THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS

 

Through the ages Christmas has gained such a prominent (and permanent) place in the hearts of families, churches and communities that it will probably take more than a single essay to change people's perceptions on this matter.  However, the evidence for the dubious nature of Christmas is so overwhelming, that I truly believe the time has come, not only to speak out on this matter, but also do something that shows that we are serious about the truth.  We shall look into the whole matter of Christmas from two different angles:  Firstly, the extra-Scriptural evidence concerning the origin of Christmas (testimonies coming from sources other than the Scriptures, like encyclopaedia's and other well-documented studies), and secondly, the evidence coming from within the Scriptures.  Those who read these unambiguous testimonies are challenged to reconsider (and, if necessary, reshape) their own views and beliefs concerning Christmas.

"There is no historical evidence that our [Savior's] birthday was celebrated during the apostolic or early post-apostolic times" (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, "Christmas," p. 47).

"We cannot find enough instances of the use of trees, even decorated ones such as a pine tree on which images of the god Attis were hung amid rows of ribbons at a spring festival, to convince us of the ultimately pagan origins of our custom" (Celebrations by Robert J Myers, p. 331).

"The day was not one of the early feasts of the Christian church. In fact the observance of birthdays was condemned as a heathen custom repugnant to Christians"  (The American Book of Days, George W. Douglas, p. 658).

"In [C.E.] 354, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun"  (The World Book Encyclopedia, 1962, "Christmas," p. 416).

"The festivals of Rome are innumerable; but five of the most important may be singled out for elucidation -viz., Christmas-day, Lady-day, Easter, the nativity of St. John, and the Feast of the Assumption. Each and all of these can be proved to be Babylonian" (The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hyslop, page 91).

"The Christmas Tree has been traced back to the Romans. It went from Germany to Great Britain" (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1942 edition. vol. 6, page 623).

"Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church ... the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt" (Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1911 edition).

"Christmas customs are an evolution from times that long antedated the Christmas period - a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices ... The exact day and year of (Messiah's) birth have never been satisfactorily settled, but the fathers of the church in A.D. 340 chose the day of the winter solstice which was firmly fixed in the minds of the people and which was their most important festival" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, article Christmas, page 642).

"There is no authoritative tradition as to the day or month of (Messiah's) birth ... The winter solstice was regarded as the birthday of the sun ... When Christianity spread northwards it encountered a similar pagan festival also held at the winter solstice - the great Yule feast of the Norsemen. Once again Christmas absorbed heathen customs. From the various sources came the Yule log, the Christmas tree introduced into England from Germany and first mentioned in 1789" (Chambers Encyclopaedia 1970, page 538, article Christmas).

"December 25 was the date of the Roman pagan festival inaugurated in 274 as the birthday of the unconquered sun which at the winter solstice begins again to show an increase in light. Sometime before 336 the Church in Rome, unable to stamp out this pagan festivals, spiritualized it as the Feast of the Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness" (New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 223).

"In patristic thought [the Messiah] had traditionally been associated with light or the sun, and the cult of the Sol invictus (invincible Sun) ... presented a distinct threat to Christianity. Hence, to compete with this celebration the Roman church instituted a feast for the nativity of [the Messiah], who was called the Sol iustitiae" (The Dictionary of the Middle Ages , pp. 317-318).

"The Feast is first mentioned at the head of the Depositio Martyrum in the Roman Chronograph of 354. Since the Depositio was composed in 336, Christmas in Rome can be dated that far at least. It is not found, however, in the lists of Feasts given by Tertullian and Origen" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, p. 656).

"The Latin Church, supreme in power, and infallible in judgement, placed it (the birth date of the Messiah) on the 25th of December, the very day on which the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of their goddess Bruma. Pope Julius I was the person who made this alteration" (Clarke's Commentary).

"To me Christmas is a foreign day, and I shall die so. When I was a boy I wondered what Christmas was ... I saw them dressing it (the church in our town) with evergreens, and wondered what they were taking the woods in church for; but I got no satisfactory explanation. A little later I understood it was a Romish institution, kept up by the Romish Church" (Henry Ward Beecher, clergyman and lecturer, 1874).

"It is time to come out of the Land of Babylon which the hucksters of wares and materialism have taken over ... and leave December 25 to the pagans" (Peter J Riga, Roman Catholic priest and editor of the U.S. Catholic magazine).

What about the (internal) evidence of the Scriptures " do the Scriptures in any way command, allow or mandate a festival like Christmas?  It must be stated categorically that not a word is mentioned in Scriptures about a festival called Christmas.  Nor is there any commandment (or hint) in Scriptures that believers are supposed to celebrate the birth of the Messiah on a feast other than the feasts which Yahweh Himself had already established in Scriptures (e.g. in Leviticus 23).  There is no record in Scriptures of individuals or groups celebrating the birth of the Messiah.  There are, however, numerous instances in Scriptures where believers " even in New Testament times " celebrated one or more of the prescribed festivals of Yahweh.

It is highly improbable that the birth of the Messiah could have taken place on the 25th of December.  In Luke 2:8 it is said that "there were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock".  Most commentators agree that this could not have happened any time close to the 25th of December.  This time of the year it is mid-winter in Israel " the season known for its extreme wet and cold conditions.  It is also very unlikely that Caesar Augustus would have called for enrollment in the middle of the winter season.  This would have created a situation where many people were forced to travel to their historical hometowns in extreme weather conditions.  In the case of Joseph and Miriam (Mary), who had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, it would have implied a trip of perhaps several days in most unpleasant weather conditions.

Although the specific day of the birth of the Messiah is not mentioned, there are, however, a few hints in Scriptures as to what time of the year this event may have taken place.  We know that the announcement of the birth of the Messiah was preceded by the birth announcement of John the Baptist.  It is written in Luke 1:8 that the angel appeared to Zacharyah (John the Baptist's father) as "while he executed the priest's office before Elohim in the order of his division".  Earlier in this passage it is mentioned that Zacharyah was a priest "of the priestly division of Abiyah" (Luke 1:5).  What is the meaning of this?  According to 1 Chron 24 all the priests were organized in 24 different divisions.  Each division was responsible for a period of two week's duty in the temple.  The division of Abiyah was responsible for the eighth period of two weeks (1 Chron 24:10), which effectively boils down to week 15 and 16 after the commencement of the year on the first of the month of Abib (also called Nisan). 

When compared to our own calendar, this time will vary slightly from year to year but it corresponds more or less with the beginning of the month of July.  In Luke 1:23-24 it is written:  "It happened, when the days of his service were fulfilled, he departed to his house. After these days Elizabeth, his wife, conceived, and she hid herself five months ...".  From these words it seems very likely that Elizabeth was pregnant shortly afterwards (that is: within the first few days of our month of July).  It is stated in Luke 1:26, 31 and 36 that the angel visited Miriam (Mary) in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy.  This means that Miriam's supernatural conception probably took place somewhere early in January and that the Messiah was subsequently born nine months later, in the first half of the month of October.

We cannot be one hundred percent sure when the Messiah was born, but taking into account the above-mentioned evidence and bearing in mind that each one of the other significant events during and after the Messiah's earthly life (death, resurrection and outpouring of the Spirit of Yahweh) took place on one of Yahweh's feast days, it is quite possible that the Messiah's birth may have taken place during the Feast of Tabernacles (normally occurring during the last part of September or the first part of October).  It would make a lot more sense if Augustus had planned the enrolment to coincide with a Jewish festival when most of the Jews would have to travel to Jerusalem, anyway.  In John 1:14 the Messiah's incarnation is described with these words:  "The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us".  The feast of Tabernacles was a feast in memory of those days in the wilderness when the Israelites had lived in temporary dwellings (tents) and worshiped Yahweh in a temporary tabernacle. 

