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  • Writer's picturePastor Paul

Is Christmas a holiday with pagan roots?

Q: I've heard that December 25th has pagan roots and believers are foolish to participate in a pagan holiday. What's the truth?

Let me begin by responding to the premise that Christmas is a pagan celebration. Imagine for a moment that you — a believer and follower of Jesus — live right next door to someone who is a pagan. (By the way, a pagan is someone who believes in many gods.) Now imagine that on a particular day of the year, both you and your neighbor choose to celebrate something related to your faith. Your neighbor, as a pagan, celebrates his pagan deities and holds a feast and invites his friends. You, on the other hand, use that very same day to celebrate the Lord God who sent His Son to save you from your sin. Like your neighbor, you also hold a feast and invite your friends.

Now the question: Are you celebrating a pagan holiday simply because your celebration lands on the same day as your neighbor's?

If pagans at one time in history used December 25th to celebrate their pagan deities, does that mean that date is forever off-limits to believers of the One true God? And if so, WHY?? Did not the God, whom you and I serve, Create ALL THINGS...including the days of the year?? Why then should ANY of those days be off limits or unavailable to Christians simply because some poor pagan soul used that day to worship a god that is really no god at all?

I have been celebrating Christmas ever since I can remember. For me, December 25th has ALWAYS been about celebrating the incarnation — God becoming a man in the Person of Jesus Christ. When I grew up I learned that December 25th had also been used for some kind of pagan celebration. But that information didn't really affect me at all, because paganism has never been part of my life. In other words, for me, December 25th has only ever been a celebration of the goodness and mercy of God. And it remains so to this day.

Here's the point. To celebrate a pagan holiday I must 1) be a pagan and, 2) worship what pagans worship. And yet those descriptions don't apply to me. I am a child of the Living God, and I serve and worship Him alone. I, for one, am NOT about to surrender one single day of the calendar to pagans. They have no right to take the days my God created as if they were their own. All 365 days of the year belong to the One who made them.

"But wait!" someone might say, "Hang on, pastor! The Bible strictly forbids having and decorating Christmas trees. It's right there in the Bible in the book of Jeremiah!"

Okay, let's talk about Jeremiah. The passage goes like this:

Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter." (Jeremiah 10:1-4)

So, that's talking about Christmas tree, right? Actually, no. it's not. God is talking to the nation of Israel about their pagan neighbors and how they carved idols out of wood and covered them (literally coated them) with gold and silver and worshiped them. Did you catch the part about the craftsman shaping it with his chisel? That's where the idol would be shaped into the form of their local deities. It would look something like the image below:

Doesn't look much like a Christmas tree, does it? That's because Jeremiah was describing carved pagan idols that people bowed down and worshiped. And a Christmas trees are none of those things to Christians. They certainly don't bow down and worship a tree!

It's important for believers to understand the context of biblical passages and to learn to rightly divide the Word of truth. If you are conscientiously opposed to having a Christmas tree in your home, that's your personal business and ultimately it's between you and the Lord. But please don't quote Jeremiah chapter 10 as a proof text that people are violating God's Word because all you're doing is showing your own ignorance of the Scriptures.

If someone tells you they're celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, give them the benefit of the doubt and refrain from judging them about the way they conduct that celebration.

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