Christian Churches of God

No. CB24

 

 

Why we don’t celebrate Christmas

(Edition 2.0 20021124-20061221)

Christians have been conditioned to accept that Christmas is an essential part of the Christian tradition. The fact is that Christmas is not at all Christian. The current myths are derived from paganism or heathen systems.

 

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369, WODEN ACT 2606, AUSTRALIA

E-mail: secretary@ccg.org

 

(Copyright ã 2002, 2006 Erica L. Cox and Wade Cox)

This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.

This paper is available from the World Wide Web page:
http://www.logon.org and http://www.ccg.org

 

 

Why we don’t celebrate Christmas

This paper is divided into sections dealing with the origins of popular Christmas traditions, followed by the Holy Days that God wants us to keep:

1. The ‘Festive Season’

2. Why December 25th?

3. The Nativity

4. The Three Kings

5. The Christmas Tree

6. Christmas lights and candles

7. Santa Claus

8. Santa’s Elves

9. Christmas cake

10. Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe

11. The Yule Log

12. Recent additions to the Christmas myth

13. What the Bible says about the timing of the birth of Christ

14. What festivals must we keep?

***********************

1. The ‘festive season’

There was an ancient festival celebrated in Rome over December. The festival was a build-up to the winter solstice. This festival was called Saturnalia, the festival of Saturn, the god of seed growing and wine.

?What is a solstice?

This happens two times a year between the two equinoxes. This is when the sun is furthest from the equator.

?What is an equinox?

This happens two times a year. This is when day and night are of equal length. The sun crosses the equator at this time.

The Romans celebrated the winter solstice on the 25th of December. This is winter in the northern hemisphere.

During the time of the Roman Empire, this festival was celebrated over a period of seven days, from 17 December through to 23 December.

The festival was divided into three parts:

1. Saturnalia proper: celebrated from 17 December and dedicated to the god Saturn.

2. Opali: celebrated from 19 December and dedicated to Opis, god of the earth and wife of Saturn.

3. Sigillaria: celebrated from 22 to 23 December (the 6th and 7th days of Saturnalia). During Sigillaria clay toys were made and sold. These clay toys were given to children as presents at the end of the festival. This is where the custom of giving presents to children on Christmas Eve comes from.

The festival of Saturnalia was a Public holiday, no trading could be done and all schools were closed. Special banquets were held. Slaves were given the privileges of free men. Everyone took part in feasting and merrymaking.

Saturnalia was celebrated every year by the Romans for a long time, eventually it became a part of what is called Christmas today.

The phrase used to describe the Christmas Season, ‘the Festive Season’ originated from the festivities of Saturnalia.

2. Why December 25th?

The Julian calendar placed 25 December as the winter solstice.

? What is the Julian Calendar?

The Julian Calendar was made by Julius Caesar – the ruler of the Roman Empire – 46 years before the date allocated as the birth of Christ.

The 25th of December was regarded as the Nativity (or birth of the sun), born of the Heavenly Mother goddess. The days become longer and the nights shorter. It was believed that the days became longer because the sun became more powerful from that day.

3. The Nativity

The celebrations surrounding the nativity were similar to that of Christmas. In the Roman Empire the worship of the Heavenly Mother goddess and her son was popular.

This worship survived the establishment of Christianity by Constantine (an Emperor of Rome).

The symbolism of the Heavenly Mother with her son is not of Christian origin. In the days of Augustine priests paraded here like the friars from the Middle Ages.

The Heavenly Mother goddess was adopted into the Christian faith as the Virgin Mary.

Christ’s mother’s name was Mariam not Mary. Mariam went on to have more children, unlike the Mother goddess, who gave birth to only one son and who is worshiped by Catholic religions.

4. The Three Kings

The three kings associated with the sun- worshipping festival are not the same wise men spoken of in the Bible. The Three Kings seem to relate to the 12 days of Christmas.

