It’s that time of the year again. The traffic is heavier, everyone seems more rushed than usual, and a sort of insane commercial craziness takes hold, as people prepare for the popular winter festival. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I sometimes wonder if people don‘t drive even more aggressively than usual, as they rush around, frantically trying to complete their Christmas shopping. Ah, the Christmas spirit!
One recent survey predicted the average Christmas shopper in the United States will spend around $854 this year on Christmas gifts, an increase of 32 percent over 2011. Quite a chunk of change in a nation that is still struggling to emerge from recession and worried about the possibility of falling off a “fiscal cliff” in just a couple of weeks!
Strangely, in the midst of all this frenzied commercialism, most people don’t take the time to stop and ask the big question: Where did Christmas come from? It’s believed to be a Christian festival, but is it? The truth may surprise you.
Fact is, Christmas is nowhere to be found in the Bible, and it’s even implicitly disproved in the pages of the New Testament. We read that there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night at the time Jesus was born (Luke 2:8). Had the Savior been born in December, the flocks would not have been out at night, since the weather is too cold at that time of year. What’s more, a census was taken right at the time Jesus was born (Luke 2:4-6). The cold depth of winter, with its short, dark days, would not have been the time for that!
But even non-Christian history is clearly aware of the real origins of Christmas. Notice this, from an op-ed piece by writer Douglas Morrison:
“The date of Christmas, December 25, was borrowed from another religion. At the time Christmas was created in AD 336, Mithraism was very popular. The early Christian church had gotten tired of their futile efforts to stop people celebrating the solstice and the birthday of Mithras, the Persian sun god. Mithras’ birthday was December 25. So Pope Julius I decided to make Jesus’ official birthday coincide with Mithras’ birthday. All honest Biblical scholars (Christian and non Christian) admit and agree that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25. Dec. 25 became the consensus date, and a logical way to assimilate the pagan, and Earth based Winter Solstice gatherings into the Christian religion. The writings in the Bible contradict the creation of Christmas on Dec. 25 because of weather. The shepherds and their flocks were not ‘in the fields’; they were in shelter; no one travelled in mid winter (it was too hard), and a manger at night on Dec. 25 in Bethlehem was very cold. The Holy Family’s whole journey, if at all, started at another time of the year.”
That’s from an article titled “How the Winter Solstice Was Stolen by Christmas,” on Dec. 24, 2010.
Pagan origins? Winter solstice festival? Crazed commercialism? Overspending? Isn’t it time you took a look at why you keep Christmas? Isn’t it time to reevaluate whether or not this is even something Jesus Himself would approve?
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Ralph Levy.