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Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in the world. But what is the celebration really about? The holiday name implies that it has something to do with Christ, but does Christ really have anything to do with the holiday? This guide will lead you to a better understanding of what God thinks about Christmas.
Where's Christ in Christmas?
Customs associated today with Christmas began over 4,000 years ago in Babylon. Later, pagan worshippers in Egypt, Greece and Rome picked up the same customs. In Rome, a celebration honoring the re-birth of the sun at the winter solstice was called "Saturnalia." Re-named Christmas in honor of the birth of the Son of God, this celebration was established as a Christian holiday about 300 years after Jesus Christ died. Later, European influences would add other customs to Christmas celebrations including mistletoe, yule logs, and the Christmas tree. Church leaders thought that changing the pagan celebrations to Christian observances would be a good way to bring pagans into Christianity.
1. If the Bible is the origin of Christmas, where is it mentioned in the Bible?
2. Where is there an account of any of the original apostles observing Christmas?
LUKE 2:8: "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night."
3. If we are to celebrate Christ's birth, how do we know His birth date? Does the Bible state that Dec. 25 is the actual date that Christ was born?
4. What time of the year did Christ's birth take place? When would shepherds keep their sheep out all night?
HINT: Winter is the rainy season (Song of Solomon 2:11).
COMMENT: From mid-November to a week before Passover, sheep were kept under cover. (Daily Life in the Time of Jesus by Henri Daniel-Rops, p. 264.)
5. The Christmas Tree is a very common sight at Christmas. Can you think of anything that it teaches us about Jesus Christ?
MATTHEW 2:1-2,11: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.' (11) And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
6. We have always been told that there were three “Wise Men.” How many “Wise Men” are mentioned in the Bible?
7. When did they see Jesus? Was it the day He was born?
8. If we are honoring Christ, why do those who observe Christmas give presents to everyone except Christ? Why did the Wise Men give gifts to Jesus?
9. What does kissing under the mistletoe have to do with Christ’s birth? Why is it one of the customs engaged in during the Christmas season?
10. If Christmas is about Christ, who is Santa Claus? For what reason are children taught to be good year round?
11. What does the Yule log stand for? Is this something that they used to keep the baby Jesus warm in the manger?
12. What lessons about God's Plan of Salvation do we learn from keeping Christmas traditions and customs?
1. What are the days that God has set aside for us to worship Him? (HINT: read Leviticus 23 if unsure.)
2. What do God’s Holy Days teach us concerning God's Plan of Salvation?
3. How does the birth of Christ compare in the Plan of God to other events in Christ’s life, such as His death?
JEREMIAH 10:1-3: "Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile…."
4. Does the origin of Christmas and its customs really make any difference? What does God say about these customs of men? How valuable are they to understanding God's truth and way of life?
COMMENT: Concerning "Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them": The people worried that daylight would continue to get shorter and eventually they would be in total darkness. So, they would offer sacrifices to bring the dying sun back.
DEUTERONOMY 12:29-32: "When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 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…. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."
5. Does God give us permission to worship Him as we please? What does God tell us about participating in worship that mixes practices He commands in the Bible with any other religion's worship practices?
6. Why do you think God commands us to not add any other practices in worshipping Him?
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-18: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.'"
7. Knowing the history of the customs associated with Christmas, what does this scripture teach us about a Christian joining in the celebration?
1. How important is the celebration of Christmas in your community?
2. Why do you think so many observe Christmas?
3. What does God say about using pagan customs to worship Him?
4. What do you believe? What should be the attitude of a Christian towards Christmas?