The Twelve Days of Christmas are associated with the solstice or 25 December. The period from 25 December till 5 January was known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. Twelfth Night is the night of 6 January.

The Bible does not make mention of the number of men from the East. It does however mention three gifts. The Bible also does not call the men kings but magi, meaning wise men.

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him." 3 When King Herod heard about his, he was very upset, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. 4 He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?" 5 "In the town of Bethlehem in Judea," they answered. "For this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘Bethlehem in the land of Judah, You are by no means the Least of the leading cities Of Judah; 7 So Herod called the visitors from the East to a secret meeting and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions: "Go and make a careful search for the child; and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him." 9-10 And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 11 They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mariam, they knelt down and worshiped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him. 12 Then they returned to their country by another road, since God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod.

5. The Christmas tree

The decoration of the pine tree comes from the worship of the god Attis.

?Who was Attis?

Attis, a pagan god, was crucified on a tree. This custom is related to the ancient tree spirit. The pine tree is cut and decorated with silver and gold and an emblem of the death and rebirth of Attis, with a six-pointed star of his sacrifice on top. The Greeks worshipped the god Adonis who was similar to Attis.

Attis was symbolized by a pine tree that was worshipped, and which was sacred to him. The reason pine trees were thought to be sacred was that they were green in winter when other trees had lost their leaves.

The emblems of Attis attached to the pine tree have changed to sun symbols on top, then angels. Christmas tree decorations are easily identified as the sun and moon and stars represented by baubles and tinsel. In the Middle East, Attis was also known as Baal consort of Astarte, Istar or Easter. The Bible condemns this practice. In Jeremiah we can identify a description of the Christmas tree and we are told not to follow the customs of the people around us.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremiah 10:2-5

Thus says the Lord:

Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;

Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven;

For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.

3 The religion of these people is worthless.

A tree is cut down in the Forest;

It is carved by the tool of the woodworker

4 and decorated with silver and gold.

It is fastened down with nails

To keep it from falling over.

5 Such idols are like scarecrows

in a field of melons;

they cannot speak;

they have to be carried

because they cannot walk.

Do not be afraid of them;

They can cause you no harm,

And they can do you no good."

6. Christmas lights and candles

Wax tapers were given to the humble by their superiors during the Saturnalia. They were also used to ward off the gods of thunder, storm and tempest as well as witches and evil spirits. The candles were lit and tied to the sacred oak tree.

7. Santa Claus

Santa Claus as we know him today is a modern product of American commercialism. The Americans derived him from German and Dutch folklore.

The man known as Saint Nicholas is Nicholas of Myra. He was bishop of Lycia in Asia Minor and died in 345 or 352 CE.

The legend goes that he took his wages for three years and made each year’s wages into a golden ball that he rolled into poor households. Apparently one rolled into a stocking. This is the origin of receiving gifts in a Christmas stocking.

The three golden balls became the symbol of merchants, and ended up in pawnshops. For this reason Saint Nicholas became patron saint of merchants.

Nicholas of Myra’s example of giving to the poor was taken up by French nuns. Gifts were distributed from the alms box on 26 December. For this reason the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day.

In the Netherlands, Santa Claus is known as Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas was a bishop with a mitre and a book of good deeds and sins. He has the staff of a shepherd and rides on a white horse over the rooftops. Sinterklaas had a servant named Black Peter. In the Netherlands children sing songs around chimneys to Sinterklaas. Black Peter listens at the top of the chimney to determine whether the children are singing the right songs and presenting the right offerings to Sinterklaas’ horse, namely carrots and hay. Presents are then given to the children through the chimney.

Sinterklaas is the patron Saint of the city of Amsterdam and the seamen who sailed from Amsterdam’s ports.

The German origin of Sinterklaas is based on the god Woden (from whom we get the word 'Wodenesday' meaning Woden’s day - today we say Wednesday). Woden was important to the people of what we today call Germany and among the ancient Teutons, as well as the English. Woden, who is a figure in history described in mythology as riding though the air on his white horse, clothed in a flowing robe. He has a long white beard and a big hat because he is also held to have wisdom and he carries a book in his hand.

