What Is the Origin of Christmas?

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What is the true origin of celebrating Christmas on December 25th? Does the Bible tells us when Jesus was born?

Before we begin our short study on its origin, here are some facts related to Christmas, which is arguably the most popular religious celebration in the entire world.

For many retailers, Christmas season can represent 25 to 40%, or even more, of their annual sales. The impact of the holiday is such that businesses who do poorly during this period may find themselves in financial difficulty the following year! While at work, multiple millions in the United States will shop on the Internet for Christmas gifts.

One of the busiest shopping days of the year is called in the United States "Black Friday." It falls every year on the Friday that follows Thanksgiving day. The name comes from the black ink accountants used to record a profit in a company's financial books. In America, Cyber Monday (the Monday that follows Thanksgiving Day) is the biggest online shopping day.

How many Christmas trees are sold each year? In 2010, in America, 35.2 million real and fake trees were purchased. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Michigan is the Bronner's Wonderland store in Frankenmuth. This commercial enterprise contains more than 50,000 holiday items and attracts 2 million visitors each year.

Silent Scriptures

Early New Testament believers annually remembered the death of Jesus by celebrating the Passover. However, the scriptures are silent concerning any annual event or tradition like Christmas set aside to commemorate the birth of the Savior. Issues involving Jesus' birth date do not appear in known church records until after the 4th century.

The adoption of December 25 to celebrate the birth of Christ is the most pronounced example of the influence of pagan Sun worship on Christianity's religious calendar. The feast that celebrated the Invincible Sun's birthday was carried out on December 25.

Victorian-era Christmas Card with children
Victorian-era Christmas card

Even after the church transformed and "Christianized" the pagan day from celebrating the SUN to worshipping the SON, it still had problems with those practicing what the holiday originally meant! Gaston H. Halsberghe, in his dissertation on Sun worship, states the following.

"The authors whom we consulted on this point are unanimous in admitting the influence of the pagan celebration held in honor of Deus Sol Invictus on the 25th of December . . . to be responsible for the shifting to the 25th of December of the birth of Christ, which had until then been held on the day of the Epiphany (January 6)" (page 174) 

Why adopt the pagans?

Why would the Catholics feel the need to adopt the same day used to celebrate the birth of the Sun to celebrate Christmas? Catholic liturgist Mario Righetti wrote the following.

". . . to facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, the church found it convenient to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the temporal birth of Christ . . . celebrated on the same day in honor of the "Invincible Sun" Mithras" (Manuale di Storia Liturgica, 1955, II, page 67.)

The adoption of a late December date to honor Jesus through Christmas was encouraged by the non-Christian annual feast that rejoiced over the returning sun after the solstice. This time period has absolutely no meaning attached to it in the Bible.

Why couldn't it be in winter?

One of the reasons Jesus' birth could not have occurred in winter, as people who keep Christmas take for granted, is that shepherds in Israel did not watch their flocks at night from about November to February due to the weather. During this period, they protected their flocks in a "sheepfold." Shepherds would not have been in Bethlehem's fields to hear the announcement of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:8 - 12) if he was born in the cold of winter.  

Another reason why Jesus' birth could not have occurred anywhere near today's date for Christmas involves, oddly enough, taxes. Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, and not in Nazareth where they lived, at the time of the Messiah's birth due to Roman taxation policies (Luke 2:1 - 4).

The Romans decreed in the year Christ was born that a census would be taken to find out who lived in the land and what they owned. When did this census take place? It took place in the fall of the year (HBFV, Appendix E).

In conclusion, the day on which Christmas is celebrated has its origin based solely on non-biblical sources. Its foundation is based on the tradition of men and not the truth of God. As such, anyone who considers himself or herself a true Christian and who keeps the holiday needs to take a serious look at continuing such a practice.

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