Millions of people worldwide celebrate Christmas for various reasons. Some enjoy festive times with friends and family. Others think about God or devote time to helping the poor or needy. By themselves, these are undoubtedly worthy deeds. However, they are clouded by the dark side of this holiday.
First, many celebrants believe that Christmas is a birthday celebration for Jesus. However, historians widely concur that the date of his birth is unknown. The Christian Book of Why notes that “the early Christians refused to set aside a date marking Jesus’ birth” because they wanted “to divorce themselves from all pagan practices.” Interestingly, the Bible gives no indication that Jesus ever celebrated his own birthday or anyone else’s. In contrast, he did command his followers to commemorate his death.
Second, many scholars agree that most Christmas traditions have their roots in non-Christian and pagan customs. These include Santa Claus, as well as using mistletoe and the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, burning candles and Yule logs, hanging decorative wreaths, and caroling. Regarding some of these customs, the book The Externals of the Catholic Church observed: “When we give or receive Christmas gifts, and hang green wreaths in our homes and churches, how many of us know that we are probably observing pagan customs?”
“When we give or receive Christmas gifts, and hang green wreaths in our homes and churches, how many of us know that we are probably observing pagan customs?”
You, though, may wonder what is wrong with following these seemingly innocent customs. Consider this third point as an answer. God does not approve of the blending of pagan customs with pure worship. Through His prophet Amos, Jehovah God said to His wayward worshippers in ancient Israel: “I hate, I despise your festivals . . . Spare me the din of your songs.”
Why such strong words? Consider what the people of the northern kingdom of ancient Israel were doing. Their first king, Jeroboam, placed golden calves in the cities of Dan and Bethel and induced the people to worship these rather than to worship Jehovah God properly at the temple in Jerusalem. The king also instituted festivals and appointed priests to help the people celebrate them.
What those Israelites did was seemingly for a good cause. After all, were they not doing all these things in the name of worshipping God and pleasing him? God’s strong words through Amos and other prophets indicate clearly just how God felt about such practices. Through the prophet Malachi, God said: “I am Jehovah; I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) Does that not tell us how God feels about the many Christmas celebrations today?
After considering the above facts, millions of people have decided to abstain from celebrating Christmas. Instead, they find joy and true satisfaction in spending time with their friends and family and in helping the poor and needy whenever they wish throughout the year.
Many people celebrate Christmas despite knowing its origins. Find out why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t.
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