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In 1990, a Cleveland suburb's school board banned all nativity and other Christmas scenes on any school property because they felt it violated the separation of church and state. They were challenged in court when outraged parents opposed them, feeling that Christmas was being stolen from their children and the community. The board lost the case. The citizenry had contended that Christmas was a worldwide tradition that was not part of, and transcended, religion. It was deemed to be secular—a part of virtually all cultures worldwide.
It is true that the Christmas celebrations people know of today are derived from Pagan rituals and rites that existed long before the time of Christ.
Even the Christian scholars themselves are aware of this:
Nearly all aspects of Christmas observance have their roots in Roman custom and religion. Consider the following admission from a large American newspaper (The Buffalo News, Nov. 22, 1984): “The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time, much opposed by the more austere leaders among the still-minority Christian sect. Christmas developed, one scholar says, as a means of replacing worship of the sun with worship of the Son. By 529 A.D., after Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday. The celebration of Christmas reached its peak—some would say its worst moments—in the medieval period when it became a time for conspicuous consumption and unequaled revelry.”
Consider these quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, under “Christmas”: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church…the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt.” Further, “Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas.” Under “Natal Day,” Origen, an early Catholic writer, admitted, “…In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod) who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world” (emphasis mine).
The Encyclopedia Americana, 1956 edition, adds, “Christmas…was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…a feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered the feast to be celebrated forever on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the Saturnalia, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”
There is no mistaking the origin of the modern Christmas celebration. Many additional sources could be cited and we will return to this later. Let’s begin to tie some other facts together.It was 300 years after Christ before the Roman church kept Christmas, and not until the fifth century that it was mandated to be kept throughout the empire as an official festival honoring “Christ.”
What is the real source and meaning of Christmas?
Is Christmas really a "Christian" holiday?
What Christ born on December 25?
Luke 2:8 explains that when Christ was born, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Note that they were “abiding” in the field. This never happened in December. Both Ezra 10:9-13 and the Song of Solomon 2:11 show that winter was the rainy season and shepherds could not stay on cold, open fields at night.
Numerous encyclopedias plainly state that Christ was not born on December 25th! The Catholic Encyclopedia directly confirms this. In all likelihood, Christ was born in the fall! A lengthy technical explanation would prove this point.
What is the significance of December 25th?
Since we now know that December 25th was nowhere near Christ’s actual birthdate, where did the festival associated with this date come from?
Now read this quote under “Christmas”: “In the Roman world, the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchanging of gifts. December 25 was also regarded as the birthdate of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness. On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. To these observances were added the German and Celtic Yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into Gaul, Britain and central Europe. Food and good fellowship, the Yule log and Yule cakes, greenery and fir trees, gifts and greetings all commemorated different aspects of this festive season. Fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, have always been associated with the winter festival, both pagan and Christian” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edit. Vol. II, p. 903).
December 25th was not selected because it was the birth of Christ or because it was even near it. It was selected because it coincided with the idolatrous pagan festival Saturnalia—and this celebration must be carefully examined.
Evergreen trees and wreaths have been used as symbols of eternal life since the ancient times of the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. After the coming of Christianity, evergreens were still used in Scandinavia--to scare away the devil. In the Middle Ages, the Christmas tree, decorated with candles and wafers (symbols of Christ and the Host), became popular, as did the gaily decorated wooden Christmas pyramid. By the 16th century, the two objects merged into what we now know as the Christmas tree.
Scripture and Christmas
Only heathens display holiday trees
The next time a self-righteous Christian starts talking about "keeping Christ in Christmas", be sure to remind them of Jerimiah 10:2, which says that those who display holiday trees are heathens...
- Jerimiah 10:2:
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. 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. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Since Christmas is supposed to be a "Christian" teaching and belief, the Bible should be the source of proof, one way or another. Five questions and their answers will give all honest-hearted ones who regard themselves as Christian, Scriptural facts to reflect upon regarding the 'tradition' of Christmas. The questions are; 1. Was Jesus born on December 25th? 2. How many 'Wise Men' came to see Jesus? 3. Where did the 'star' lead them to first? 4. Who put that 'star' in the sky? 5. Where was Jesus when these men saw him and how old was he?
Using the Bible, not man's 'traditions' or theologies, one finds clear answers to these questions.
1. When was Jesus born exactly? The Bible does not a date. However, Bible prophecy regarding Jesus gives a very good indication of the time of year he was born. In the Bible book of Daniel, chapter 9 verses 25-27, it foretells the appearance of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. The prophecy speaks in time terms of 'weeks of years'. In verse 27 it shows that Christ would be 'cut off' or die in 'midweek' or three and a half years. Luke 3:23 tells us that Jesus was about 30 years of age when he was baptised and became the Messiah. So if Jesus died at the end of March, beginning of April in our calendar (so-called Easter) three and a half years later, counting back thirty three and a half years brings us to no later than September, early October. Luke 2:1-3,8 helps to confirm this when it shows that everyone had to travel to their home towns for the census and the shepherds were still outside with their flocks at that time of year. Neither of these events would have taken place in the last week in December. Why December 25th? The pagan festival of sun-worship, Natalis Invicti is generally believed to be the reason. This date was adopted by 'Christians' as Christ's birthday to aid conversion of the pagans. This being recognised by many religious historians. 2. The Bible does not state how many men came to see Jesus. Nor were they just 'wise men' or 'kings'. This group of men were astrologers or Magi, men condemned by God in the Bible. In fact, anyone who consulted with men like that, were detestable to God, so how would God feel about the actual men themselves? (Matthew 2:1 & Deuteronomy 18:10-12) 3. The 'star' or bright light (a real star would have burned the earth to a crisp!!) led the astrologers to Jerusalem first. (Matthew 2:1) King Herod then 'secretly summoned' them. Why secretly? See answer 2!!! 4. Who put the 'star' in the sky? Combining answers 2 & 3 gives the answer to this question. Reason on this: if a serious criminal whom you knew wanted to seriously harm your relative who lived some distance away, came to your home, you wouldn't give the man your relative's address would you? So would God lead men whom He condemns in the Scriptures as 'detestable', to a king who wanted to kill His son? Who wanted Jesus dead so as not to fulfil Bible prophecy? The Bible says that Satan 'keeps transforming himself into an angel of light'. (2Cor.11:14) 5. When the astrologers found Jesus, he was no longer a baby in a manger, he was now in a house and was likely between 1-2 years old. Hence the reason why Herod had all male children 2 years old and under put to death. (Matthew 2:11, 16)
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