Up until some 30 years ago, I used to celebrate Christmas as much as-or even more than-any Gentile. You might think that is strange since I was born and raised in a Jewish home. But my family always had a Christmas tree every year, because it was the popular thing to do. We had ornaments, mistletoe, holly wreaths, presents, and everything else that goes along with the Christmas celebration.
You see, Jewish people celebrate Christmas today, not because of Christ's birthday, but because it is a popular tradition and part of our present-day culture. It's as American as apple pie and hamburgers. And I observed Christmas for nearly 22 years of my life, until God opened my eyes to see the falseness of this pagan holiday.
It's not because I'm a Jew that I don't celebrate Christmas now. That has nothing to do with it. Let me tell you the real reasons why I no longer observe this pagan holiday.
Christmas Not A Bible Doctrine
In the first place, Christmas is not a Bible doctrine. If our blessed Lord had wanted us to celebrate His birthday, He would have told us when to celebrate it and how to celebrate it. But Christ never told anyone to celebrate His birthday. Furthermore, we know from the Bible and from church history that the apostles and the early church never celebrated Christ's birthday.
In fact, there are only two birthday celebrations recorded in the Bible; and each of them is connected with murder. The Bible tells us in Genesis 40:22 that on one of Pharaoh's birthdays he murdered his chief baker while a big celebration was going on. The other birthday celebration recorded was that of Herod, when he had John the Baptist murdered.
The Bible is God's complete and final revelation to man, and it tells us everything we need to know for our spiritual lives (see II Timothy 3:16). We don't have to go outside the Bible for anything. God's Word tells us how we're to worship, how we're to give money for the support of the Lord's work, how to evangelize the lost, how to observe the Lord's Supper, and everything else pertaining to the Christian life. But not once in the Bible does God tell us to celebrate Christmas! We're told to remember the Lord's death, but nowhere are we told to celebrate His birth.
God's people are supposed to be Bible people. We're supposed to live by the teaching of God's holy Word. So the very fact that Christmas is never mentioned in the Bible is sufficient reason for us not to have anything to do with it. But that's not all.
Christ Was Not Born on December 25!
Notice: "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night... And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us" (Luke 2:7, 8, 15).
The shepherds WERE IN THE FIELDS taking care of their flocks on the night Jesus was born. As the shepherds were watching their sheep, the message came to them of the birth of Jesus. It's a well-known fact that December falls in the middle of the rainy season in Palestine, and the sheep were kept in the fold at that time of the year. The shepherds always corralled their flocks from October to April. They brought their sheep from the mountainsides and the fields no later than October 15 to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date. So the birth of Christ could not have taken place at the end of December.
Luke 2:1, 3 tells us that at the time of the birth of Jesus it was decreed that ". . . All the world should be taxed... And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city." This couldn't have taken place in the winter. Caesar Augustus, the ruler at Rome, would certainly not call for such a taxing in the depth of winter. Travel at this time of the year is extremely difficult; hence, it would be virtually impossible for everyone to comply with the decree if it had been given then. The Lord himself testified to the rigors of travelling in winter, for He told the people to pray that their flight at the end of this age would not be in winter (see Matthew 24:20).
No one knows the exact day when Jesus was born, but in all probability He was born sometime during the first part of October. We can be reasonably sure of this because His earthly ministry lasted three and a half years, and He was crucified on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, which corresponds to our April (see John 19:31; Leviticus 23:5). If we go back three and a half years to the time when Jesus was 30 years old-when He began His public ministry-we come to the month of October. This was probably the month when our blessed Lord was born into the world.
However, let's remember that it's not the date of Jesus' birth that's important. The important thing is that He was born and that He died for our sins. We're not worshiping a helpless infant lying in a manger. We're worshiping a risen and exalted Christ who has all power in heaven and in earth (see Matthew 28:18).
Origin of Christmas
Where do you suppose Christmas originated? Christmas started with the sun worshipers during the time of Nimrod, the man who supervised the building of the tower of Babel. And that's another reason I don't celebrate Christmas.
