Millions of people around the world enjoy Christmas as the most popular holiday celebration of the year. But some have raised the question as to whether Christmas itself can be considered a holy day in light of its true origin. What origin is that?
The New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges: “The date of Christ’s birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month. According to the hypothesis accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of Dec. 25 because on this day the pagan devotees of (the god) Mithra celebrated the birthday of the invincible sun.”
The Encyclopedia Americana states: “The reason for establishing December 25 as Christmas is somewhat obscure, but it is usually held that the day was chosen to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, to celebrate the ‘rebirth of the sun.’ ... The Roman Saturnalia (a festival dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and to the renewed power of the sun), also took place at this time.”
Although the Bible does not give a specific date for Jesus’ birth, it does provide evidence that he was not born in the month of December. How? According to God’s Word at Luke 2:4-8, Jesus was born in the Judean city of Bethlehem and at the time he was born, verse 8 says: “There were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” — New King James Version.
The book “Daily Life in the Time of Jesus,” explained, “They (the flocks) passed the winter under cover; and from this alone it may be seen that the traditional date for Christmas, in the winter, is unlikely to be right, since the Gospel says that the shepherds were in the fields.”
Since the evidence suggest that the birth of Jesus Christ did not occur on Dec. 25, one might ask if this holiday can truly be considered a “holy day?” Some feel that regardless of what the actual date is, Christians should still celebrate the birth of Jesus as their Lord. In their minds such a celebration, when observed in a dignified manner, is an appropriate way to honor Christ.
There is no question that the birth of Jesus is an important event in the Bible. God’s Word at Luke 2:13-14 says when Jesus was born, a multitude of angels appeared and praised God, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” — KJV.
But scholars have searched and searched and concluded that nowhere in the Bible is there even the slightest hint that Jesus’ birthday should be celebrated. In fact, The World Book Encyclopedia states, “The early Christians did not celebrate (Jesus’) birth because they considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.”
The book “The History of the Christian Religion and Church, During the Three First Centuries” states “The notion of a birthday festival was far from the ideas of the Christians of this period in general.”
Keep in mind that John the Baptist was beheaded at a birthday celebration, according to Matthew 14:6-10. So birthdays were widely celebrated by pagans in Jesus’ day and yet Jesus did not celebrate birthdays or suggest that anyone ever celebrate his. Could that be one reason why Almighty God did not choose to inspire any Bible writer to record the exact day and month of Jesus’ birth?
M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopœdia admits: “The observance of Christmas is not of divine appointment, nor is it of N(ew) T(estament) origin. The day of Christ’s birth cannot be ascertained from the N(ew) T(estament), or, indeed, from any other source.”
Did you know that the early Christians — many of whom had worked with Jesus in his ministry — never celebrated Jesus’ birth on any date? There is, on the other hand, a specific command for Christians to commemorate the death of Jesus, according to Luke 22:17-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. We can also appreciate that Jesus said at John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” — New King James Version. Would that be the ideal way to honor Jesus — our obedience? You decide.
Some may ask, ‘Does it really matter that Dec. 25 was not Jesus’ actual birthday, or that the early Christians never even celebrated birthdays at all or that Dec. 25 is linked to a pagan festival? Ask yourself what do you think Jesus would have you do? He answered at John 4:23: “The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” — KJV.
Also, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” — New International Version.
If the date used to celebrate the birth of Christ is not a holy day, and never was, what do you think Jesus would have you do? Why not seek what is pleasing to God? Why not celebrate Jesus each and every day by considering his life and ministry and then imitating him to the best of your ability?
Always be giving. Always be loving. Always be celebrating the gift God gave us in Jesus Christ our Lord. That way every day can feel like a holiday and God may see us as holy for all our days (1Peter 1:15-16).
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE