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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English

THE WATCHTOWER DECEMBER 2012

 Our Readers Ask . . .

Why Do Some People Not Celebrate Christmas?

Around the world, nearly two billion people celebrate Christmas each December 25, while at least 200 million others celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on January 7. However, there are also millions who choose not to celebrate Christmas at all. Why?

For one thing, they may belong to a religion that is not part of Christendom. They may be of the Jewish, Hindu, or Shinto faith, to name a few. Others, such as atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, or secular humanists, view the Christmas story as a myth.

Surprisingly, though, a sizable number of people who believe in Jesus reject the Yuletide traditions. Why? They point to at least four reasons.

First, they do not believe that Jesus was born in either December or January. The Bible does not give a specific date. It simply states: “There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks. And suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood by them, and . . . the angel said to them: ‘. . . There was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”Luke 2:8-11.

Facts point to Jesus’ birth at approximately the beginning of October when shepherds with their flocks would still spend the night in the fields. The countryside around Bethlehem experiences the coldest weather during the months of December and January. Hence, to keep them warm at night, flocks are herded into protective shelters.

A second reason: The only event Jesus specifically instructed his followers to commemorate was his death, not his birth, and this was to be done as a simple communion meal. (Luke 22:19, 20) Note, too, that the Gospels of Mark and John are silent about Jesus’ birth.

The only event Jesus specifically instructed his followers to commemorate was his death, not his birth

A third reason: There is no historical evidence that the early Christians celebrated the birth of the Christ. But they did memorialize his death. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) It was not until more than 300 years after Jesus’ birth that Christendom officially began to observe Christmas on December 25. Interestingly, in the mid-17th century, an act of parliament banned Christmas celebrations in England. In the United States, the Massachusetts General Court did the same. Why? The book The Battle for Christmas, says: “There is no biblical or historical reason to place the birth of Jesus on December 25.” It adds that to the Puritans, “Christmas was nothing but a pagan festival covered with a Christian veneer.”

That brings us to a fourth reason: The unsavory origin of the celebration itself. The roots of Christmas can be traced back to pagan Rome with its mixture of festivals for honoring the agricultural god Saturn and the sun god Sol Invictus, or Mithra. Anthropologists Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling, coauthors of the book Pagan Christmas, write: “Like many pre-Christian customs and beliefs, the old feast commemorating the yearly return of the sun was rededicated to the birth of Christ.”

In view of the foregoing, can you see why true Christians do not celebrate Christmas?