Those who believe in Christ and those who do not, celebrate Christmas with a different mindset. For Christians, it is the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Although, like others, the faithful are still overwhelmed with the pageantry of the non-faithful.
Some contend Christmas is Christ’s day. Others assert it is a Pagan holiday. Naturally, there are those who do not care and, to them, it is time to party. More than half of all Americans would like to skip the holiday due to the stress associated with the commercialism and societal pressures.
‘Do You See Christmas as God Sees It?’
Bill Towne, the lead pastor at Rolling Hills Community Church, told the congregants Jesus is not the only reason for the season. He said it is much more, then asked, “Do you see Christmas a God sees it?” He sent His son Jesus to live on Earth as a human and to serve a purpose.
Matthew 1:21 (NIV) states His name will be “Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Essentially, the reason for His birth is Easter, because Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection gave everyone the ability to be forgiven for their sins and to reconnect with God.
Not only that but the guilt associated with transgressions; Psalm 32:5. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 the Apostle Paul writes:
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Christians celebrate Christmas to honor God’s desire to reconnect with humans, to absolve them of their sins, and to give them eternal life.
The holiday, whether it is Christmas (Yuletide) or Christ’ birthday, is a time of celebration. Like the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus, most people give presents to their loved ones. Like Yuletide, people bring trees indoors, hang lights, feast, and celebrate merrily.
The Bible Does Not Include the Date of Jesus’ Birth
An argument against celebrating Jesus’ birthday on Christmas day is there is no date listed in the Bible. In fact, Jehovah Witnesses do not celebrate their own birthdays because they believe it is unbiblical. For generations, scholars and laymen alike have debated the date of the birth of Christ.
Historians note the likely reason Jesus’ birthday is missing from the Gospel is the Greeks believed everyone was born with a spirit who attended their birth and kept watch over their lives.
Quoting from “The Lore of Birthdays,” CBS News wrote, “the Spirit ‘had a mystic relation with the God on whose birthday the individual was born.'”
At the time, Pagans observed birthdays. They did so because they believed “evil spirits lurked on days of major changes, like the day you turn a year older.”
The Bible only discusses two birthday celebrations as well as the events preceding and following the day. The first was in Genesis 40:20 talks about Pharoah, the King of Egypt giving a feast for all of his officials in celebration of his birthday. The second was about Herod’s birthday. In Matthew 14:8, the daughter of Herodias danced for Herod’s guests.
Why Christmas Is Celebrated on December 25
Many theories exist about why the leaders of the church chose December 25th to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It seems people are comfortable with the assertion that Christians appropriated the Pagan holiday. In general, the similarities are obvious but instead of seeing that as a coincidence they believe it was “a providential sign, as natural proof the God has selected Jesus over the false pagan gods.”
History clearly indicates some pagan groups use the day to rejoice since it was the established day for winter solstice on the Julian calendar. The date was also regarded as the Nativity, or birth, “of the Sun because the day begins to lengthen and the power of the sun to increase from that turning-point of the year,” according to “The Golden Bough.”
Semites worshipped an Oriental goddess who was a virgin who gave birth to a son, Mithra. She was called Heavenly Virgin or Heavenly Goddess. Her son’s worshippers associated him with the sun, they called him the Unconquered Sun.
Initially, the Christians in Egypt used January 6th to commemorate Christ’s birth, which gradually spread throughout the East and was universally established. However, Western churches did recognize that date and sometime during the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th centuries adopted December 25th as the actual day. January 6th was then celebrated as the festival of the Epiphany.
Bishop and Theologian St. Augustine wrote about this decision:
The reason why the fathers transferred the celebration of the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December was this. It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivities, the Christians also took part. Accordingly, when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January. Accordingly, along with this custom, the practice has prevailed of kindling fires till the sixth.
Pastor Towne states the reason for the season is Jesus and much more. It is Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, He came to save everybody in the world from their sins. “May Christmas bring you joy, happiness, and truth. You need to see yourself as God sees you,” Towne ended his teaching.
Written by Cathy Milne
Pastor Bill Towne: Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualitan, Oregon; Dec. 9, 2018
WCCO4 CBS Wisconsin: Good Question: How Did Birthday Traditions Start?
Patheos: You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule… Pagans, Celebrate!
The Holy Bible: New International Version® NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by Permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Washington Post: Why is Christmas on Dec. 25? A brief history lesson that may surprise you.
Bartleby: XXXVII Oriental Religions in the West, by Sir James George Frazer; ‘The Golden Bough;’ 1922
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Pixel2013’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Top Inset Image Courtesy of Cathy Milne-Ware
Second Inset Image Courtesy of JR P’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License