Oh boy. How do I start? I’ll start by saying WHY I wanted to post this. I’ve lately noticed anti-Christmas articles, basically arguing that all of the Christmas “traditions” have pagan roots, and therefore we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. As you can probably guess, I disagree. I believe that like everything else in this world, Christmas has been tainted by sin. But I do think it’s a good sign that the devil is trying so hard to get Christ out of CHRISTmas. If he’s working so hard on that, don’t you think that we must be doing something right? Who can avoid the fact that our Savior’s name is in one of the most celebrated holidays in the world!?
I’d like to go over a couple of the major points that is debated.
First, one of the major arguments is over when was the first Christmas celebration. I saw this on Facebook today – “Did you know that Christmas was not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian Church? According to Encyclopedia Americana, a feast in memory of the birth of the Saviour wasn’t established until the Fourth Century, and then it wasn’t until the Fifth Century when the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman Feast of the birth of Sol.” Again, I disagree. Who knows if they celebrated Christ’s birth or not? At that time, they were still being persecuted. To openly celebrate anything new under the Romans would have been dangerous. Anytime the Christians worshiped someone other than the Roman lord, they would have been thrown in jail or worse.
I came across this quote in researching the origins of Christmas: “Augustine (354-430) of Hippo, On the Psalms, Psalm 133 “For from Christ comes the dew. No light is set on a high place, save Christ. How is He set on high? First on the cross, afterwards in heaven. Set on high on the cross when He was humbled; humbled, but His humiliation could not but be high. The ministry of man grew less and less, as was signified in John; the ministry of God in our Lord Jesus Christ increased, as was shown at their birth. The former was born, as the tradition of the Church shows, on the 24th of June, when the days begin to shorten. The Lord was born on the 25th of December, when the days begin to lengthen.”
So to say that the early Christians didn’t celebrate Christmas might not be accurate. (for the full article go to http://christian-civilization.org/articles/rethinking-the-pagan-origins-of-christmas/ )
As for the date that it was celebrated on, there is a whole host of different arguments on that! Was it a pagan tradition that got carried over? Was it chosen to combat the pagan festival (aka, the Christian version)? Was it simply what date the Early Christians believed to be Jesus’ birth (there is that whole Roman calender thing)? The short answer – who knows?! I liked this young lady’s post – http://melodys-notes.blogspot.com/2008/11/apology-for-christmas-by-melody-seppi.html. Her view – that Christmas was started after the pagan festivals were gone – was interesting. And again, who knows? Everyone says something different, and no one really has solid evidence to suggest one or the other. Here is another quote: “Augustine also specifically titled one of his points of Sermon 22, “The Festival Has Nothing to Do with Sun-worship, as Some Maintain.” Thus in the fourth century, Augustine both refuted that Christmas had its origins in Saturnalia while also clearly attributing the Lord’s birth to December 25th as the “tradition of the church.”
I really suggest reading the book The Case for Christmas by Les Strobel, by the way. His view is interesting, as he is a former atheist.
Third – Christmas Trees. Again, a link – http://forchristskingdom.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-tree-idol.html. Peter did a good job answering that one, and that is what my family believes.
Fourth – Santa Claus. Father Christmas. Pere Noel. Weihnachtsmann. What ever you call him, here I agree with the naysayers. Santa Claus is one “tradition” that has been so secularized. As mentioned in my last post, my siblings and I never believed in Santa. My parents taught us that there was a man named Nicholas who secretly delivered gifts to needy children, but as any human does, he died. I’ve also read that Nicholas never existed and that Santa Claus is based off of a pagan god. Wherever he comes from, I agree that Santa has no place in the celebration of Christmas..that’s not to say that we don’t watch anything with Santa in it, or listen to music that mentions Santa – it just means that we don’t focus on him. My family enjoys the Santa Clause movies, and I personally like how it portrays him – not as a perfect man, but as a sinner with a family that he is learning to care for. But we don’t leave milk and cookies out for Santa (maybe for mom and dad though 🙂 Besides, he is just creepy (he sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake?)
And I can go on. Mistletoe, advent candles, presents, etc. But I won’t. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t celebrate it. And my goal isn’t to try and make everyone celebrate Christmas. No! My goal is to try and share my view.
Please read this in conclusion. The author wrote it in a way that I cannot in this short post. It is long, but it explains everything so well.
My family has chosen to do the traditions we do for specific reasons. We do set up a Christmas tree. But we don’t worship it. We do give presents to each other, but my parents are the ones who give them – not Santa. We feel that celebrating Jesus’ birth is important, and we don’t mind doing it on the wrong date. I love Christmas. It’s my favorite season for many reasons. Besides celebrating my Lord’s birth, I love singing Christmas/Advent hymns. I love the lights, the trees, the foods, and the snow. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like presents too!
I hope I have explained this in a way that is easy to understand, and please also note that these are just my personal views. I don’t mean to offend anyone, and if your personal beliefs are different, I will respect them. I just hope to point out that Christmas can be taken so many ways!
My next post I hope will be on the history behind a well known Christmas song (again, one with a lot of controversy)!
Until next time!