The Truth About Christmas
Christians all over the world celebrate our Lord's Birthday on
December 25th. All my life I thought I knew how the world's most
cherished tradition began... from the baby in the manger, of course!
We always celebrated Christmas and I followed along as I'd been
taught, never questioning, just assuming that what my family
did and believed was right... it's what we call "Family Tradition."
But when I discovered the truth, which by the way I set out to prove
wrong, I then became responsible for what I knew. The Bible and
history teach us something totally different than what I had believed.
We stoutly defend what we think is biblical, but what we
need to do is honestly accept what the Bible says - not read
with prejudice anything that contradicts our cherished beliefs.
We need to ask God to guide us - to help us prove what He says in His
Word. The Bible says we are to, “Prove all things…”. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
So, let's prove it!
1700 years ago the Romans made former pagan Holy Days into
Christian ones. That’s how we got the Christmas holiday in
the first place. The December date came to be as a result
of the integration of Christianity into the Roman Empire.
Christianity had been outlawed and its practice was
punishable by death, but Emperor Constantine changed
all that. The worship of Jesus was made legitimate, and
in the 4th century AD what was to become the Holy Roman
Empire was born, with Christianity as the official religion.
The pagan Feast of Saturnalia had been a part of the Roman life
for generations and was celebrated at the time of the winter
solstice in late December. So rather than abandon this tradition,
when Christianity was legalized, this pagan holiday was declared
to be the day of our Lord’s Birth and renamed as "Christmas".
Traditions from the Babylonian winter feasts like mistletoe,
hot cross buns, yule logs, and evergreen trees (Jeremiah 10:1-5)
had been incorporated into the Feast of Saturnalia, so that's
how they became part of the Christmas celebration, as well.
The early Christians knew this and did not accept any of the pagan
traditions, or this date as our Lord’s Birth. It was hundreds of years
before this custom gained acceptance in the Christian world ... all the
early Christians had died and new generations were now on the scene.
I believe Christians today should follow the example of our Christian
ancestors, who for hundreds of years refused to partake in what
they knew were really pagan celebrations re-packaged as Christian
Holy Days. They were no more fooled by this than the Lord is.
A real Happy Birthday Jesus celebration would be in the early fall
when the God of the Universe became a man and dwelt among us.
We can be sure of this because the Bible tells us that John the
Baptist was six months old when the Lord was born.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, did not have any children.
Zechariah was a Priest and had been chosen by lot to offer
prayers at the Golden Altar just outside the Holy of Holies.
This was already a once in a lifetime honor, but then the Angel,
Gabriel, visited him there to inform him that he and Elizabeth
were being given a son, making this occasion even more special.
When we compare Luke 1:5 to 1 Chronicles 24:10, it shows that
Zechariah was of the division of Abijah, which was number eight
in the weekly rotation. Counting the time all divisions were on duty
and eight weeks of rotation, Gabriel’s visit had to occur about three
months into the religious year, which is mid-June on our calendar.
Now, assuming Elizabeth conceived shortly after Zechariah returned
home from temple duty, a normal nine month pregnancy places the birth
of John the Baptist at the beginning of the following religious year - mid
March, and there are many who believe that John was born on Passover.
According to Luke 1:26-27, Mary conceived in the sixth month
of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. That means that our Lord was conceived in
late December, not born then. He was born the following September.
The truth is our Lord was born in the early fall, not the dead of winter
and we should not be celebrating our Lord’s Birth on one of the year’s
most significant pagan holidays because it just didn’t happen then.
The most common justification one will hear regarding this holiday is
that people have replaced old pagan intents and customs by asserting
they are now Christian. The problem with this is that God plainly
commands against it. He does not say that keeping this tradition
is acceptable to Him. The truth is Christmas keeping dishonors Christ.