How Does the Origin of Christmas Affect Your Celebrations?

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Simplifying the Holiday Season

Christmas is not a Christian holiday in the same way that Jesus’ disciples weren’t a “holy yoga” class.

(And in the same way that you can compare apples and oranges, but you get my point.)

I don’t know whether or not the last time you read the whole Bible you noticed that there is nothing in there about celebrating Jesus’ birth after, you know, his actual birth.

God set up a bunch of other feasts and celebrations, but the birth of his son is notably not among them. Not to mention that no one knows the actual birthday of Christ, though many scholars agree from the clues provided that it was most likely late summer or early fall.

Is the "reason for the season" what you really think it is?

Christians get all up in arms about defending the “reason for the season”, but the reality is that Christmas as we know it seems to have been adopted as a way to allow Romans to keep their traditional pagan festivities (and pretty raunchy ones at that) of that time of year, while easing into Christianity as a state religion.

It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of Christianizing everything. After all, it’s been so long since we’ve adopted these traditions that they just don’t mean what they used to mean. And anyway, Jesus makes all things new, right?

There may be some relevance to this – meanings of words do somewhat evolve over time, but the patterns established by a God who is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” suggest otherwise.

The Israelites were warned that if they didn’t completely defeat and expel the other nations from the promised land that the people would be stumbling blocks/thorns in their sides and their customs and religions would cause the Israelites to sin against God.

Even if God wasn’t part of the equation, at what point, does it become ok to forget where we’ve come from? How far removed do we have to be – who gets to decide that?

If some future leader adopts a swastika as part of his logo, will it matter what it once stood for? (It was, in fact, originally a lucky symbol for good health and good fortune before it became a more perverted symbol of evil to most.)

Are meanings only as relevant as our understanding of them?

If you do your research, you’ll find that the origins of Santa/St. Nicholas, candles in the window, holly wreathes, mistletoe, the Christmas tree, and even the red balls which commonly decorate the tree, all have questionable origins at best.

Along with that, it’s hard to deny that holidays now serve businesses and organizations more than anyone else, as they capitalize on the opportunity to make bank and further their causes in various other ways. It’s enough to make some people want to take a stand against consumerism by boycotting the holidays altogether.

So where does that leave us?

We all have to decide for ourselves how important origins are, and what that means to us. Whatever way Christmas traditions started, the fact remains that it’s not a holiday instituted in the Bible, which for us means we’re not going to allow ourselves to feel pressured by trying to make it perfect or religiously guilt-tripped into trying to defend it.

The truth is, regardless of other factors, fellowshipping with family and friends, encouraging one another and making memories is a good thing. Taking time to rest and reflect over the year and plan for the new one is a good thing.

We don’t need a sanctioned holiday to do these things.

We haven’t created our own family policy on all of this yet, but there’s nothing saying that we can’t develop our own good habits and new family customs. We just want to make our choices based on truth rather than blindly adopting traditions of men.

When you put thought into why you do what you do, life becomes much more rich and refreshing!

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  • Nina Lorelei

    Wow, this is the first time I comment on your *awesome* blog, because I was just so shocked that you so openly wrote about this important subject. Most people still don’t know these facts. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas for exactly those reasons, because we do believe the origins matter, and what God purposed (or didn’t purpose) matters! As for traditions, we developed quite some over the years, on other occasions, to celebrate, to be together with family and friends, and to give presents 🙂 we do want all that, just not on Christmas. Thanks again for writing about this!

    • I have recently realized that when I was replying to comments on the backend of our blog they weren’t showing up here 🙁 I’m sorry for such an apparent delay, and thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Erin Jane Long

    Actually if you bothered to do some more digging you would find that there are very good reasons that the celebration of Christmas is exactly when we celebrate it. And it has absolutely nothing to do with ANY pagan celebrations at all. The entire Christian calendar that is still part of the older traditional churches hold much of this information so instead of poo-pooing and even contemplating that God is so weak as to allow his church to simply “take over” something, instead of falling for the lies that the enemy has allowed to seep into the church, maybe you should be looking into church history just a little bit more. In actual fact the reason Christmas is celebrated when it was is simply because of the early church back tracking when they thought Jesus was conceived, and that is able to be surmised through various parts of the New Testament. The early scholars then added together prophesy from the Old Testament with a good dash of Hebraic festivals and traditions and came up with the December 25th Date ALL ON THEIR OWN. Absolutely NOTHING to do with any kind of pagan religions. Please stop propagating pagan mythology. God does not need to borrow anything at all. He created the entire world. Honestly do you think that if the date of Christmas was so wrong that God could have told a few more hundred thousand people in the past thousand or so years rather than have them look like they are borrowing something else that is actually against God? God gave us common sense and logic – let’s use it!

    • Hi Erin, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I purposefully didn’t include very specific origins in this post because there is such a wide variety of belief and understanding of where and how things started. I would love a link to any information you have! My main point, and maybe I should edit this post to better reflect that, was that regardless of what Christmas is or isn’t today, I don’t see it in the Bible as something instituted or sanctioned by God, so for us personally it isn’t a sacred holiday and I don’t feel pressure to make it a perfect time of year. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy time with family and friends or choose to focus on God, but we can probably both agree that’s something we should do all year long 🙂

    • Michelle Young

      Wow. Just, wow. Nothing in your comment speaks to any logic or common sense. At all. On any level.

  • Anderson G.

    Greetings !!! I came across your blog and it has very useful contents except for this one !!!
    Just look at any dictionary of the English language they all state that Christmas is a annual celebration of the birth of Christ. The name CHRIST-mas makes sense to you now that is Christ related.
    Please don’t look for executes on the Bible, because the Christian Church created this holiday to celebrate Jesus birthday.
    Now what’s next, you gonna say that Hanuka is not a Jewish holiday ???
    You have a nice blog and allow me to suggest you to refrain from any religious topic, you will offend people and loose readers…not worth it.
    Thank you !
    Best regards !

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Anderson. I agree with you that Christmas started as a religious holiday, but it is a man-made tradition, not something established by God. Man can put many “good” things in place, but only those things that God puts in place are holy and to be revered.

  • Elsie

    Thanks, Tico and Tina! This post was very thought-provoking and I really enjoyed it(: