What does the Bible
say about Christmas?

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QUESTION: What does the Bible say about Christmas? I have searched the Scriptures and not found one verse that specifically points out this or other holidays like it, (Halloween, etc.) are wrong.

ANSWER: The Bible does not have any direct or explicit statements saying, "Thou will not celebrate Christmas, Easter, or Halloween." However, it also does not have a specific text condemning the use of heroin or cocaine either. Yet most believers would condemn drug abuse by (at some level) using the principle that since the Word condemns drunkenness from alcohol, it also condemns getting high from drugs.

So, are there any verses that state it is WRONG or a sin to adapt pagan false customs or borrow the practices of those who worship false gods and use them to honor the God who created everything? These verses, in principle, would apply to holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween that have most or all of their customs based in pre-Christian worship of false gods. Consider the below text from Deuteronomy.

When the LORD your God has cut off before you the nations whom you are about to enter to dispossess them . . . do not inquire concerning their gods, saying, 'How did these nations worship their gods? I also want to do the same' (see our article on the TRUE origins of Christmas). You must not do the same for the LORD your God, because every abhorrent thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:29 - 31, NRSV)

Notice that Israel was warned to not borrow or adapt the ways pagan nations use to worship a FALSE God and apply them to their worship of the TRUE God. God is telling ancient Israel, and we by extension, that sinful pagan customs are not made right by applying them to Him.

Let us consider a simple analogy that will help explain this principle in God's word. Let us suppose that after a man gets married he places around the house, in prominent locations, framed pictures of his ex-girlfriends. How would the wife feel about these reminders of his former loves? Would she be convinced his devotion to her was full-hearted? Would such an explanation as, "When I look at them, I think of you instead" be very convincing?

How did the MAGI fulfill PROPHECY?
What is WRONG with the Nativity scene?
Why is Christmas shortened to XMAS?
Picture of Bethlehem's Shepherds Field

One of the best examples of what God thinks about humans borrowing and adapting false (pagan) practices and customs (for holidays like Christmas) for use toward worshipping Him is in Exodus 32. This example occurs after God uses Moses and Aaron to free the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery.

The Adoration of the Golden Calf by Poussin
The Adoration of the Golden Calf
Nicolas Poussin, c. 1634

God calls Moses up the mount to receive instructions and the Ten Commandments engraved in stone. The children of Israel must wait at the foot of the mountain for him to return. As time passes without his appearance, the Israelites grow restless. When Aaron, the High Priest, sees this he tells the people to bring him their jewelry so that he can melt it down and make them an IDOL (shaped like a calf) for them to worship. The people responded immediately when this was done, as did God when he saw it!

' . . . and they (the people) said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a festival to the LORD." '

'The LORD said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely . . . Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them"' (Exodus 32:4 - 5, 7, 10, NRSV)

Notice that God did not accept the worship of the Golden Calf as worship directed to Him despite Aaron proclaiming a festival to him (verse 5) would occur the next day. God's anger was kindled toward the Israelites for introducing pagan practices into their worship of Him. God was ready to DESTROY the Israelites, the people He recently freed from Egypt, for such disobedience until Moses intervened (Exodus 32:11 - 14).

Customs used to worship false gods that are transferred to the true God are unacceptable since His word never compromises with paganism. This is exactly the point the apostle Paul was making in 1Corinthians 10:19 - 22. What the pagans practiced did not honor the true God, regardless of how much sincerity or faith they had. The same goes for the customs used in holidays like Christmas and Easter.

How did pagan customs and holidays like those involved with Christmas come into the CHRISTIAN church? They primarily entered through the Catholic Church's efforts to adopt then "Christianize" certain pagan holidays NOT found in the Bible so that they could attract more people in their pews on Sunday. The Catholics began to paganize themselves especially after the fourth century A.D. when the Edict of Milan openly endorsed Christianity as a religion. The truth is, the pagan festivals celebrated around the time of the winter Solstice have much more to do with Christmas than the birth of Jesus (which, truth be told, occurred early in the fall).

Additional Study Materials
Can Christians celebrate HANUKKAH?
How many WISE MEN visited baby Jesus?
REAL reason for Christmas season!
Which prophecies does Jesus' birth FULFILL?
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