It is that time of year again: When I have to let others know at work that I want to be left out of their Christmas celebrations. Most of my coworkers think it's a bit odd, but they humor me.
This year I had one person take offense that I do not my want my desk to be decorated or to be included in any of the celebrations. His desk was decorated for his birthday, and I congratulated him. He then raised his voice at me and asked if I had a problem with the decorations. I said not at all. He then said in a loud hostile voice, “Do you know who else has a birthday this month?” Bewildered by his attitude, I said no. He shouted “Jesus! Jesus has a birthday the 25th of this month!” He then continued to loudly restate this in different ways, several times.
I just let him rant and turned back to my own work, as nothing was to be gained by getting into an argument with him. I am sure he felt he was defending his beliefs against the “war on Christmas.”
This man is a manager over many people (not myself), and I shudder to think how someone under him would be treated who had any beliefs different than his. Our company policy strictly prohibits this kind of behavior toward people of different religious backgrounds.
It's not that I had requested anyone else not celebrate Christmas in my presence, or that anybody refrain from decorating their own desk. I had merely asked that I not be included. I did not try to impose my thoughts about Christmas. I acknowledge that for many people it is seen as a time to worship Jesus and to spend meaningful time with family and friends.
Vanity in worship
Bible scholars place the birth of Jesus as most likely in September. A simple Internet search of "When was Jesus born?" will give ample answers to show Bible scholars pretty much agree on the time of year. God would have made sure we knew the exact date if it were to be a time to worship our Savior.
"Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21).
Can you think of anything more futile than celebrating someone’s birthday on a day that they were not born? And on a day used by their worst enemy? If you would not do this to your best friend or spouse, why does it seem all right to do it to the Creator of the universe?
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).
You can worship Jesus and do it in vain? Jesus said you could!
When people ask me why I do not celebrate Christmas, I tell them I only celebrate what the New Testament Church celebrated, and that Christmas was added hundreds of years later.
You will not find any semblance of it in the New Testament Church as recorded in the Bible.
Christmas's troubling roots
An Internet search will show you there was a celebration similar to Christmas that took place at that time, called Saturnalia, which was held in worship of the god Saturn.
From History Today: “It was a public holiday celebrated around December 25th in the family home. A time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees. But it wasn’t Christmas. This was Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival. Saturnalia originated as a farmer’s festival to mark the end of the autumn planting season in honor of Saturn (satus means sowing). Numerous archaeological sites from the Roman coastal province of Constantine, now in Algeria, demonstrate that the cult of Saturn survived there until the early third century AD.”
Here are some of the quotes readily available with an Internet search of "Why is Christmas celebrated on Dec. 25?"
“The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December” (source: whychristmas.com).
It is questionable whether Constantine ever actually accepted Christianity, as he continued to worship the sun god throughout his life. However, it is undeniable that when Constantine imposed his will at the Council of Nicaea, he influenced many of the common beliefs of Christianity that come down to us to this day.
Here is another one:
“Christmas is on Dec. 25, but it wasn't always. Dec. 25 is not the date mentioned in the Bible as the day of Jesus's birth; the Bible is actually silent on the day or the time of year when Mary was said to have given birth to him in Bethlehem. The earliest Christians did not celebrate his birth" (source: Washington Post).
This one shows the common thought process today:
“Regardless of the pagan background of so many December traditions, and whether or not Jesus was born on December 25th, our goal is still to turn the eyes of all men upon the true Creator and Christ of Christmas. The light of the world has come. And the Christmas season and celebration presents the church with a wonderful opportunity to preach the good news--that men can be made righteous and have peace with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ” (source: Grace To You).
Don't be ensnared
How does celebrating a birthday on a day it did not occur, with entrapments of pagan celebrations and fables, turn people to God? Unfortunately, this celebration can be a major problem for people to give up in order to worship God in truth.
To His people Israel, God said: "Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
That is what God has to say about it!
And the apostle Peter wrote, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).
These traditions and the cunningly devised fables that surround Christmas actually mask who our Savior was! Some of these traditions can be traced all the way back to the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. In Revelation 18 God warns to come out of that Babylonian system so you will not have to receive the plagues that they will receive.
More and more fables are added year after year, and those of us on the outside looking at it can see it is getting more frenetic as time goes on.
People are trying to hold on to something that has been a focal point in their life, but it cannot fill the void. Christmas is a cherished family tradition, and many feel threatened by the references to the obvious syncretism with paganism.
There is a way to worship Christ and to fill that void, and that way is to worship on the days when Jesus Himself worshipped. Those special days have meaning about the hope for mankind, and are completely lacking in any ancient pagan practices.
If you are interested in knowing what many other people believe, observances that give meaning and hope to this chaotic world we live in, check out God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.