Is the Celebration of Christmas Biblical?
Is the Celebration of Christmas, Biblical?
As December 25th quickly nears, and the profound “spirit” of Christmas takes hold, Christians and non-believers alike will come together and celebrate this annual holiday through festive parties, gift-exchange, and get-togethers around the world. As a Bible believing Christian, Christmas has always held a special place in my heart – giving rise to some of the most pleasant and happiest memories of my life. As most people would agree, there is nothing quite like spending time with your family and friends, opening presents together, and watching loved-ones beam with happiness as they open a gift they have wanted for months. More importantly though, it has always been a special occasion to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But as I read my Bible more and more each year, I have increasingly came to a newfound awareness that concerns the truth about Christmas: the ostensive celebration of Christ’s birthday is both wrong and unsupported by Scripture.
Before I continue any further, I want to make a few things abundantly clear: For starters, this article is not an attempt to diminish the importance of Christ’s birth. Nor is it an attempt to criticize Christians or the Church itself. My sole purpose in writing this article is that I believe fundamental fallacies exist with the celebration of Christmas that are not supported by the Bible. And while it is not my goal to encourage people to stop celebrating Christmas altogether, I simply wish to inform my readers of the Scriptural passages (and reasoning) that render this holiday false in the eyes of God.
Christmas is Not Supported By Scripture
One of the first things you will notice when studying Scripture is that the word “Christmas” is not mentioned in any verse, chapter, or book of the Bible. None of Jesus’ disciples, nor any of His apostles attempted to celebrate the miraculous birth of our Lord and Savior. The celebration of Christmas was not celebrated by the early Church either. In fact, the practice of Christmas did not begin to take hold until the 4th Century, under the Roman Catholic Church. This fact is substantiated with any quick search of an Encyclopedia, or Google.
The absence of “Christmas” in the Bible, therefore, is reason enough to doubt its legitimacy. As II Timothy 3:16 (KJV) states: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” In a response to the meaning behind this verse, the late Dr. Charles Halff was correct when he said, “God’s Word tells us how we’re supposed to worship, how we’re supposed to give money for the Lord’s work, how to evangelize the lost, how to take the Lord’s Supper, and everything else pertaining to the Christian life. But not once in the Bible does God tell us to celebrate Christmas” (Halff, 1).
Christmas is Rooted in Paganism
In addition to Christmas having no Scriptural basis, it is important to note that the celebration of this holiday did not stem from Christian or Church-based doctrines. In fact, modern Christmas practices evolved directly from pagan traditions that predated the birth of Christ.
According to history.com, these traditions were taking place across Europe several centuries before the arrival of Christ. In Germany, for instance, Christmas-like practices were observed by followers of Oden (the god of war and death). Likewise, in Scandinavia, Christmas-like traditions were practiced during the celebration of Yule. Even in Rome, festivities surrounding the birthday of the Sun god, Mithra, were all too common during the days surrounding the Winter Solstice and mimicked modern-day Christmas customs. To accommodate the needs and desires of the people under Roman rule, therefore, Christian leaders in the Catholic Church attempted to embrace aspects from each of these traditions through their creation of a Christmas celebration. The end result of these efforts was a celebration that served to celebrate the birth of Christ while preserving pagan rituals for the purpose of appeasing and pacifying resistance to Rome.
Thus, according to these findings, the celebration of Christmas is not Christian at all; rather, it is a result of pagan religions and customs that found their way into the early Church. As any Christian knows, the adoption or practice of paganism is completely unacceptable in the eyes of Christ. As Jeremiah 10:2 (KJV) states: “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen.” Nor are we (Christians) to mix God’s name with unholy things of the world. Ezekiel 20:39 (KJV) makes this point abundantly clear with the statement: “pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.”
***Side Note*** -- Did you know that the word Christmas is actually derived from two words? The term comes from the words "Christ" and "Mass" due to its Catholic origins. Therefore, if you consider yourself a part of the Protestant faith (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc), you are actually celebrating a Catholic holiday when you embrace Christmas each year.
The Christmas Tree and Santa Claus
The Christmas tree and Santa Claus are perhaps the two most symbolic and central themes of modern Christmas celebrations. Yet, these two symbols follow unbiblical paths as well. One interesting aspect that both of these encompass, however, is that the Bible explicitly condemns the practice of both.
Like most Christmas traditions, the chopping down (and decoration) of a Christmas tree stemmed from pagan practices that existed prior to the birth of Christ. Tribes and civilizations all over the globe used evergreen trees to “keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness” (history.com). It wasn’t until the 16th Century that trees became a major part of Christmas celebrations. Yet, a quick examination of the Bible shows the fallacy in such practices. In Jeremiah 10:2-4, 8, God’s Word states: “Learn not the way of the heathen…For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not…But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.”
Here we have a perfect description of the modern Christmas tree, as we see it today. The Bible clearly warns Christians to “learn not the way of the heathen.” Yet, Christians continue to adorn trees with lights and ornaments to beautify their homes and to have something nice to gaze upon during the holiday season. It is even a common practice for churches to decorate their auditoriums with Christmas trees during the month of December, even though such practices are explicitly condemned by Scripture.
