No Compromise about the Christmas Debate 1

No Compromise about the Christmas Debate

Hello! Come, gather around the table with me. I feel compelled to share something with you and I’m open for discussion on this topic. Are you ready to hear? This may come as a surprise to you, but we (my husband and I) no longer celebrate “Christmas.” {gasp} I know! The commercialism, the gift-giving, the parties, none of it. Not even Christmas cards. So, here’s the truth, the real reason why we no longer celebrate Christmas. I think it will surprise you! Are you ready to discuss the Christmas debate? Then grab a cuppa and join in the conversation!

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It wasn’t always this way. When I was a young girl, Christmas was the best time of the year. Mom would bake these amazing sweet sugar twists that we all looked forward to every year. Oh, and her French-Canadian Tortiere pies were the best! And we can’t forget the presents. As poor as we were, our parents did their best to give us presents under the tree every year. Christmas seemed magical even. My childhood Christmases were not very spiritual to say the least. It was about Santa, never about Jesus.

As a young wife with a new extended family to celebrate the holidays with, it was a busy time. I was also a new Christian and it was difficult to bring Christ into Christmas in a family of non-believers. When I became a mother, I made sure to let my son know that “he” was a man in a red suit and not real at all. The Christmas debate had begun, although silently.

The Christmas Debate

I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where God commands us to keep a tradition of setting up Christmas trees. The first-century Christians, as far as I can see in the New Testament, did not celebrate the birth of Christ.

So, where did this tradition of Christmas come from? What makes up the Christmas debate? Let’s look at history for the answers.

The Jewish people had not received a command to celebrate the birth of anyone. While they acknowledged the birth as a measurement of years, there was no celebration such as we have today.

In my research I found this quote from Ralph and Adelin Linton, The Lore of Birthdays, 1953, pp.51-52:

“When the early Christians were trying to fix the date of Christ’s birth, many of the Church Fathers … proclaimed that there should be no attempt to celebrate it, as this was an impious pagan custom.”

Ralph Linton, The Lore of Birthdays

The Messianic Jews did not celebrate the birth of Jesus, in fact, they didn’t celebrate their own birthdays, either. Birthday celebrations put the focus on “self” rather than on God.

Flee Idolatry

Oh, boy, idolatry. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:14 that Christians ought to “flee idolatry.” The Apostle John also said to “keep yourselves from idols,” 1 John 5:21.

I can hear you saying “but I’m not worshipping the tree or the presents.” I hear ya as I thought that way, too, for a very long time. I’m not trying to be legalistic either, so, please don’t think that. I am endeavouring to be truthful to what the Scriptures say and don’t say. I want to know the truth of Christmas and settle this debate in my mind, do you?

If the Jewish people did not practice celebrating their own birthdays that would mean that they didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday either, right? Is it safe to assume that? So, where did the idea of a celebration come from? If you research this question, you will find that it is from pagan traditions. The pagan teachings have nothing to do with Christianity. I’m back to Paul’s instruction for Christians to flee idolatry now. Does Jesus want us to flee idolatry or not?

The Christmas Debate and Christmas Gift-Giving

Yes, we know that the Magi gave gifts to Jesus (Matthew 2:10-11). Scholars have determined the date of the gift-giving as December 25th. However, this is not the birth of Christ. I’m sure you have heard that His birthday is either in the spring or in September. The exact date is not known. Do you have any idea why? Maybe we aren’t to celebrate it? Hmmm.

Author, Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D, 1991, in his book “The Star that Astonished the World” states that Christ was born on the Jewish Holyday of Rosh Hashanah (the Day of Trumpets). Scholars have dated this as September 11, 3 B.C. So, at the time the Magi presented their gifts, Jesus was 15 months old.

The Magi gave their gifts on the Winter Solstice, December 25th in 2 B.C. As you know, the dates for the Solstice and Equinox change each year. When the Magi presented their gifts in 2 B.C., that date fell on the third day of Hanukkah or “the Dedication” festival.

When Ernest Martin wrote his book in 1991, the third day of Hanukkah was December 4th. For example, in 2010, the third day of Hanukkah was December 3. If gift-giving to Christ was held on the festival of Hanukkah, there is no taint of idolatry associated with it because the date changes. And the year this post was published, the third day of Hanukkah is December 14.

However, the tradition of celebrating Christmas on December 25th is part of a pagan tradition but this isn’t the only reason why we don’t celebrate Christmas. This is, after all, a matter of conscience, right? Or is it?

I also know and am aware that God gave us the greatest gift of all in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave His greatest gift in His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. He gave us eternal life through His sacrifice. We rejoice in this and am thankful for His ultimate sacrifice for mankind.

