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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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THE WATCHTOWER DECEMBER 2015

 OUR READERS ASK . . .

What Is Wrong With Christmas Customs?

What Is Wrong With Christmas Customs?

Christmas has long been described as a traditional Christian festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Many of the customs used in this celebration, however, make us wonder how they came to be associated with Jesus’ birth in the first place.

For one thing, there is the myth of Santa Claus. The modern-day jolly, white-bearded, rosy-cheeked, red-suited Santa is known to have been a successful Christmas advertisement created for a North American beverage company in 1931. During the 1950’s, some Brazilians tried to replace Santa Claus with a native legendary figure—Grandpa Indian. The result? Santa Claus not only defeated Grandpa Indian but even “defeated the child Jesus and became the official representative of the feast of December 25,” says Professor Carlos E. Fantinati. But are myths such as Santa Claus the only problem with Christmas? For the answer, let us go back to early Christianity.

“During the first two centuries of Christianity there was strong opposition to recognizing birthdays of martyrs or, for that matter, of Jesus,” states the Encyclopedia Britannica. Why? Christians viewed birthday celebrations as a pagan custom, something to be avoided altogether. In fact, no mention of the date of Jesus’ birth can be found in the Bible.

In the fourth century C.E., despite the stand taken by the early Christians against the custom of celebrating birthdays, the Catholic Church instituted Christmas. The church wanted to strengthen its position by removing one of the main obstacles in its way—the popularity of the pagan Roman religions and their winter solstice festivals. Each year, from December 17 through January 1, “most Romans feasted, gamed, reveled, paraded, and joined in other festivities as they paid homage to their deities,” says Christmas in America, by Penne L. Restad. And on December 25, the Romans celebrated the birth of the Invincible Sun. Instituting Christmas on that day, the church cajoled many Romans into celebrating the birth of Jesus instead of the birth of the sun. Romans “were still able to enjoy the trappings of these midwinter festivals,” says Santa Claus, a Biography, by Gerry Bowler. In reality, they “continued to mark the new days with old ways.”

Clearly, then, the main problem with Christmas celebrations lies in their unsavory origins. In his book The Battle for Christmas, Stephen Nissenbaum refers to Christmas as “nothing but a pagan festival covered with a Christian veneer.” Christmas, therefore, dishonors God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Is this just a trivial matter? The Bible asks: “What fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) Like the trunk of a tree that has grown crooked, Christmas is so twisted that it “cannot be made straight.”Ecclesiastes 1:15.

Learn More

What Does the Bible Say About Christmas?

The history of six popular Christmas customs may surprise you.

Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?

Many people celebrate Christmas despite knowing its origins. Find out why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t.