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Where did we get Christmas?

By Larry R. Lasiter

1996

Did Christmas Observance Come From the Bible?

Or Does It's Observance Predate Jesus Christ?

Was Christ Ever Really In Christmas?

There is no holiday more universally accepted as a religious occasion as the observance of Christmas. Professing Christians and non-Christians alike observe the pageantry of the Yule season.  

It's Observance Predates Christ  

But did you know that thousands of years before Christ, -before there was ever anyone called a "Christian", -people went out into the forests and cut down evergreen trees? They trimmed the branches, brought the trees into their homes, nailed them down and decorated them with gold and silver ornaments. They exchanged gifts, sent greeting cards, played games, sang merry songs and feasted with a happy festive seasonal spirit? Although the celebration lasted for days, the chief day was December 25th. All of this took place annually long before the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not the central focus of this festival. In fact, He was not in it at all. Nor was the God Jesus called the Father.  

Why Do We Do What We Do?  

Why do we find ourselves following such customs? Why do "Christians" observe a festival that predates Christ? Why are these things a part of modern Christianity today? Where did they really come from?  

Let's stop and think for a moment. Very few of us ever reflect on why we believe what we do, -why we follow the customs we do. We rarely examine the origins of those customs. And sometimes when we do and are surprised, -we still often think it doesn't really matter because, after all, most everyone else we know is doing it. And in the case of Christmas observance, practically the whole world celebrates it, right?  

We Must Learn to Question  

The fact is, you and I were born into a world filled with customs and traditions, and we grew up accepting them without question. Christmas is one of those most of us accepted without question. Partly because of its outward appearance and its universal acceptance by the Christian Churches. It looks good on the outside, -it claims to honor the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ. Yet there is no command to observe it given to the children of Israel in the Old Testament, nor was it found among the followers of Christ in the New Testament.  

Jesus told the Pharisees (Leaders of a Jewish Religious sect) in Matthew 23 that it was not enough to be clean on the outside. Jesus told them that they were like "dirty cups" which were clean outwardly but were filthy on the inside. And that they must clean the inside as well in order to be pleasing to God. Likewise, our worship of God must be pure and in TRUTH inside and out.  

Why Do Non-Christians Observe Xmas?  

Let me pose this question, -"If Christmas gets its roots from Christianity, -then why do so many Non-Christians observe it?"  

Virtually every culture on this planet has holidays that are important to themselves but not to everyone else. So why is it that Christmas is so important to so many non-Christians cultures? It is because many of these cultures observed the same customs connected with what is called "CHRIST-mas" today, long before the birth of Christ.  

Although the observance of Christmas is much older than the 2000 years of the Christian era, let's examine how it made its way into being a "Christian" holiday.  

The Encylopaedia Britannica says -"Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the (Christian) Church." It was not instituted by Christ or the Apostles, or by Bible authority. It was picked up from the worship of Paganism.  

The Encyclopedia Americana says, -"Christmas, according to many authorities, was not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian Church...In the fifth century the Western (Catholic) Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the DAY OF THE OLD ROMAN FEAST OF THE BIRTH OF SOL, (Roman Sun-god) as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed." Did you notice that these recognized historical authorities reveal that Christmas was not observed by Christians for the first 300 to 400 years after the Church was established. It was not until the fifth century that the Roman Catholic Church ordered it to be celebrated as an official Christian festival.  

Since Christmas as a Christian holiday came from the declaration of the Roman Catholic Church, -let's see what they have to say about it first hand.  

From the Catholic Encyclopedia, -"Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church...the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt...Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas."  

Any encyclopedia or any other historical authority will tell you that Christ was not born on December 25th. The Catholic Encyclopedia, which is published by the very Church that brought it's observance into Christianity, frankly states that the birth of Jesus is not known.  

From the Encyclopedia Britannica 15th edition, -"Christmas customs are an evolution from times that LONG ANTEDATE the Christian period -a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition." You can't put "BACK IN" what was "NEVER IN", and Jesus was never in the ancient pagan festival we now call Christmas.  

It reminds me of Isaiah 29 as quoted by Jesus in Matthew 15:8-11, -"This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of Men."  

Jesus likely born in the Fall  

While the Bible does not expressly tell us the date of Jesus' birth, there are reasons to believe it occurred in the fall of the year. We know that Jesus was crucified in the spring, at the time of the Passover.(John 18:39)Figuring His ministry as lasting 3 years,(Book of John mentions Jesus keeping 3 passovers) this would place the beginning of His ministry in the fall. At that time he was about thirty years old (Luke 3:23). Which was the recognized age for a man to become an official minister under the Law.(Numbers 4:3). So if Jesus turned thirty years of age in the fall, then His birthday was in the fall of the year, thirty years earlier.  

