Recently, a minister of one of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God organizations was quoted in the press as saying that Christmas was a “secular holiday.” Subsequently, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported that, according to the Pope, Christmas was “a Christian feast.” To explain its “Christian nature,” the Pope stated that Christmas “symbols, especially the Nativity scene and the tree hung with gifts, are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus.” He added that the “ancient fir” or Christmas tree “is an important symbol of Christ’s Nativity because with its evergreen leaves it recalls the life that does not die.”
So who is right–newscasters and commentators who refer to Christmas as a “secular” or “national holiday,” or religious leaders who emphasize the “Christian nature” of Christmas? Surprising to many, perhaps, the answer is, neither is correct.
Christmas is not a secular holiday. It is clearly religious–even though in our modern civilized Western world, commercialism and other mundane secular activities may have, in many cases, covered or hidden the religious nature and character of Christmas. But to say that the second-most important feast of orthodox Christianity (Easter being regarded as the most important feast) is merely a secular observance, misunderstands the roots and origins of Christmas–and plays into the hands of advocates who want to keep Christmas celebrations alive even amongst those who object to them on religious grounds.
Christmas is not a Christian Holy Day either–at least not in the way in which the Bible defines true Christianity. A true Christian is one in whom Christ’s Spirit dwells (Romans 8:9)–a true Christian obeys Christ (John 15:14), believes and abides in His Word and follows His lead (John 8:31; 1 Peter 2:21). And Christ–the spoken and written Word of God (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1-3; Revelation 19:1-3)–commanded His followers NOT to keep Christmas. The reasons for this prohibition are many, as fully explained in our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
Christmas is a religious holiday, all right–but it is pagan to the core. It did not originate with Christ’s birth. Gentiles already observed it in honor of their pagan gods long before Christ’s First Coming. The ancient Christmas tree was used in those pagan celebrations for the purpose of worshipping pagan gods. In fact, pagans believed that their particular god changed into a tree–that he was living in that tree–hence the decoration of the fir tree with gifts in honor of that pagan god (who was known in different cultures under different names, such as Mythra, Attis, Dionysus, Marduk, Baal and Nimrod). These are FACTS–if one cares to know. And the Bible condemns and ridicules the Gentile custom of cutting a tree and decorating it with gold and silver (compare Jeremiah 10:1-5).
The truth is the truth–and no label, pro or con, changes the facts. Christmas is not a secular or national holiday, but it is a religious festival; however, it is pagan, not truly Christian. To use pagan practices, in honor of pagan gods, and apply them to the worship of Christ is in direct violation of Christ’s explicit commands (compare Deuteronomy 12:29-32). Christ said that we worship Him in vain, if we do this (compare Mark 7:6-9).
Here is your challenge: Whom do you want to believe–a man and man-made traditions… or the Jesus Christ of your Bible? For a true Christian, the answer should be obvious.