate Christmas today?
We can’t put Christ back in Christmas, as many seek to do, because He was never there in the first place. Misguided people put Him there. What does that mean for us?
Most Christians assume that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day. Most also accept that Christmas traditions like a brightly ornamented tree and a red-suited Santa are acceptable ways of honoring our Savior. Does your Bible agree with these assumptions? There’s one way to prove it: Check your Bible and the many secular sources about Christmas.
Historical and biblical evidence clearly proves that Christmas is a pre-Christian festival. It’s not biblical, and it’s not of God. Ironically, the early Catholic theologian Origen repudiated as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ ( The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1910, vol. 6, p293).
The inarguable fact is that Christmas isn’t supported by your Bible. There is one quintessential question that remains: Would Jesus Christ participate in the observance of Christmas? And if He wouldn’t, why not?
Was Jesus born on Christmas Day?
The first question to ask is whether Jesus was even born on the traditional date of Dec. 25. Luke’s Gospel records the event: “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:7-8). No mention of date so far. And does this scene fit with a winter birth?
Alexander Hislop wrote in his book The Two Babylons: “There is not a word in the Scriptures about the precise day of His birth, or the time of the year when He was born. What is recorded there implies that at what time … His birth took place, it could not have been on the 25th of December.
“At the time that the angel announced His birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem, they were feeding their flocks by night in the open fields. Now, no doubt, the climate of Palestine is not so severe as the climate of this country [England]; but even there, though the heat of the day be considerable, the cold of the night, from December to February, is very piercing, and it was notthe custom for the shepherds of Judea to watch their flocks in the open fieldslater than about the end of October. It is in the last degree incredible, then, that the birth of Christ could have taken place at the end of December” (1959, pp. 91-92).
Christmas: Should Christians Celebrate It
“It seems strange to ask should Christians celebrate Christmas, since it’s named for Christ. But was He born December 25? Does He want us to celebrate it?
Christmas seems the most Christian of holidays, even taking its name from Christ. So why wouldn’t Christians celebrate Christmas? Could it be that Christ was not born on Dec. 25? Could it also be that every year many articles are written in newspapers about the pagan origins of this holiday?
Even religious people who celebrate Christmas have written about this topic. Consider this history from the Grace to You website: “The decision to celebrate Christmas on December 25 was made sometime during the fourth century by church bishops in Rome. They had a specific reason for doing so.
“Having turned long ago from worshiping the one true God and creator of all things, many early cultures in the Roman empire had fallen into sun worship. Recognizing their dependence on the sun’s yearly course in the heavens, they held feasts around the winter solstice in December when the days are shortest. As part of their festivals, they built bonfires to give the sun god strength and bring him back to life again. When it became apparent that the days were growing longer, there would be great rejoicing.
“The church leaders in Rome decided to celebrate Christ’s birth during the winter solstice in an attempt to Christianize these popular pagan celebrations. For the most part their efforts failed to make the people conform, and the heathen festivities continued.”
Many people today want to put Jesus back into Christmas, but the fact of the matter is that He was never in Christmas in the first place. Dec. 25 was a polytheistic festival based on myth.
Is adopting pagan customs acceptable to God?
So, what is a Christian to do with this knowledge? Should Christians celebrate Christmas? In December 2007 AP reporter Tom Breen quoted Clyde Kilough, who is now a minister in the Church of God: “It’s common knowledge that Christmas and its customs have nothing to do with the Bible. … The theological question is quite simple: Is it acceptable to God for humans to choose to worship Him by adopting paganism’s most popular celebrations and calling them Christian?”
The Bible reveals that God does not want humans to worship Him in the same manner as the pagans worshipped their gods. Therefore, based on what the Scriptures disclose, we believe God and His Son are not pleased with Christians celebrating Christmas.
God explicitly warned ancient Israel against incorporating pagan customs into their worship of the true God.
“When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’
You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
Later, Jesus Christ pointed this out to a devoutly religious group, the Pharisees, in Mark 7:6-9: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men. … All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”
What’s wrong with the traditional nativity scene?
Christians should also understand that the Bible itself reveals that many of the traditional nativity scenes are not biblically accurate either.
