Should Christians celebrate Christmas? Is Christmas Christian? Is Christmas biblical? Read on to learn why Christmas is not a Christian holiday.
As millions of people around the world decorate trees, wrap and give gifts, and tell their children the story of Santa Claus—a fundamental question must be answered. Is Christmas really “Christian”?
Because of the attention paid to the story of Christ’s birth and the carols celebrating the baby Jesus, many may be shocked to hear a Christian say: “I don’t celebrate Christmas because it is not Christian to do so.”
Why would a Christian—someone who strongly believes that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior—make a conscious decision to reject Christmas? Isn’t Christmas biblical?
Why would Christians not celebrate Christmas?
Is Christmas an evil holiday?
Four reasons Christmas is not a Christian holiday
Let’s consider four reasons why Christmas doesn’t meet the criteria of being “Christian.”
1. Christmas is not Christian because it is associated with many pagan birth myths—and Dec. 25 was not the date of Christ’s birth.
Though Dec. 25 is considered the birthday of Jesus by a large segment of Christendom, there is no evidence that this was actually the date He was born. The Bible does not give us Christ’s date of birth, but it gives some clues that it was at a warmer time of the year.
Dec. 25 wasn’t assigned to be the date of Christ’s birth until about 300 years after He was born. Why, you may ask, would this date have been chosen so long after the fact?
The basic answer is, Dec. 25 was chosen to encourage followers of a variety of pagan religions that celebrated that day to convert to Christianity. Those pagan celebrations included the Roman Saturnalia and the birthday of the Persian god Mithra.
2. Christmas is not Christian because most Christmas traditions come from paganism, not the Bible.
The time of year chosen, starting a week before Christmas, correlates with the pagan festival of Saturnalia. This was celebrated in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Two of the traditions of Saturnalia that live on today in Christmas include gift giving and fabulous light displays.
However, God instructs us to never worship Him with pagan practices: “You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things” (Deuteronomy 12:4).
Historians also connect Dec. 25 with the Roman festival of dies natalis solis invicti (“the birthday of the unconquered sun”).
According to Academus Education, “The date of December 25th specifically likely comes from the Roman festival of dies natalis solis invicti (‘day of the birth of the unconquered sun’), a festival specifically celebrating the birth of the sun. This festival was more specifically religious than the general merriment of Saturnalia, and it is noted that Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was brought up in the cult of the Sun, so it is possible that the date of Christmas was designed to replace this festival specifically rather than the more ambiguous dates of Saturnalia” (Mansi Dhoka, “How Saturnalia Became Christmas: The Transition From Ancient to Present and Pagan to Christian,” Dec. 29, 2021).
Since the term pagan is not used as much today, it is important we understand its meaning. Paganism refers to religious worship of gods other than the true God of the Bible. Pagan worship often involves polytheism (worship of multiple gods) and often centers on worshipping elements of nature.
3. Christmas is not Christian because lying is not Christian. There is no Santa Claus. Parents shouldn’t lie to their children.
One of the most popular Christmas customs involves telling children that there is a jolly, potbellied man named Santa Claus who delivers Christmas gifts to all good children around the world.
Of course, this myth is found nowhere in the Bible.
Is it Christian for parents to teach this myth to their children? The Bible is very clear that lying is a sin: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
How can we exclude children from this commandment? Is telling a lie not a lie if we tell it to children? Obviously, no. A lie is a lie. (To learn why being truthful is so important, read “Ninth Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness.”)
For more insight about the lies told to children during Christmastime, read “Christmas Is Not for Kids.”
4. Christmas is not Christian because there are Christian holy days that Jesus Himself kept—and Christmas is not one of them.
Leviticus 23 lists seven festivals that God calls His feasts. God’s holy days were created by God for His people. The Bible records that Jesus Christ kept these festivals (Luke 22:15-16; John 7:10). (To learn more, read “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Festivals Jesus Celebrated.”)
Many around the world celebrate these special days every year—to rejoice in and learn of their deep Christian meaning. Instead of keeping pagan holidays—repurposed and labeled as “Christian” hundreds of years after the Bible was written—why not keep the holy days found in the Bible?
To learn more about the deep Christian meaning of the biblical festivals, read “Festival Meaning: What Are the Meanings of Each of God’s Festivals?”
Answering the question: Is Christmas Christian?
So, getting back to our original question: Is Christmas Christian? Let’s answer this by asking four similar questions based on the points above:
- Is it Christian to worship Christ’s birth on the birthday of the ancient sun god?
- Is it Christian to keep ancient pagan worship practices alive by calling them Christian?
- Is it Christian to lie to children about a mythical figure’s existence?
- Is it Christian to ignore the festivals sanctioned in the Bible to keep holidays found nowhere in the Bible?
The answers to these questions point to the answer to the original question: No, Christmas is not Christian.
Consider the words of the Man that Christmas is supposed to celebrate: “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9).
This year, instead of celebrating Christmas, why not study the true festivals that God reveals in the Bible and learn about their deep meanings?
No, Christmas is not Christian and never has been. But there are special days that are.
Topics Covered: Holidays