But, you might ask, “why are things such as this wrong to practice?” The reason lies in the fact that these trees encourage forms of idolatry. 1 John 5:21 states: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Likewise, Leviticus 19:4 states: “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” As can clearly be seen, the Bible strictly forbids any forms of idolatry as they distract our attention away from our Lord in Heaven. Taken in this light, the decoration of a Christmas tree is no different than idol worship. How many of you have sat up all night watching and admiring your Christmas tree? -- Like most, even I am guilty of this.
Santa Claus follows a similar pattern in idol worship, yet the problem with him lies far deeper than simple idolatry. While adults are able to distinguish between truth and fiction, children are often times incapable of making such distinctions and are heavily dependent upon their parents, family, and society to alert them to deception. Yet, society has adopted the practice of lying to our children and propagating the concept of a mythical figure that rides around once a year, delivering gifts to all the good boys and girls of the world. We scold our children when they lie to us; yet we are all guilty of the same sin when it comes to Christmas. We tell children of the miraculous nature of Santa Claus – year after year – only to watch them be heartbroken when they finally learn the truth later on in life.
The propagation of such stories is wrong in two fundamental ways: For one, lying is a sin no matter how you spin it. And in the eyes of God, all sin is an abomination. Psalms 101:7 (KJV) states, "he that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." More importantly though, these “little” lies to our children affect them in more ways than one. Not only do they learn that we (parents) cannot always be trusted, but we even run the risk of pushing them away from God as well. By pushing such lies upon them, this leaves the door wide open for children to begin doubting their belief in a God up above. Think about it like this, you lie to your child for years about the presence of Santa Claus. But at the same time, you tell them about the miraculous nature and love of Christ. Once your children learn the truth about Santa Claus, however, you have also allowed for the temptation to enter their minds that Christ does not exist either. "If mom and dad lied to me once, then perhaps they are lying to me again."
**Side Note** -- Have you ever noticed that the letters in the word "Santa" can be rearranged to spell the word, "Satan?" Coincidence or not?
In addition to the lies and idolatry present in Christmas traditions is the consumer-based nature that surrounds the season. Malls and stores are literally packed with people during the last few weeks before Christmas, with individuals spending everything they have in order to buy last-minute presents and gifts for family, friends, and co-workers. Christmas often marks the largest profits of the year for businesses as the world scurries to procure items for the 25th.
What is interesting about this, however, is the fact that society performs gift-exchange for the purpose of celebrating Christ's birth. Individuals cite the gifts presented to Christ by the Wise Men of the East as an indication of how we should celebrate His birth. Yet, this custom is both wrong and full of fallacies that do not follow Scriptural doctrines.
For one thing, the Wise Men did not exchange gifts with Christ at His birthday. They PRESENTED Him with gifts, but did not receive any in return. In the Far East cultures of this time, bringing gifts to a King was both customary and obligatory as it demonstrated signs of honor and respect. Yet in today's culture, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ by giving everyone (except Jesus) gifts and presents. This brings me to an interesting question: How many birthday parties have you ever been to where everyone in the room gets presents except the birthday girl/boy? None! This simply does not happen! Yet, in modern society, this is precisely what occurs at Christmas time. We give gifts to everyone except our Lord in Heaven. We give little (or nothing) to charity work or Christian organizations, yet we spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on one another. This is simply wrong and unbiblical, regardless of your thoughts on the truth behind Christmas.
More importantly, societal norms have taught us that we are either a "Grinch" or "Scrooge" if we do not buy one another gifts during this time. To escape this labeling, we spend everything that we have; charging our credit cards and draining our bank accounts to the last dollar in order to buy gifts and avoid the shame. What does the Bible say about debt? Proverbs 22:26 (KJV) states: "Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts."
Worldwide Practice and Observance of Days
Finally, one last item that I would like to mention about the unscriptural basis of Christmas lies in the fact that it is both practiced worldwide, and is observed annually.
As Christians, the Bible is direct when it states that we are not to love the things of this world; nor are we to observe any day above another. As 1 John 2:15 (KJV) states: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The fact that Christmas is practiced worldwide, therefore, should be a strong sign, in itself, that Christmas is not Biblical for Christians. As Jesus said in Luke 16:15, “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” More importantly though, Christians are commanded in Galatians 4:10-11 to not observe days of the year such as Christmas, for they are an abomination to the Lord God. As it states: “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
In closing, research and self-study has led me to conclude that Christmas is not sanctioned by Scripture. Nor is it admired by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
While holidays will always be a major part of our lives on Earth, I encourage you to think upon this short list of items pertaining to Christmas. Although I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind about the realities of Christmas, I do hope that you can arrive at a similar conclusion as me: 1.) The worship and celebration of our Lord’s birth can (and should) occur every day in our lives, and should not be limited to just once (or a few times) a year. 2.) If you decide to continue celebrating Christmas, I believe it is possible to do so if you are truly honoring God through it all; only if you possess a working knowledge of Christmas' origins and celebrate it with the right frame of mind. Definitely understand, however, that the celebration of Christmas is not a requirement spelled out by the Bible.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it!
History.com Staff. "History of Christmas." History.com. 2009. Accessed December 16, 2016. http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas.
Charles Halff. "The Truth About Christmas." San Antonio, Texas: The Christian Jew Foundation.
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© 2016 Larry Slawson