Notice Luke 2:8-11: “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”
One commentary states that, “as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, note on Luke 2:8).
Another study source agrees: “These humble pastoral folk are out in the field at night with their flock—a feature of the story which would argue against the birth (of Christ) occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted it” (The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, 1971, note on Luke 2:4-7).
Concerning another aspect of nativity scenes, Joe Kovacs, author of Shocked by the Bible, wrote, “You won’t find three wise men showing up at the manger when Jesus was born.”
This statement is based on what we read in Matthew 2:1, 11: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem. … And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
The Bible does not list how many wise men were there, and they came into the house (not manger) where they saw the young Child. So, the traditional story of three wise men coming to the manger is just not found in the Bible.
We have to realize that just proclaiming something to be Christian does not make it so, no matter what our traditions have been or what rationalizations we may employ!
For instance, over the decades, parents have told their children about Santa Claus. The problem is—he does not really exist, nor does he have a workshop at the North Pole. Where in the Bible does God excuse us for lying—especially to our children?
Some also believe that there should be no problem with gift giving at this time of year. However, in his book 4,000 Years of Christmas: A Gift From the Ages (1997), Episcopal priest Earl Count ardently relates historical connections between the exchanging of gifts on the 12 days of Christmas and customs originating in ancient, pagan Babylon. He also shows that mistletoe was adopted from Druid mystery rituals and that Dec. 25 has more to do with the ancient Roman Saturnalia celebration than with Jesus.
How do I tell my relatives?
So, should Christians celebrate Christmas? After examining the subject, many come to the conclusion that they should not. Many then ask, “Okay, then how do I tell my relatives and family that I will no longer be celebrating Christmas?” We recommend explaining in a kind way that you cannot in good conscience continue to observe a holiday not authorized in the Bible. If they ask about giving gifts, you can respond that there are plenty of other opportunities throughout the year for honoring loved ones with gifts.
Some relatives will accept that decision and some may not understand; so it is better not to try to change their beliefs lest they get upset. Many who recognize the nonbiblical origin of Christmas try to avoid getting into a discussion about the issue unless someone asks why. We try to follow the principle in 1 Peter 3:15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” If someone wants to know more, it is certainly fine to explain the pagan origins of this holiday and God’s command for us not to worship Him in a similar manner.
The members of the Church of God, (which sponsors this website), do not get involved in Christmas observances. Instead, we are told to honor Jesus Christ on the anniversary of His death (not His birth). See 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Jesus Christ reminded His disciples (as they ate the bread during the New Testament Passover) to “do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
Jesus was born as our Savior, but He is also coming again as the great King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:15-16). The millennial reign of Christ will then begin on the earth. This prophesied event is pictured by and emphasized during the annual Feast of Tabernacles, which occurs during each autumn in the northern hemisphere (Leviticus 23:33-35). Christ told His disciples to keep this feast, as He observed it as well (John 7:2, 14, 37-39). So, instead of celebrating the Christmas holiday, a Christian should be celebrating the annual commanded festivals of God. You can learn more about these festivals in this section on how God’s holy days reveal His plan of salvation.” Does it matter which holidays we celebrate? Find the answers in our free booklet. Download now.
Zack brushed some more Kilz and paint on the new wall dividing the living room and bedroom, so Jay installed the jam for the door. He was going to hang the door, but found out that he had cut the hinges on the wrong side, so that will have to be wood puttied and redone. He also cut too much off the bottom of this 15-light wooden door, so an inch will have to be added to the bottom and an inch cut off the top or it will look funny. Golly, I can’t take my eyes off him for a minute.
Ray went up on the mini-house roof and fixed a place where it wasn’t lapped right, so that should stop that leak. I watched him this time, from the little look-out up there. He also blew the pine needles off the roofs of both houses, so Zack had to rake them up and burn them.
Jay went with me into Conroe for my doctor appointment as I get this sharp pain in my left arm, and my left knee hurts me at night. The doctor’s assistant saw me, and told me some bull about the arm pain being due to the judo chops that I received on my neck 50 years ago! Twaddle !!! Then she said that my knee looked arthritic, and to put Bengay or similar on it. That night I rubbed some analgesic cream on my knee but it didn’t seem to make any difference. Only I forgot and touched my eye before I washed my hands, and that did make a difference, it stung like crazy !
Two more kittens have been adopted out of our Cat Habitat at Petco, another foster-mom’s “Inky” and my little “Tux”, so that just leaves “Marble” out of the four kittens that I rescued. He is a quiet, loving little guy.
One day I spent quite a bit of time cooking some rare vegetables that were given to me. Have you ever seen Japanese Purple Skinned White Sweet Potatoes, or purple and white carrots from Trader Joes? We don’t have a Trader Joes around here, so I hadn’t seen them before. The purple carrots were roasted in butter, and they shank down, but were good, so I put them in a tiny crock pot to take to the church potluck just so that everyone could have a taste. Some people ate seconds of them, then others just didn’t like the look of them…”purple carrots - Oh, no”! That was mostly Jay who doesn’t like anything except steak, and hardly ever eats any veggies.
I read that the white sweet potaoes are drier than yellow ones, so I steamed them. Then I didn’t like the skin so I took it off. But I still didn’t know what to do with them, so I cut them up into little pieces with my French Fry cutter, covered them with some of the turkey broth that I had made, and put all that in the fridge overnight while I decided what I was going to do with them. The next morning I got out my immersion blender and whipped the white sweet potatoes with a bit of parsley and butter. They were very popular at church, even though when cooked, they had a green tint, which might have been the parsley and Upland Cress that I put in there.
The great amount of yellow squash that I had bought and been given, was sliced thin with a mandolin, sauteed in a big pot, some milk added, seasonings and cheddar cheese, and I called it Cheesy Yellow Squash. It was nummy and didn’t last long either.
I had several left-over Hasselback White and Sweet Potatoes, so I made them into a Twice-baked Potato Casserole. It is not often that I take four dishes to the potluck, but I just couldn’t keep all that food in my fridge, so it was better to share it with everyone, rather than give it to the chickens. Also, I took a loaf of Trader Joe’s Challah Bread, (Braided Egg Bread, we called it in England.), and though it wasn’t as good as the Challah that one of the ladies makes when she is here, it was very good. We also had many other dishes, as usual.
Jay made, and took, a big homemade strawberry pie to the potluck. He insisted that it needed a topping, so he bought some real whipping cream because I told him that we didn’t want any of that chemically laden artificial stuff in a tub, and the squirt cans aren’t much better. He wanted to take two pies and a bunch of homemade pralines, but I told him that the congregation wasn’t into that much sweet stuff anymore. They are trying to eat healthy, after all our bodies are a temple of The Holy Spirit who you have from the LORD. (19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?) 1 Corinthians 6:19 New King James Version (NKJV)
Any way, Jay bet me $10 (not a biblical thing to do), that all the big pie would be eaten, but I won, even though the pie was delish. Maybe it was because no one wanted to appear greedy and eat that last slice. (Gambling is leaving to chance what you should trust to our Lord. Christians should trust in the providence of God and not in "chance" to provide for them. This is why gambling cannot be endorsed biblically.)
Even after cooking all those veggies I still had several big sweet potatoes, so I just threw them in a crockpot on High while Zack and I worked in the mini-house this morning. We were doing some odd jobs and moving things out of there to make more working room. The potatoes were done at lunch time but Zack doesn’t like sweet potatoes, so I have enough for myself for several days. Then I threw a bag of Trader Joe’s Potato Medley, red, yellow and purple potatoes, in the crock pot in the afternoon. Just wash them and throw them in, so easy. Now I can store them in the fridge and freezer, instead of the vegetable basket where they might draw fruit-flies.
Now, if you ever want an easy way to cope with a butternut squash, which is so hard to cut and peel, just throw it in a crock pot on low for several hours, and it will cut up nicely. Just have the measurement of your crock pot with you, so that you will get a squash that fits in there! One of my crock pots is oval so that is my one for butternut squash.
The Bible readings were Gen. 28:10-32:3, Hos. 12:13-14:10 and John 1:19-51, and the Teaching was more about how the Reformation and Martin Luther’s actions 500 years ago still impact us today.