My first Christmas as a new Christian was awesome.
After all, I was a baby in the faith. I wasn’t shrouded by cynicism and controversy over the holiday. I didn’t know any of that stuff. I just knew I loved Jesus more than probably anyone else (Lordhavemercy) and that this holiday was all about Him.
The following year, I found out the truth. Christians stole Christmas from the pagans.
That ruined it. I didn’t put up a Christmas tree because of Jeremiah 10:3-4. No more Santa or cookies or stockings or presents. The decorations stayed in their boxes and all traditions were cancelled. Christmas day was a bust. My family woke up and glared at me all day. I went back to bed.
I wanted so badly to celebrate it, but…how could I?
Since then, we have observed about eight Christmases, and I’ve slowly reached the point of going full-swing again. However, I’m still confused.
As Christians, should we, or should we not celebrate Christmas?
A few weeks ago during my quiet time, I asked Jesus what topic I should write about. I felt Him say, Christmas. I balked. Because of my conflict, I am the worst candidate for writing about the holiday. However, Father always knows best.
Let’s Make Friends with the World
Christmas became a civic holiday celebrated by Christians only after Christianity was declared the Roman state religion in 529 A.D. (By the way, marrying the ancient Roman government to Christianity was a terrible idea. Still is. Another discussion for another time.)
Consider the following quote:
“The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time, much opposed by the more austere leaders among the still-minority Christian sect…After Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday.”
– (The Buffalo News, Nov. 22, 1984, emphasis mine)
Also, some Christian groups do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate birthdays – to them, birthday parties are pagan rituals for pagan gods.
And let’s be honest, the only birthday celebration recorded in the Bible is not a positive one: during the celebration, King Herod was so intrigued by his wife’s daughter’s dancing that he asked her for whatever she wanted. Unfortunately, she wanted the head of John the Baptist – a great preacher and teacher – on a platter. He gave it to her.
The bottom line is, Christmas was not celebrated by the early Church.
When Was Christ Born?
Some people believe Christ was born in winter. However, He was probably born in autumn. There’s much evidence.
In Israel, sheep are taken out to pasture and remain night and day from March to around September. After that, they’re brought home. Luke 2:8 says shepherds were watching their sheep “night and day” during when the angels appeared to proclaim Jesus’ birth, so it definitely wasn’t winter – too cold.
Also, we can estimate He was born in fall by counting backwards from His death on Passover, spring of 33 A.D. This would put His birth in the early fall of 3 B.C.
By these accounts, it seems silly that Christians celebrate Christmas. After all, it appears Christians adopted it only to appease the ruling government at the time, and Christ wasn’t even born on December 25th.
But We Have Freedom in Christ
There’s another side to the story, however: Christ gave us liberty to celebrate whatever we like.
Galatians 5:1 and 2 Corinthians 3:17 says we have freedom in Christ. Colossians 2:16 says you should not let anyone judge you about what you eat, drink, or the religious festivals you celebrate. Colossians 3:17 says whatever we choose to do should be done for the glory of the Lord.
Last, Romans 14:1-23 says we shouldn’t quarrel over opinions like this, and that each person answers to God separately.
So, Which Position is Correct?
There are two sides when it comes to your decision: (1) to reject the holiday due to vast evidence of its non-Christian roots and Scripture against prioritizing tradition over truth, or (2) to celebrate your freedom in Christ and partake.
Scripture gives us no clear answer. Could that be for a reason?
I recently asked my Facebook buddies if, taking into account Christmas’s pagan roots, Christians should celebrate the holiday. Ironically, not one Christian was against it. And non-Christians supported the holiday due to its emphasis on peace and goodwill towards mankind.
As a child, I wasn’t really aware of Christ and His story. However, every Christmas I would see and hear people talk of a Savior and how He was born Christmas day. It caught my attention and made me want to know more.
We should not discount the evangelical potential of the holiday.
However, whatever choice we make, one thing is certain: we must make it together. There is unmatched power in numbers. If we choose to celebrate Christ’s birth in autumn, let’s do it together.
Let’s remember the true enemy: Satan, who seeks to divide us. If we choose not to partake at all, let’s do it as a team.
After all, we’re the Church. We can accomplish anything (Philippians 4:13.)
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