THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS by Charles Halff Expanded and Edited by Soul Winners Bible Church
WHY I DO NOT CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS Up until 20 years ago, I used to celebrate Christmas as much as - or even more than - any Gentile. Although I was born and reared in a Jewish home, we always had a Christmas tree every December because it was the popular thing to do. We had our ornaments, mistletoe, holly wreath, 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 of our present day society. And I observed Christmas for nearly 22 years of my life, until God opened my eyes to see the falsity of this pagan holiday. It's not because I'm a Jew that I don't celebrate Christmas. Now let me tell you why I no longer observe this pagan holiday.
CHRISTMAS IS NOT IN THE BIBLE 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. Furthermore, we know from the Bible and church history that the apostles and the early church never celebrated Christ's birthday. The Bible tells us everything we need to know relative to our spiritual life (II Tim. 3:16). We don't have to go outside the Bible for anything. God's Word tells us how we're supposed to worship, how we’re supposed to conduct ourselves, how we're supposed to give money for the Lord's work, how to evangelize the lost, how to take 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.
Don't you think that if God had wanted us to observe Christmas, He would have told us about it in at least one place in the Bible? God's people are supposed to be Bible people. So the very fact that Christmas is never mentioned in the Bible is a sufficient reason why we shouldn't celebrate it. No one knows the exact day when Jesus was born, for the birthday of Jesus is a secret with God the Father, and God would have told us the exact day of His Son's birth if He wanted us to celebrate it!
UNSCRIPTURAL TRADITIONS There are many unscriptural traditions that have cluttered up the story of the birth of our wonderful Savior. 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. Nothing could be farther 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. If you will read Matthew 2:7-11carefully, you will see that the star led the wise men to Nazareth, not to the stable in Bethlehem where our Lord was born. Verse 9 tells us that they found Jesus in "the house" where He had lived with Mary and Joseph since He was forty-one days old (Luke 2:7, 21-39; Leviticus 12:4-6). This "house" was in Nazareth, the place where Joseph and Mary lived. It all becomes very simple if you will keep in mind that the shepherds came to Bethlehem and found an infant in a manger. The wise men were led to Nazareth and found a child living in a house. Herod knew that the Christ child was nearly two years old when he inquired of the wise men, and that's why he ordered all the children from two years old and under to be put to death (Matthew 2:16). So never confuse the visit of the shepherds and the visit of the wise men. They were two entirely separate and distinct events.
Another thing, there is nothing said in the Bible about three wise men coming to visit Christ. The fact is that the Bible does not give their number at all but merely states that there were wise men. There may have been two, there may have been three, there may have been four, there may have been a dozen - we don't know. Yet ninety-nine people out of a hundred think that there were three wise men. That's the way tradition has it. What does the Bible say? It simply says that, "magi (wise men) from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?'" (Matthew 2: 1-2)
CHRIST WAS NOT BORN IN WINTER That brings me to the next reason why I don't celebrate Christmas, and that is because Christ was not born on December 25th. Notice: "And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night." (Luke 2:8)
Now this verse tells us very plainly that 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. Now it is a well-known fact that December is the rainy season in Palestine and the sheep were kept in the fold at that time of the year. The shepherds always corralled and brought their flocks from the mountain sides and fields not later than October l5th, 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. Then, if you will turn to the second chapter of Luke, you will find that at the birth of Christ every woman and child was to go to be taxed at the city where they were citizens. This could not have been in winter. Augustus, the king of Rome, would certainly not call for such a taxing in the depth of winter. Therefore, Christ could not have been born in December. Actually, Christ was born sometime in the first part of October. This is deduced from the fact that His earthly ministry lasted three and a half years, and He was crucified on the l4th day 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 thirty 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.
Of course, the date of Jesus' birth is not all that 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, but we're worshiping a risen and exalted Christ who has all power in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18).
PAGAN ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS Of equal importance, I don't celebrate Christmas because Christmas is of heathen origin. Christmas started with the Sun worshipers in the time of Nimrod, the man who built the Tower of Babel.
I shall now quote from the Encyclopedia Americana, 1942 Edition, vol. 6, page 623, concerning its report of the origin of Christmas:
"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 remarkable persons rather than their birth. A feast was established in memory of the birth of the Savior 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. It went from Germany to Great Britain."
The Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say:
"Christmas (i.e., the Mass of Christ) was not among the earliest festivals of the church."
Any good encyclopedia will verify the fact that Christmas came out of paganism, that the exchanging of gifts, the making use of holly, the mistletoe and the yule log, the Christmas tree and the singing of carols, the dancing and the feasting are all of pagan origin and were all gradually grafted into the so-called "Christian" church during or after the fourth century A. D. Tertullian and others tell how the exchanging of gifts was a part of the Saturnalia celebration. The hymns that were sung at this pagan feast were predecessors to the Christmas carols.  "The wassailing bowl of Christmas had its precise counterpart in the 'Drunken festival' of Babylon; and many of the other observances still kept up among ourselves at Christmas came from the very same quarter. The candles, in some parts of England (and America), lighted on Christmas Eve, and used so long as the festive season lasts, were equally lighted by the Pagans on the eve of the festival of the Babylonian god, to do honor to him . . . The Christmas tree, now so common among us, was equally common in pagan Rome and pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm tree; in Rome it was the fir."
Roman Emperor Constantine, a brilliant military commander, had the genius to recognize that after declaring Christianity the "state" religion (Constantine forced all the pagans of his empire to be baptized into the Roman Church) there was need for true union between paganism and Christianity in his empire. The corrupt Roman Church was full of pagans now masquerading as Christians, all of which had to be pacified. What better way than to "Christianize" their pagan idolatries. The Constantine-led Roman Church was more than willing to adapt and adopt pagan practices in order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen. Constantine used religion as a political tool, totally devoid of any true spirituality:
1. Pagan rituals and idols took on Christian names (e.g., Jesus Christ was presented as the Sun of Righteousness [Malachi 4:2] replacing the sun god, Sol Invictus). 2. Pagan holidays were reclassified as Christian holidays (holy-days). 3. December 25th was the "Victory of the Sun-God" festival in the pagan Babylonian world. In the ancient Roman Empire, the celebration can be traced back to the Roman festival Saturnalia, which honored Saturn, the harvest god, and Mithras, the god of light; both were celebrated during or shortly after the winter solstice (between the 17th and 23rd of December). To all ancient pagan civilizations, December 25th was the birthday of the gods -- the time of year when the days began to lengthen and man was blessed with a "regeneration of nature." Moreover, all of December 25th's Babylonian and Roman festivals were characterized by 5-7 day celebration periods of unrestrained or orgiastic revelry and licentiousness.
In order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen, the Roman Church simply took Saturnalia, adopted it into Christianity, and then eventually many of the associated pagan symbols, forms, customs, and traditions were reinterpreted (i.e., "Christianized") in ways "acceptable" to the Christian faith and practice. (In fact, in 375 A.D., the Church of Rome under Pope Julius I, merely announced that the birth date of Christ had been "discovered" to be December 25th, and was accepted as such by the "faithful." The festival of Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithras could now be celebrated as the birthday of Christ!) The pagans flocked into the Catholic places of worship, because they were still able to worship their old gods, but merely under different names. It mattered not to them whether they worshiped the Egyptian goddess mother and her child under the old names (Isis and Horus), or under the names of the "Virgin Mary" and the "Christ-child." Either way, it was the same old idol-religion (cf. 1 Thes. 1:8-10; 5:22 -- Paul says to turn from idols, not rename them and Christianize them). Roman Catholicism's Christmas Day is nothing but "baptized" paganism, having come along much too late to be part of "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3)
Now, beloved, God's people are not supposed to have anything to do with pagan customs or pagan doctrine. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 10: 2, "Do not learn the way of the nations." But somehow Christians have learned it just the same. 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." Oh, yes we can! Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) There is only one righteous thing that we can do with pagan holidays and that is to repudiate them and have no part in them. The virgin birth of Christ is a blessed fact, but the Christmas celebration is a wicked and an ungodly thing.
CHRISTMAS A CATHOLIC HOLIDAY Another reason why I don't celebrate Christmas is that 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. Sometimes you hear the slogan, "Let's put Christ back into Christmas." Well, beloved, how can you put Christ back into something when He was never there in the first place?
Even the name "Christmas" is an abomination to the Lord. Christmas is a combination of two words, "Christ" and "Mass." Christ is the divine title of our Lord. "Mass" is the Roman Catholic Eucharistic rite consisting of prayers and ceremonies centered on the consecration of bread and wine as a real though mystical re-enactment of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. They believe that in this rite the bread and wine become the literal flesh and blood of Jesus, to be eaten and drunk for the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. Certainly born-again Christians shouldn't have anything to do with masses. Every time you say "Merry Christmas," you are actually mixing the precious and holy name of Christ with the idolatrous Roman Catholic rite. How can we as born-again believers tell people to have a merry Christ-mass? The Lord tells us in no unmistakable language in Matthew 12:36-37, “every carless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” and in Ezekiel 20: 39, "Go, serve everyone his idols; but later you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols."
THE WORLD AND CHRISTMAS The next reason why I don't celebrate Christmas is that Christmas is of the world. We are commanded in I John 2: 15 “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” One fact alone proves to me that Christmas is not of God. It is this: The world which hates Christ and His blood atonement for sin makes more fuss about Christmas than any other holiday. Now beloved, if December twenty fifth were really the birthday of Jesus, don't you know that the world would have nothing to do with it? More people get drunk at Christmas than at any other time during the year. There are more big parties and more selfish spending at Christmas than at any other season. Doesn't that prove that it's of the world and not of God? If it were of God, the world wouldn't have anything to do with it. The very fact that the world observes it proves that it isn't of God. People throughout the world, who for the most part have no 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. Let's face it, the world is married to the idol of Christmas. Furthermore, Jesus said, “That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)
WHAT ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS TREE? I do not celebrate Christmas because the Christmas tree is condemned by the Bible.
"Thus says the LORD, do not learn the way of the nations . . . For the customs of that people are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter . . . But they are altogether stupid and foolish in their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood!” Jeremiah 10: 2-4, 8
Here you have a perfect description of the Christmas tree, called by God "the way of the nations." We are commanded not to learn that way or follow it. 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 some of them will sit up all night and look at that old Christmas tree.
The first decorating of an evergreen was done by pagans in honor of their god Adonis, who after being slain was brought to life by the serpent Aesculapius. The representation of the slain Adonis was a dead stump of a tree. Around this stump coiled the snake -- Aesculapius, symbol of life restoring. From the roots of the dead tree, then comes forth another and different tree -- an evergreen tree, symbolic to pagans of a god who cannot die! In Babylon, the evergreen tree came to represent the rebirth/reincarnation of Nimrod as his new son (Sun), Tammuz. In Egypt, this god was worshiped in a palm tree as Baal-Tamar. (Heathen people in the land of Canaan also adopted tree worship, calling it the Asherah -- a tree with its branches cut off was carved into a phallic symbol.) The fir tree was worshiped in Rome as the same new-born god, named Baal-Berith, who was restored to life by the same serpent. A feast was held in honor of him on December 25th, observed as the day on which the god reappeared on earth -- he had been killed, and was "reborn" on that day, victorious over death! It was called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun." Thus, the annual custom of erecting and decorating evergreen trees was brought down to us through the centuries by the pagan Roman Catholic Church -- the paganism of Tammuz and Baal, or the worship of the sun, mingled with the worship of Aesculapius the serpent. Whether erected in private homes or in churches, decorated or not, the evergreen tree is a glaring symbol of this false god. I'd like to leave this little thought with you. Did you know that the green tree is mentioned fourteen 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 evergreen in connection with true worship.
MERRYMAKING AND GIFTS Without question, the most important part of Christmas for most people is buying and exchanging gifts. Now beloved, I do not celebrate Christmas because the custom of exchanging gifts has nothing to do with the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ. When people exchange gifts, they're not bringing them to Christ; they're giving them to one another. Jesus is supposed to be the cause of Christmas, and yet people give their gifts to everybody but Jesus. So many gifts are bought by people who can’t afford them, for people who don’t need them, all with the expectation of receiving something in return.
Perhaps one may be 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. The Shepherds came to visit Jesus at His birth, but the Wise Men came to see Him nearly two years later.
Are you aware of the fact that giving gifts to a king was a common custom in the Far East? That's the reason why the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus – because he had been born to be King of the Jews. But they were not birthday gifts. So there is no connection between Christmas and the birthday of Jesus in this respect.
Every time some conscientious parents raise this question, "Don't you think we ought to give the children a good time?” they don't understand. Let me ask you this question, parents – is it necessary to drag the holy name of our blessed Lord down to the low level of fleshly gratification, drunkenness, materialism, and covetousness to show our children a good time? A thousand times, No! Let's teach our children the truth about Christmas. God's Word says to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), and why should we dishonor the name of Christ in such a manner under the pretense of showing the children a good time?
Beloved, anyone with any sense at all ought to be able to see that Christmas is good for only one thing – to make money for the department stores and the business merchants. Any simpleton should be able to see that Christmas makes dollars, and dollars make Christmas. But, does it make any sense?
The closest reference to Christmas in the Bible is during antichrist's reign after the death of God’s two prophets. As a result of the death of these prophets, the world will be so delighted and thrilled that they will make merry and exchange gifts with one another. Here is what the Bible says,
"And those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those that dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth." Revelation 11:9-10
SANTA CLAUS It is very clear that there isn't a single thing connected with Christmas that is Biblical. Let's take Santa Claus as another example. The name Santa Claus is a corruption of the name Saint Nicholas (a dead, venerated Roman Catholic saint). And yet thousands of parents will encourage their children to write to dear old St. Nick or dear Santa. Now if you're a Christian, you should be ashamed of yourself if you lie to your children by telling them that there is a Santa Claus. Through the year you punish your children for lying, and then you turn right around and lie yourself by telling your children that there is a Santa Claus. The Bible says in Colossians 3:9 "Do not lie to one another." We are commanded in Ephesians 4:25, ". . . laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR . . ."
WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 14? “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make Him stand. One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. ” Romans 14:4-5
So often you will hear Christians reference these verses in an effort to justify celebrating Christmas. These verses in no way justify celebrating a holy day that is pagan, Catholic, and a lie. The day(s) the Lord has in mind here are those days which were outlined for worship under the Law. In the early church there was a transitional period of shifting from the old covenant worship to the new. Many of the early Jewish believers still honored the holy days and at that time they were not to be judged for doing so, but also they were not to impose them on the new Gentile converts since these days were not a part of the new covenant and would eventually become obsolete. Hebrews 8:13 tells us, “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” To the Christian there are no special holy days. Yes, I am glad to serve a real, living Christ who lives all year round. Let us as born-again Christians use our money this season of the year, not for foolish and unnecessary presents, but to spread the Gospel message to this lost and dying world. Oh, Christian, I beseech you, turn from the world and its unholy days, touch not the unclean thing; associate not the birth of the holy Son of God with the fables of the world and apostate Christendom. Hear His pleading voice, "Do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you." (II Corinthians 6:17) And again, “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) And, “Little children guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)
 Hislop, Alexander, The Two Babylons, pp. 97  Biblical Discernment Ministries, Should A Christian Celebrate Christmas, pp. 2-3  Biblical Discernment Ministries, Should A Christian Celebrate Christmas?, pp.6