Questioning Christmas Celebrations

Questioning Christmas - Pixabay - CanvaHere’s a question: “Why do you celebrate Christmas when the original celebrations actually started as ‘pagan’ parties?” Many Christians are questioning Christmas celebrations and our many traditions.

We receive that question every year from curious Christians. As a result, we have given this issue a lot of thought and prayer. At first, we were surprised. That is because we actually thought that the Christmas holiday originated as a celebration of the birth of Christ. But since then, we’ve learned that this isn’t so. It’s a like a lot many of our wedding traditions; they also don’t have a Christian origin. Yet Christians have the unique gift of taking that, which is meant for evil and bringing “light” to it.

Questioning Christmas Celebrations

There are so many stories about the originality of the celebration of Christmas, it’s difficult to know what is true. That’s why so many people are questioning Christmas as it is presented in this world. Steve and I asked God what we are supposed to do with all of this. We’ve come to realize that it’s an individual conviction. The Apostle Paul addressed this in Romans 14 concerning the eating of meats that were being sacrificed to idols. The Life Application Bible commentary says:

“Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. While the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities that are expressly forbidden by Scripture, it should not create additional rules and regulations and give them equal standing with God’s law. Many times Christians base their moral judgments on opinion, personal dislikes, or cultural bias rather than on the word of God.”

We (my husband Steve and I) can see where this also applies to celebrating the holiday, which is now known as Christmas.

Questioning Christmas and Researching It

You may ask if the Christmas holiday is really for Christians. As a matter of fact, that’s something that J. Hampton Keathley researched several years back. He grappled with the same questions we did, and came to the same conclusions. Thankfully he wrote an article explaining his findings and beliefs thereafter. We highly recommend you read the following article:

SHOULD CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?

Just the fact that “Christ” is in the title of Christmas gives Steve and me cause to celebrate and pay attention to it. It gives us the opportunity to be “salt and light” to a world God told us to minister to. Turning away from celebrating Christmas because of those who abuse this holiday, we feel, shouldn’t be a viable reason for us, personally. There will always be those who spoil every celebration there is! That’s the depravity of human beings, apart from knowing Christ. You shouldn’t judge celebrations by its abuses.

Celebrate Christ

Any occasion to celebrate Christ is reason for us! We would be “turning off the Light” to the opportunity that is before us to spotlight Christ. He is OUR real reason for celebrating the season! Instead of focusing on the abuses (or the originality) we use this holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ each year. We treat it reverently, with respect. And we also have fun with it, reaching out to others in generosity. Our mission is to share both the love and joy of the Lord. It’s a wonderful evangelistic opportunity for outreach!

All of this is a spiritual decision that you have to decide. There really doesn’t appear to be a right or wrong of doing it unless you’re convicted by the Holy Spirit to do things another way. Pray about it. And then decide what to do, as God leads.

Learn More

To learn more about the traditions of Christmas, and its originality, we’d like to recommend a book to you. It’s titled, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas written by Ace Collins, published by Zondervan. Another great book you might consider is titled, Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. This book is also written by Ace Collins, published by Zondervan.

If you’d like to (or can) order one or both of them through Amazon, through links that are provided. If you order these resources (or anything else) through our web site, you’ll also help this ministry. Amazon sends Marriage Missions a percentage of their profits. We can then reinvest this money into helping marriages.

We know that some of you don’t have the ability to do this for various reasons. But for those of you who can, we want to let you know about this, just in case.

Next week we will provide a Christmas Quiz that might provide good conversations, and even give you something more to discuss with others.

In Closing:

We’ll give you one of the questions as a preview: How many wise men came to see Jesus in the manger?

a. Four

b.The Bible doesn’t say

c. Three

d. None

Here’s the answer that author/researcher Ace Collins gave in a Family Life Today broadcast interview:

“We don’t know how many wise men there were. Thanks to [the Christmas song] ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are,’ we think there were three. The Bible doesn’t say. There could have been 100. We don’t know. But they brought three gifts —frankincense, gold, and myrrh. You had gold, which was the most important, wealthy commodity on the world. You only have presents of gold to kings. Yet this was a humble child in a manger. So they had been given the insight that this was royalty, this was the Son of God.”