Winter Festival Kept 2000 years B.C.  

The fact that this winter festival was being observed more than 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, and that those observing it were pagans honoring the re-birth of the SUN-GOD, proves that the origin of this festival can in no way be rightly associated with the birth of Jesus Christ which occurred thousands of years later.  

Israel Told Not to Learn Their Ways  

It is important to understand that the chosen people of God were commanded to not even learn how the nations around them worshipped their gods. When God began working with a certain people, the children of Israel (Jacob), and began to make Himself knowable to them, He gave them many commandments to live by, among them was the command to not corrupt themselves by practicing the religious traditions of the pagan nations around them. ("pagan" is simply a term used to identify any one or people that worship contrary to the God of Israel)  

Even though it wasn't called "Christmas", this winter festival with the same traditions practiced today was being observed by the pagan nations surrounding Israel. That is why God specifically warned them to worship Himonly in the way He commands, and not seek to honor Him by practicing the traditions of the pagan nations to please Him.  

Notice Deuteronomy 12:29-32, -"When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations (pagan nations) which you are going to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, BEWARE that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying -"How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?" You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God...(Verse 32) Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add ortake away from it."  

Not notice 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." There was fear surrounding the observance of the winter solstice...the days were getting shorter and shorter and the sun seemed to be getting weaker with each passing day. At this time fires were kindled and candles lit to encourage the "NEWBORN SUN-GOD" to give forth his light and warmth. Sun-worshippers believed this time to be the re-birth of the sun, -the birthday of the sun-god.  

As the days began to get a little longer each day, it became a sign of the re-birth and an occasion for rejoicing and merrymaking. The "terrifying signs" referred to in Jeremiah 10:2, -that of the sun dying, was replaced by the appearance of its seeming re-birth as the days became longer.  

Continuing in Jeremiah 10 notice verses 3 and 4, -"For the customs of the peoples are delusion (vain); for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."  

Doesn't this sound like the perfect description of the Christmas tree? God plainly calls this the way of the pagansand a custom of the people, doesn't He? And God commands His people to not worship Him in the way the pagan nations worship their gods, doesn't He? Isn't that what He commanded in Deuteronomy 12?  

Some may claim that Jeremiah 10 is referring to a pagan idol and not to a tree, but fail to realize that the evergreen tree was considered sacred by many ancient peoples as a symbol of eternal life. The fact remains that Jeremiah 10 states that men went into the forest, cut down trees, propped them up so they wouldn't fall and decked them with silver and gold ornaments. These round ornaments represented images of the sun-god. Honestly, doesn't it seem strange to stand a tree in your home, lavishly adorn it, crown it with a star and lay gifts at its feet? Ever wonder why yours and other's gifts are laid under this object standing so proudly in your home? Doesn't it stand to reason that this custom originated from the ancient practice of giving an offering to a image of a pagan god?  

Evergreen Trees Were Used in Worship  

Notice Deuteronomy 12:2, -"You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their god, on the high mountains and on the hills and UNDER EVERY GREEN TREE."  

We find here that the pagan nations worshipped their gods on high mountains, on hills and under every green tree. The evergreen tree was considered sacred and holy because it remained green throughout the winter, not becoming bare and lifeless as the other trees. It was believed to possess eternal life by many.  

Clearly, God does not desire a PLACE made for these things He calls an abomination to Him. Are you making a PLACE in YOUR HOME for these practices? Can you be sure God is pleased with you attempting to worship Him in this way? Shouldn't you study to learn the truth BEFORE you continue to seek to honor the great God of all things in this manner? And hasn't God warned us to be careful in how we worship Him?  

Is it safe to assume that because we place the name of Christ on this ancient holiday today that it makes it pure and acceptable to God?  

In John Chapter one, we find that in the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was WITH GOD, and the WORD WAS GOD. Verse 3 says that ALL THINGS came into being BY HIM, the WORD. Verses 6 -8 reveal that John the Baptist witnessed that this Jesus was indeed the same Personage as the WORD, and was the God that spoke to Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Prophets of old. Jesus was God the Son, the very WORD of God before He came in the flesh. And verse 10 reveals that the world itself was created through Him.  

There is a God the Father, but no man has actually seen Him yet, as we find in verse 18.(although the Apostle John did see Him in a vision years later in Revelation 21)  

But the great and awesome God that thundered the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai, was none other than who we call Jesus today, before He came to earth in the form of mortal man. And it was He that commanded His servants to write the scriptures we quoted earlier in this article, which strictly forbids worshipping Him with ancient pagan customs and traditions. Isn't it ironic and shameful that people today place His holy and righteous name on festivals He, Himself, as the Lord that spoke to Moses called an abomination?  

