Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?

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MP3 Audio (21.33 MB)


Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?

MP3 Audio (21.33 MB)

Most Christians assume that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day. Most also accept that Christmas traditions like a brightly ornamented tree and a red-suited Santa are acceptable ways of honoring our Savior. Does your Bible agree with these assumptions? There’s one way to prove it: Check your Bible and the many secular sources about Christmas.

Historical and biblical evidence clearly proves that Christmas is a pre-Christian festival. It’s not biblical, and it’s not of God. Ironically, the early Catholic theologian Origen repudiated as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ (The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1910, vol. 6, p 293).

The inarguable fact is that Christmas isn’t supported by your Bible. There is one quintessential question that remains: Would Jesus Christ participate in the observance of Christmas? And if He wouldn’t, why not?

Was Jesus born on Christmas Day?

The first question to ask is whether Jesus was even born on the traditional date of Dec. 25. Luke’s Gospel records the event: “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:7-8). No mention of date so far. And does this scene fit with a winter birth?

Alexander Hislop wrote 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. What is recorded there implies that at what time . . . His birth took place, it could not have been on the 25th of December.

“At the time that the angel announced His birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem, they were feeding their flocks by night in the open fields. Now, no doubt, the climate of Palestine is not so severe as the climate of this country [England]; but even there, though the heat of the day be considerable, the cold of the night, from December to February, is very piercing, and 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. It is in the last degree incredible, then, that the birth of Christ could have taken place at the end of December” (1959, pp. 91-92).

Consider the highly improbable fact that a pregnant woman would travel a long distance, in wet and cold winter conditions, to be registered for a census to be taxed. “. . . The middle of winter was not fitting for such a business, especially for women with child, and children to travel in. Therefore, Christ could not be born in the depth of winter . . .

“And if any shall think the winter wind was not so extreme in these parts, let him remember the words of Christ in the gospel, ‘Pray that your flight be not in the winter.’ If the winter was so bad a time to flee in, it seems no fit time for shepherds to lie in the fields, and women and children to travel in” (ibid, p. 92, quoting scholar Joseph Mede). The better argument is that Jesus was likely born in late September through mid-October.

Where did Christmas come from?

If it can be shown that the historical birth of Jesus wasn’t the real root of the holiday, where did it come from?

Hislop explains this as well: “Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen [that is, the pagans], 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” (ibid., p. 93).

Secular and biblical evidence shows that the modern Christmas traditions came from the ancient winter solstice or Mithraic festival, adopted and celebrated by the Romans.

“Christmas has its origin in two ancient festivals, the great Yule-feast of the Norsemen and the Roman Saturnalia. During the Saturnalia, gifts were made by the wealthy to the poor in honor of the golden age of liberty when Saturn ruled the known world, and slaves were allowed to change places and clothing with their masters. They even elected their own king who, for the period of the festival, ruled as a despot. The Saturnalia involved the wildest debauchery, and was a festival of Pan himself” (Richard Cavendish, Man, Myth and Magic, 1983, Vol. 2, p. 480).

The Catholic writer Tertullian complained around A.D. 230 about the ancient festival period that led 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).

“Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostacy went on, till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under Pagan superstition. That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin” (ibid.).

The bottom line: Christmas came from a pre-Christian, pagan festival.

Why was Christmas set on December 25?

Consider this surprising admission in the New Catholic Encyclopedia’s explanation of why Christmas was set on December 25: “According to the hypothesis suggested by H. Usener, developed by B. Botte, and accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian), because on this day, as the sun began its return to the northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun).

“On Dec. 25, [A.D.] 247, Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god principal patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome. This theory finds support in some of the Church Fathers’ contrasting the birth of Christ and the winter solstice; indeed, from the beginning of the 3rd century ‘Sun of Justice’ appears as a title of Christ.

“Though the substitution of Christmas for the pagan festival cannot be proved with certainty, it remains the most plausible explanation for the dating of Christmas” (“Christmas and Its Cycle, History,” 1967, Vol. 3, p. 656).

The famed British anthropologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941) 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. Indeed the issue of the conflict between the two faiths appears for a time to have hung in the balance. 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.

“What considerations led the ecclesiastical authorities to institute the festival of Christmas? . . . It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians took part.

Accordingly when the doctors [theologians] of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January . . . The heathen origin of Christmas is plainly hinted at, if not tacitly admitted, by Augustine when he exhorts his Christian brethren not to celebrate that solemn day like the heathen on account of the sun, but on account of him who made the sun.