The Evergreen Tree

Let’s take a look at Jeremiah 10:1-16 to find out about the cutting of trees. I would love if you would read this in detail in your Bible as I’m going to give you the Coles’ Note version. The Christmas Tree Debate is based on this passage of Scripture. While there are two main schools of thought on this passage, I strongly encourage you to pray and ask Holy Spirit for His help to understand it before studying this text.

Jeremiah is talking about the cutting down of individual trees found in a forest. The tree is then decked with silver and gold plates along with blue and purple fabric. The tree is secured so it doesn’t move. In fact, it is secured upright like a palm tree. Did you know the palm tree is an evergreen tree? I hadn’t known this fact!

Jeremiah compared these decked out trees to the practice of idolatry as they were being used in false worship.

I know, you’re not worshipping the tree. But, and yes, there’s a ‘but’. If the pagans used the decorated, secured upright tree in idol worship, why do Christians copy pagan traditions? Why do so many Christians put up Christmas trees so early in the season? Why do they deck their homes with Christmas decorations and beautiful decor? What is their focus on?

Back to the Jeremiah text. It is true that the reference to cutting down the tree can be made to mean cutting lengths or blocks of wood for idol carving. But when you look at the passage as a whole, is the forest made up of “blocks of wood” or “pieces of timber” or is it made up of trees?

The Makings of Idols

Then there’s the other side of the same passage from Jeremiah 10:1-16. It’s the side that this passage refers to the making of idols from wood. Some are gilded with silver and gold then draped with blue and purple fabric. Those who couldn’t afford a more expensive idol had idols made of plain wood.

The Christmas debate on this passage of Scripture is what does it really mean? Both sides of the debate are represented in this text. But what is the real meaning? Did Holy Spirit reveal it to you?

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What Did Jesus Say to Do?

The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been going on for centuries. There are strong supporting facts on both sides of the issue.

If I take the side that it is a pagan holiday, then I must not celebrate Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, or any other pagan traditions. While we observe our birthdays, it is not with gift-giving. It is to acknowledge we’re getting older as the years go by. The same with our anniversary. One more year of marital bliss as we celebrate our love for each other and that God brought us together.

But here’s the side I do take and for us, it is quite clear. Turn the pages of your Bible with me to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Let’s read together what Paul wrote:

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Do This in Remembrance of Me

Did you see what I saw? Verses 24 and 25 along with Luke 22:19 are the only verses in the entire Bible where Jesus said to remember Him.

When Holy Spirit showed this to me a few years ago, it blew me away! This is the only time we have a direct command from Jesus to do something in His remembrance! And, it has nothing to do with Christmas or Easter.

The Christmas Debate is Settled for Us

It isn’t about gift-giving, it isn’t about setting up Christmas trees, it isn’t about cooking and baking and visiting each other. These things are good to do as we enjoy our family but when the focus us on a celebration founded on pagan traditions, it isn’t something that we want to observe.

It is about the communion meal which is a symbol of His death on the cross. He wants us to remember what He did for us. And we do this as often as we eat and drink the communion emblems.

This settles the Christmas debate for us. Yes, it is partly about the pagan traditions but it is more so about what Jesus said to do.

He didn’t say to remember His birthday, to give gifts to each other, which puts the focus on people. And He didn’t say to go cut trees down to decorate them or have all the trappings that go with it. He didn’t say to do any of that.

So, tell me, why do Christians celebrate Christmas? What additional truth is needed?

That’s a Wrap

There is so much to say about the Christmas debate. But, the bottom line for us is what Jesus did and didn’t say to do. This is the truth of Christmas that we stand on.

I didn’t share my heart with you to be seen as “right.” I shared it with you so you would know why I don’t post anything about Christmas. And also so you know where I stand concerning pagan traditions. For my husband and me, December 25th is a day like any other day.

Oh, don’t get me wrong in that we don’t acknowledge Jesus’ birth. We are very thankful for His birth. Just as we are thankful that He left heaven’s splendour and came to earth as a baby.

We are also very thankful that He was obedient unto death and took the sins of the world on His shoulders. So very thankful!

We just don’t celebrate Christmas and for that matter, we also don’t celebrate Easter or Halloween. Again, that’s because Jesus didn’t tell us to celebrate His resurrection or to take part in the unholiest of nights in October.

I’d rather hear your thoughts. Do you celebrate Christmas or is it another ordinary day for you? What are your thoughts on the Christmas debate? Am I misunderstanding the Scriptures or am I on the right track?

