Shining the Light of Truth onto Christmas Customs
I am this year having lots of questions regarding how or even IF I can continue to “Celebrate Christmas”! I am reading, thinking and praying about this matter as I try to discern what the Lord would have me to do. This is one of those BIG life questions, as it seems to be like a “Holy Cow” that causes other people to have strong reactions when I mention it! This is a journey of discovery for me over a period of the last few years as I have read information regarding the various elements that are the eclectic mix that make up our modern Westernized Christmas. When a huge part of the world “celebrates Christmas” then I am once again feeling like a little fish swimming against the tide – a huge worldwide tide of commercial pressures, family pressures and possible spiritual pressures to boot. But I take courage in the little comment I have just spotted which is, “any dead fish can float down the river but it takes a live fish to swim against the flow.”
Maybe you might think that as the mother of three sons, who are now grown up, I am just TIRED of “Doing Christmas”, and to a certain extent you would be correct in that assumption. It has been an exhausting annual THING to prepare for and to pull off with womanly aplomb to the level that I have pretty consistently achieved. If you were able to ask any of my sons, “Did you enjoy your childhood Christmas’?” they would answer with a resounding “YES, very much so!” Consequently some of these sons are not too happy presently to hear of my growing reluctance to partake of the “festivities” this year!
Now last year it was just that I didn’t put up a Christmas tree (that was as far as I was able to deal with then), but as the other elements of decorations, presents and a delicious feast were available my sons didn’t balk too much at the mere absence of a Christmas tree. But when I have told them that this year I do not want to put up any decorations nor do I even want to cook up a feast (they don’t even know yet that I cannot face the buying and exchanging of gifts) there is a little more concern about this matter, as this is now going to affect them! They have always come to me for their Christmas dinner you see and been treated like princes at a banquet.
So now I have to justify myself. Now I have to try to explain what the influences upon this rather tentative decision of mine are based upon. They are now wanting to know: Who has mother been listening too? What has she been reading now? Perhaps she has been led astray and she needs “sorting out”? Maybe she can be convinced to keep some normality whilst still having a bit of a year off perhaps?
So I have decided to try to piece together the story of the various facets that are leading me towards my desire to abandon the whole kit kaboodle that is Christmas, for the first time ever in my life!
I really feel that I just DO NOT WANT TO DO CHRISTMAS this year (& maybe never will again)!
Background to My Christmases Past
So prior to doing so I want to just give you a little more background on how I have “done Christmas in the past” just so you can see what a massive upheaval this thought process is to me and my family. I have always been the person in our household that “made Christmas happen”. (Historically my husband did a little when I directed him, but only a small part if I am honest – then he left me and my sons back in 2009 so it has all been up to me since then).
I shopped and cooked, cleaned and decorated the house to high standard. I have done Christmas hobbies and crafts that involved hand-made cards and table decorations and gifts and made a variety of festive foods and even hand-sewn padded tree decorations too! My Christmas tree was always colour-coordinated to almost “showroom standard” as I have an artistic eye and when I do anything I like to work at it with all my heart. Much of this I have enjoyed, don’t get me wrong, but the sheer time-frame pressures and performance pressures (many of which I have no doubt exerted upon myself) have also been a cause of stress as well.
Oftentimes in more recent years the effort to dismantle and put away all the decorations was too great a job for me and I have occasionally left the great heap of them in the dining room (or once even in the bath) for many weeks or months into the New Year! Once I allowed a Christian visitor to see my pile of dismantled Christmas decorations and she grabbed hold of me in a sense of shocked disbelief and said, “What is this Helen? Is it Harrods?!” In other words there appeared to be enough to open a shop! I think that is the picture painted sufficiently of My Christmases Past so I can now move on to the deeper issues of what is it all about and is it worth continuing doing and the most important point of all is what does God think of it all?
Shining the Light of Truth onto Christmas Customs
- Christians try to focus on the story of Jesus’ birth but was He born on 25 December?
- Why do we decorate our homes with a tree, holly, mistletoe and evergreens?
- Why do we have a feast – what are we actually celebrating?
- Why do we exchange gifts? Is it really just all about commerce and materialism?
- Father Christmas aka Santa Claus – who IS he? (See my article expanding this issue here )
Ultimately, even if the historical roots of something are from corrupt or idolatrous sources, does that mean we have to give it all up or can we keep certain elements of Christmas anyway? After all it is our culture and we have known no other way; and it is a comfort to us and those around us. I think ultimately we are all in slightly differing circumstances but I know that the Lord will lead me through this morass of thoughts as He is equally able to lead you in your particular situation, but only IF we seek Him diligently and honestly about this matter. If we love The Truth then as Jesus IS The Truth we will be led into His Truth as He truly wants us to know and understand this issue.
Was Jesus Really Born on 25 December?
The birth of Jesus Christ is pretty much the most basic element of the Christmas story for the Christian believer. From Christmas carols to the nativity scene, the idea that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday is everywhere.
I went to do an internet search with the question, “When was Jesus really born?” and found out that it was NOT even likely to have been this date! Wow! And that’s just to get the ball rolling! It seems that we only have the information in the gospels of Matthew and Luke to help us but anyone with a little background information appear to agree that His birth was more likely to be in September time.
I liked how a site called “ChristianAnswers.net” set it all out (see their link at bottom of article for further reading).
This is what they have to say.
“The typical story we hear repeated is:
“It’s about 2000 years ago, the evening of December 25. Mary rides into Bethlehem on a donkey, urgently needing to deliver her baby. Although it’s an emergency, all the innkeepers turn them away. So they deliver baby Jesus in a stable. Then angels sing to the shepherds. Afterwards, they all join three kings with camels in worshiping the quiet, new-born baby.”
The problem is this story may be almost entirely wrong. The events surrounding the birth have been retold so many times and in so many ways—in plays, poetry, books and movies—that most people have a distorted view of the true events. The only accurate record is found in the Holy Bible, God’s Word.”
They then outline how each aspect of the commonly believed story is mostly fictitious, so it is worth looking at that site, but I have copied for you a little here on this particular point of the date of Christ’s human birth.
“Was Jesus born on December 25 or in December at all? It seems unlikely. The Bible does not specify a date or month. One problem with December is that it would be unusual for shepherds to be “abiding in the field” at this cold time of year when fields were unproductive. The normal practice was to keep the flocks in the fields from Spring to Autumn. Also, winter would likely be an especially difficult time for pregnant Mary to travel the long distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem (70 miles). A more probable time would be late September, the time of the annual Feast of Tabernacles, when such travel was commonly accepted.
So Why do many Christians celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, if that is not when he was born?
The date was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church. Because Rome dominated most of the “Christian” world for centuries, the date became tradition throughout most of Christendom. The original significance of December 25 is that it was a well-known festival day celebrating the annual return of the sun. December 21 is the winter solstice (shortest day of the year and thus a key date on the calendar), and December 25 is the first day that ancients could clearly note that the days were definitely getting longer and the sunlight was returning.”
Also I was thinking that it was the Roman Census time and the Romans were well known as highly efficient administrators. It would have made no sense at all to have conducted a census in the dead of winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and traveling was difficult due to poor road conditions. Taking a census under such conditions would surely have been self-defeating!
So They Christianized & Repackaged a Pagan Holiday!
Many sources explain that by 336AD the early Catholic Church brought in this “Christ Mass” to continue the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, as well as an overlap with the winter solstice. Saturnalia, was the Roman feast for Saturn. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms. Rome itself was famous for its flirtations with strange gods and cults, and in the third century the unchristian emperor Aurelian established the festival of the Day of the Invincible Sun, on December 25!
So we Christians have been sold a lie
& Pointed in a Wrong Direction?
We may try to quote slogans such as, “Jesus is the reason for the season“, but it always felt like an uphill battle and now, finally, I have found out why! It is in fact a battle! It is a battle for TRUTH over lies, LIGHT over darkness, the true Lord God & Lord Jesus Christ over all the false portrayals of Him. I am discovering that the truth of the Bible as opposed to these fairy-tale fabrications cannot be easily reconciled once realised.
As a younger Christian when my children were quite small, in an attempt to get the focus on the Lord Jesus I have even resorted to writing “Happy Birthday Jesus” on the Christmas cake that I made. But now finally I have had the Christmas veil of deception pulled back from my eyes I can see that I was fighting a battle against something that I previously did not understand. I now agree with another blogger who writes about those who say Happy Birthday Jesus:
“I don’t agree with that at all, it really bothers me. Jesus doesn’t have a birthday. Yes there was a particular day in history that God came to earth and became both man and God, but Jesus Christ being God is an eternal being and He said so Himself.
In John’s gospel it simply states that:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)
“Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)
So Jesus doesn’t have a birthday as such, as He always existed eternally with the Father. Also I think that it is exceedingly telling that God did not give us a date nor did he stipulate in His Word that we celebrate his coming to our world in the fashion that we now have at Christmas. Nor did the early Christians mention celebrating His birth. Jesus Christ Himself told us at His last Passover meal to remember Him by the bread and wine of the symbols of the Passover meal. He changed the significance from the lambs killed at the first Passover to Himself, who was just about to give His life as the once for all sacrifice for our sins, as a lamb without blemish.
John the Baptist, speaking under divine inspiration, said of Jesus,
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus is to be commemorated but His birth as a baby is not a really a helpful focus. It has proven to be a powerless story with all the essential elements removed – elements of who Jesus really IS and what He actually DID and why He did it and the fact that He is coming again (soon) as Judge of all!
I have even found out that historically many Protestant denominations rejected Christmas, and did not celebrate it. In the 17th century Christmas was actually outlawed in England and some parts of the American colonies because of its unbiblical and pagan origins. They either ignored the holiday or actively discouraged it until the late 19th century. What a long way we have come!
I think that for many Christians putting Christ back into Christmas may sound like a nice idea, but really it appears to be a misguided effort to try to justify a long-standing human tradition, rather than what the Bible actually teaches.
Essentially, you can’t put Christ back into something He was never in at the outset.
See my following article, on Father Christmas, called Christian Christmas Chaos – The Tale of Two Fathers
And also a subsequent post called Christmas – Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh – Gifts Fit For A King – Gold
Here is a useful link to check out more information for yourself: http://www.christiananswers.net/christmas/mythsaboutchristmas.html
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