There are Christians who have qualms over in celebrating Christmas. Christians believe it is wrong-headed to participate Christmas because it has roots in paganism and therefore should not be practiced. Christmas, having a pagan roots is hardly undisputed. But should Christians shun Christmas because of its heathen-like elements? There was, for example, a Saturnal celebration around the time of Christmas that pagans celebrated. Before Christmas there was a Roman feast of the Unconquered Sun (Lat. Sol Invictus) celebrated on December 25th. Later, Constantine replaced this non-Christian feast with a celebration of “Christ’s birth.”
The other reason why few of these Christians does not participate Christmas is due to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t born in December 25th; Lukan narrative tells us that, “There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over there flock by night” (2:8).
Shepherds would normally not be in the fields so late in the year. The Scripture is silent about what date Jesus was born. Besides, nowhere in the Bible that commands believers to “celebrate” Christmas or even to celebrate Christ’s birth. So what is the proper answer to this question?
While I disagree with my fellow brothers in their argument for not celebrating Christmas, I, however, show much respect for their commitment.
Yet, I do not see any reasons why the body of Christ should be divided in this issue. While there are few Christians who believes that celebrating Christmas is un-Christian, other believes that it is okay to celebrate Christmas (I belong to this camp).
But what about the objections above, sincere Christians has objected against Christmas? Isn’t Christmas unbiblical? My first answer to this is that since the Bible didn’t explicitly forbid or condone Christmas I think it can be very legalistic to say that sincere Christians are forbidden in celebrating Christmas.
Being legalistic means that we adjudicate rules that aren’t God’s rules, but in fact man-made rules, and we try to make our own rules equal with God’s rules. For example, we take man-made rules that Christians should be prohibited going movies, or play video games. The Bible did not say we shouldn’t train martial arts or physical fitness are we then to neglect these practices? I don’t know about you, but I refuse to live a stagnant life and suffer from obesity which has a higher chance in cardiac arrest!
I want to learn martial arts in order for me to defend myself and my neighbour but since these weren’t specifically mentioned in the Bible then obviously, according to the logic of anti-Christmas crowed, are bad!
We take our own rules that we apply in our church, and apply it all to Christians. That’s a type of legalism. In other words, we make things wrong that the Bible doesn’t make wrong. Further, just because the Scripture do not mention about Christmas should not to be equated as a prohibition.
Furthermore, the Bible does not mention many good things the church does (choir, sunday-school etc.,) either. Are we then to stop these activities just because the Bible did not mention these things? Of course not! Argument from silence is not really not a case against Christmas. Also, the fact that we cannot be absolutely certain about our Savior’s date of birth does not negate the possibility of celebrating His birth.
By not celebrating Christmas because its has elements from pagan is the position known as “guilt by association.” Certainly there is no scriptural command to celebrate Christmas, but there is no warrant for saying that to do so is forbidden. I believe that celebrating Christmas is fully legitimate even though there may have some pagan elements that were rooted with Christmas.
That doesn’t make our celebration of Christmas the same as pagan celebration. In fact, it’s quite different. We are celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. In addition, it is good to celebrate Christmas because we are celebrating the resurrection and birth of Christ by doing so.
However, whatever it is we are celebrating we must be sure that our practices are consistent with the Scripture’s explicit commands, and principles, but we are being illogical and legalistic to say that we cannot do something if it is not mention in the Bible.
Possible Biblical Objections Against Christmas?
Most sincere Christians argues that Christmas is indeed a pagan festivities. They often quote biblical passages such as Jeremiah 10:2-4
“Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; 3 For the customs of the peoples are 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.”
And Isaiah 44:14-15, “Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak, and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image, and falls down before it.”
In response? I certainly smell a straw man! Christians who have Christmas trees at home doesn’t necessarily bow and worship the ever green tree. No one does this kind of idolatry. Besides, referring to Jeremiah 10:2-5 as an argument against having Christmas tree is off base.
First, Jeremiah was condemning Idolatry in itself! The bottom line of course is that Christmas is a Catholic initiative and we are aware that Christ was not born in December 25th. Also, there is no sign or indication in the Bible that God wants us to commemorate His birth and so the prohibition in celebrating his birth! What is more important during Christmas is with your attitude and heart toward Christ and keep away from idolatry (1 Jhn. 5:21)!
Greg Peters, an assistant professor at Biola University, an expert in early church history, Peters told Crosswalk.com that there are at least two theories about the way that Dec. 25 was decided on as the observation date of Christ’s birth. “One is that Dec. 25 was this pagan feast. There is also a theory that Dec. 25 was picked based on some early Christian sources that say that Jesus’ death would have been on March 25, based on the year and when the Passover happened.”
Peters explains that according to ancient rabbinic practice, one’s death date was one’s birth date. In case of Jesus, it was March 25. Also in rabbinic tradition, birth is the same as conception. Therefore, if Jesus was “conceived” on March 25th, you add nine months and get Dec. 25.
“Some scholars believe this and say you don’t have to see Christmas just as a Pagan feast day,” says Peters. “It’s also possible to read early Christian authors and see that early Christians appropriated pagan holidays for themselves. The fact that Dec. 25 was a pagan holiday and they could usurp a pagan holiday- I’m sure it wasn’t far from their minds either.”
As for rejecting Christmas because of materialism, “Well,” says Peters, “that is like rejecting Christmas because we are all sinners. It seems to me it’s more a critique of churches than a critique of our culture, because Biblical teaching and example should be strong enough to counter the trend toward materialism.”
The issue isn’t whether to boycott or observe Christmas, Peters adds, “but to observe it properly, maybe recovering Advent or some sense of anticipation of the arrival of our Savior. Liturgically, Christmas is a season, not a day. It’s important to keep in mind although Christmas Day or Dec. 25 may seem very materialistic, that the season itself doesn’t have to be.”