What if you found out that Christmas predates the birth of Christ? Not the word — the celebration. The word has roots in Catholicism. Compounded from the words, “Christ” and “Mass,” the first recorded use of the English word for “Christmas” was in 1038 A.D. when a book from Saxon England used the words “Cristes Maesse” in the text. The celebration, however, is connected with the pagan holiday known as, “Saturnalia.” You will find many references that relate Christmas to Saturnalia, which was first observed in 150 B.C. Then, in the 4th century, the holiday was renamed Christmas to assure Christians that it was acceptable to celebrate it.
Considering the controversial nature of this topic, let me clarify that I believe:
- in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ ;
- that He is the only begotten Son of the true and living God ;
- that He he was crucified on the cross at Calvary for the remission of sin;
- that He rose on the third day ; and
- that He is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for believers.
There are many other objections to Christmas including familiar concepts regarding the birth of Christ, the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, holly, garland, gift-giving, etc. Though relevant, these are secondary to my interest. And, rather than delve into the details surrounding Saturnalia (and other facts concerning the celebration of Christmas), my first order of business will be to study the Holy Bible to establish a firm foundation on which to base any further study.
I can tell you, though, that the renaming of the pagan holiday was the Catholic church’s way of enticing Christians to join in with the Druid’s celebration of Saturnalia.
- From The Real Truth: “The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus’ birth [emphasis mine}. 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. . . .”
- From Christmas Before Christ: The Surprising Truth!” : The early Catholic theologian and writer Tertullian (A.D. 155-230) was a convert from paganism. He wrote numerous works defending Christianity as he understood it, combatting contrary teachers and giving exhortation to fellow believers. In one he described how the Christian converts of his day were already ignoring the biblical Sabbath day and festivals and flocking to the pagan Roman winter festivals, such as the Saturnalia, which honored the god Saturn: . . .
Considering the abundance of web references on this topic, I am confident that Christians are aware of these facts. But many continue to struggle with separating truth (God’s word) from — let’s face it — fiction (traditional practices). Think about it. Are you observing Christ’s birth or are you celebrating tradition?
I used to be highly offended by signs and greetings that replaced Christ’s name with an X. I recoiled at any variation of the word, “Xmas.” And did not hesitate to remind offenders that, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. Since I learned about the true origin of Christmas, however, it is no longer an issue — because, contrary to popular belief, Jesus Christ was never in it to begin with.
So my position is if, after confirming the information presented here, you wish to continue celebrating a holiday of pagan origin — simply leave Christ’s name out of it. Truth mixed with error is still a lie. And we know who God calls, “the father of lies.” “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44 KJV)
To separate from the paganism associated with ChristMass, the Christian should (1) refrain from celebrating anything on December 25; and (2) focus his observance on the teaching ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus rather than His birth; and (3) ascribe a scriptural name to his observance.
I could never deny the wonderful memories of Christmases past. My family’s traditions of candle-light services, carols, and gift-giving — along with the merriment of meal preparation and social gathering with immediate and extended kin are forever etched in my memory. And the truths I’ve learned about Christmas can never erase them. But, the beloved Maya Angelou who departed us earlier this year, could not have said it more plainly — “. . . When you know better, do better.” And I guess being a non-conformist helps. I’ve never had a problem adapting to change — with the exception of driving in Texas, that is. There’s still something in me that wants to teach Texas drivers how to execute a proper left turn!
No doubt many have happened upon this information and chosen to look the other way. But the fact that church leaders have chosen to look the other way is what really bothers me. There are those among Christendom who order their lives according to what they hear from the pulpit. And Romans 10:14 (KJV) does tell us, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
But, there are those who will take the pastor’s word as gospel rather than read the Bible for themselves. We are to follow Christ and what He reveals to us in His Word and through the Holy Spirit. Instead, many are content to form their belief systems solely on the words of their respective Reverends, Pastors, and Bishops.
The Christmas You Don’t Know Includes a detailed timeline of events related to Christmas. For the purposes of this post, I’ve extracted entries from 150 B.C. to the 21st century. I found some interesting references among the 19th and 20th century entries. Most of these popular references are secular in nature:
21st Century: Christians and non-Christians celebrate Christmas
1957 – Little Drummer Boy published
1947 – Glass Christmas Balls mass-produced
1942 – White Christmas released
1939 – Rudolph debuts
1929 – First flight of flying Santa
1857 – We Three Kings published
1856 – First White House Christmas Tree
1843 – First Christmas Carol
1836 – Alabama First State to Observe Christmas
1823 – The First Noel published
1823 – Visit from St. Nick published
1773 – Santa mentioned in newspaper for first time