The Symbolisms

Ace also pointed out that frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used mainly for funerals. They may have given them “because they knew this child was going to give His life and die” someday. And the myrrh was “sweet-smelling, and Christ’s life was sweet.”

When we as Christians think of the symbolism, it makes us all the more in awe of Christ and our Heavenly Father. And it can cause us to want to celebrate the birth of our King all the more.

We hope this sheds a little more “light” onto your Christmas celebrations. We encourage you to strive to live out God’s peace in your home and the community around you. May you use this holiday as another way to reflect the love, grace, and joy of the Lord.

Cindy Wright

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Comments

8 responses to “Questioning Christmas Celebrations

  1. (USA) I have relatives that loathe the Christmas traditions but they are not understanding what Scripture says.

    That verse in Jeremiah says that the workman cuts down a tree in the forest, carves it with his ax and dips it in gold. That is clearly describing a statue/figurine.

    We do not do the Santa thing for many reasons but mainly because it is a lie. We all know what God thinks of lies for any reason. Santa, “Satan” transposed had a gold sleigh and the devil speaks of his gold throne in the sky. Based on Thor, they put out an offering to appease him so he didn’t eat their children hence, the cookies and milk. I do not force my convictions on others and have instructed my kids not to but it all is what it is.

    We have a tree with a cross on top and tiny Bible or other ornaments of things we love and give gifts but it is all about the birth of Christ, although he was not born that day. As with all things, it should depend on God’s Word for those that claim Him.

    1. And, as usual, taking something good and interpreting it as evil, is what you have done. Santa does not mean satan. Never has. Never will. Read Isaiah 5:20, and, HOPEFULLY, you’ll understand. Santa Claus comes from the Dutch name of St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaus. There is no hint of satan in this name. Nicholas was/is a brother in Christ, who is now part of the great cloud of witnesses in the heavenly realms. This is part of his history, no matter what we, the Catholic Church, or the secular world, have turned him into:

      The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best-known St. Nicholas stories is the time he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married.

      Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

  2. Steve & Cindy, It is an interesting and highly beneficial adventure for each of us to personally explore the Scriptures deeply in an effort to fully understand the reason that we celebrate Christmas (or alternatively, the reason that we don’t celebrate it). It is impossible to be a Christian who regularly attends a church and not be involved, at least a bit, in the celebration of Christmas.

    As an example of the Christmas traditions that we so easily believe and follow, consider this: You asked the question “How many wise men came to see Jesus in the manger?” The Biblical answer is zero. Now, when I give an answer of zero, many Christians will react and take issue with that answer. But if you study the Bible you will discover that the rulers (kings, wise men) who sought out the baby Jesus came to see Him later, well after He would have still been in the manger. Jesus was likely many months old when they came. (Matthew 2:11, they came to a house) Herod knew that Jesus was older than a newborn, which is likely why he ordered all boys up to 3 years old killed (Matthew 2:16, two years old and under). Nevertheless, the 3 wise men have become a part of many Nativity scenes, as if they showed up within hours of when Jesus was born.

    Another interesting question to ask and explore is this: Was Jesus actually born at Christmas? When you explore the Bible to find an answer to this question, you will discover hints that are important to research and understand. For example: We have all read that the shepherds were “keeping watch over their flocks at night” when the angel appeared to them. But where were they? Luke 2:8 says that they were “living out in the fields nearby”, which gives us a hint of the time of year. They would have not had their sheep in the fields if there were crops there, for the sheep would be eating the crops, so this must have been after the crops were harvested. That makes the likely time from June through October, for winter wheat was a common crop grown in that area.

    So, December is most likely not when Jesus was actually born. But when was Jesus born? God gives us many hints. In Luke 1:5 it says that Zechariah “belonged to the priestly division of Abijah”. Historian Flavius Josephus tells us the order in which the priestly divisions served in the temple. Knowing the holy days, the first time of service for that division alone during the holy year was in the June timeframe. Luke 1:23-24 hints that Elizabeth might have become pregnant soon after Zechariah’s service was complete. Luke 1:26-31 says that Mary became pregnant when Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant. This could well have occurred during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, in the December timeframe, as Jesus was the Light of the world. Then if you go forward 9 months, Mary would have been due in the September timeframe. Jesus could well have been born on Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, as He came to dwell (tabernacle) amongst us.

