Is Christmas a pagan holiday?
Should Christians even celebrate Christmas?
This has been a topic of much debate, but one that I never really paid much attention too.
Based on my research there are many seemingly valid reasons to be against the celebration of such a joyous occasion.
Some of them are quite convincing.
So much so that I even considered giving up Christmas.
However, as with anything we read, it’s always best to dig a little deeper and take it to the Lord in prayer.
Today we’re going to take a look at the top 5 reasons why Christians choose not to celebrate Christmas and why I still do.
Top 5 Reason Why Christians Don’t Celebrate Christmas
1. December 25 is Not Christ’s Birthday
For some reason, the authors of the Bible chose not to mention the date of Christ’s birth. Instead, we are left with a few cultural and historical hints to try to surmise when he was born.
- The shepherds were in the field with their sheep the night he was born.
- The possible timing of the Roman census of the people of Israel.
This has caused a lot of debate based on cultural and geographical arguments about shepherding and the weather during that time of year in Bethlehem, etc.
My Two Cents
Does it really matter that December 25th is not our Lord and Saviors’ exact birthday?
There are plenty of holidays that we celebrate in the US that are not on the correct date.
For instance Martin Luther King’s birthday is January 15, however, we celebrate his birthday on the 3rd Monday of January.
Which may or may not be on the 15 of January.
Thanksgiving is always the 4th Thursday in November, but it is not celebrated on the exact date it happened in history.
2. Christmas is a Pagan Holiday
Many parts of Christmas traditions have their roots in paganism.
In many pagan cultures winter was a time of feasting and celebration of the winter solstice.
In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule (where we get our yule log tradition).
In Germany, the Germans celebrated their god Oden during this time.
According to mythology, Oden flew through the sky at night to observe his people based on his observation he would determine who would prosper or die (Sounds like a scary Santa).
The Romans had three main celebrations during this time:
- Saturnalia-honored Saturn the god of agriculture.
- Juvenalia- a feast that honored children.
- Mithra’s birthday (December 25th)-celebrated the god of the sun
Let’s stop right there for a moment with that last bullet point.
My Two Cents
Talk about things that make you say hmmm!
According to the history books, Pope Julius I chose December 25, as the official day to celebrate Christmas.
It is widely believed that this date was chosen to adopt the pagan traditions of that time.
*Fun fact: Did you know that Christmas was not celebrated in America until the 19th century?!
So you mean to tell me that the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, used to be the day that people celebrated the birth of a pagan god?!
While this piece of information is alarming and should be enough of a reason to give any Christian pause it still isn’t enough for me to abandon Christmas.
I’ve never known this god nor is he the reason that I celebrate Christmas.
For me and my family, Christmas has and always will be the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
3. We Are Not Command to Celebrate His Birth
Nowhere in the bible does it tell us to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, if it’s not in the bible, then we should not celebrate it.
My Two Cents
I’m not even sure that this is really a compelling reason not to celebrate Christmas.
But it is a valid reason simply because it’s true.
Nowhere in the bible does Jesus command us to celebrate his birth.
However, we are also not commanded to celebrate his death, burial, and resurrection.
Yet, millions of people all over the world celebrate Easter.
Because it is a moment in time worth celebrating and remembering.
Just as his miraculous birth is worth celebrating and remembering.
Millions of children all over the world are taught to believe in a jolly old man that flies around the world delivering toys to good girls and boys.
So what is the problem with jolly old Saint Nick?
- Santa is a mythical person who sees and knows all, which gives him god-like qualities.
- When children learn that they have been lied to they will no longer trust their parents and believe in the supernatural.
- Santa teaches children to be materialistic.
- Santa is a distraction from Christ.
My Two Cents
I totally agree with the fact that Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christmas.
As a child, I found it very strange that some old man in a red suit was spying on me to see if I was being good and wondering how he got into our house when we didn’t have a chimney.
All my questions were answered one day when I snuck downstairs on Christmas eve to find my parents wrapping gifts in the wee hours of the night.
While I was disappointed I never felt like I had been lied to or that I shouldn’t trust my parents again.
As far as Santa teaching children to be materialistic…let’s be real.
Children by nature tend to be selfish and materialistic. Especially when they are little. I’m not sure this is something that we can blame Santa for.
I agree that Santa can distract children from Christ.
Almost to the point where Santa can become an idol to the child during this time of the year.
If you want to read more about Santa Claus being an idol check out this post by T.R. Noble over on blog Inside Cup.
As a Christian parent, it is my job to make sure that my children understand that Christmas is about Christ, not Santa or the gifts that they get under the tree.
My kids are taught from a young age that Christmas is about Christ and that Santa isn’t real.
While it’s fun to watch all of the Christmas movies that come on tv about Santa, Jack Frost, Frosty the Snowman, etc. Jesus will always be the reason for the season.
5. Christmas Tree’s Are Forbidden by the Bible
Of all of the objections found on this list, the Christmas tree argument is the one that is often backed up with scripture.
The two most common scriptures used to support this statement are:
Thus says the LORD…“For the customs of the people are a delusion, Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold, they fasten it with nails and with hammers. So that it will not totter.”
To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? As for the idol, a craftsman cast it, A goldsmith plates it with gold And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. He who is too impoverished for such an offering. Selects a tree that does not rot. He seeks out for himself a skilled craftsman.To prepare an idol that will not totter.
My Two Cents
This is one of the reasons why it’s always important to go back and read scriptures for yourself.
Especially, when someone uses scripture to defend their actions or choice.
These two scriptures when taken out of context certainly make you think that they are talking about Christmas trees. But, these passages of scripture are actually talking about idols, which were often carved out of wood and covered with metal and decorated.
Can a Christmas tree be an idol?
Yes, it can be an idol just like your car, job, or family can become an idol.
If you spend most of your Christmas worrying about the decorations and what your tree looks like, then you have taken your focus off of Christ and made it about your decorations and material possessions.
In spite of the reasons listed above I still chose to celebrate Christmas.
If the writers of the Gospels thought that the date of Jesus’ birth was important they would have included it.
The fact that December 25 was originally associated with the birth of a pagan is irrelevant.
The Roman Catholic church decided to abandon their pagan god to celebrate the birth of the true and living God was a step in the right direction.
Christ never commanded us to celebrate any specific holidays or special events aside from the Lord’s supper, the command to love one another just as he loved us and to love the Lord our God with all heart, soul, and strength.
While there are many aspects of Christmas that are rooted in pagan practices that doesn’t mean that Christmas is pagan.
Many of the pagan roots of these practices are unknown or no longer practiced.
You can still celebrate Christmas without Christmas trees, Santa Clause and his elves or the exchanging of gifts.
But it was the words of the Apostal Paul that convinced me that it was ok for me to Celebrate Christmas.
” Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master, he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man regards a certain day above the others, while someone else considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes a special day does so to the Lord; he who eats does so to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.”Romans 14:4-6, emphasis mine
It doesn’t matter the origin of the holiday or the date.
If you celebrate Christmas as a way to honor the birth of the savior and to give him the praise glory and honor he’s do, then none of that other stuff matters.
If you choose not to celebrate Christmas because of the reasons listed above, then that’s fine too.
As long as whatever you choose is done because you feel that it honors the Lord, then there is no condemnation.
As fellow believers in Christ, we should respect the choices of our brothers and sisters and not condemn them no matter how they choose to celebrate this joyous time of the year.
Now it’s your turn.
Do you celebrate Christmas? Why or Why not?
Just a friendly remind to be kind and respectful with your responses.
If your interested in ways to focus on Christ this Christmas then read my post on 15 activities to Help You Keep Christ in Christmas.
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Until Next Time