If you profess Christianity, now is a good time to consider why Dec. 25 is kept so fervently by so many, yet is totally devoid of New Testament support.
My wife and I have been married for 50 years, and we still treasure some photographs—taken in an obviously Christmas setting just a few months after we met. Like people in many parts of the world, we realize that Christmas celebrations are generally memorable family occasions.
So why ever would a Christian choose not to celebrate Christmas?
Well, my wife and I stopped celebrating it many years ago. Here are three major reasons we decided we could no longer keep the popular holiday.
Reason 1: We don’t know when Christ was born.
Several dates have been proposed for the birth of Christ, but Dec. 25 is by far the most common. However, there is no biblical evidence to support this date.
Philip Schaff in History of the Christian Church makes the following comments:
“The only indication of the season of our Saviour’s birth is the fact that the Shepherds were watching their flocks in the field at the time, Luke 2:8. This fact points to any other season rather than winter, and is therefore not favorable to the traditional date. … The time of pasturing in Palestine (which has but two seasons, the dry and the wet, or summer and winter) begins according to the Talmudist, in March, and lasts till November, then the herds are brought in from the fields, and kept under shelter till the close of February” (Vol. 1, Apostolic Christianity, A.D. 1-100, p. 127).
Some insist that even though we do not know the exact date, Dec. 25 is as good a date as any to celebrate Christ’s birth and have a good time.
But what is the ancient history behind Dec. 25? How, when and why did Dec. 25 festivities become Christianized?
Reason 2: It was celebrated in pagan Rome.
Dec. 25 was part of Saturnalia celebrations held in pre-Christian Rome with uninhibited lawlessness. During that period nobody could be prosecuted for damaging other people’s property. Even worse was the tradition that each year an innocent person was forcefully selected by mob rule to be considered an “enemy of Rome.” He or she was mercilessly murdered on the concluding day of their festival, Dec. 25.
Wouldn’t connecting Jesus Christ to the date of vile pagan celebrations be an abomination to Him?
“The festival began [on Dec. 17] when Roman authorities chose ‘an enemy of the Roman people’ to represent the ‘Lord of Misrule.’ Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman” (SimpleToRemember.com).
There is clearly no basis for celebrating Christ’s birthday on any date, but even if there were, would He or His Father pick the explicitly heathen Dec. 25?
Reason 3: Jesus warned about human traditions.
Jesus Christ warned the Pharisees of His time to reconsider their futile “traditions”—and He commands all Christians to do likewise.
“Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:6-9, emphasis added throughout).
The Old Testament is filled with warnings specifically about mixing pagan traditions with the worship of the true GodAnd the Old Testament is filled with warnings specifically about mixing pagan traditions with the worship of the true God: “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’” (Deuteronomy 12:30).
Church leaders, sacrificing their own professed Christianity, succeeded in converting large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue their old customs. But, sadly, they ignored the above warnings against such blending.
Jesus was never in Christmas
This time of year, we often hear the phrase Put Jesus back in Christmas! But, as we have shown, Jesus Christ was never in Christmas! God never made Dec. 25 “holy” as only God can.
On the other hand God did make holy seven annual holy days in the Bible, and Jesus Christ has center stage in every one of them. Each holy day enlightens us further about Jesus Christ’s role in God’s plan of salvation.
To learn more, view our short videos in the “Feasts of the Lord” series on the Learning Center at LifeHopeandTruth.com.
Topics Covered: Holidays