Why I Don't Celebrate Christmas
COPYRIGHT © 2011 by James M. Frye
All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.
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I am often asked why I donít celebrate Christmas. This article represents my heartfelt desire to provide an answer to that question. There are many other reasons in addition to the ones contained in this article, but these should be sufficient to demonstrate that there is a Biblical basis for not doing so.
So, why donít I celebrate Christmas? Here are a few of the reasons.
1. Christmas is not Biblical.
Why do professing Christians celebrate Christmas? Is it in the Bible, or are we instructed by God to do so? Absolutely not. Try as you might, you will not find even one instance in the entire Bible where anyone celebrated Christmas - ever. The apostle Paul didn't celebrate Christmas, Peter didn't celebrate Christmas, nor did any of the other early Christians. The book of Acts records the major events of approximately the first 30 years of Christianity, yet there is not one single reference in the entire book to anyone ever celebrating the birth of Christ. Why? The answer is simple. The early Christians did not celebrate Christ's birth.
Sure, we do find the details surrounding the birth of Christ recorded in scripture, but the early believers never celebrated that day as a yearly celebration. As a matter of fact, No one knows for sure what day Jesus was born. God has purposely chosen to keep the exact date of Christís birth a secret - Kind of a strange thing for God to do if He wanted people to celebrate His Sonís birthday, donít you think? It almost looks like God was seeking to keep people from celebrating that day, doesnít it? Jesus clearly wasnít born on December 25th. We will discuss that date in a later section.
If God wanted us to celebrate Christmas, we would expect to find some instruction in the Bible to do so. But once again, there is none. This is very interesting, for when God did desire for His people to keep a particular day under the Old Covenant (we are no longer under the Old Covenant), He gave them great specifics. For example, concerning the feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread (recorded in Exodus 12) God told them:
1. The exact dates and times they were to celebrate it (verse 18).
2. What they were to eat and were not to eat (verses 3, 8 & 18-20).
3. How they were to prepare the food (verse 9).
4. What they were to wear (verse 11).
5. What they could not have in their houses (verses 19-20).
6. When and where they could go (verse 22).
7. What days they could work and not work (verse 16).
etc. etc. etc.
So, when God wants His people to keep a religious day, He gives them great specifics. But when it comes to Christmas, there is not one instruction to keep it anywhere in scripture, and none of the early Christians ever did. Clearly then, Christmas is not Biblical. It does not come from the Bible.† †
2. Christmas is Pagan in Origin.
Since Christmas doesn't come from the Bible, where did it come from? This can be verified by most any good encyclopedia and should shock every honest Bible-believing Christian but -- Christmas is pagan in origin! Christmas began as an attempt to "Christianize" the heathen celebrations of Rome which took place around the time of the winter solstice.
The feast of Sol Invictus was held on December 25th to celebrate the birth of "Deus Sol Invictus" (the Unconquered Sun God). The worship of this false heathen sun god under a variety of names (Sol, Mithras, Elah Gabal, etc.) had recently supplanted the Roman feast of Saturnalia, but had incorporated many of its customs.
This pagan holiday celebration involved among other things, "decking the halls" with holly branches, hanging evergreen wreaths, exchanging gifts, going through the streets with lit candles singing holiday carols, home decoration, and even (you guessed it) decorated evergreen trees.
Virtually every Christmas custom can be traced back to some pagan man-made rite or tradition. For example, pagans worshipped with the use of trees. This practice is condemned repeatedly in scripture (Deut. 12:2, 4; 1 Kings 14:22-23; Deut. 16:21; etc.). What does the Bible say about God's people adopting such heathen practices?
Jer. 10:2-4 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.
Sounds like a modern day Christmas tree doesn't it? It does, and God tells His people not to do such things. God clearly tells His people not to learn the way of the heathen. They are not to pick up these vain customs from them. Pagans did these things, but God's people are not to.
Deut. 12:2-4 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
According to the above passage, God's people are forbidden to worship Him in any way which was formerly used by the heathen (pagans) to worship their false gods. We are not to take these pagan customs and try to "Christianize" them.
Deut. 12:30 Ö and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
Deut. 12:31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God Ö
I don't know how the Bible could possibly say it any clearer! It specifically says that we are not permitted to pick up the customs that were formerly used by the pagans to worship their false gods and try and worship the true God in the same way. It is forbidden!
3. Christmas is Roman Catholic in Origin.
As I stated earlier, Christmas began as an attempt to "Christianize" the pagan celebrations of Rome. It was Roman Catholicism ("R.C." from here on) that created such an unbiblical mixture. Despite the many Scriptural admonitions against such practices, R.C. sought to expand through the process of "assimilation". Rather than calling people to repent and turn from their heathen ways to follow Christ, R.C. adopted the customs of the people and gave them "Christian" names.
The Church of Rome's first official celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25th took place in 336 A.D. During the years that followed, this celebration spread throughout the Roman Empire and eventually the world. The word ďChristmasĒ itself originated as a compound of the words "Christ's Mass" or "Mass of Christ" a Roman Catholic observance. The R.C. Mass is not the same as "The Lord's Supper" or "communion" in the Bible, but is a blasphemous ceremony which is very dishonoring to Christ.
According to the Bible, Jesus' death upon the cross atoned for all a believers sins ≠past, present & future (Heb. 9:12, 26, 28; 10:1-3, 10, 14; etc.). But R.C. teaches just the opposite (they teach a false gospel). The following quotations are taken from the official "Catechism of the Catholic Church" Promulgated by Pope John Paul 2, copyright 2000 (bold & underlines added for emphasis).
1393 Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is "given for us" and the blood we drink "shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins." For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins:
1394 As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him:
According to official Roman Catholic teaching, when a person comes to Mass, they are receiving cleansing of their sins. Their Catechism goes on to say that the Mass is not only a sacrifice for sins but also that the wafer of bread and the wine are elevated in worship because they have become Christ. That is idolatry!
These things fly in the face of the clear teaching of Scripture, dishonor Christ, and are a complete contradiction to His one-time sacrifice for sins. This is part and parcel of the false gospel of R.C. which the Bible sternly condemns (Gal. 1:6-8). To take such things and link them with Christ in a celebration named "Christmass," is blasphemous. The Mass is a part of Rome's false gospel, not the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
4) Christmas is a Tradition of Men.
If the celebration of Christmas does not come from the Bible (and it doesn't), that makes it a tradition of men. What does the Bible have to say about traditions of men?
Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing'of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
This passage specifically states that those who incorporate man-made traditions into their worship of God are "worshipping God in vain". Such worship is unacceptable and is rejected by God. The Bible doesn't have to say "not to do" these things. If the Bible does not authorize them, or tell us "to do" them, they are forbidden. We may not create our own man-made religious practices.
What was it that these people were doing? We do not have time in a short article like this to explain all the details and context of this passage. But in short, it says they were laying aside the commandment of God so that they might keep their own tradition. But isn't that the same thing that those who ignore the scriptural admonitions given thus far in this article and continue to celebrate Christmas are doing?
Commandment of God - Do not worship God in any way which was formerly used by the heathen (pagans) to worship their false gods.
Tradition of men - Celebrate Christmas
To lay aside the commandment of God not to do these things, and continue to keep Christmas (a tradition of men) is to do the exact thing this passage is rebuking. It is to worship God in vain. God does not receive such worship, but rather rejects it as unacceptable.
People will often say to me, "But the Bible doesn't say that you can't celebrate Christmas.". Actually, it does as we have previously shown in this article. But look at the passage above. What was it that Jesus was rebuking the people for doing?
Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Jesus rebuked them for creating religious practices concerning washing pots and cups and other such things. Let me ask you a question. Where does the Bible forbid doing such things? It doesn't. But Jesus still rebuked them for it. Why? He rebuked them because we are not permitted to create our own religious practices. All religious practices must be authorized by scripture or they are forbidden. This principle, often referred to as the regulative principle of worship, is found throughout the Bible.
Deut. 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
This passage states the regulative principle rather plainly. In order for our worship to be acceptable to God, it must be according to the word of God.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
We must worship God according to the truth of His word, otherwise our worship is vain, unacceptable, and God will not accept it.
