Why Is There Magic in Christmas?

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Why Is There Magic in Christmas?

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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “the magic of Christmas”? For most, it probably conjures any number of heartwarming Christmas stories. Or perhaps the idea that the Christmas season is a magical time of year that promises good fortune or even miracles. On that note, maybe we need to question why magic is so often associated with a holiday that is supposed to celebrate a biblical event. Once we look at all the evidence, it becomes pretty obvious that Christmas is displeasing to God. It matters how we worship Him.

Magic: the Christmas version vs. the Bible version

In our culture today, magic is often cast in a benign light and is not necessarily viewed as a bad thing. The Bible, however, doesn’t paint such a flattering view. The term “magic” in our society sounds more innocent than the terms “witchcraft” or “sorcery.” In fact, these are all the same thing, and the Bible is clear. God bluntly and succinctly stated, “You shall not permit a sorceress to live,” (Exodus 22:18) and, “There shall not be found among you anyone...who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells...For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). In the New Testament, Paul groups sorcery with the “works of the flesh,” and states that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). John affirms that those who unrepentantly practice sorcery will “have their part in the lake which burns with fire” (Revelation 21:8).

Many traditional Christmas stories involve magic. Santa Claus is an obviously magical figure. How does he know who’s been naughty or nice? Magic! How does he fly around the world in a single night? Magic, of course! After all, he rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer that are held in the air by—you guessed it—magic! What about Frosty the Snowman? As the song goes, “There must have been some magic left in that old silk hat.” An untold number of Christmas stories rely on the “Christmas miracle” as a plot device, tacitly attributing it to the magic of the season. Christmas traditions don’t appear to be hindered by the biblical indictment of magic at all!

But it’s really about Jesus’ birthday!

If the original purpose of Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Jesus, why is it associated with all of these magical trappings in the first place?

None of God’s Feasts and Holy Days (found in Leviticus 23) occur during the winter months. Throughout history though, various pagan festivals have been celebrated at this time of year. You may already know that Jesus was not actually born on December 25 and that Christianity adopted this date in the fourth century to “Christianize” the existing pagan festivals. While the worship on these days was redirected towards God and Jesus, many traditions and stories came through virtually unchanged. This is how magic, which the Bible utterly rejects, came to be intertwined with the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Examine for yourself the scores of television specials, movies, books and stories concerning Christmas. Do they acknowledge the power of God or the power of magic? You’ll be hard pressed to find more than a couple that emphasize the biblical story of Jesus’ birth. But there are multitudes that are all about the magic.

Is it really so bad to mix a little magic in?

Many brush off Christmas magic as harmless fun for the sake of entertaining children. But what kind of spiritual impact does this make on both children and adults? As I grew up celebrating Christmas each year, I never once questioned the origin of the power that held Santa’s reindeer in the air or the power that put life into a snowman. As far as I know, no one ascribes this magical power to God, yet the magic that permeates Christmas is recognized as a good thing. As we’ve seen from the Bible, any power that comes from a source other than our Creator is an abomination! There is an obvious gap here that must be addressed: Is it right to celebrate magic alongside biblical truth? Paul answers the question of whether it’s okay to mix good with evil: “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
Simply put: They don’t mix. Celebrating Santa Claus in the same holiday as Jesus is wrong, especially since children are taught that both are true when one of them is not. To do so is to taint our worship of God. Not only with lies, but also with something He explicitly tells us that He hates.

What if you take the magic out of Christmas?

What is the solution to this problem? Can we just separate out the magical nonsense and focus on Jesus?

As pointed out earlier, Christmas celebrations first began in the wake of pagan observances that were much more sinister than the innocent appearance of Christmas magic of today. The issue is larger than separating witchcraft from Christmas. In fact, many other seemingly harmless traditions originated from pagan festivals! For example, evergreen trees have long been a symbol of life in pagan cultures since most other things appear dead in the winter. People worshiped the trees, and the modern Christmas tree owes its roots to this worship. Exchanging gifts is a practice inherited from the Roman Saturnalia. Deuteronomy 12:2-4 warns very strongly against worshiping God according to unbiblical customs.

Let’s suppose then that we strip away every non-biblical aspect of the Christmas holiday. The narrative of Jesus’ miraculous entry into human life is a significant biblical event. But while this story is both good and true, God never said to celebrate it.You may not see a problem with that at first, but remember that God established His own Holy Days in Leviticus 23. Instead of following God’s instructions for what days to celebrate, most people follow holidays that God didn’t establish. The fundamental issue here is that it matters to God how we worship Him.


  • Steven Britt

    I haven't been getting e-mail notifications for comments, so my apologies for the slow responses!

    Irini: Now that Christmas is over, you've already dealt with this situation - I hope it wasn't too difficult! I've never dealt with that personally, but I would say that patience is key. Even if they are mad about not getting presents, it's not the end of the world. Eventually they'll understand that it's for the best.

    shaz53: It's good that you've put Christmas behind you. Have you learned about the holy days that God commanded? We have a booklet that thoroughly explains what God's holy days are all about - http://www.ucg.org/booklet/gods-holy-day-plan-promise-hope-all-mankind/

    spw: It's good that you're coming closer to God, but be careful not to neglect fellowship with others of like mind (Hebrews 10:24-25). The United Church of God holds services every week all over the country. You can find one at http://www.ucg.org/find-congregation/ if you're interested.

    chris10: Our "Holidays or Holy Days" booklet has a lot more on this subject - http://www.ucg.org/booklet/holidays-or-holy-days-does-it-matter-which-days-we-observe/

    linda: thanks :)

  • chris10

    I agree !
    Is there a link where I can read more regarding these pagan traditions ? somebody mentioned that these pagans even went so far as to physically offered their children to the sun god on Dec 25th ? where can i get more info on this ? thank you

  • spw

    I was born again in 2003.My life has never been the same.I am like a sponge when it comes to God and His word.I could sence in my spirit that something about the fellowship,worship and teachings at church was not quite right.It all seemed to be about entertainment,money and trying to keep people so busy doing what the preacher wanted,that I didn't really have time to think for myself.I was a young babe so I didn't know much at first,but gradually I was starving for God in every part of my life.It seems as though modern churches don't have God's power to feed the sheep and help them grow and sheep are dying off.I chose to leave my church a year ago to dig into God's word without interpretations of other's,only me and God's Spirit.God has opened up my blind eyes and deaf ears.I am amazed that the Pastor didn't teach what the Lord revealed to me,and he has a doctorate in theology.He is in the business of making the church a business and adding numbers. The Lord opened my eyes to man made everything going on in His church today.Paganism is rampant,nowhere in Gods word does he say we are to celebrate pagan days and put His name on them.Its blasphemy.Denying Gods Spirit is unforgivable.

  • shaz53

    Praise God, some one finally gets it!!! my husband and i don't celebrate christmas for this very reason, we have been trying to tell the church people, they admit its pagan but they justify it by saying its a great time to share with family, shouldn't we be doing this anyway, do we need a special day to tell our friends and family that we love them? i will not except any gifts or give gifts during this pagan season, but i do tell Jesus i love Him everyday! Isaiah say's He has blinded their eyes, and deadened their hearts so they can neither see with their eyes or understand with their hearts nor turn..... and I would heal them! i refused to go into the church if they put a christmas tree in there,( so they didn't) for Jeremiah says, they cut a tree out of the forest and adorn it with silver and gold, and nail it so it does not totter, they then argue that this is cutting idols out of the tree! well what do they think the tree is? and the scripture says they adorn IT (tree) with silver and gold i have done what i can and warned them but just like in Noah's day they do not listen, i can only leave it to the Holy Spirit to stir their convictions! God bless thank you for listening!!

  • irini_limaj

    I have 2 kids that go to day care and they have a Christmas party this time of year. they prepare like a play with baby Jesus and exchange gifts...this is the first year I am not celebrating it at my home. i am having a hard time explaining it to everyone and my little kids don't understand, they are still expecting presents...I want to clarify that I never ever made it about Santa in fact I told them form the first time they heard it that Santa is not real but they are still asking for toys...what should I do about this situation?

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