…or some would say. I have read much recently regarding the idea that Christmas has many pagan roots and should not be observed by Christians. These arguments are as follows:
- Many ancient mythologies held that their chief god was born on or around Christmas
- Christmas day (December 25) was originally meant to celebrate those gods, as were the traditions that we observe (Christmas trees, Yule Logs, Red and Green Decorations, etc)
- The Church tried to make conversion to Christianity as painless as possible so they just adopted as many religious celebrations as possible from surrounding religions and made them a part of the Christian calendar.
If you find this hard to believe, simply google search something like “Pagan ties to Christmas” and you’ll find links to plenty of information regarding this. And then this has circulated a bit:
Be that as it may
Christmas is one of those holidays that has been debated throughout the years. From those who want to “put Christ back into Christmas” (instead of the “X” that “replaces” His name and actually has more noble roots than many Christmas traditions, says also R.C. Sproul), including those who will refuse to shop places that don’t wish you a Merry Christmas (read Jared Willson on this one), to those who hold the view mentioned above, everyone seems to have an opinion on how to “celebrate right.”
But should we still celebrate Christmas? If it is associated with all of those pagan (and thus, false) deities, shouldn’t we just reject it as something from Satan? Let’s think about that.
- Are we glad that Jesus came to earth? We had best better be! There is something to be said about that old hymn: “Living he loved me, dying he saved me…” We are exceedingly overjoyed that Jesus came and died, so we should be exceedingly overjoyed that He came and died.
- Are we commanded to celebrate His birth? We are never told by Paul, Peter, John, or even Jesus Himself to celebrate the day of His birth (otherwise we’d be more sure about His birth date- see below). But we are told to rejoice and celebrate His death until He comes (1 Cor. 11.26). So is it a sin to not celebrate the day of His birth? Nope! But don’t forget that He came, died and rose again!
- Does our culture celebrate birthdays? Yes. If you would give a gift celebrating the birthday of your niece’s husband’s son but not celebrate the fact that your savior came for you, what does that say about your values? Does this mean a big Christmas party? Not necessarily- because nominal Christians are great at throwing those without living a holy life throughout the year. But we have to think about how Jesus looks in our life: isn’t He worth celebrating?
- Do we know when Jesus was born? Contrary to the popular song, Jesus Christ was not born on Christmas day. Many scholars seem to point toward the Spring time as a more accurate time frame. But again, we have no idea.
- Is it wrong to celebrate Jesus’ birth on a day that other pagan gods’ birthdays were celebrated on and in the same manner? This honestly needs to be left up to preference. If you and your family prefer to not celebrate His birth in conjunction with an array of pagan gods, then don’t! For you it is wrong; I see this primarily as a Romans 14 issue. Jesus, God the Son, desires and deserves every ounce of respect and honor from us that we can give. It is only right that we give it to Him in ways consistent with His nature and Word. The moment we demand celebration of Christmas or deny the right of others to do so, we are in sin. But maybe we can use the traditions handed down to us in a manner worthy of Christ and celebrate so much more and so much better than those without Christ because we have a great reason to celebrate: Jesus came to us and was made a mediator between God and man, suffering and dying in our place. Celebrate with joy- we have more of a reason to do so.