“Thus it appears that the Christian Church chose to celebrate the birthday of its Founder on the twenty-fifth of December in order to transfer the devotion of the heathen from the Sun to him who was called the Sun of Righteousness . . .

“Taken altogether, the coincidences of the Christian with the heathen festivals are too close and too numerous to be accidental. 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, emphasis added).

A red Santa and a green Christmas tree

Among many today the central figure of Christmas is not Jesus but the man in the red suit. “Santa Claus, probably the most widely accepted of all the symbols of Christmas, arrived in Britain sometime during the 1880s from America, where he had long reigned as the gift-bringing St. Nicholas of the German and Dutch settlers.

“By the 1890s the English Father Christmas, originally a minor character in a mummer’s play, had been absorbed into the personality of his American counterpart [Santa Claus], and become the jovial figure that he is today . . . Santa Claus was accompanied and associated with ghosts and demons . . . Children are solemnly warned that only if they are very good will they receive their presents” (Cavendish, p. 483).

Why would Christian parents lie to their children in telling them Santa delivers gifts from the North Pole on Christmas Eve? How can Christians correlate the wise men’s meaningful gifts for the future King of Kings to Santa’s gifts for their children?

And what of the tradition of the Christmas tree? “Equally old was the practice of the Druids, the caste of priests among the Celts of ancient France, Britain and Ireland, to decorate their temples with mistletoe, the fruit of the oak-tree which they considered sacred. Among the German tribes the oak-tree was sacred to Odin, their god of war, and they sacrificed to it until St Boniface, in the eighth century, persuaded them to exchange it for the Christmas tree, a young fir-tree adorned in honour of the Christ child . . . It was the German immigrants who took the custom to America” (L.W. Cowie and John Selwyn Gummer, The Christian Calendar, 1974, p. 22).

Would Christ participate in Christmas today?

Would Jesus Christ take part in a festival that, while stated to be in His honor, actually diametrically opposes Him by celebrating the worship of false gods? If He did, He would be violating the laws of God He Himself had proclaimed—thus sinning (see, for example, Deuteronomy 12:29-32). If He sinned, we have no Savior and no salvation.

God is the Author of life-saving truths—not of immaculately coiffed falsehoods. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Lies are of Satan: “The devil . . . does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

Christmas blinds well-meaning people to its false narrative. We can’t put Christ back in Christmas, as many seek to do, because He was never there in the first place. Misguided people put Him there. What does that mean for us?

Jesus asked the religious leaders of His day: “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3, New International Version). And He further said: “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).

Satan wants to destroy you and me. He presents himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) but lives in and creates spiritual darkness (Ephesians 6:12). He promotes lies instead of truth, glittering lights instead of the true light of God, and mesmerizing music and false platitudes instead of the truth of salvation. He hopes to deceive humanity through holidays that honor a lie, not God.

Certainly Christmas is an intoxicating elixir, but you can break free from its debilitating addiction. You now have a choice to follow God’s instruction or to follow a holiday that originated in worship of ancient false gods. May God lead you to obey His holy will and honor Him always!


  • londonbrandon

    BTW, there is categorically no biblical record of Jesus ever eating lasagne. So, per the logic of this article, it's probably a sin to eat lasagne.

  • londonbrandon

    Hello Jerold Aust.

    If the point was that Jesus would have made the date of his death unmistakeably clear, (as juxtaposed with his birthday) would not the Hebrew calendar have been based on something intelligible? (There is no such thing as an entirely accurate calendar...)

    The idea that Passover 'is on the same day of the year it was in the first century' is mathematically and logically incoherent. (precession, tidal drag) The 'right day' for remembering passover therefore becomes figurative -- just like Christmas. So I guess I would like to know why a scripture like "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
    (Luke 2) is as ignorable as the efforts of the Magi in Mat. 2. (?) So what if someone is not getting the day exactly right? (They can't.) What about the spirit of the idea?

    ...And then to Skip Miller, the question becomes... how does all of this crystal clear ambiguity somehow link to the justification of denying a young child a birthday celebration?

  • londonbrandon

    .... And then when you actually ask an intelligent question, UCG doesn't seem to reply.

