Christian Living

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?, Pt. 1

Keith Echols

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? I know you are thinking this a trick question, but I ask in all seriousness. It is an important question we should consider as the culture begins to gear up for the holiday season.

I greatly enjoy Christmas and all that comes along with this time of year. The carols, the lights, the gifts, and the general sense of goodwill from many bring me great joy. As a self-identified “Grinch”, my heart grows three sizes as soon as the calendar lands on December 1st. Above all, what I enjoy most about the season is the my Savior made his entrance into the world through a stable in Bethlehem. For the reasons listed, my initial question has been on my heart for the last two years as I have been challenged to think over Christmas more critically.

For Christians, it is just assumed Christmas is a “Christian” holiday. Admittedly, I believed this. It is widely accepted December 25th is the date to celebrate the birth of Christ. Sayings such as “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Keep the Christ in Christmas” are spoken liberally.

On the flip side, the culture gives a very different message. As early as October, retailers set up Christmas displays. Ads for “Black Friday” circulate at the beginning of November. Christmas trees and Santa Claus rule the landscape. As Christians focus on Christ, the culture replaces him with “Happy Holidays”.  Instead of worshipping Christ, many bow their knees to the god of commercialism veiled with a façade of holiday cheer.

What are we to do with all of this? How do we answer the question “Should Christians celebrate Christmas” in the context of a culture wanting little to do with the Christ we adore? We need to be clear on the history of Christmas. We need to analyze what Christian tradition has to say. Finally, we need to know what the Bible says about Christmas.

What are the historical roots of Christmas?

The origins of Christmas and its findings are eye-opening. The Christmas celebration is a combination of many different elements, most of which are pagan in nature. There are certainly some strong elements of the biblical narrative within the celebration, but most of the traditional elements come from outside the Christian faith. The various decorations that are displayed, the giving of gifts, and even the date of December 25th have some ties to pagan traditions. Research will also reveal many of these elements listed also have some type of historical, Christian meaning. This ambiguity, however, highlights it is difficult from a historical perspective to argue Christmas is an exclusively “Christian” celebration.

What does Christian tradition say about Christmas?

The earliest recorded history of the celebration of Christmas was in the Third Century. Even then, the celebration was not accepted by all Christians. Following the Protestant Reformation, the Puritans were the most vocal group in the objection to the Christmas celebration. Likewise nineteenth-century pastor and theologian, Charles Spurgeon had very strong objections:

“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871).”

Here is evidence in Christian tradition that Christmas was not widely accepted. 

What does the Bible teach in regards to Christmas?

Indulge me for a moment and open up your Bible to the passage stating, “Thou shalt celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th and call it Christmas.” Do not hurt yourself looking because it is not anywhere in the Bible. Neither Christ nor the early church taught that Christians were to observe the birth of Christ.  In understanding the New Covenant, there is only one “Holy-day” not of the traditional Jewish feast mandated by scripture: the “Lord’s Day”, which is a weekly day of rest. Christians have established Sunday as this day. Outside of this, scripture is clear that God is not honored by the “traditions of man” (Mark 7:6-9, Colossians 2:20-23). It is clear from a biblical perspective that the Christmas celebration is not from God, but rather a construct of man.

Having the historical, traditional, and biblical perspective, I will share my thoughts on the answer to celebrating Christmas in part two next week.

Were you aware of the historical, traditional, and biblical backgrounds surrounding Christmas?

1 Comment

  1. Renee

    One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks (Rom. 14: 5-6).

    For me, a time to adore and worship Christ, who took on flesh at the appointed time, That I may have eternal life.

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