Notice Philippians 2:5-8, -"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and being found in the appearance of man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  

Notice also Jesus' own words in John 17:4-5, -"I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, FATHER, with the glory which I had with Thee BEFORE the world was."  

Jesus Hates Pagan Religious Festivals  

Jesus, the God we read about in the Old Testament found these pagan religious observances abominable! He strictly commanded His people to not worship Him with the same customs they used. He clearly never wanted His name associated in any way with this idolatrous worship.  

Today we find the same religious practices in the "Christian world". They have attached God's holy name to it once again. The very name God the Son used while living a perfect life in the flesh, Jesus Christ.  

Is there some chance that He changed His mind over the years? That He no longer hates those ancient religious traditions? Perhaps though it was once unacceptable to worship Him with those ancient pagan customs, -it's acceptable today? Why don't we just let the Bible itself answer this question, since it is the "Word of God", and the "Word of God IS JESUS." Notice Hebrews 13:8-9, -"Jesus Christ is the SAME YESTERDAY, and TODAY, yes and FOREVER. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings."  

Aren't we "carried away by strange teachings" when we celebrate the so-called birth of Christ by (1) Putting a TREE in our home? (2) Decking it with silver and gold ornaments, lights and crowning it with a crown or star? (3) Laying gifts at its feet? (4) Burning a "YULE LOG"? (Yule is an ancient god of the Vikings) (5) Teaching our children the lie that a "jolly old man called "Santa" brings all the nice children gifts? (Did you ever notice that "S-A-N-T-A" re-arranged spells out the word "S-A-T-A-N"?) Perhaps because it is really him that is behind this ancient observance God finds detestable.  

Now what does all these customs have to do with the birth of our Lord and Savior? How "strange" it is indeed that God's weekly Sabbath day and commanded Holy Day observances instructed in Leviticus 23, would be totally forgotten or ignored, and replaced by the very religious practices God warned against even learning about. And then to attach His righteous, holy name to it, -CHRISTmas, is an insult of the first degree.  

What the Apostle Paul Would Say  

If the Apostle Paul were to be raised up to preach to this generation, I have no doubt what he would say to the professing Christians of this world. He would give the same admonition to them as he did to the Church of God at Galatia almost 2000 years ago. Notice Galatians 4:9-11, "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, How is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe Days, and Months and Seasons and Years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain."  

Galatia was a Gentile city filled with pagan customs and observances. It's clear here that the Christian converts that had been called out of these ways, were gradually going back to the very religious practices God had called them out of, and were probably justifying this by doing things in the name of Christianity. The Apostle Paul said that HE FEARED for them, meaning that it was not acceptable in the eyes of the true God. Paul also feared that all the work and effort he had invested to bring them out of these ways had been in vain.  

Lies Connected with Christmas  

There are many lies surrounding the modern observance of Christmas. Among them is that it is the birthday of Jesus, that Santa Claus brings all the good children gifts on this day, that it is even a Christian holiday, when non-Christians the world over observe it.  

When our children ask, -"What does the tree represent?" What are they told? When they ask about putting gifts under a tree, tree ornaments, mistletoe, the wreath on the door and how all this fits in honoring the birth of Jesus, what are they told? Please study this subject, my friends, so that you can be truthful with your children.  

It's very important for our children to know that we are truthful to them. After finding out the truth about Santa Claus, one little boy made the statement that he was going to check into "this Jesus business too." You see, he felt hurt and betrayed by his parents and the society around him. If adults would lie to him about the existence of a jolly old man called Santa, then why wouldn't they lie about a man called Jesus?  

God Must Be Worshipped in Truth  

Notice John 4:23-24, -"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the TRUE WORSHIPPERS shall worship the Father in spirit and TRUTH; for SUCH PEOPLE the Father SEEKS to be HIS WORSHIPPERS. God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and TRUTH."  

One cannot worship the true God outside of TRUTH. And what TRUTH is there in the observance of this WINTER SOLSTICE festival we call Christmas today?  

The truth is, that the observance of this holiday came not from God, but from pagans honoring their sun-god.  

Jesus Christ was never in its observance, whether as God the Son in the Old Testament, or as Jesus, the Son of God in the New Testament.  

And what becomes abundantly clear...is that it DOES MATTER to God whether or not it is observed.  

The important question for you is, -"DOES IT MATTER TO YOU?"

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries