Q&A: Is Christmas Pagan?

Is Christmas Pagan?

Question

Has it occurred to anyone to ask: If the birth of Yahshua the Messiah is the 'reason for the season', how is it that the pagan nations were observing the same date & customs centuries before He was born? And the fact that He was actually born 2-3 months earlier, in a completely different 'season'?

No, just because 'reason' rhymes with 'season' doesn't mean there's any truth in that cute little phrase. The REAL reason for the SEASON is that, at the winter solstice, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, so that the sunlight hits earth at the smallest angle, causing the start of the WINTER SEASON.

As for the REAL reason for X-mass OBSERVANCE, the sun-worshipping Roman Emperor Constatine, feigning conversion to Christianity, combined what little bit of truth he had with all the pagan practices & symbols we see today, such as the X-mass tree, mistletoe, yule log, Satan Claus, etc. They were essentially worshipping the re-birth of the sun-god, which occured at the winter solstice; NOT the birth of the Son of YAHWEH, which occurred the 1st day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Protestantism merely inherited all this stuff from the Roman Catholic Church - 'MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT - MOTHER OF HARLOTS...' (Rev 17).

YAHWEH clearly says 'learn NOT the ways of the heathen', then describes the X-mass tree (Jer.10:1-5); He says that 'the TREE ('STOCK' KJV) is a doctrine of vanities' (verse 8); and NOT to adopt pagan practices into His worship (Deut.12:29-32).

Answer

I think the complaints below are fairly petty. These aren't the reasoned arguments of a thoughtful objector. They are rather the strange ramblings of a person who is determined to find something wrong with Christmas. They are a handful of dirt thrown in the general direction of Christmas, in the vain hope that there may be a rock in there somewhere.

First, the argument against calling Christmas a "season" is silly semantic bickering. "Season" can be used in many ways (check any English dictionary). The fact that the phrase "Christmas season" rubs someone the wrong way says more about their pet peeves than it does about the phrase.

Second, regarding the actual date of Jesus' birth, the church didn't know when Jesus was really born. Scripture does not tell us when Jesus was born, let alone that it was on the first day of the feast of tabernacles. I have seen interesting reconstructions of possible dates, but there is so much guesswork in them that at best they have a several month margin of error. So, the church picked a day to celebrate his birth. We do this for all kids of occasions, and there is nothing invalid about it.

Third, in the case of the date for Christmas, it is possible, though by no means demonstrably certain (despite the objector's own conviction), that the church picked the date because it coincided with existing winter festivals. This was also a common practice. It was one way that the church tried to accommodate its people and fight paganism. The church co-opted dates that had previously been used by pagans as a form of competition, in order to pull Christians out of them. This co-opting was also a means of evangelism. By allowing converted peoples to maintain harmless culture and traditions, the church was more rapidly adopted in new lands. This was not a matter of syncretism (combining true and false worship), but of being all things to all people (1 Cor. 9:21: "To those not having the law I became like one not having the law ... so as to win those not having the law").

As one example, the Christmas tree may originally have been used in pagan ceremonies. But there is nothing wrong with a tree in and of itself, and neither is there anything wrong with using it as a holiday decoration. Used in pagan worship, it's evil; used in other contexts, it's fine. The same thing is true of many things in Scripture. For instance, circumcision — God's covenant sign in the Old Testament — was a common practice among ancient peoples. When used in pagan rites, it was evil. But when used by God, it was good. Or think about the way Paul talked about food that had been sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8—10 and Romans 14. There was nothing wrong with the food, even after it had been used in pagan worship. It's use in pagan worship was wrong; it's use in other contexts was God's provision for his people.

Fourth, the idea that Jeremiah 10:1-5 is describing a Christmas tree is completely baseless. That passage is talking about an idol carved from a tree and worshiped as a god. It has nothing to do with a tree used as a decoration in someone's home (for that, see Psalm 52:8 where David is like an olive tree in the house of God).

Hope this helps,

Ra McLaughlin
Vice President of Curriculum
Third Millennium Ministries
rmclaughlin@thirdmill.org

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.