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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 10 2020

Would Jesus celebrate Christmas?

If it can be proven that the birth of Jesus isn’t the real root of Christmas observance, then where did the Christmas traditions come from, and should Christians be observing this holiday while ignoring the annual Holy Day observances clearly commanded in the Bible?

by Jerold Aust

The first question we should ask is whether Jesus was born on the traditional date of December 25, which is the winter solstice?

Alexander Hislop explains in his book The Two Babylons: “There is not a word in the Scriptures about the precise day of His birth, or the time of the year when He was born... it could not have been on the 25th of December...it was not the custom for the shepherds of Judea to watch their flocks in the open fields later than about the end of October...long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen, at that precise time of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed” (1959, pp. 91-93).

The Catholic writer Tertullian complained around A.D. 230 about the ancient festival period the led up to Christmas: “‘By us . . . who are strangers to [Jewish] Sabbaths and new moons, and festivals, once acceptable to God, the Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia, are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year’s day presents are made with din, and sports and banquets are celebrated with uproar; oh, how much more faithful are the heathen to their religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians’” (quoted by Hislop, p. 93).

The famed British anthropologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941) also adds to our understanding of the establishment of Christmas: “Mithraic religion proved a formidable rival to Christianity, combining as it did a solemn ritual with aspirations after moral purity and a hope of immortality... An instructive relic of the long struggle is preserved in our festival of Christmas, which the Church seems to have borrowed directly from its heathen rival...They mark the compromise which the Church in the hour of its triumph was compelled to make with its vanquished yet dangerous rivals” (The Golden Bough, 1963, pp. 416-419).

Few are aware that the early Catholic theologian Origen also repudiated as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ (The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1910, vol. 6, p 293). Christians must therefore ask themselves if Jesus Christ would take part in a festival that, while stated to be in His honour, actually diametrically opposes Him by celebrating the worship of false gods?

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