    Many Christians will disagree with this possibility, but if you study the Bible text and historical records and the culture of the time, it is difficult to avoid this strong possibility. And it is especially difficult to continue to avoid when you study the timing of the crucifixion (on Passover, with precise timing to match the events of Passover occurring in the Temple), the 3 days in the tomb (during Unleavened Bread), and the resurrection (on First Fruits), with Jesus being the First Fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23). Historically, there is much evidence that significant events in the life of Jesus and in God’s plan occur on His Feasts and Festivals, precisely on His Jewish calendar.

    So, I definitely agree with you that we each need to reach our own conclusions as to how we should celebrate the birth of Jesus. I encourage everyone to dig deeply into God’s Word to understand what he is telling us about each of these important events in the life of Jesus that we remember and celebrate. May your celebrations remembering Jesus be blessed and covered with His Holy Fingerprints!

    1. Thanks M for these insights. Hopefully, they will help others make their decisions about celebrating the birth of Christ. Whether or not they do so at what is now known as “Christmas” is their decision. But after praying, exploring, and praying some more, we decided that it didn’t matter what specific day Jesus was born. As we figure, it may never be conclusively known on this side of Heaven. But the fact that we DO celebrate His birth is what is most important to us. And since many within this world are more open to celebrating it at Christmas… we are good with that. It’s a great celebration to participate in together. Personally, we see God’s “fingerprints” all over this. It also gives us great evangelical opportunities that we may not have otherwise. We believe that for us, God blesses because of our motives, and the fact that we ARE celebrating this momentous event.

      May God give wisdom and joy to all who read your comment, and lead them as they search for His will. Thanks again for your comment and for sharing your research with all that read this article. God bless!

  3. Last weekend, I taught on this very subject at our house church meeting. I did a PowerPoint presentation on Jesus Christ fulfilling all of the OT messianic prophecies, and the odds related to Him accomplishing this, if He only fulfilled 48 of them: 1^157, or one in a number that has 157 zeros. The Incarnation is the MOST IMPORTANT event in ALL of history. Period. No questions asked.

    My comment to those who get their knickers all twisted in a knot over “Christmas was originally a pagan holiday,” I say, “So were WE!!! WE were pagans once! And, He, the Fullness of the Godhead in bodily form, came to die for our sins and for our forgiveness, and Who now dwells inside our human bodies by His Holy Spirit, chose what was once pagan and made us sons and daughters of the Most High God!

    I’d celebrate “Christmas” ALL YEAR LONG, if I had the energy!!! He became a man, with all the same parts I have, so that we could become the righteousness of God in Christ, and so that we could partake of His Divine Nature. I LOVE CHRISTMAS, no matter what the holiday once was!!!

    1. Michael, we appreciate your response and the thoughts you offered so succinctly on this topic. You reflect Cindy and my sentiments to a “T”. Thanks for sharing them for others to read. We pray you, your family, and your house church have a very blessed Christmas!

  4. In “A Christmas Cornucopia”, Mark Forsyth explains Christmas trees have a Christian origin, not a pagan one. (The pre-Christian European pagans worshipped oak trees, all year round and outside, he tells us.) He goes on to explain that medieval folk were very keen on watching plays, especially as most of them couldn’t read. Many plays were based on stories from the Bible. “They would put them on in church, and they got so enthusiastic that in 1210 the Pope banned all priests from acting on stage because it was beginning to look undignified.”

    The author goes on to explain that the story of Adam and Eve was always popular, and the one thing it required on stage as a prop was a tree, decorated with apples. As the play was performed in wintertime, it needed a tree that was still green at the time, hence the use of a pine.

    Over time, other decorations were added to the apples – ribbons and gingerbread and candles – and the tradition has grown from there. But if you want to have a totally authentic Christmas tree, he says, then you need to have a fake snake in it too, just like in the plays.

    1. Thanks for sharing this. What a delight to read it! May your Christmas be blessed, filled with His presence!