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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 21 2023

The top 10 reasons I don’t celebrate Christmas

Christmas plays a key role in the economies of many nations. Schools, colleges and some businesses shut down. Many families plan trips, and some people darken the door of a church for the first time all year.

by Scott Ashley

Why would anyone not want to celebrate Christmas like nearly everybody else? Following are the author’s top 10 reasons for not celebrating Christmas.

1. Christmas is driven by commercialism

Cal Thomas, an American syndicated columnist who often writes from a Christian perspective, acknowledged some uncomfortable truths about Christmas in a December 2003 column. He commented: "I'm not sure it's worth keeping Christmas anymore," and lamented the holiday had become a "road show of reindeer, winter scenes, elves and the God substitute, Santa Claus…." He asked: "Why participate … in this charade where the focal point of worship has shifted from a babe in a manger to a babe in the Victoria's Secret window?...No room in the inn has been replaced by no room in the mall parking lot."

2. Christmas is nowhere mentioned in the Bible

The books of the New Testament cover 30+ years of Jesus Christ's life, then another 30+ years of the early Church following His death and resurrection. The Bible gives details of Christ’s birth, but there is no record of anyone observing Christmas or any hint God the Father or Jesus Christ expects us to do so.

3. Jesus wasn't born on or near December 25

When Jesus was born the shepherds were "out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). The weather in December around Bethlehem is often cold and wet. Shepherds would have kept their flocks outside at night at that time of year.

The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary argues "against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted" shepherds to be out in the fields with their flocks then. Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays states Luke's account of Christ's birth "suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night" (p. 309).

Additionally Luke 2:1-4 tells us Jesus was born in Bethlehem because his parents came to that town to register in a Roman census. It would have made no sense to have conducted a census in the dead of winter, when temperatures dropped and traveling was difficult due to poor road conditions.

4. The Christmas holiday is largely a recycled pagan celebration

Decorated evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, yule logs, a jolly plump man in a fur-lined red suit, sleighs and flying reindeer have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, but they have a lot to do with ancient pagan festivals. (See our free study guide Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Keep?)

Historians Gerard and Patricia Del Re explain why December 25 came to be assigned as the supposed date of Christ’s birth: "The tradition of celebrating December 25 as Christ's birthday came to the Romans from Persia. Mithra, the Persian god, was born out of a rock on December 25. In the third century the unchristian emperor Aurelian established the festival of Dies Invicti Solis, the Day of the Invincible Sun, on December 25….It is believed that the emperor Constantine adhered to Mithraism up to the time of his conversion to Christianity. He was probably instrumental in seeing that the major feast of his old religion was carried over to his new faith" (The Christmas Almanac, 1979, p. 17).

Historians generally agree the first time December 25 was celebrated as Christmas was probably sometime during the fourth century—some 300 years after Christ's death, and that this date was chosen because it was already a popular pagan holiday celebrating the birth of the sun god. Similarly, virtually all of the customs associated with Christmas are recycled from ancient pagan festivals honoring other gods.

5. God condemns using pagan customs to worship Him

God gives specific instructions concerning using pagan practices to worship Him: "...Do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:30-32).

The Apostle Paul makes the same point, explaining unbiblical religious customs and practices do not have any place in the worship of God: "What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial [the devil and/or demons]? … And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?... Come out from among them and be separate…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and 7:1).

Rather than relabeling pagan customs as Christian, or allowing members of the Church to continue their old pagan practices, the Apostle Paul admonished them to worship God as He commands, instead of reveling in recycled pagan customs and symbolism.

6. Christmas is worshipping God in vain

Since Christmas is a jumble of ancient pagan customs, and a holiday found nowhere in the Bible, does God honor or accept such worship? Jesus provides the answer in His stern rebuke of the religious teachers of His day, who had substituted human traditions and teachings for God's divine commands: "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites…'in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'... you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition" (Mark 7:6-9).

In the 17th century Christmas was actually outlawed in England and some parts of the American colonies because of its unbiblical and pagan origins.

7. You can't put Christ back into something He was never in

Some admit the many problems with Christmas, but assert we should "put Christ back in Christmas,” but He never was in Christmas in the first place. You won't find the words "Christmas," "Christmas tree," "mistletoe," "holly," "Santa Claus" or "flying reindeer” in the Bible. Putting Christ back in Christmas is a misguided effort to justify a long-standing human tradition rather than what the Bible tells us we should do.

8. The Bible doesn’t tell us to observe a holiday celebrating Jesus Christ's birth—but it does tell us to commemorate His death

The Apostle Paul, conveying the instructions of Jesus, tells Christians: "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes…. Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Corinthians 11:23-28).

Many take part in a form of this observance by taking communion or "the Lord's supper,” not realizing Paul is describing is the annual Passover, which is what Jesus Himself called this observance (Matthew 26:18-19; Mark 14:14-16; Luke 22:8-13,15). Also, this annual observance isn’t Good Friday, as so many mistakenly believe.

9. Christmas obscures God's plan for mankind

Passover has enormous significance in God's plan for humanity. The Old Testament Passover, described in Exodus 12, was symbolic of Jesus Christ's future role and sacrifice. As the blood of the slain Passover lambs on the Israelites' houses spared them, so Christ's sacrificial death on our behalf spares us from eternal death.

Paul alluded to this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." Similarly John the Baptist, said of Jesus, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29), and Peter wrote we are redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19)—a clear reference to the Passover lambs (Exodus 12:5).

Jesus Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). His death for our sins was planned before the first human beings were ever created (1 Peter 1:18-20), and only through His death to pay the penalty for our sins can we receive God's gift of eternal life (John 3:14-17; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The observance of Christmas teaches none of this, because it is a mixture of unbiblical customs and beliefs mixed with a few elements of biblical truth, obscuring the incredible purpose of Jesus Christ's coming—as well as why He must return to earth a second time.

10. Celebrating the Holy Days Jesus Christ and the Apostles observed

Many are not aware the Bible includes a list of festivals God commands us to keep. Jesus observed these festivals, setting an example, and the Apostles and early Church kept these same festivals decades after Christ's death and resurrection. Unlike Christmas, these reveal a great deal about Jesus Christ's role and mission.

Jesus didn't allow His followers the option of adopting pagan practices in their worship. He and the Apostles plainly kept God's Holy Days and festivals, outlined in Leviticus 23.They kept the Passover (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), observed the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8), and the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1 and 20:16). They also kept the Day of Atonement (called "the Fast" in Acts 27:9) and the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2 and 10). The observance of Christmas is totally missing from the biblical record.