In 1990, a Cleveland suburb's school board banned all nativity and other Christmas scenes on any school property because they felt it violated the separation of church and state. They were challenged in court when outraged parents opposed them, feeling that Christmas was being stolen from their children and the community. The board lost the case. The citizenry had contended that Christmas was a worldwide tradition that was not part of, and transcended, religion. It was deemed to be secular—a part of virtually all cultures worldwide.
It is true that the Christmas celebrations people know of today are derived from Pagan rituals and rites that existed long before the time of Christ.
Even the Christian scholars themselves are aware of this:
Nearly all aspects of Christmas observance have their roots in Roman custom and religion. Consider the following admission from a large American newspaper (The Buffalo News, Nov. 22, 1984): “The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time, much opposed by the more austere leaders among the still-minority Christian sect. Christmas developed, one scholar says, as a means of replacing worship of the sun with worship of the Son. By 529 A.D., after Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday. The celebration of Christmas reached its peak—some would say its worst moments—in the medieval period when it became a time for conspicuous consumption and unequaled revelry.”
Consider these quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, under “Christmas”: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church…the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt.” Further, “Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas.” Under “Natal Day,” Origen, an early Catholic writer, admitted, “…In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod) who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world” (emphasis mine).
The Encyclopedia Americana, 1956 edition, adds, “Christmas…was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…a feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered the feast to be celebrated forever on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the Saturnalia, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”
There is no mistaking the origin of the modern Christmas celebration. Many additional sources could be cited and we will return to this later. Let’s begin to tie some other facts together.
It was 300 years after Christ before the Roman church kept Christmas, and not until the fifth century that it was mandated to be kept throughout the empire as an official festival honoring “Christ.”
What is the real source and meaning of Christmas?
Top 10 Facts About Christmas:
Is Christmas really a "Christian" holiday?
Luke 2:8 explains that when Christ was born, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Note that they were “abiding” in the field. This never happened in December. Both Ezra 10:9-13 and the Song of Solomon 2:11 show that winter was the rainy season and shepherds could not stay on cold, open fields at night.
Numerous encyclopedias plainly state that Christ was not born on December 25th! The Catholic Encyclopedia directly confirms this. In all likelihood, Christ was born in the fall! A lengthy technical explanation would prove this point.
Since we now know that December 25th was nowhere near Christ’s actual birthdate, where did the festival associated with this date come from?
Now read this quote under “Christmas”: “In the Roman world, the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchanging of gifts. December 25 was also regarded as the birthdate of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness. On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. To these observances were added the German and Celtic Yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into Gaul, Britain and central Europe. Food and good fellowship, the Yule log and Yule cakes, greenery and fir trees, gifts and greetings all commemorated different aspects of this festive season. Fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, have always been associated with the winter festival, both pagan and Christian” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edit. Vol. II, p. 903).
December 25th was not selected because it was the birth of Christ or because it was even near it. It was selected because it coincided with the idolatrous pagan festival Saturnalia—and this celebration must be carefully examined.
Evergreen trees and wreaths have been used as symbols of eternal life since the ancient times of the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. After the coming of Christianity, evergreens were still used in Scandinavia--to scare away the devil. In the Middle Ages, the Christmas tree, decorated with candles and wafers (symbols of Christ and the Host), became popular, as did the gaily decorated wooden Christmas pyramid. By the 16th century, the two objects merged into what we now know as the Christmas tree.
The next time a self-righteous Christian starts talking about "keeping Christ in Christmas", be sure to remind them of Jerimiah 10:2, which says that those who display holiday trees are heathens...
Last updated by Morgan Matthew Feb 12, 2009.