8. Santa’s Elves

The Shetlanders named the festive season the Yules. Seven days before Christmas, elves called ‘trows’ were let free from their homes in the earth and were allowed to live above ground if they wanted to do so. On the last day of the holidays the Shetlanders chase the trows back into their underground homes. This was called ‘saining’. Saining had to be properly carried out to rid the area of the trows, which were also called ‘grey folk’. It is from this that the modern myth of the alien grey comes.

9. Christmas Cake

Following the Saturnalia was a festival called the ‘Festival of Fools’. This ran from 25 December to 6 January. During this time a king was elected and sometimes a queen. They were elected on the 12th night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, (the eve of 5 January). They were elected by lot. Originally beans were baked in a cake to select the king and queen. Sometimes there were many beans, with coloured beans representing the king or queen. In England the king was chosen by a bean and a queen by a pea in the cake. Later on the beans were replaced by coins.

10. Holly and Ivy and Mistletoe

Red and green are the ancient colours of the pagan cults. The berries and leaves seen in Christmas decorations, holly, ivy and mistletoe are green and red. Ivy was sacred to the god Attis and his priests were tattooed with ivy. Mistletoe found on oak was especially sacred to the Druids and Aryans. The idea came from the fact that Mistletoe spread and came into the tree from heaven and never touched the ground.

11. The Yule log

Germans burnt the Yule log. This was an ancient custom by 1184. It was recorded that a parish priest of Ahlen in Munsterland recorded bringing a tree to kindle the festal fire at the lord’s nativity. The lighting of fires and candles was to assist the sun to relight its lamp.

 

12. Recent additions to the Christmas myth

Kris Kringle: This was brought by European immigrants to the United States. What they named the Christkindl means the Christ Child, and from this we get Kris Kringle.

The Knickerbocker Tales: Washington Irvine depicts Santa Claus as an elf who presents the stocking.

The reindeer: Clement Clark Moore in the poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas which was renamed ’Twas the Night before Christmas, introduced the eight reindeer with the traditional identification of the god of thunder and lightning in the names such as Donner and Blitzen.

The face of Santa Claus: In 1931, the Scandinavian Haddon Sundblom was commissioned by the Coca Cola Company, and, using his own face, portrayed Santa Claus for the next 25 years.

In 1941, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was sung by Gene Autry, and the final addition was made.

The colours and myths surrounding the figure known today as Santa Claus are the final product of 3,000 years of pagan idolatry and commercialism.

13. What the Bible says about the timing of the birth of Christ

Christ seems to have been born around the Feast of Tabernacles (September/October) in the period from 8 to 5 BCE. The Bible says there were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flock at night at the time Christ was born (Luke 2:8). This could not have been possible in December, as there were no sheep in the fields then. It would have been about the ninth month in the lunar calendar and the Bible also says it was a cold and rainy time of the year in that part of the world (Ezra 10:9).

December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus Christ. The apostles and early Christian Church did not celebrate the birthday of Christ at any time. The Bible does not tell us exactly when Christ was born and there is no instruction to celebrate his birth anyway.

14. What festivals must we keep?

Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to celebrate Christmas. The Bible does however give us a list of annual Holy Days we must keep. These Holy Days are a series of Festivals that outline God’s Plan of Salvation.

The annual Holy Days are:

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread,

Pentecost,

The Feast of Trumpets,

The Day of Atonement,

The Feast of Tabernacles, and

The Last Great Day

 

 

This list of Holy Days can be found in Leviticus 23:1-44 and Deuteronomy 16:1-6.

 

 

 

 

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Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369 Woden, ACT 2606 Australia

E-mail:   CCG Secretary


Copyright:   The papers on this site may be freely copied and distributed provided they are copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher's name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.


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