Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? Why An Emphatic ‘No’ Is Incorrect
Christmas is such a joyous time of year, where light bills are spiked up and the entire country has an extra level of illumination. Families gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts, in hopes to acquire as many items on their holiday wishlist as possible. Carols are sung in schools and recreation centers, and choirs travel around malls singing their favorite tunes.
The embodiment of Christmas is revolved around celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The lyrics to the “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” creates the perfect picture of the world coming together for one common cause.
“Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King,
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcile.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.”
With such as pleasant backdrop set for this season, there are some Christians who believe that it is all erected to create a distraction for fellow believers to celebrate a holiday that was not originally revolved around Jesus.
The narrative behind the rejection of Christmas typically originates from the Roman festival of Saturnalia. It was a hedonistic time during the winter solstice that lasted about a month. During this time, the food and drink would be plentiful, and the social order would be flipped upside-down as slaves became masters and peasants were in command of the city. In addition to the role-reversals, gift-giving, and merrymaking, the country would emphasize the importance of agriculture, since that is what Saturn was the god of.
Also at this time, Romans celebrated Mithra, a cultic god who was believed to be born from a rock and caused the sun to kneel to him. This has become one of the most sacred days of the year for many people in Rome.
As a result of this, Christians around this time decided to adopt the festive customs of these celebrations but putting Jesus at the forefront instead of the pagan figures. The absorbing of this date was decided by Pope Julius I, History reports.
As time progressed, church leaders absorbed the traditional customs of these festivals but wanted to redirect the emphasis on Jesus in order to flush these celebrations away. Successfully, by the Middle Ages (lasting from the 5th to the 15th century), Christmas became the most popular celebration, and the goal was achieved.
Kings at this time would expect laypersons to “tithe” (pay a tenth of their earnings) to the Church, and the Church was mostly tax-exempt. This business model gained money and power, making Christianity the dominant religion, and the customs that follow being universally expected.
This era also established the world’s first printed bestseller, as the Gutenberg Bible was initially generated in 1455. Not only did this create a mass desire for the written word of God, but it also prompted other editions of the Bible, including the popular King James version, which was established in 1611.
At its very core, the advent of Christmas was not to continue the festivals of Yule, Saturnalia, and Mithras, but to first overtake them with Christianity and its customs, then to spread it across the European culture and eventually the world.
Ultimately, the celebration of Christmas comes down to a personal conviction, as explained by Dr. Michael Brown. This is supported by Romans 14:5-6a.
“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.”
While one not celebrating Christmas is just as valid as one celebrating Christmas, stating that Christians should not celebrate Christmas is incorrect from both a biblical as well as a historical context.
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