I thought I was done talking about Christmas—I’ve written so many posts on the topic already. There was a time when I felt compelled to share everything I’d learned to everyone who said Merry Christmas. While I’m still probably not likely to let “Jesus is the reason for the season” slide (I have a thing about precision and blatantly false statements), I’ve reached a point in life where I understand three very important things:
- Not everybody is ready to hear and/or accept the truth
- Some people have a very different foundation for their belief, essentially placing them in another religion all together (I’ll expand on this in a few)
- Some people don’t care
A Short Lesson
About a year ago, I got into a very respectful debate about a specific doctrine. Eventually, I asked the other person to provide a Bible verse that supported their stance. Honestly, I would have found it acceptable to reference a scripture you couldn’t quote exactly or even remember the exact verse. I know I personally struggle with recalling information like this on the fly, so I would have extended grace. However, the person’s response—I kid you not!—was that there are no Bible verse to support their claim.
Imagine being in a discussion with someone who identifies as a Christian. You say “it’s unforgivable to blaspheme the Holy Spirit” and they say, “no it’s not.” You would offer Matthew 12:31 as proof of your stance. When they don’t budge on their stance and you ask for a Bible verse or passage that refutes the one you have provided, they say “there are no Bible verses for that.” Yet, they are still adamant that they are correct. [Disclaimer, this wasn’t the topic, but its an easy illustration of the point!]
In that moment I realized we were working off an entirely different framework. The Word of God was not that person’s primary source for their belief. We would never see eye to eye because the basis from which we evaluate truth is different. Some people do not believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. Some people do not believe in the God of the Bible, but a god they have made up based on the God of the Bible. Some people do not believe in the Messiah of the Bible, but one they have molded to fit in to their own comfort zone. We will never agree.
For Those Who Care
Nonetheless, there are still people out there who do not fall in to the three categories I mentioned above. Some people are still searching for truth and are confused. Some people are posting that Christmas is a pagan holiday, others are posting that it’s not. Everyone is citing history and sources. It can be overwhelming and very confusing. That is the only reason I’m back with yet another post on this holiday.
I received one of the “Christmas is not a pagan holiday” posts from an agnostic friend inquiring about its validity only a few days ago. Now that the paganism has been exposed, Satan is working hard to keep people in the dark. I had seen a few like the one I was sent but was actively choosing to ignore them. When I received this one with the question of its accuracy, the Holy Spirit put it on my heart to write this post.
I understand that Christmas is hard to give up. I grew up celebrating this holiday and when I stopped, I was the only person in my family to do so. I’m not one of the women who was studying with her husband and the two of us made the decision collectively or a child who’s mom and dad brought the truth home one day for the entire family. I am a single person who studied the Word, the history, the arguments for and against, and decided to stop celebrating on my own. It did not go over well with my family. On top of literally angering people and being accused of becoming a Jehovah’s Witness (y’all they don’t have a patent or copyright claim on not celebrating pagan holidays), the creative in me struggled. Christmas is the perfect season for arts and crafts. My parents have countless ornaments I’ve made over the years, along with wreaths, nativity scenes, and more. Even from a journaling standpoint, if you search December themes, most are tied to Christmas—and a lot of them are cute. Then there’s the convenience of it; the company I work for gives us Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and the last week of December as company holidays. If ever there was a time to fly home and be with family, that’s the most convenient time. So, I get why people want to hold on to tradition. I get why it’s hard to accept. I get why people want to find a reason to stay in the status quo (or only cut out certain parts).
Unfortunately, though, the Bible does not promise you an easy life or easy decisions to make in life. Our Messiah said the following:
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Satan’s Counter Attack
With the above in mind, let’s talk about the arguments I’ve recently seen circulating from those trying to defend Christmas against the pagan label.
I have a post on the history of the date of Christmas called
Sol Invictus wasn’t celebrated on December 25 until 354 AD. Saturnalia was from either from December 17-20 or from December 17-24. The Romans didn’t have a winter solstice festival and the ancients didn’t agree on whether the date was December 23, 25, 26.
- There is no Biblical evidence to suggest the Messiah was born on December 25
- Messiah was born at the time when everyone was traveling to register for a census by decree of the Roman emperor.
- There is evidence that Rome frequently took a census; however, my search results only yield the results of the census not the months they were taken. The closest I could find was a published paper establishing a census declaration for 3 BC in late January through early February, and one for 12 CE (or AD) in January. It would have taken some time to propagate through communities and for people to start moving from city to city in accordance with the decree, however, it wouldn’t have taken a whole year. It makes sense if people had to travel—particularly in the pre-industrial world—that the emperor would have taken advantage of daylight and warmth, issuing the decree in January or February with the expectation they would travel during the spring.
- There is no Biblical evidence that the Israelites celebrated birthdays.
- Ecclesiastes 7:1 says a persons day of death is more important than the day of their birth; this is confirmed by the fact that we know Messiah died as the Passover lamb on the 14 of Nisan (by the Israelite calendar). We are even told the time of His death. (Mark 15:25; Luke 23:44-47; John 19:13-14)
- Only three birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible; all three correspond to pagan kings. (Genesis 40:20; Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:21)
- December 25 wasn’t established as a day to celebrate Messiah’s birth until 336 CE in Rome, while other parts of the body kept January 6. This is 300+ years after the birth and resurrection of the Messiah, along with the death of early Church leaders and coincides with the “conversion” of Constantine—the roman Emperor who never gave up paganism but claimed to convert the whole Roman empire to Christianity.