  • Jerold Aust

    Thank you Brandon for your interest in our magazine and specifically in my article on "Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?" Your arguments that appear to challenge the demonstrable facts (narrative cites) that I shared in the aforementioned article aren't accompanied by substantive proofs. You do introduce three presuppositions as if they were facts that appear to accommodate your personal hypotheses (plural). In arguing a singular point or premise, the burden of proof always rests on the person who challenges an argument. My singular point was not the Hebrew Calendar, the Passover date, or the efforts of the Magi; such constructs can be evidentiary warrants to a singular premise (point or thesis), depending on how the premise is fleshed-out or structured. My point was that Jesus would not and could not celebrate Christmas because had He done so, He could not be our sinless Savior (Hebrews 4:10; 1 John 3:4). No Savior, no gift of eternal life! Thanks for your continued interest in our free literature and thanks for the opportunity to reply to your question. In Christ's Service, Jerold W. Aust

  • londonbrandon

    Hello jerold aust.

    Logic 101 dictates that the burden of proof rests on the person making each and every claim, and never the one challenging a claim. (1 Peter 3:15) In logic, we only address one prong of a contemplation at a time. If not, you might propose a query like: "Why I do you have 500 African elephants in my swimming pool and why that means my tea is too cold as related to how my car is too rusty." ... and expect a singular answer. Is that what you think I did? What would be FAIR is that you would address one at a time.

    What I suggested is that if his death is worth celebrating (calendar unspecific) then his birth could be equally worth celebrating (calendar unspecific).

    I didn't talk about whether or not jesus celebrated his own birth. Maybe he was only given the one birthday party. (Biblically, he was given ONE) Whether or not Jesus thought much about his own birthday is not related in scripture. (If that were the case, I'm sure you would have clued me in). There is NO biblical reference to sin or sinless re: this issue... or am I missing something?

  • KARS

    lol Mr. Loveland, Greetings!
    Even if we told you the answer in another way, you still may not believe it. Question: Have you ever read the New Testament from cover to cover? And if not, then how can you say to yourself that you know for a fact that Jesus Christ birthday was written down by His Apostles?
    My advice if you care, is to read all of the New Testament.
    I'm telling you it's not there for Jesus doesn't want us to celebrate it.
    Have a good day Mr. Loveland. : -)

  • londonbrandon

    Hello Kathy. Thanks for your reply!
    It is true that I may not believe everything I'm told.
    Re: your questions:
    A: Yes, several times. The first time circa 9 years old.
    B. According to the scriptures, re: Apostolic birthday wishes, I think you're talking about the synoptic gospels. (Mat. 2, Luke 2.) In those cases, according to scripture, other people celebrated Jesus' birth.
    B:1 I don't know for a fact that this was written down by apostles.
    C: I do care, so I did read it.
    D: Thank you, please have a great day too. Warmest thoughts.

  • lisak

    Hello Brandon, I stopped celebrating Christmas a long time ago. My major reason for doing so was because it is surrounded and saturated with lies. Every time a parent discusses Santa Claus with their child, they are lying and unintentionally giving thought that it is alright to lie if it is associated with fun. My thoughts would always go to how Jesus must feel every year when His birth is celebrated at the wrong time, He is not the focus, and it is rooted in paganism. No matter how you try to dress it up, it is what it is. You know that a holiday has lost it's christian appeal when atheists celebrate it as much as people who consider themselves christian do, and in many businesses it isn't even a day that is considered a religious holiday. Jesus gave us direction to keep observing Passover, but never said to celebrate his birth. Given the fact that other birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible, you would think if this was something He wanted us to do, He would have given us the correct time period to do it in and tell us how He wanted His birth to be remembered.

  • Peter. Gillard

    I read your transcript on the validity of Christmas, yes it's true that December 25th is not Jesus birthday and Christmas is becoming all about money, and indeed it is inherited from a pagan festival. All these statements are politically correct but do they enhance God's message to the world ?
    Many important people's birthdays are not celebrated on the actual day, ie the Queen, but a suitable day is chosen and a public holiday is granted to give us an opportunity to celebrate her reign
    The major theme of Christmas to the world is giving, giving presents to loved ones and also some not so loved ones, thanking people for their generosity and help throughout the year. People in Australia spent $48 billion doing that. Why did they spend all that money? Because that's the only way the world knows how to Love
    I see you looking directly into my eyes saying, But on a pagan festival? I look straight back into yours and say! In a dirty filthy animal shelter
    If you were to write a transcript of how the King of the universe should be brought into the world, nothing could be further from the script than what actually occurred
    Jesus came into the world at a level where they were at. Pete G

  • Jerold Aust

    Mr. Peter Gillard. Thanks for reading the transcript on the validity of Christmas as it relates to my article, "Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?" You provide the answer in your response to my article when you suggest that man chooses the day to worship God. Man follows man, not God. This is a matter of hearing God and not man, when it comes to the things of God. Jesus said that people won't listen to God (Matthew 13:14-15); people are responsible to hear God's truths. Money doesn't buy love; godly love comes from obeying God's 10 Commandments (1 John 5:3), which stand against the world's holidays. In Christian Love, Jerold Aust