No Compromise about the Christmas Debate 2

12 thoughts on “No Compromise about the Christmas Debate

  1. It occurs to me that your family’s choice not to celebrate Christmas must be just as much of an observance of Jesus’s presence in this world as our choice to go ahead and celebrate. It takes a determined focus not to get drawn into the hoopla.
    Blessings to you as you do what you do “in remembrance.”

    • Cindy

      That’s an interesting statement, Michele. And yes, we certainly do observe His presence in our lives and in the world but without the celebration at Christmas time. And yes, it is hard not to get drawn into the hoopla, (love that word) however, I find that when my thoughts lean that way, my spirit is checked and I know to withdraw. It’s so interesting how God calls us to walk different walks, don’t you think?

      • Hi, Cherie, I’m assuming here that you are asking me, since this question is following my comment, so I will tell you that some of our most intense and effective teaching from Old and New Testament (and the links between the two) has happened around Advent. Our children are mostly grown, but some of my fondest memories happened around our table during Advent with questions and answers and singing the old carols that give the rich theology behind the birth of Jesus. If Christmas is just one day, it’s not enough time to teach and rejoice in all that God has done in Christ.

  2. Csrole

    I don’t celebrate the pagan holidays either, which you don’t hear preachers, bishops or priests teaching, which is a shame!

    Christians should be recognizing the “feasts” that are outlined in the Bible, not the pagan holidays!

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Wendy

    I am curious how you deal with church. Ive debated about the Christmas tree with several pastors. They all say we’re under grace. My pastor says we’re under grace and says Christmas is the time we can minister to others who come for those Christmas services. Also, what do you say to other Christian family members who see nothing wrong with Christmas and expect you to be there for the family celebration… But each year, I hear the LORD talk to me about manmade traditions. I am more convicted about it each day. I’m actually trying to decide if I should go to the family’s Thanksgiving meal. Seeing this post has convicted me I don’t want to be involved but trying to figure out how to bow out with causing an out and out family feud. I would appreciate any insight or advice you have on the matter. Also, curious to know if you have children and what you do to help them get through this season without too much difficulty.

    • Cindy

      Hi, Wendy. There are so many believers who do not see anything wrong with the pagan holidays like Christmas and Easter, or even Halloween. The thought is that they can use this time to share God’s love with others. The truth is, God’s love can be shared anytime, and, these pagan events can be used to share the truth as found in the Bible. As you’ve read in this post, there are Scripture verses that teach why we should not celebrate Christmas. I recommend that you ask God to give you a solid foundation of His truth about Christmas so that when you need to explain your actions to others, you have that grounding deep in your spirit. It sounds to me that God is already talking with you about manmade traditions and He is beginning to teach you.

      As for Thanksgiving Day, thanksgiving in itself is God-ordained, however, many families use this as a social time without the thankfulness part. Since the US Thanksgiving Day is soon upon us, out of consideration of your family, attend this year and make it a time where everyone shares 2 things they are thankful for and why. It’s the ‘why’ part that is important as anyone can name a thing or two. Talk with them about the “why” of the family getting together on this day. Why is it important? Their answers will reveal their motives.

      As for Christmas, I struggled my whole (first) married life with Christmas being so family-oriented (unsaved family), commercialized and the whole thing. When my son was about 2 yo, I told him that Santa was a man in a suit. As he grew, I taught him the truth about Santa as he would be facing that in school and with his grandparents. As well, I taught him about the birth of Jesus and that Christians used this time to celebrate his birth. I had not known then what I know now about the truth of Christmas, that it is a pagan holiday.

      Just a few years ago, in my late 50’s, in a time of prayer and fasting, God showed me His truth in His Word and with that solid foundation, I was able to stand firm in not celebrating Christmas. My husband and I do not attend church in December. Some of the congregants know why, and in fact, we are seeing less and less Christmas decorations at the front of the church. However, they still sing carols and have the children’s Christmas ‘play’.

      I recommend that you spend time in prayer asking God to show you how to deal with the question of Christmas to your family members. Once you have that foundation, you will need to stand on it. Be loving, kind and gentle but be firm and sure in your stand.

      Some families I know who do not celebrate Christmas per se, do get together for meals and family fun but no gift exchange or Christmas decoration, etc. They are not celebrating Christmas, they are simply gathering together as a family, much like any Sunday dinner.

      I hope this has helped, Wendy.

      Blessings, Cindy

  4. Rebecca Paige

    My husband and I don’t çelebràte Christmas but our children do and some of them live with us. We don’t let them put up a tree but they exchange gifts with each other. Our son doesn’t celebrate anything not even his birthday. Some of our friends celebrate Christmas big time. Thank you for the information about all of the holidays.


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