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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?


Todayís Question: Being that the season of Christmas is upon us, we as Christians have come to celebrate the reason for the season. My brother and I have been debating this issue lately. Even though he is Christian also, he is hard to convince that we should celebrate the birth of Christ, not the commercialism that the world imposes on us. He still maintains that through his research and studying on the issue of Christmas, that the pagans around Jesusí time celebrated the giving to a "Sun God" of some kind on the same day that we celebrate Christmas. I donít know where he got his sources on that, but of course Iíve vehemently opposed the notion, and had to remind him that we donít know the actual time of year of Jesusí birth, but we as Christians have come to honor it on December 25.

Is there any specific references that I can direct him to within the Bible that will alleviate his skepticism?

Jeff Eisert

Bible Answer: I cannot promise that anything I say will change your brotherís view. I really do not think this is an important matter. If he does not want to celebrate Christmas, then he should not celebrate it. As for my church, family and me we love celebrating it and will continue to do so. It has been a time where people who would not normally go to church will attend. Anything to get people to go to church is a good thing.

Concerning Christmas not being in the Bible, that is true as far as the name "Christmas" which means "Christ-Mass". The name is not in the Scriptures but the event that the name represents is definitely in the Scriptures. The story of the birth of Christ and the circumstances surrounding it is very much emphasized in the Bible. Mathew and Luke both go into detail describing Christ birth, including the shepherds and eventually the wise men giving gifts to Christ. That is all in the Bible. Without His birth, there is no salvation.

Someone might argue that since we are not commanded to celebrate Christmas we should ignore it. Well, we are not commanded to celebrate the resurrection as a holiday either, so does your brother want to give up that holiday simply because the name "Easter" is of pagan origin? He needs to forget the name or the source of the name. Many names and words have pagan origins (see my article on Nike Man as an example.), but we do not give up using those words or names. We would not have a language without the use of pagan words and names.

Someone may argue against Christmas that it is a non-biblical holiday and since Christmas in not celebrated in the Bible, we should not celebrate it, either. First of all, the birth of Christ is biblical, so you cannot make a case by calling Christmas non-biblical, but I suppose you can say that Christmas is extra-biblical. That is, there is nothing in the Bible against it, and there are things in the holiday that is based on the Bible, but there is no command to celebrate the birth of Christ, so it is an extra-biblical holiday.

Here is how I approach this argument: Jesus Himself celebrated an extra-biblical holiday that corresponds to Christmas. People are usually surprised to find this out. Yes, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, and Hanukkah is not in the Old Testament.

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomonís Colonnade. (John 10:22-23)

There is no Old Testament Feast of Dedication. There are several feasts mentioned in the Bible, but not Dedication. What feast is Dedication? That is Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of oil that burned for 8 days. This event took place after the last Old Testament prophet had written the scriptures. The scriptures were closed before this event, and thus, this Feast is extra-biblical. And Jesus was in the temple area where the feast was celebrated. He participated in Hanukkah.

Today, Christmas is celebrated next to Hanukkah. So the question you can propose to your brother who refuses to celebrate Christmas is this: If Jesus celebrated a holiday that was not in the Bible, why canít you enjoy Christmas as well and give gifts just as the Jews today give many gifts during Hanukkah?

Your brother mentioned that giving gifts was based on giving to the "Sun-God". Whether or not that is true can be debated, but I have always felt that giving gifts was based on the wise men giving gifts to Christ. Even if it were true that Christmas came out of the pagan practices of giving to the "Sun-God", the truth is the "Son-of-God" is worthy of greater gifts, and giving gifts is simply a loving way of showing your appreciation to others you love. Sure, many people get in the commercial spirit than the true spirit, but that is no reason to get rid of Christmas or to avoid the holiday.

Your brother did not mention it, but others have complained that Christmas is really pagan because the Christmas tree is pagan. Iíve heard people say that Jeremiah 10:3-5 is a reference to the Christmas tree:

For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

These people argue that the tree is adorned with silver and gold, a supposed reference to tinsel around a tree. But look carefully at the passage and it will be clear that Jeremiah referred to an idol made out of the tree. A craftsman shaped the tree out of the forest with a chisel. Who has ever seen a craftsman use a chisel to shape a tree into a Christmas tree? Of course not. This is a reference to craftsmen making idols that resembled man and animals, like a scarecrow. Yet Jeremiah says, "They cannot speak and walk." So obviously this is not a Christmas tree, for Christmas trees do not have mouths and legs.

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