- I couldn’t find a source that said Sol Invictus became associated with December 25 in 354, a little less than 20 years after Rome fabricated a date for the birth of Messiah. I did however find a source that says December 25 was set as the date for Sol Invictus in 274, about 60 years before Rome created Christmas.
- Saturnalia was established as early as the 5th century BC (500-401 BC) and many of the traditions associated with Saturnalia are now associated with Christmas, including the habit of beginning the celebration of the holiday a few (12 to be specific) days before.
- Whether the Romans had a specific festival called “The Winter Solstice Festival” or not they did worship sun deities such as Sol Invictus, thus making the commemoration of the Sun and the renewing of the Sun (re: the winter solstice when the days begin to lengthen) a natural part of their worship. Also, Saturnalia is listed as a winter solstice festival by the encyclopedia.
- Even if the dates do not line up exactly, the traditions (e.g., decorating with garland or greenery, caroling, decorating with lights, etc.) all stem from pagan holidays and the entire concept of celebrating a birthday at all is likely pagan.
Santa Claus started in the 1800s and is based on Sinterklaas, who is based on a real person: Saint Nicholas. Sinterklaas was originally depicted as a Catholic priest
- Nowhere in the Bible are saints venerated. There is no feast of Moses or day of Daniel; all holy days (which is where we get the word holiday) are meant to reverence, thank, and appreciate YHWH (the God of Abraham). The entire concept of deeming someone a saint after their death, referring to them as saint so-and-so, creating a feast in their honor, etc., is made up by the Roman Catholic Church. It is man made.
- The concept of someone flying down chimneys and giving gifts to children is likely from the Italian (it always leads back to Rome) La Befana. La Befana, though supposedly looking for the baby Savior, is a witch who flies around on a broomstick…
- Santa Claus is borderline blasphemy as it is he who executes judgment of whether someone deserves a reward or not. (See to see all the ways he’s an antichrist)Is Santa Replacing Jesus?
- Santa Claus easily replaces the Messiah as the focal point of Christmas, particularly for children.
- The entire process of teaching your child about Santa Claus promotes lying and bearing false witness, both of which are condemned in the Bible.
- People of various religions celebrate Santa Claus without a crisis of conscious—do you celebrate Ramadan or Diwali?
I actually haven’t talked about Christmas trees as a stand alone post but there is some interesting stuff in
Christmas trees date back to the 16th century. Pagans didn’t believe pine trees were sacred. Germanic tribes believed the oak was sacred and used it to honor Zeus.
- What does a tree have to do with the birth of Christ? Why do the presents go under the tree?
- Does the Bible tell us to honor YHWH with a tree? Are we really arguing that because it’s a different species of tree it’s not connected to pagan traditions?
- One of the traditions of Saturnalia is to decorate your house with greenery (usually tied to garland, but again, how did we end up with a whole tree inside our house?)
- Christmas trees are not always pine trees; spruce and fir trees are also very popular. (Like I said, I have thing about precision of false statements.)
- Is it just me or does Jeremiah 10:2-4 sound like a Christmas tree?
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
The final point they argue is about mistletoe, which I don’t think I’ve ever discussed.
Mistletoe isn’t pagan; it started as decoration in the late 800s and the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe didn’t start until the 18th century.
- What does mistletoe have to do with the birth of Christ?
- What does kissing under a particular plant have to do with a virgin birth?
- A tradition of Saturnalia was to decorate the home with greenery.
References & Footnotes
- This is something I’m working on. Remember in Matthew 4, when Satan tempts the Messiah, He is quick to quote the Word. We too must know the Word inside and out and be able to quote it to survive Satan’s attacks.
- Tim O Neil. “Christmas is not a Pagan Holiday”. Twitter; December 2, 022
- John Paul Adams. “Roman Census Figures”. California State University Northridge. January 26, 2010
- W. Graham Claytor and Roger S. Bagnall. “The Beginnings of the Roman Provincial Census: A New Declaration from 3 BCE”. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies. pg. 637–653. 2015
- “Why is Christmas in December?”. Encyclopedia Britannica. December 14, 2018; visited December 2022
- Mark Cartwright. “Saturnalia”. World History Encyclopedia. December 16, 2016
- Alison Eldridge. “7 Winter Solstice Celebrations From Around the World”. Encyclopedia Britannica. December 12, 2013; visited December 2022
- Marc Hyden. “Merry Christmas, Saturnalia or festival of Sol Invictus?”. The Newman Times Herald. December 20, 2021
- Debra Thimmesch. “The Legend of La Befana”. Italia Rail. December 20, 2019
- “The Legend of La Befana”. Eataly; visited December 2022
- “Saturnalia”. Encyclopedia Britannica. July 20, 2017; visited December 2022
- Rebecca Denova. “Constantine’s Conversion to Christianity”. World History Encyclopedia. May 10, 2021