Celebrating or not celebrating Christmas is a controversial topic in some circles. People point to certain things like Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the types of trees, the timing of the celebration etc. as being pagan and therefore Christmas is branded as entirely pagan. Others shrink back in disgust at all the materialism and commercialization. No one can doubt that there are certain things about Christmas that are pagan. However, not everything is. Not all believers throw out Christmas. There are parallels to Christmas in the Bible! Based on the evidence that follows we should not throw out the baby with the bath-water. In this case the baby is Jesus!
At the time of the Feast of Dedication (Hannukah) also called the Feast of Lights, Jesus went to the Temple. Note the name Feast of Lights. It always fell on the 25th day of the 10th month Chislev which coincides with part of our December (which was originally the 10th month).
John 10:22 says “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.” Jesus then began to talk about His sheep in December. Verse 27 says:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
So I guess that Jesus may have been among the first recorded to have spoken about sheep at “Christmas-time.”
Note that this Feast is known as the Feast of Lights or as the Jewish Christmas. Jews at that time gave money gifts to children apart from lighting candlesticks. It was and is a period of mirth and gladness. It was to commemorate the rededication of the temple by Judas Macchabaeus after it was profaned some time before on the same day and month by Antiochus Epiphanes. Please note that all the Feasts mentioned in this article were before the Saturnalia festival that is so often linked to Christmas to prove its paganity. The timing of Christmas is often linked to “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti” – “The Day Of The Unconquerable Sun.” Note again that it was the Bible and not pagans that referred to Jesus as the Sun of Righteousness. Was the Bible promoting a pagan concept? Mal 4:2 says:
“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness [Jesus] arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”
With Christmas it may very well be a case of which came first the chicken or the egg. There is another rationale for the timing of Christmas besides the more popular pagan ones. Louis Duchnesne, in 1889, stated that Christmas was calculated to fall nine months after the believed date of the Annunciation to Mary when she was told her child was of the Holy Ghost.
(2) Second Parallel – The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles is another feast that is a lot like Christmas with the gathering of tree branches and sending of portions to each other with merriment.
Lev. 23:40 says:
“And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.”
It was not merely a day but was celebrated over a period of days.
Neh. 8:12 adds and makes the parallel with Christmas all the more clearer
“And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.”
Verse 15 also adds “… publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.”
Verse 18 goes on to say that they had a seven day feast.
The Feast of Purim is the third Feast that was not too different from Christmas.
Esther 9:17,19 speaks about the Feast of Purim saying:
“On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.”
Many people speak against Christmas and then they dress up to go to Old Year’s Service five days later which is based on the pagan calendar where the two-headed god Janus (January) starts the year looking back at the old year as if in retrospect and forward to the new year as if with anticipation. December is not the end of the year. December is the 10th month. Look at the names of these months:
SEPTember – in French “sept” means “seven”
OCTOber – octo – octagon – eight sided shape; octopus – a creature with eight tentacles
NOVember – nueve – nine in Spanish
DECEmber – dix [pronounced deece] – French for ten.
The year, according to the Bible, really starts in March/April. That is why Easter or Passover, which falls on the 14th day of the 1st Jewish month is celebrated in March/April and never in January.
The cross (Tau) is considered by many many people to be pagan too. That viewpoint has been made popular by Alexander Hislop who wrote the book The Two Babylons. In it he pointed out parallels between many things that are considered Christian in some religions but are pagan. He is dead wrong about the cross. The cross is the 22nd and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is as old as language itself. (You can see Isaac Mozeson’s book The Wordthat proves that Hebrew or its predecessor was the original language. His study is called “Edenics.”)
Yes, the cross or Tau is the 22nd and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. No wonder Psa. 22 begins by telling us the words of Jesus on the cross. No wonder Genesis 22 tells us a story about Abraham whose name means “father of a multitude’ who is about to give up his son Isaac and a lamb symbolic of Jesus dies in his place. Many of the things we consider pagan are a corrupted form of Christianity. For instance, they take the Bible’s animal sacrifices and the pagans take it over and change it up a bit and then people say animal sacrifices are pagan.
Many say that since God nowhere in the Bible said to celebrate Christmas we must not celebrate it. But similarly God never said to celebrate Esther’s Feast of Purim or the Jew’s Hannukah or Festival of Lights either. He did not even say to have an end of year service either (which incidentally does not fall on the last day of the year). God did not say to celebrate birthdays either. People say that Jesus was not born on Christmas day but take note that none of us were born on our birthday either. We were all really born about nine months before we came out of the womb. So there are a lot of things that God never said to do that we do because they are not wrong, and there are other things we do without regard to the exact timing. God does not have to say to do it for it to be right. We cannot form a rule based on omission. Additionally, the Jehovah Witnesses try to make a case against birthdays because every time they are mentioned in the Bible somebody is killed – e.g John the Baptist and Pharoah’s baker. Due to the fact that the Bible does not say to celebrate birthdays they believe celebrating one’s birthday is pagan and wrong.
Let us all be consistent in our beliefs and let us not get rid of things that are not evil. It is how you celebrate it that makes it worldly or not. Leave out the elements you know to be pagan. Were not gifts given to Jesus at His birth? Shall we throw out the only time of the year that some people are open to the gospel message? I like the way the Bible puts it in Romans 14:22. It says:
“Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”
So as I said, Do not throw out the baby with the bath-water. In this case the baby is Jesus!
Fo a similar topic see: