Many of your friends at school are now celebrating Christmas. Their families are busy opening gifts under the evergreen tree in the living room and drinking eggnog. tv shows are airing Christmas-themed episodes; shopping malls and coffee shops have been covered with Christmas decorations and merrily playing upbeat Christmas tunes for weeks.
This time of year can make a teen in God’s Church feel especially different—left out and alone. It often seems as though everyone except you is getting into the Christmas spirit. You might be embarrassed to let your friends know you don’t keep Christmas. If you’ve already told your friends, they were probably curious—they probably asked why you don’t do it. But paradoxically, they have probably never asked themselves why they do observe December 25 as the birth of Christ!
Most people born in the United States and other Western nations become “Christians” because that is what their parents are. They observe Christmas and Easter and other holidays because everyone else does it. But they have likely never checked to see what the Bible says. If they did, they would be very surprised what the Bible does say about Christmas! Go through this short study and see for yourself! If you do, you will know a lot more about Christmas than your friends do!
Christmas Before Christ?
1. What does the Bible say about the time period when Christ was born? Luke 2:7-8. Notice that the shepherds were out in their fields with their sheep at Christ’s birth. This could not have happened in December. Notice what Edmond Stapfer writes in his book, Palestine in the Time of Christ: “The sheep passed the whole summer in the fields. … In the month which corresponds to the half of October and the half of November, the sheep were brought back into the fold, and were kept there through the winter.”
It was too cold in December for the sheep to be out in the fields. Therefore we know Christ could not have been born on December 25. So why do people celebrate Christmas on that date?
Actually, Christmas traditions began long before Christ. Notice what the Encyclopedia Britannica states: “Christmas customs are an evolution from times that long antedate [come before] the Christian period—a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition” (15th edition).
December 25 was actually the date of an old, pagan feast celebrating the birth of the sun. In the fourth and fifth centuries, the “Christians” in Europe began celebrating Christ’s birth on the same day, using many of the same customs.
2. One of the most common images associated with Christmas is that of the Christmas tree—a decorated evergreen cut down and stuck in a house. Does the Prophet Jeremiah refer to this practice occurring when he was alive, hundreds of years before Christ? Jeremiah 10:2-4. Did God command people not to follow this custom, since it was the “heathen” who did this? Verse 2. Here is historical proof of Christmas customs being observed long before Christ was born!
What Does the Bible Say About Christmas?
Despite what the Bible says about Christmas trees, and the fact that Christmas clearly originated with pagan celebrations prior to Christ, many observe it anyway. “It’s different now,” they argue. “It doesn’t matter that it used to be pagan. Now we use Christmas to honor Christ. What could possibly be wrong with worshiping Christ like that?” Is that a valid argument? What does the Bible say?
1. Is it possible to worship God in vain? Matthew 15:9. God does not want people to make up their own ways to worship Him. There is no record in the Bible of the disciples ever celebrating Christ’s birthday. Actually, the Bible tells us to commemorate the death of Christ, not His birth (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).
2. What does God say about those who try to honor Him by using the customs of the world? Deuteronomy 12:29-31. Notice that God not only commands against serving other gods, but also against attempting to honor the true God by following the same customs of worship as the people in the world.
3. Do some people actually end up breaking God’s commandments in their attempts to worship God in their own way? Mark 7:7-9. When people observe Christmas, contrary to God’s clear instructions not to observe it, they worship God in vain and actually break His commands!
A Positive Alternative
God doesn’t condemn things without just cause. For thousands of years, this celebration was associated with many horrific acts, including child sacrifice. God witnessed those things. He does not want His name attached to that. Today, the spirit of Christmas is one of get. No one asks, “What did you give for Christmas this year?”—but rather, “What did you GET?” God’s way, in contrast to Satan’s way, is one of giving to others. That way of life actually brings more joy and blessings (Acts 20:35). But most importantly, the observation of pagan holidays like Christmas obscures something much more wonderful—God’s holy days.
1. Does God have feast days several times a year that we are commanded to observe and keep holy? Read Leviticus 23:1-36.
2. Are these holy days filled with rejoicing? Deuteronomy 16:13-15. God’s abundant way of life gives ample opportunity for joy and celebration. Rather than feeling left out at Christmas, consider all the opportunities granted by God’s feast days! For example, the Feast of Tabernacles provides the opportunity to travel every year—something most of us would otherwise not have the means to do.
But these holy days are about more than fun—they reveal God’s plan and your purpose in life. When you understand God’s holy days, you understand why you were born, and what the future has in store for you. Pagan holidays hide that wonderful understanding! So don’t get discouraged because you don’t participate in Christmas—get excited about the true holy days of God. If you want to learn more about these days, and what they reveal about your future, read Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?