Summary: Is Christmas pagan? Is it okay for Christians to observe? Is Christmas even in the Bible?
Is Christmas pagan? Is it okay for Christians to observe? Is Christmas even in the Bible?
Purpose: Let’s examine the worth of Christmas and why it’s a perfectly fine Christian celebration.
Plan: Let’s ask some questions that are controversial in some churches and look at the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 2:1-40.
What does the word Christmas mean? It literally means Christ’s Mass, or the Mass of Christ. Mass is an old word for the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper because it was held at the dismissal of the service. An old tradition held three masses at midnight, dawn and in the day on this special occasion.
Is Christmas pagan? The dates around Christmas were once used for festivals worshiping gods of nature, but those dates were chosen in part to replace paganism with a celebration of the birth of Jesus, not worship nature gods. So, yes, many winter solstice festivals were pagan but Christmas is not.
Was December 25th once part of pagan celebrations like Saturnalia and Brumalia? Yes, but God owns all days of the year. Nature worshipers do not own any days exclusively. What better way to eradicate false worship on a day than to rededicate it to God!
Was Jesus born on December 25th? No, probably not. Many possible dates for his birth have been suggested over the centuries. On December 25th we do not celebrate a calendar day, but the fact of His birth.
Does the Bible condemn worshiping God, in a manner like pagans worshiped their idols? Yes, and what it specifically forbids is child sacrifice and ritual prostitution, not prayers, singing, setting aside worship dates, or any similar practices that Christians and idolaters may have had in common.
Is Christmas too materialistic? Yes, and we all struggle to keep our priorities in proper balance.
Is the Christmas tree forbidden in Jeremiah 10? No, that’s a misreading of the chapter! It actually speaks about carving idols from a tree and covering them with gold, not about decorating a Christmas tree.
Were Christmas trees once pagan? Yes, pagans once decorated trees for nature worship. But, they are still God’s trees and Christians use creation for godly purposes. Many people decorate them to remind us of the tree of life with its 12 fruits, and our access to it once again in New Jerusalem.
Why don’t we just celebrate the Old Testament festivals? We are free to (Romans 14), but they primarily celebrate Old Testament events and while many of them anticipate New Testament events, none of them specifically celebrates the birth or resurrection of Jesus. The spirit of the law (2 Corinthians 3:6), that we learned under the guardianship or tutoring of the law (Galatians 3:24), teaches us the principle of celebrating New Testament events in a similar manner to celebrating Old Testament events.
Is gift-giving appropriate for Christmas? Jesus said that it is far better to give than to get (Acts 20:35). Giving is a good thing but we must also give wisely. When we focus on getting, or teach our children that Christmas is about what they will get, we are totally missing the point.
Is Christmas in the Bible? The word Christmas is not in the Bible, but the story of Christ’s birth is. Let’s look at Luke 2:1-40.
Luke 2:1-40 The Birth of Jesus
Why would somebody NOT want to celebrate this marvelous event. We can have a pagan Christmas, if we focus on materialism and so wear ourselves out with physical preparations that we have no time left for Jesus. Let’s have a Holy Christmas, by making the worship of our Lord the most important part of this season.