It’s that time of year again. Christmas, ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. The togetherness of family, friends, neighbours, etc. brings warmth to your belly, doesn’t it? Everyone just seems that little bit kinder and easy going, right? Well, besides shoving you out of the way at the shopping mall to get to the last gift item on the shelf or shouting obscenities at you for taking the parking space that they had their eye on! lol! The general consensus surrounding Christmas is that it is the day when Christians celebrate the birth of their saviour, Jesus Christ. Of course, Christians aren’t the only ones who celebrate Christmas nowadays. Atheist celebrate it also, in fact, some followers of other religions i.e. Islam, participate in Christmas now; putting up the tree and placing presents underneath it. This year whilst researching a separate topic, I kind of stumbled across the true origin of Christmas. Actually, no, that’s a lie, I have always heard rumours here and there claiming that Christmas was not all it seemed but I would ignore it. I mean I loved Christmas, even more than my birthday! Anyway, this year I decided to stop ignoring it and do some research. So, let’s go back and explore the origins.
Thousands of years before Jesus was born, pagans celebrated a bearded figure called Nimrod who was also their sun god. He would come and leave presents under an evergreen tree every December 25th the day the pagans worship their sun god. Nimrod even makes an appearance in the bible (Genesis 10:8-12); he was a character who was rebellious towards God and responsible for the building of the Tower of Babel. He regularly challenged God and encouraged the Israelites to practice sun worship. According to ancient Babylonian traditions, Nimrods wife/mother Semiramis (Yes, he married his own mother) claimed that after Nimrod was killed, a full grown evergreen tree sprung up overnight from a dead tree stump. She claimed that he would revisit that tree every year and leave presents underneath it on the anniversary of his birth, which just so happened to be on the 25th of December.
“After Nimrod’s Death, his so-called mother-wife Semiramis, propagated the evil doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th was the birthday of Nimrod. This is the real origin of the Christmas tree” (The plain Truth about Christmas by David. J. Stewart)
December 25th celebrations and most of the accompanying traditions; trees, baubles, wreaths, yule logs have always been pagan symbolism. In fact, Jeremiah 10:4 speaks directly about the Christmas tree,
“Thus, says 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 cuts 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. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.”
God knew we would take up these practices and he warned us against it. Some will argue no, he’s talking about the tree, he’s not talking about Christmas itself. He’s saying don’t worship the tree. Okay, don’t worry I’ll get to that. Christians didn’t always celebrate Christmas, there is absolutely nowhere in the bible that says that we should celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Furthermore, the exact date of his birth is not specified in the bible, all we know is that it is sometime in autumn, six months after john the Baptist’ birthday. Surely if he wanted us to celebrate his birthday he would have given us a definite date not just a rough time frame. The problem stems from Roman emperor Constantine in my opinion. He converted to Christianity from paganism and decided to amalgamate both practices. Some say he did this so as to make the pagans have an easier transition from paganism to Christianity.
I say he was blatantly double dipping. He wanted to be Christian but still wanted all the ‘fun’ pagan festivals. Let’s keep in mind he refused to get baptized till he was on his death bed. He changed the Sabbath day from Saturday (the seventh day of the week) to Sunday the pagan day of worshipping their sun god. He also decided well pagans celebrate their sun gods’ birthday on the 25th so I’m going to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on the 25th as well. He blatantly had major FOMO (fear of missing out). Nevertheless, what we see is syncretism of pagan traditions with Christian beliefs. The definition of syncretise is “to attempt to unite and harmonise without critical examination or logical unity” (Merriam Webster dictionary).
Okay now you know the basic history…. but so what I hear you say, yes some of our traditions originate from paganism and non-Christian practices. It doesn’t really matter because this syncretism made Christianity more appealing for the pagans and allowed them to have an easier transition. Besides, these things don’t really matter when your intention is to worship God through these various customs right? It’s okay for me to celebrate because at the end of the day it’s all about Jesus’ birth for me. When I put up the tree, I’m not worshipping it, it’s just decoration. Yes, I understand those arguments; I used to make the exact same ones. ‘God sees my heart’, He knows I’m not worshipping the pagan sun god. However, the more I researched the more I found those arguments to be ineffective, they just do not cut it. Not only did he warn against it in Jeremiah 10:4 he also states in Deuteronomy 12:31 “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods”. That was the absolute deal breaker for me personally.
When I first discovered the origins of Christmas and even Jeremiah 10:4, I still argued. I did not want to accept it. Again, with the attempts at rationalisation ‘I’m worshipping God, not their pagan god!’ but he knew as always that we would rationalise it in this way so he states in the aforementioned Deuteronomy passage clearly. Do not worship me in that way, I don’t like it. Additionally, remember when Aaron was worshipping the golden calf while Moses was up in the mountains. He tried to argue that the golden calf worship was being done to the Lord. In Exodus 32:5 – “…. When Aaron saw this, he… built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” God was not happy about this. He was angry. In the same way one would imagine God would not be happy with us celebrating pagan holidays and traditions under the guise of Christianity. Still unsure? Okay, let me break it down even further, regardless of our reasons behind it he said do not worship false idols or set up an image or a scared stone for yourself and bow down before it (Leviticus 26:1). Now, if I decide that this rock is a representation of God and decide to worship it not out of worship for a pagan god but worshipping God in heaven, would that make it okay?… Exactly, I didn’t think so either.
Those with children also argue, but it makes it more fun for the kids, how will I explain it to them? It’s not really causing any harm. I counter with; it is our responsibility to teach our kids truth and to protect them. I wish someone had explained this to me when I was younger. I would feel no way about not celebrating Christmas now. You instill it into them from a young age, and they’ll never miss it. There are seven holy days in the bible and seven alone. Not one of them is Christmas.
I’ve decided not to celebrate Christmas any longer. However, I will be celebrating the holy/feast days. These different holy/feast days will become the only ‘Christian’ celebrations I take part in. We can even give out presents have dinner the whole shebang minus the tree, decorations and so called ‘Father Christmas’. My aim is to turn this into a new tradition for my children and I, whenever the time comes for me to have them. This may work for you too, that’s if you’re a Christian; you may not be so therefore you don’t care, or you may be a Christian but one that is not too fussed about the infusing of pagan traditions with your faith. Some people are simply not bothered and that’s their perogative.
I am in no way a judge and I am far from perfect. I just think that it is important to know exactly what we are celebrating and make an active choice to continue to do so or not to do so. As opposed to believing we are actually worshiping God when we are not. When I first decided that Christmas wasn’t for me I was quite saddened, but now I’ve come to terms with it. I am adamant it’s the right thing to do. He says you will ignore my commandments for the traditions of man “Full well you reject the commandments of God, that you may keep your own traditions” (Mark 7: 8-9). As much as I loved Christmas, it is a tradition of men. And in as much as I’m far from perfect I just cannot ignore Gods word for want of celebrating an inherently pagan tradition. His love trumps my love for man-made traditions.