Thousands of years before Jesus was born, the heathen in every country observed December 25 as the birthday of a god who was called the sun god. Semiramis. The widow of Nimrod was his mother. She claimed to be the queen of heaven. And she had a son who was supposed to have been born on December 25; his name was Tammuz.
According to all the heathen religions of that time, Tammuz had a miraculous birth; and for centuries his birthday was celebrated with feasts, revelry, and drunken orgies. The heathen celebrated Tammuz's birthday according to the very example he set for them. He was the world's greatest lover of women, strong drink, dirty jokes, and other sensual fun. It is said that he loved everybody and everybody loved him. And it was December 25 that all the pagan religions celebrated the birthday of Tammuz, the sun god.
This is all clearly brought out in Alexander Hislop's great book, The Two Babylons. Any reputable encyclopaedia will also verify these facts.
Some will say, "We can't help it if we were born into a pagan world. We can't help it if we were reared and steeped in pagan doctrines and customs." Christ said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." There is only one righteous thing that you can do with these pagan holidays, and that is to have no part in them. The virgin birth of Christ is a blessed fact, but the Christmas celebration is a wicked and ungodly thing.
Christmas is a pagan holiday that came out of pagan Babylon.
Christmas: A Catholic Holiday
Another reason I don't celebrate Christmas is because Christmas is a Catholic holiday. Why should I steal Christmas from the Catholics? They got it from the pagans, and I'm happy to let them keep it.
Notice what Encyclopaedia Americana has to say about Christmas and Catholicism:
"Christmas - It was according to many authorities NOT celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of a remarkable person rather than their birth. A feast was established in memory of the Saviour in the FOURTH CENTURY. In the Fifth Century the Western Church (Roman Catholic) ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol. The holly, the mistletoe, the yule log, and the wassail bowl are of pre-Christian times. The Christmas tree has been traced back to the Romans, then from Germany to Great Britain."
Encyclopaedia Britannica has this to say about Christmas:
"Christmas (i.e., the Mass of Christ) was not among the earliest festivals of the church."
Take the word Christmas and break it down. What does it mean? The mass of Christ. The mass is a prayer that's read or sung for the soul of a dead person. Born-again Christians don't have anything to do with masses, and yet multitudes of Christians will say "Merry Christmas," never realizing that when they do this they are actually mixing the precious and holy name of Christ with a demon holiday. The Lord tells us in unmistakable language that we are not to mix His name with any pagan holiday or with a pagan god. The Lord says in Ezekiel 20:39, ".....pollute ye my holy name no more....."
After Constantine, the Roman emperor, won the battle of the Milvian Bridge, he forced all the pagans of his empire to be baptized into the Christian church. Thus, baptized pagans far outnumbered the true Christians.
Since the church worshiped the Lord Jesus as the Son of God, when December 25 rolled around and the pagans wanted to worship Tammuz, their sun god, Constantine knew that he would have to do something. So he had the church combine the worship of Tammuz with the birthday of Christ, and a special mass was declared to keep everyone happy. Thus, pagan worship was brought into the Christian church and called "Christ-mass.
The World and Christmas
That brings me to the next reason I don't celebrate Christmas. Christmas is of the world, and we're commanded, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
The very fact that the world which hates Christ and His blood atonement for sin makes more fuss about Christmas than any other holiday proves to me that Christmas is not of God. And one doesn't have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas. Even in non-Christian countries like Japan, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Russia the people celebrate Christmas. People throughout the world, who may not have any awareness of the Bible or Jesus Christ, eat up the Christmas celebration. To take Christmas from the world would be harder than taking candy from a child.
In Luke 16:15, Christ said "that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Our Lord said that anything which men highly esteem is an abomination before God.
The world is married to the idol of Christmas. In fact, more people get drunk at Christmas than at any other time of the year. There are more big parties and more selfish spending than at any other season. The world loves Christmas, but it hates Christ.
Another reason I don't celebrate Christmas is that it's filled with unscriptural traditions. The exchanging of gifts, the Christmas tree, the singing of carols, and Santa Claus are all of pagan origin. These all crept into the church during or after the Fourth Century.
There are many unscriptural traditions that have cluttered up the story of the birth of our wonderful Saviour. For instance, many people believe that the wise men of the East and the shepherds were together in Bethlehem at the time our Lord was born. But nothing could be further from the truth. The shepherds came to Bethlehem to see Jesus at His birth. The wise men came to Nazareth to see Jesus when He was almost two years old (see Matthew 2:16).
Furthermore, the Bible says nothing about three wise men, nor does it say that they were kings. The fact is the Bible does not give their number at all, but merely states that they were wise men.
Perhaps the worst part of the Christmas celebration is that thousands of parents will teach their children the falsehood of Santa Claus. Children are taught that Santa Claus makes his home at the North Pole, and once each year he fills his sled with toys for the boys and girls who have been good throughout the year. If they are good, he rewards them by bringing them toys on Christmas Eve; and if they are bad, he passes them by.
Is it any wonder that many times when children grow up and learn the truth, they question whether Christ is also a myth? The Bible says in Colossians 3:9, "Lie not one to another" And we are commanded in Ephesians 4:25 to "put away" lying and to "speak every man truth with his neighbour...."
Now I know that some of you parents are saying, "Don't you think we should give the children a good time? They don't understand all the paganism behind Christmas."
But let me ask you a question. Is it necessary to drag the holy name of our blessed Lord down to the low level of fleshly gratification and drunkenness to show the kids a good time? Let's teach our children the truth about Christmas. God's Word says that we should bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (see Ephesians 6:4). Why should we dishonour the name of Christ in such a manner under the pretence of showing the children a good time? There are 364 more days in the year during which we can give gifts to our children.
Merrymaking And Exchanging Gifts
Without question, the most important part of Christmas for most people is buying and exchanging gifts. I don't celebrate Christmas because exchanging gifts has nothing to do with Christ's birthday.
Perhaps some of you are asking, "Didn't the wise men give gifts to Jesus?" They certainly did, but they didn't give them to one another. And their gifts were not birthday gifts, because the wise men did not come to visit Jesus until He was nearly two years old (see Matthew 2:16). The shepherds came to visit Jesus at His birth, but the wise men came to see Him nearly two years later. Did you know that giving gifts to a king was a common custom? That's the reason why the wise men brought gifts to Jesus-because He was born to be King of the Jews. But they were not birthday gifts. So there is no connection between Christmas and the birthday of Christ, in this respect.
One final word before leaving the matter of exchanging gifts. Let me point out that even this is a part of Satan's anti-Christ program. The greatest Christmas celebration yet to come will be the awful days of the tribulation. During the antichrist's reign, all hell will be let loose. The two witnesses whom God shall send to the people of the earth will be killed when God is finished with them. Could you guess who will kill them? The antichrist will put them to death. "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them" (Rev. 11:7).
It is under the antichrist's reign that the last and greatest Christmas celebration shall take place. As a result of the death of these prophets of God, the world will be so delighted and thrilled that they will exchange gifts with one another. Here is what the Bible says: "And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth" (Rev. 11:9, 10).
Truly Christmas is anti-God, anti-Christ, satanic, and unscriptural. The call of God is, ". . . come out from among them, and be ye separate,. . and touch not the unclean thing;. . . " (II Cor. 6:17). God's command to all His people is, ".... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them...." (Eph. 5:11).
Christmas Condemned By the Puritans
The pagan history of Christmas has been well-known throughout history. In fact, at one time the celebration of this pagan custom was forbidden by law in England. In 1644, Parliament declared Christmas to be unlawful; and, consequently, it was abolished. The English Puritans looked upon the celebration of Christmas as the work of Satan.
At one time in early American history, the observance of Christmas was illegal. A law was adopted in the general court of Massachusetts about 1650 which required that those who celebrated Christmas were to be punished. The statute read, "Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas, or in any other way ... shall be subject to a fine of 5 shillings." The law's preamble explained its purpose was "for preventing disorders ... (by) observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries to the great dishonour of God and the offence of others." After the Mayflower pilgrims landed in 1620, the first December 25th was spent in labour and cutting down trees "in order to avoid any frivolity on the day sometimes called Christmas."