  • barbara Diggs

    This was an excellent article. I find the more that I try to tell families that Christmas is a pagan holiday and should not be celebrated, (presenting articles like this one as factual information to be researched even by them) the less I am listened too. What am I doing or saying wrong? Why can't I get someone/anyone to listen? Christmas is not about JESUS and society is confusing our children (our future) more and more. This is exactly what Satan wants. I didn't even want the (s) in Satan to be capitalized. My tablet capitalizes it any how. He doesn't even deserve a capital (s). He comes to kill, steal and destroy. Enough of that already. Please help me to get the truth out about Christmas to anyone who will listen. Thank you.

  • Jerold Aust

    Jerold Aust here, author of the above article, and thank you for appreciating it.
    Your desire to share the truth about Christmas is encouraging to us. The difficulty of sharing the truth about Christmas or any other non-Christian holiday rests in the fact that God is the only One who reveals His pristine truth to human beings (see John 6:44). You aren't doing anything wrong in the sense that you want to share God's unvarnished truth; the bigger problem is that the global society today is blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) so they cannot see what God has given you to see. The best thing we can do after God reveals His truth to us is to live God's laws in our lives so others can see that we're different and can ask us of the faith that lies with us (see 1 Peter 3:15). This means you simply don't keep Christmas and other people will wonder why and ask you why you don't. Be prepared to answer their questions about Christmas. Don't be concerned that they might not agree with you, allow them to walk away and think and consider your example and answers. Also, ask God to help you answer in a good way and He will. In Christian Service, Jerold Aust, Senior Writer BT

  • Jerold Aust

    Greetings Dan,
    Thank you for your interest in our Beyond Today Magazine and especially for your interest in my recent article on Christmas. I'll keep this brief but hopefully my responses will be of help to you.
    1. Jesus never instructed His disciples to honor His birth date; He did instruct us to remember His death. That's why we take the Passover once a year. The Passover represents Jesus' great sacrifice for our sins.
    2. Since we don't know the exact date of Jesus' birth, we couldn't accurately honor that date. If He wanted us to honor His birth date, He would have made it unmistakably clear when He was born. Bible and secular research show that He wasn't born on December 25th.
    3. There are any number of reasons why Christians celebrate their birthday today. I can't speak for them. However, I doubt that they link it to pagan rituals. Personally, we don't make a big thing of birthdays. It's interesting to note that in the Old Testament, for example, God specifically mentions the ages of some people like Methuselah, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and others. God is aware of our ages.
    Thank you for your desire to learn God's truths. Jerold W. Aust

  • ddteodorescu@gmail.com

    Dear Mr. Aust,

    I read your article about Jesus’ birth and Christmas and I wholly agree with you. However I have a couple of questions.

    First, would it be OK for the Christians to celebrate Christ’s birth if they would choose another date, let’s say September 25th?

    Second, since Jesus never mentioned His birthday, He never celebrated it, nor did the apostles or the early Christians (theirs or Jesus’) would it be better not to observe it at all?

    Lastly, since Jesus did not observe His birthday, the apostles didn’t do it, the early Christians didn’t do it, the Bible does not recommends it, then why do the Christians today keep their birthdays? Isn’t it a perpetuation of a pagan custom, innocent and harmless as it may seem?

    Dan Teodorescu

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Dan,
    What a pleasure it is to speak/write to someone with an insightful attitude, as yours is!
    Your questions were asked by me about 45 years ago and answered by a person (perhaps like me,) to my satisfaction : If Jesus didn't say to do it, the Apostles didn't do it,
    (and what WAS celebrated was His death not birth), then perhaps we most certainly should not make the commercial celebration that Christmas has become.
    Christmas out, Passover in !!
    But that was before my wife and I had children. We easily could give up our birthdays, but after we had our first child, how could we deny her her day? Well we did! We chose to teach her what we had learned But included was our telling her how happy and blessed we felt at her birth.
    When our son was born, we taught him the same thing. Both of them now know we love them and God, ( both Father and Son) even more.
    As Mr. Aust clearly wrote: Christmas is a pagan festival decorated in shining light to entice and engulf the unwary! Don't be sucked into that attractive web of lies!
    But on the other hand, teach your children that you love them very much!
    God loves us and wants us to be His fully enfranchised sons and daughters!

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