Monday, July 27, 2009

Christmas: Christian or Pagan?

We have come to that time of year again that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. The holiday we call Christmas. Yet no where in the Bible do we see the early Christian church celebrating the birth of Jesus. First century believers did not celebrate the birth of Christ. Second century believers were reprimanded for trying to choose dates for the birth of Jesus. In AD 354 December 25th was listed as a pagan holiday on the calendar and it was only accepted as a Christian observance in the 5th century.

It makes many angry when we step on their toes about the traditions of men being brought into God's church, but here are the facts. The only church that Christmas is celebrated in is the church of man's tradition. You decide.

God has never accepted pagan practices with His worship. In Exodus 32 when the golden calf was built and the celebration was declared "a feast unto the Lord," God wanted to destroy the people and had not Moses pleaded with God He would have. Exodus 32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

God commanded in Exodus 20:3 Thou shall have no other gods before Me. Notice the word "before", this means not to do anything in front of Him. So you say we don't worship a calf. But the people had declared a celebration to honor God that He didn't recognize as being in His honor. Has God told us to take something that is pagan in nature, Christmas, and offer it in His honor? Do you get the point. Even though we do not bow down as sun-worshippers we do declare some thing that is pagan in nature, "a feast to the Lord."

The church at Rome assigned December 25th as the date for the celebration of the feast around AD 320 to 353 after the triumph of Constantine. Christians were celebrating Christmas on that day by the end of the fourth century. The source of the celebration of December 25th is the birthday of Mithra, the pagan sun god. Encyclopedia Britannica

Reading in the Incarta Encyclopedia:

II.Origins of Christmas

Historians are unsure exactly when Christians first began celebrating the Nativity of Christ. However, most scholars believe that Christmas originated in the 4th century as a Christian substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Before the introduction of Christmas, each year beginning on December 17 Romans honored Saturn, the ancient god of agriculture, in a festival called Saturnalia. This festival lasted for seven days and included the winter soltice which usually occurred around December 25 on the ancient Julian calendar. During Saturnalia the Romans feasted, postponed all business and warfare, exchanged gifts, and temporarily freed their slaves. Many Romans also celebrated the lengthening of daylight following the winter solstice by participating in rituals to glorify Mithra, the Ancient Persian god of light (see Mithraism). These and other winter festivities continued through January 1, the festival of Kalends, when Romans marked the day of the new moon and the first day of the month and year. Roman Catholics first celebrated Christmas, then known as the Feast of the Nativity, as early as 336 AD. The word Christmas entered the English language sometime around 1050 as the Old English phrase Christes maesse, meaning "festival of Christ." Scholars believe the frequently used shortened form of Christmas—Xmas—may have come into use in the 13th century. The X stands for the Greek letter chi, an abbreviation of Khristos (Christ), and also represents the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Mithraism, one of the major religions of the Roman Empire, the cult of Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and wisdom. In the Avesta, the sacred Zoroastrian writings (see Zoroastrianism) of the ancient Persians, Mithra appears as the chief yazata (Avestan, "beneficent one"), or good spirit, and ruler of the world. He was supposed to have slain the divine bull, from whose dying body sprang all plants and animals beneficial to humanity. After the conquest of Assyria in the 7th century BC and of Babylonia in the 6th century BC, Mithra became the god of the sun, which was worshipped in his name (see Sun Worship). The Greeks of Asia Minor, by identifying Mithra with Helios, the Greek god of the sun, helped to spread the cult. It was brought to Rome about 68 BC by Cilician pirates whom the Roman general Pompey the Great had captured, and during the early empire it spread rapidly throughout Italy and the Roman provinces. It was a rival to Christianity in the Roman world. Mithraism was similar to Christianity in many respects, for example, in the ideals of humility and brotherly love, baptism, the rite of communion, the use of holy water, the adoration of the shepherds at Mithra's birth, the adoption of Sundays and of December 25 (Mithra's birthday) as holy days, and the belief in the immortality of the soul, the last judgment, and the resurrection.

Mithraism differed from Christianity in the exclusion of women from its ceremonies and in its willingness to compromise with polytheism. The similarities, however, made possible the easy conversion of its followers to Christian doctrine.


(from Old English Cristes maesse, "Christ's mass"), Christian festival celebrated on December 25, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a popular secular holiday.

According to a Roman almanac, the Christian festival of Christmas was celebrated in Rome by AD 336. In the eastern part of the Roman Empire, however, a festival on January 6 commemorated the manifestation of God in both the birth and the baptism of Jesus, except in Jerusalem, where only the birth was celebrated. During the 4th century the celebration of Christ's birth on December 25 was gradually adopted by most Eastern churches. In Jerusalem, opposition to Christmas lasted longer, but it was subsequently accepted. In the Armenian Church, a Christmas on December 25 was never accepted; Christ's birth is celebrated on January 6. After Christmas was established in the East, the baptism of Jesus was celebrated on Epiphany, January 6. In the West, however, Epiphany was the day on which the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus was celebrated.

The reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains uncertain, but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the "birthday of the unconquered sun" (natalis solis invicti); this festival celebrated the winter solstice, when the days again begin to lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky. The traditional customs connected with Christmas have accordingly developed from several sources as a result of the coincidence of the celebration of the birth of Christ with the pagan agricultural and solar observances at midwinter. In the Roman world the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchange of gifts. December 25 was also regarded as the birth date of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness. On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. To these observances were added and Celtic Yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into Gaul, Britain, and central Europe. Food and good fellowship, the Yule log and Yule cakes, greenery and fir trees, and gifts and greetings all commemorated different aspects of this festive season. Fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, have always been associated with the winter festival, both pagan and Christian. Since the European Middle Ages, evergreens, as symbols of survival, have been associated with Christmas. Christmas is traditionally regarded as the festival of the family and of children, under the name of whose patron, Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, presents are exchanged in many countries.

"In early time this day (Christmas) was not one of the feasts of the Christian Church. In fact, the church fathers frowned upon the celebration of birthdays and thought them a heathen custom." (The New Book of Knowledge. New York: Grolier, 1979. P289)

The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics confirms this--"MOST of the Christian customs [related to Christmas] now prevailing in Europe, or recorded from former times, are HEATHEN customs which have been absorbed or tolerated by the Church. The Christian feast has inherited these customs from two sources: Roman and Teutonic PAGANISM."

"The ancient Romans held year end celebrations to honor Saturn, their harvest god; and Mithras, the god of light. Various people in northern Europe held festivals in mid-December to celebrate the end of the harvest season. As part of all these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradual became part of the Christmas celebrations." (The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, 1995)

"Christmas is a very old holiday. It clearly started as a celebration of the passing of the winter solstice, and the start of the sun's journey from the north to the south…The ancient Romans observed this time with a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and it was called Saturnalia…When Emperor Constantine decreed Christianity as the new faith of the Roman Empire, early in the fourth century, the Christians gave the holiday an entirely new name and an entirely new meaning." (Faer, Joseph. Holidays Around the World. Boston: Little Brown, 1953)

The Everyman's Encyclopedia declares--

"The practice of decorating churches is pagan in its origin."

"Christianity thus replaced a pagan holiday with A Christian one, while keeping the same symbolism-the birthday of Christ corresponds to the birth of a new year. Many of the pagan customs became part of the Christian celebrations." (New Standard Encyclopedia. Chicago: Standard Educational, 1991)

T.G. Crippen, in Christmas and Christmas Lore, confesses--

"The Feast of the Nativity rather incorporated than supplanted various heathen festivals. It was therefore only natural that RELICS OF HEATHEN PRACTICE should survive as traditional customs."

And the Catholic Encyclopedia (note the source) admits--

"There is NO DOUBT that the original Christian nuclei attracted PAGAN accretions."

The Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia similarly says--

"There were non-Christian elements present in the origin of Christmas. The giving of presents was a Roman custom. The Yule-tree [modern 'Christmas Tree'] and the Yule-log are remnants of old Teutonic NATURE WORSHIP."

The Encyclopedia Britannica says--"Many current customs date back to pre-Christian origins: among them are Christmas decorations. The Romans ornamented their temples and homes with green boughs and flowers for the Saturnalia [Dec. 17-23] ... The Druids gathered mistletoe and hung it in their homes; the Saxons used holly and ivy."

We can trace the basis of the Christmas celebration back to the kingdom of Nimrod, Babel. After Nimrod died Ninus was born to Beltis. He was considered to be the reincarnation of Nimrod. This is the origin of the worship of "Mother and Child". Beltis the mother of Ninus became known as the" mother of god" or "the queen of heaven". In Egypt this celebration was the same only different names. Osiris the sun god and Isis was the "queen of heaven" and Horus was the son born on December 25th. Since the time of Babel sun worshippers have recognized this time of year in the honor of their gods.

Every time we see the story of the birth of Christ in the Bible we see the wise men mentioned. They came from the East and were students of prophecy. They studied the writings of Daniel and they knew that a priest had to be 30 years of age before beginning His ministry. They calculated an approximate time when the 483 years of Daniel 9 would end. They then subtracted 30 years from their conclusion to determine when the birth of Christ would be. Their journey could have taken up to 2 years.

We also see that Christ could not have possibly been born in December. And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8 In fact He could not have been born in the winter. The sheep were kept in corrals during the winter. The sheep in Palestine were not in the fields in December. The shepherds guarded their sheep during lambing time in the spring. So more than likely Christ was born in the spring.

Have we brought a form of worship into God's church that He does not recognize? Only you can be the judge of that. How your family uses Christmas is your decision. We can only present to you the facts. We ask, who authorized the celebration of Christmas, December 25th in honor of Christ? Did God?


'But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." Mark 7:7-8

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