Set Me Straight...Why Are We Celebrating Christmas...In December?
Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birthday of Jesus Christ. Sometime around 10-4 BC, probably on the evening of the Feast of Tabernacles (October), in a stable where Passover lambs were raised in the city of the shepherd David, a boy was born to a virgin who was descended from said shepherd boy. At an angel's command, the boy was named Jesus. It is fairly well established that Jesus was not actually born on December 25, but that this date coincides with the old Roman Calendar's feast of Dies Natalis Invicti Solis -- the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun (Saturn), which incidentally coincides with the Winter Solstice. The Roman church chose to celebrate the birthday of Christ on 12/25, thus mixing the age old pagan traditions with the relatively new Christianity as a way of 'converting' souls to Christ, and making the celebration more palatable to the pagans. (1)
Some, however, have chosen to forego Christmas and its celebration altogether. The religious world is more and more outspoken against the celebration of December 25th as the birth of Christ. Staunch anti-Christmas advocates state:
"God does not simply allow you to excuse yourself from the Babylonian Christmas celebrations-- God says you cannot walk with those who DO observe it. ... Just walk on alone with your God and your few friends who are willing to observe Amos 3:3. We often go visit someone who shares our zeal, for their home is not all full of pagan ritual trash. Have a singing time, and sing hymns about the Blood of Jesus and his resurrection. (2)
Tar And Feathers Anyone?
So what's a Christian parent to do? Tackle the next mall Santa s/he sees and tar and feather him? Should a Christian insist that her/his child wears blinders and pretends not to see all the decorations around? Should s/he stand on the rooftop and loudly condemn the heathens all around? Or is there another option? Well, I'm glad you asked. Before you make a bonfire in the backyard, and burn your tree and all the ornaments your friends, family and children so painstakingly created for you over the years, consider these truths:
- The Bible does not command Christmas to be celebrated.
- The earliest recorded Christmas celebrations were held around 313 AD.
- The actual date of today's Christmas celebrations, as well as many of the accoutrements that accompany its celebration, stem from pagan sources.
Hold on; don't light the match just yet. Keep those stockings hanging over your fireplace; you are not yet done with your fact-finding mission!
While it is true that the Bible does not command to celebrate Jesus birthday, it also does not forbid it. Further, two of the Gospels include Christ's birth; now if we remember that these gospels were written to assist the early Christians in their worship of Christ, is it not conceivable that when they were read aloud, believers were rejoicing in the birth of their Savior?
But What About All the Pagan Lore...Am I Doomed?
So, you're kids are believing in Santa Claus and you are worried that little Johnny is doomed because he sat on the mall-Santa's lap... Please note that I do not advocate little children sitting on heavily made up strangers laps under any circumstance. Nor do I particularly condone telling a child that Santa is real. Within the right frame of reference, however, little Johnny is neither doomed nor up to his eyeballs in sin for visiting Santa.
If we remember correctly, God insisted that Disciples of Christ were free to eat any food they liked, and were no longer bound by Old Testament dietary laws or idol-worship abstaining practices. Thus, if you enjoy having a tree sitting in your living room, this practice is not cheapened because a group of pagans thought of it first. If you like to give gifts, do so! The Bible is full of exhortations to encourage others, and how better to do it than with a gift or two! If stockings over the fireplace are your thing, then hang them up! If you insist on the guy in the red suit...do it if you must.
Here are three simple ways of observing Christmas in a Christian fashion:
- Celebrate it as the birthday of Christ, not as the season during which you are too busy to come to church, read your Bible, pray regularly, and encourage others
- Be generous as always, remember as many people as you like with cards and/or gifts, but do not max out your credit cards and go into debt, thus ignoring the Biblical exhortations of proper stewardship
- Decorate your house any way you like, but don't pray to your tree. (wink)
*Excerpts of this Article have been published previously at Suite101.com.
Welcome to the Christian Parenting Corner from the world of this Christian poet and writer. Born and raised in Germany, and since 1988 living in the United States, this writer offers a global perspective to such controversial topics as Christianity, ethics, marriage, and religious parenting. She publishes her work at Families Online Magazine, Suite101, Christianity for Life, and Inspiriting. For more on Christian Family issues, Please feel free to contact her at [email protected] .