Is it possible, perhaps, that in his wisdom Yahweh had purposely chosen this feast, the feast of Tabernacles, as the proper time to introduce the One who would come to tabernacle in this world, giving the people of this world a foretaste of that time in future (spoken of in Revelation 21:3) when Yahweh's "dwelling (will be) with people, and He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and Yahweh Himself will be with them as their Elohim"?  This means that we do not have to "fabricate" a new festival to celebrate the birth of the Messiah " in all probability Yahweh's planning was such that the time of the birth of the Messiah coincided with a major festival " one (according to Zacharyah 14:16-18) that will still be celebrated in the future reign of the Messiah.

We have seen that there is overwhelming evidence in extra-Scriptural sources that during the fourth century the church had decided to link the birth of the Messiah with an existing feast usually celebrated on the 25th of December which was filled with pagan and idolatrous traditions and practices.  It is impossible to deny that the entire Christmas package is polluted with syncretism (a mixture of different religious elements) and idolatry.  Is it any wonder that year after year Christmas is surrounded with a cloud of death, accidents, immorality, suicide, family tragedies, violence and feelings of resentment and emptiness?  What would our Father in heaven, looking down on how the people of this world "celebrate" the birth of his Son, say about all this?  Let us allow Scriptures to have the final word " notice how Father Yahweh in all these verses leaves absolutely no doubt that He rejects all practices and customs with any sort of idolatrous connotation.

Jer 10:2-4:  "Thus says Yahweh, "Don't learn the way of the nations, and don't be dismayed at the signs of the sky; for the nations are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are vanity; for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it not move".

The practice of cutting, decorating and honoring trees played an important role in pagan rituals as a tribute to their idols.

Jer 44:17-22: "But we will certainly perform every word that is gone forth out of our mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Yehudah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off burning incense to the queen of heaven, and pouring out drink-offerings to her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. When we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink-offerings to her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink-offerings to her, without our husbands? Then Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men, and to the women, even to all the people who had given him who answer, saying, The incense that you burned in the cities of Yehudah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, didn't Yahweh remember them, and didn't it come into his mind? So that Yahweh could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which you have committed; therefore is your land become a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day".

Over the centuries the "Queen of Heaven" has been associated with Semiramis (the wife of Nimrod), Isis, Juno, Athena, Diana, Venus, Minerva, Rhea, Astarte, Aphrodite, "The Lady", "Madonna", "The Mother" and the "Virgin Mary"!

Ezek 8:13-18:  "He said also to me, You shall again see yet other great abominations which they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of Yahweh's house which was toward the north; and see, there sat the women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he to me, Have you seen this, son of man? you shall again see yet greater abominations than these. He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh's house; and see, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east; and they were worshipping the sun toward the east. Then he said to me, Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Yehudah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have turned again to provoke me to anger: and, behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in wrath; my eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

Tammuz was the son of Semiramis, or Nimrod revived " also called the god of agriculture, fertility and the underworld.  The crying of the women is symbolic of the efforts to revive Tammuz (or Nimrod) so that fertility may return to the people's crops.  The putting of the branch to their noses was probably a symbolic effort to "inhale" the life-giving power of Tammuz in order to obtain immortality.

2 Cor 6:14-17:  "Don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what communion has light with darkness? What agreement has the Messiah with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? What agreement has a temple of Elohim with idols? For you are a temple of the living Elohim. Even as Yahweh said, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they will be my people.' Therefore, 'Come out from among them, And be separate,' says Yahweh, 'Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.'"

1 Cor 10:14: "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry".

Time and space are insufficient to call up more "testimonies" from Scriptures.  Every reader of this article is encouraged to undertake his or her own study in this regard.  The important question for us is what we are going to do with the information before hand.  Are we going to take notice of all these facts and carry on celebrating a festival of which the Messiah has never been a part and of which He surely has no desire to become part?  Or will we be brave enough to turn our backs on this spectacle that may certainly be noted as one of the best examples of how the world has been deceived through the centuries by "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Rev 17:5).  Is it coincidence that (scholars have irrefutably proven that) the majority of the "pillars" on which Christmas is built, is of Babylonian origin?  For many people it will be traumatic to let go of this beloved family tradition, but if we truly love Yahweh and his Word, I don't see that we have too much of a choice ...