Lev. 10:1-2 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
The phrase "which he commanded them not" is saying that God had not commanded them to do these things. They did something which God had not commanded them to do. They just came up with the idea on their own, apart from scripture, and God judged them for it. This principle runs throughout the entire Bible. We see it in Gen. 4:1-7 with the unacceptable worship of Cain, in 2 Sam 6:2-7 with the death of Uzzah, etc. etc. In regard to the case of Uzzah, David finally realizes their error and says in a parallel passage:
1 Chron. 15:13 For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.
The due order is limiting our religious practices to those which are authorized by the Bible. We simply are not permitted to come up with our own man-made traditions, and Christmas (having no basis in Scripture) is clearly a tradition of men. For more on the Regulative Principle, and what is, and is not acceptable in the worship of God, see my article on that subject at the link below.
Many Christians Have Opposed Christmas Throughout History.
Today, when a Christian mentions that they are opposed to the celebration of Christmas, people look at them as if they are nuts and suspect that they must be in a cult like the Jehovahís Witnesses. But what they don't realize is that years ago the exact opposite was true. Throughout much of history, the majority of Christians were opposed to Christmas.
As we saw in a previous section, scripture demonstrates that for the first 30 years of Christianity, there is no mention of Christians ever celebrating Christmas. The early church didnít do it. Christmas was not observed until at least three centuries "after" Jesusí birth.
Throughout the dark ages R.C. spread across much of the world and the celebration of Christmas with it, (although faithful followers of God opposed it). As the Protestant Reformation began to spring up across the globe, Bible believing Christians rose up in opposition to this pagan holiday. Here are just a few examples.
1. The reformation in Switzerland rejected Christmas banning it in Geneva in 1550.
2. In 1560, the reformation in Scotland was opposed to Christmas. John Knox, the leader of the Scottish reformation wrote against the practice numerous times.
3. In England, many preachers spoke out against the practice of Christmas as well. Rebukes against the practice can be found in the preaching and writings of such prominent preachers and teachers such as David Calderwood (1575-1651), George Gillespie (1613-1649), Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603), and William Ames (1576-1633), etc. etc.
4. Christmas was eventually banned in England by an act of Parliament in June of 1647. Parliament at the time was filled with Christians, many of them Puritans. Oliver Cromwell was an outspoken opponent of Christmas.
5. The Puritans, first in England and then in New England, were opposed to the celebration of Christmas, their movement lasting for well over 100 years.
6. On May 11, 1659 the Massachusetts legislator banned the celebration of Christmas in Massachusetts.
7. In 1806, Samuel Miller (moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly and later Professor at Princeton Seminary) wrote a book entitled "The Worship of the Presbyterian Church". In the book he explains why Presbyterians were opposed to the celebration of Christmas.
8. Christmas was not widely celebrated in New England until 1852.
9. It was not until 1836 that Alabama became the first state to recognize Christmas. It did not become a federal holiday until 1870.
10. As late as 1870 most non R.C. churches in the United States (except the Lutherans and Episcopalians) still refused to celebrate Christmas.
11. In the 1870ís Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who is often referred to as The Prince of Preachers, preached and wrote condemning the celebration of Christmas.
12. The Church of Scotland continued its opposition to Christmas and it continued as a regular working day until 1958.
13. In 1919 Dr. Harry Ironside, pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, taught his congregation that "such a festival comes under the condemnation of Gal. 4:9-11 and should have no place in a Christian church".
14. The highly esteemed preacher A.W. Pink, who died in 1952, was opposed to and wrote against the celebration of Christmas.
15. To this day, many Presbyterian, Baptist, and other non-denominational churches are opposed to the celebration of Christmas.
This is just a small sample of Christians who were and are against the celebration of Christmas.
As I stated at the beginning of this section, when a Christian in our day mentions that they are opposed to the celebration of Christmas, they are looked upon as an oddball. But if you were a person who celebrated Christmas and lived during many of the times and places mentioned above, you would have been the one considered an oddball. You would have been looked upon as a person who was disobeying God and doing that which is wrong and sinful. Oh, how times have changed. But think about it. Godís word does not change. If it was wrong and sinful to celebrate Christmas back then, it is still wrong and sinful to do so now. The only question is, will you receive and obey what Godís word says regarding the matter?