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Lessons No One Taught Me About Christmas and the Bible

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I was recently indulging in one of my favorite things, walking through a bookshop. I was struck by how many books had titles similar to “Fifty things I learned from my dog” or “Life lessons my mother taught me.” They were typically written by famous celebrities.

I thought a bit about it. I’m obviously no celebrity, but it struck me how (unlike the celebrity authors) I did not learn some critical truths of life decades ago in a family setting, particularly those found in the Bible. I grew up in a typical protestant religion, switching to Roman Catholicism while attending college.  Once visiting a family member, I noticed a stack of religious booklets that asked serious questions about biblical topics that I thought were moot. Questions like what happens when you die, what day should you be worshipping God on, what is the reward of the saved.

I didn’t know who the authors of the booklets were. And I pretty much didn’t care at the time, since the questions all seemed to be those of the “master of the obvious” type. Anyone who went to Sunday school knew those answers.

Or did they?

What I learned about Christmas

One of the profound lessons no one taught me as a youth was that the Christmas season was little more than papered-over paganism. When I first read that, I was shocked and more than a little bit offended. What could be wrong with the happy season of Christmas? Isn't Jesus Christ was supposed to be at the very center of it?

What was truly shocking was this: It wasn’t hard at all to find and read authoritative secular sources that totally confirmed the holiday’s non-biblical, pagan origins! Any competent encyclopedia shows that the Romans celebrated the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. Some 300-plus years after Christ it was adopted and replaced by a totally artificial birthday of sorts set up for Jesus on the 25th. Thing is, Jesus was actually born sometime in the fall. As the popular historian William Manchester wrote of that act, “Christianity was in turn infiltrated, and to a considerable extent subverted, by the paganism it was supposed to destroy” ( A World Lit Only by Fire , page 11).

What I learned about Christianity

Another lesson that no one taught me was what the first century Christians were like. Thy were almost indistinguishable in how they worshiped God and followed the example of Jesus—you basically couldn’t tell them apart—from most of the practices of the ancient Jews of the day. Every Christian I knew went to church on Sunday. But I was stunned to find that there was nowhere in the Bible that changed the day of worship. As both sacred and secular historical sources clearly show, early Christians worshiped God by observing the seventh-day Sabbath! Further, despite concerted efforts to block them (beginning intently during the second century), many Christians openly went to Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath up until the fourth century.

What I learned about my life

Perhaps the deal-buster that represented the major lesson that no one taught me as a youth was this: I wasn’t going to heaven. According to the Bible, I wasn’t going to hell either, at least not in the popular sense of Dante’s Inferno. Either way, I was stunned. I had been authoritatively told that I had been saved and would spend eternity in blissful paradise. So when I was directed by these booklets to read the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, I could scarcely believe it. Paul even asked the question: “How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12 1 Corinthians 15:12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
American King James Version×

What? What was this rising from the dead bit? Didn’t we all just pop up to heaven? Paul wrote of something much more majestic and exciting, one that I could scarcely believe I was reading: “As we have borne the image of the man of dust [our present physical state], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [the all-powerful resurrected Jesus]…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed ” (verses 49, 52, emphasis added).

Reeling from what this might mean, I then read further the unbelievable words of 1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
: “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” And what does Jesus look like in His resurrected spiritual form? Read Revelation 1:13-18 Revelation 1:13-18 13 And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
American King James Version×
for yourself, like I did. You'll see a Being whose “head and His hair were white as snow, and His eyes like a flame or fire…His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (verses 14, 16). Do you know anyone who looks like this today? According to the Bible, you will.

You can learn much more from the Bible too

Yes, there was much I was not taught as a youth. And there was much I literally had to “unlearn.” But it didn’t take long to appreciate what exactly was in the Bible and what represented traditions made up and added by men.

There were many more such lessons, but perhaps you’d like to read them for yourself. Want to get serious? Read the free Bible study aid, The Ten Commandments . Ironically, that’s where I started. Then after you’re through with that, try the Bible study aid booklet, Holidays or Holy Days — Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? Your Bible has some surprising things in it. Find out today what they mean for you!

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  • Kathy Zemaitis

    Wonderful article… sure wish my family would take the time to read such things….

  • lyndenz

    In his article Michael Snyder states that he switched to Roman Catholicism during his college years. You do not say whether you are still a Catholic because if you are, I will unsubscribe from this webb site post haste. It is after all the Catholics who started all the confusion around Christmas. (re: Constantine and the Council of Niceane - 325AD).

  • Gina B

    Thank you for the insightful, inspiring and knowledge filled articles on this site. I have browsed for weeks, but just registered today. I look forward to further insights from this site and your publications, reminding us what a person who calls themselves a Christian should be and do, and, conversely, NOT do if they want to live truly by the commands of God and Christ. Thanks again. God bless.

  • Toontown

    I have some young family members that will be expecting a Christmas gift from me. Is it wrong to give gifts at Chistmas time?

  • Sabrina Peabody

    Hi lyndenz,
    The author is a current member of UCG.

  • Amanda Boyer

    That’s a difficult situation to be in as a Christian. I imagine your concern not to offend them, and even desire to just give them a nice gift as the rest of their family does to show they care for them at this time. But the truth is, it would be wrong to give Christmas gifts at this time. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that godly love does not rejoice or participate in iniquity. So, the most loving thing you can do at this moment is not give them a gift. They may be greatly offended by you, but really they are offended at the truth of God and whether you gave them a gift or not, only God can change that by granting them repentance and calling them to an understanding of truth. We just, as Christians, cannot carry them on in their deceit. Godly love isn’t easy, but who knows God may bless your action of faith and give opportunity for you to tell them about who God is, what Christ is really about and the truth. Most importantly, pray to God about this and let Him know all that is on your heart and mind–He’ll give you an answer. Hoping for all the best for you and your family.
    Amanda B

  • KARS

    Hi Toontown,
    I had a problem with this situation before. I told my family, “ ‘You have your Christmas and Easter shopping sprees. I have my Feast of Tabernacles and Unleaven Bread shopping sprees. So exspect a gift from me where ever I go for the Feast this year.’”

    Did you know that even though they don’t keep the annual Sabbaths and Holy Days; that they are excited to recieve their Feast of Tabernacles gifts from the location I am attending?

    So, they may get anger at first, but to recieve a postcard or gift from the Feast location your attending brings a smile to their face. They may not ever be able to go themselves.

    One other thing they know I won’t except gifts for most holidays except Thanksgiving. So it’s worked out for me.

  • David Aharon

    As an informed Jew, I am surprised that the majority of the Christians world wide do not know Jesus or Y’shua practiced Judaism … as commanded by G-d. I am also waiting for the Arrival of Moshiach, whenever he will come …
    In reading your pamphlets, I find that:
    a] Christmas is a Pagan holiday that the early Christian followers did not introduce until the Nicea council declared it to be along with changing the original Shabbat to Sunday.
    b] Instead of Christmas you will well advised to look at the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah beginning this Saturday night after Sunset, which Christians Originally kept until the 4th Century C.E.
    c] Your comments re: how Y’shua treated the Shabbath is the very thing that Jewish leadership [Rabbis] missed and to this very day, sadly, are still looking for newer ways to impose on the nation of Israel on how to observe Shabbath.
    d] Toontown, about gift giving on X-mas, you might consider writing a brief message saying you do not celebrate the pagan holiday X-mas and invite them to visit you on the 8 day feast of Tabernacles - send them a copy of Holidays or Holy Days as a gift.

  • drbelga1

    Controversies arises about either Sat. or Sunday. For us, consider each day a HOLY dedicated to the LORD, totally. There are those who attend Fellowship (church) Saturday. For those Sunday, it celebrate Christ Risen - Resurrection. OT for Sat. NT believers Sunday.
    drbelga. Important thing is Living each day for Christ, our LORD, Savior, GOD Almighty.

  • tfayter

    Forgive me for saying so but I find your comment a bit unkind. I am new to UCG and have only just begun reading all the great literature and the website. While I find much of the info intriguing, I am put off by occasional comments (like yours) on the blogs. This seems to run counter to behaving or speaking like Jesus - I believe it is precisely comments that begin with things like “the Catholics” or “the Jews” or “the So and Sos” that fractures society. I don’t know - perhaps UCG isn’t the right church for me, but it seemed worth noting.

  • Swanepoel

    For me it is good that we (the children of God) take “non-Christian” days and turn it into days in which we can honor God. Although Christmas is not biblical, it is still an awesome opportunity to teach our children more about Jesus.

    I agree that the average human do not celebrate Christmas in a Godly fashion. However, I cannot see any reason why it is wrong to gather with the family on Christmas, teach the children about Jesus Christ and share a few gifts. I think it is all about how you approach it.

  • Sabrina Peabody

    Hi tfayter,

    I am glad to hear of your interest! I think it may be good to keep in mind that not all those who comment are UCG brethren and are coming from lots of places spiritually. UCG is trying to have an open forum for those who know about God and keep His commands but also for those who are learning about God and His way. Those who approve comments try to make sure people are staying within the Comment Policy which does include exhibiting the fruits of the spirit. Thank you for your well framed comment.

    UCG Web Team

  • Sabrina Peabody
    Hi drbelga1, Your viewpoint is a popular one in mainstream Christianity. Surprisingly Sunday was never stated in the Bible to keep. The Fourth Commandment to keep the seventh-day Sabbath however, was explicitly given to us by God Himself and is the day He told us to keep. Exodus 20:10 Exodus 20:10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
    American King James Version×
    “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” and Deut. 5:14. There are some resources that you may want to check out such as searching “Sabbath to Sunday” on our website. You will find the following article and many more: Also our booklet, “Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest” may prove an interesting read to you. Here is a link to part that addresses your point:… Another resource I found helpful was the book by Samuele Bacchiocchi, “From Sabbath to Sunday.”
  • mitzi

    If you do not celebrate Christmas due to your beliefs and how you worship that is fine. However, I feel it is double standard that people particiatpe in Holiday partys, luncheons, time off with pay due to the Holidays… If you don’t participate then you should not accept the the free food that is provided for the luncheons, you should not accpet the day of with pay & if there is no choice there, then you should give the one or two day of pay back to the company or give it away. I have a son & daughter in law that do not celebrate Christmas. We’ve just found out at Thanksgiving they are expecting their first child. During our conversation, my daughter in law tells me at her christmas party at work she told them about her pregancy… my soN participated in the luncheon that his work provided and even brought home food from the party…. This was all because of the holiday that they claim not to observe. But yet they could not bring themsleves to our home, to those who truley love them and sit down to dinner with us. You tell me how that is acceptable. WE are not perfect and even Jesus sat with sinners. Comments PLEASE!

  • Skip

    Hello Mitzi,
    Yes it can be a double standard IF we do the Xmas party thing and then say we don’t keep Christmas. But then I guess there is quite a bit of phoniness in our world. I would suggest that each of us search as best we can to find out what God really wants as worship and then go for it! Do it! No matter what others think! If we are phonies and lie to ourselves, I think that God sees & is sad.

  • Emmanuel Heezy
    Lovely. Article from my dear Micheal.
  • Grace to You.
    There is no command in NT to keep the Sabbath. Why is that?
  • Peter Eddington
    Grace to You, Since the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, there was no particular reason to specifically repeat it in the New Testament—especially since the NT Christian Church observed the Sabbath every week anyway. It was a given. No-one questioned the need to observe the Fourth Commandment. That being said, Jesus said in Mark 2:27-28 Mark 2:27-28 27 And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
    American King James Version×
    : “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus is saying that the Sabbath is made for all humans (not just for Jews or Israelites, but for all humans.) That includes every one of us—you and me. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and if He is Lord of the Sabbath, then I follow My Lord and also observe the Sabbath. Remember, He said, “Follow Me” many times as recorded in the New Testament, and so we follow Him. That’s a command. Peter. PS—Many people observe Sunday as the “Lord’s day.” That’s a big mistake. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, not Sunday.
  • Skip
    Hello Grace to You, The short answer is: Jesus spoke to mostly Sabbath Keepers! Ordinarily we would not say, Thou shalt eat breakfast (or dinner.) It is just too obvious. Look at Luke 4: 16. Jesus kept the Sabbath and most of His various audiences did also. Perhaps it is not necessary but I will say it anyway: Jesus did not come to do away with the Law but to fulfill it. We need to do our best to follow His example.
  • 4lllls
    I am wondering if you do decide to keep Friday at sun set till Sat at sunset what can you do during that time. What should you not do?
  • Cook
    IN scriptures, Jesus said, Give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser, and give to God what belongs to God. Everything, everyday belongs to God so celebrate him all day everyday. Give his that sacrifice of praise Hebrews 13:15 Hebrews 13:15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
    American King James Version×
    I love everyone and God bless you all have a blessed and spiritual life.
  • Martin1
    Hi 4IIII’s- like your user name! Your question regarding the Sabbath is important. A good spot to start would be Isaiah 58:13-14 Isaiah 58:13-14 13 If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: 14 Then shall you delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.
    American King James Version×
    If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. cheers for now Martin
  • bfb41981
    Great stuff
  • okpus
    God willing the reason why I am here!……… To the only wise & living God be all majesty & thanks, Amen. The almighthy God did not live us uninformed of what sahll be in the end time through His Prophets; man’s attempt to destroy the commanDments of God, as designed by satan should’nt be a surprise. All we need is to seek God’s promised grace to stand & live by His word in the face of this world of deceit & cruelty. Saints to be provided with constant articles, sacrred & circular informations especially to the weak! Many thanks to UCG & many other real chritian bodies, keepers of God’s commandment & Faith of Jesus, for without which no eternal life.

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