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Treasure Digest: Be Ready to Give an Answer: Why Don't You Keep Christmas?

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Treasure Digest

Be Ready to Give an Answer: Why Don't You Keep Christmas?

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Yes, we believe in Jesus Christ, and His birth was a very important event in the history of the world. Parts of four chapters in the Bible are devoted to the events in the year or two before to several months after His birth (Matthew 1:18-2:18; Luke 1-2:38). But the Bible doesn't tell us to celebrate it.

It Wasn't Dec. 25. The Bible also doesn't tell us when His birthday was, but it is clear it wasn't near Dec. 25. There were shepherds in the field (Luke 2:7-8) and a census was being taken (Luke 2:1-4), neither of which would have happened in the cold, rainy month of December. The only clue the Bible gives would probably put His birth sometime in the fall. This is based on calculating from the time the course of Abijah served in the temple (Luke 1:5-8) which the Companion Bible puts as June 13-19 that year (Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200). Jesus was probably born about 15 months later, since He was born six months after John the Baptist. So why do people celebrate Dec. 25?

Pagan Origins. Though late December was an important pagan holiday to the Greeks (Bacchanalia), Romans (Saturnalia, which at times included human sacrifice) and the Persian cult of Mithra (which became the official Roman religion in A.D. 274), it seems the first time it was celebrated as Christmas was about 300 years after Christ. It was also a celebration among the Druids and Germanic tribes, who were allowed to continue their pagan rebirth and fertility customs including evergreen trees and mistletoe, even after being "converted" to the popular form of Christianity.

God's View. Deuteronomy 12:29-32 and Jeremiah 10:2-8 show that God does not want His people to adopt pagan customs. This is also explained in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Check any encyclopedia for the origin of the customs of evergreen trees, mistletoe, wreaths and ornaments.

God does give us wonderful, meaningful celebrations that He is pleased with, and that are fun for children. But He doesn't want us to fall for a counterfeit, even if it has 4,000 years of tradition behind it!

For More Information: Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Keep?; "4,000 Years of Christmas?" in the November/December 2003 Good News, pages 21-22.