Opposition to the observance of Christmas continued just past the second half of the Nineteenth Century. An article in the December 26, 1885 edition of The New York Daily Times stated, "The churches of the Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists were not open on December 25 except where some mission schools had a celebration. They do not accept the day as a holy one, but the Episcopalian, Catholic, and German churches were all open. Inside they were decked with evergreens." The Puritans knew the truth about Christmas and regarded it as a pagan holiday.
What About The Christmas Tree?
Another reason I don't observe Christmas is because the Christmas tree is condemned by the Bible. Notice:
". . . Learn not the way of the heathen,. . . For the customs of the people are vain- for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not... But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities" (Jer. 10:2-4, 8).
Here you have a perfect description of the Christmas tree, called by God, "the way of the heathen." We are commanded not to learn that way or follow it! The Christmas tree is also viewed in this passage as idolatry. The fifth verse says that these trees cannot speak, cannot walk-must be carried. Some people misread this to make it say that there is no harm in having a Christmas tree, but the Prophet Jeremiah tells us that it is vanity and foolishness, and says, "....Learn not the way of the heathen..... "
Some people will stay up all night to work on an old dead tree. They'll trim it all up and stand off a little ways and admire their handiwork. Then many of them will sit up all night and look at that old Christmas tree.
I hope some of you preachers will get up in the middle of the night and throw that old tree out of your house and out of your church, right at Satan's head. I realize that some of you will just gnash your teeth and call me "narrow-minded." Well, you can call me anything you want, but I'm just giving you the Word of God.
Did you know that the green tree is mentioned 14 times in the Bible, and in every instance it is linked with idolatry? There isn't one place in the Bible where God commends the use of the "green tree" in connection with true worship.
Perhaps you're wondering why people have a Christmas tree during the Christmas celebration. You can search the Bible through and through, but you won't find a reason for it there. The first decorating of an evergreen tree began with the heathen Greeks and their worship of their god Adonia, who allegedly was brought back to life by the serpent Aessulapius after having been slain. And each Christmas, multitudes of people will secure an evergreen tree and dress it up with bright glitter, lights, and tinsel, not realizing that they are following in the tradition of a pagan festival in honour of a false god!
No doubt there are many sincere Christians who think that they are honouring Christ by having their Christmas tree when, in reality, they are dishonouring Him by having anything to do with a heathen festival that God hates.
As you read these lines, perhaps you say, "I have my Christmas tree but I don't worship it, and consequently, I see nothing wrong with it." If the Christmas tree is not an idol to you, why are you so reluctant to give it up? What are you doing down on your knees when you place your gifts under it?
Observing Days Forbidden
Finally, I don't celebrate Christmas because God's Word forbids the observance of any holy days in this dispensation of grace. "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain" (Gal. 4:10, 11).
I want to reemphasize: I don't know of a single thing connected with Christmas that is biblical. You have to go outside of the Bible to learn of the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, the holly wreath, mistletoe, the yule log, and all the other things that go along with the Christmas celebration.
Christmas is only good for one thing-to make money for department stores and business merchants. Christmas is not in the Bible. There are no special holy days for members of the body of Christ. The Lord wants us to worship Him the same 365 days a year. We're not worshiping a dead Christ or a helpless infant lying in a manger, but we're worshiping a real and living Christ who lives all year round.
Sometimes well-meaning people will make the statement, "Let's put Christ back into Christmas." This sounds very good on the surface-but how can you put Christ back into something when He was never there?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the famous English preacher of the last century, said, "We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas ... we find no scriptural word whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because (it's) not of divine authority ... probably the fact is that the 'holy days' (were) arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals ... how absurd to think we could do it in the spirit of the world, with a Jack Frost clown, a deceptive worldly Santa Claus, and a mixed program of sacred truth with fun, deception, and fiction." (Quoted from Metropolitan Pulpit Series, Pilgrim Publications: Pasadena, Texas, 1871, p. 1026).
While the world celebrates Christmas with its gift swapping and wild parties, what should be our attitude? God's Word makes it plain that we should have nothing to do with this pagan holiday. Let's not associate the birth of the holy Son of God with the pagan traditions of men. Let us heed God's command, ".... be ye separate, saith the Lord...." (II Cor. 6:17).
The Christian Jew Foundation
Charles Halff, Director