With regard to the “holidays” of Christmas and Easter, there has long been a debate for whatever reason: Should Christians celebrate them? Typically these discussions involve a passionate Believer that has actually studied how these “holidays” became “Christian festivals” who then, out of a genuine conviction to see people follow God and The Bible, presents the information to your average “Christian”.
This is followed by responses like: “That’s not what it means to me” or “God knows my heart”. Let me ask you a question: Does it matter what it means to us or what it means to God? Consider what Jeremiah 17:9 (TLV) says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and incurable—who can know it?” Think about that, people are saying that they are following their heart and God says your heart is wicked and deceitful!
I want to do something a little different. In this article I will not have a lot to say. I will let the citations speak for themselves.
First I want to list several passaged of Scripture. As you read through the list of academic citations that follow these passages from The Bible, I want you to keep these verses in mind. I want you to meditate on them. Perhaps you should write them down and keep them next to you as you read through the quotes that follow pertaining to Christmas and Easter.
What will follow will primarily be scholarly sources, such as Bible Dictionaries, Bible Encyclopedias, History writings, secular Encyclopedias, and a few quotes from some of the most highly regarded Christian Pastors of modern Christian history. I’ll add some brief commentary or notes as needed, but for the most part I want to keep my own thoughts out of this and simply allow the works of the best scholars in the world on these two “holidays” speak for themselves.
I want you to also notice that many of these citations are dated. Many of these sources are from long before there was an Internet and the sensational claims of groups like the Hebrew Roots Movement. I’m not making unfounded claims that Easter is in any way connected to ancient Babylonian Ishtar worship or that Christmas comes from ancient worship of Nimrod. While there may be some similarities, there is no evidence that Christmas and Easter are connected to these ancient forms of paganism.
The fact is that both Christmas and Easter as practiced by a majority of Christians today are post-resurrection inventions. In fact, they didn’t even exist for hundreds of years after the ministry of Yeshua and later the Apostles who wrote what most people call the “New Testament”. As we will see, the best evidence points not to ancient Babylon or Egypt (though some of the symbols of these times may go back that far, according to some sources listed in this study). But most of the more valid claims connect these “holidays” to paganism that was prominent at the time period when Christians in the early Roman Catholic system created them, primarily Roman and Norse-Germanic religion.
There are some who have seemingly decided to rethink “attacking” Christmas and Easter for various reasons, having found other modern sources that question the alleged “pagan origins” of these two “holidays”. They have also compiled their lists, and they are good lists with good information. If anything, based on what I am sharing here, it seems to only take the matter from “these festivals are absolutely pagan” to “maybe they are, maybe they aren’t”. All I ask is that you consider the list here, compare it with those made by others, and ask yourself if even a “maybe” is worth risking doing something displeasing to God.
My purpose in putting this out is not to “prove” anything. This matter simply cannot be proven conclusively one way or the other. Thus, my purpose is simply to provide information, encourage research, and push people to draw their own common sense conclusion on the matter.
With that, let’s proceed to go through these passages from Scripture. Please don’t skip over these verses or casually skim them. I really want you to think about them when you start getting into the meat of this issue. Let’s begin.
Deuteronomy 12:29-31 (NLT) When the Lord your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land, do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example.’ You must not worship the Lord your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the Lord hates.
Judges 21:25 (TLV) In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Jeremiah 10:2 (TLV) Thus says Adonai: “Do not learn the way of the nations…”
Proverbs 14:12 (TLV) There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Malachi 3:6 (TLV) For I am Adonai. I do not change…
Hebrews 13:8 (TLV) Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Exodus 23:2 (TLV) Do not follow a crowd to do evil.
Psalms 97:10 (TLV) You who love Adonai, hate evil!
Joshua 24:14-15 (TLV) “Now therefore, fear Adonai and worship Him in sincerity and in truth. Get rid of the gods that your fathers had worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and worship Adonai. If it seems bad to you to worship Adonai, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve—whether the gods that your fathers worshipped that were beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will worship Adonai!””
“pascha (3957), mistranslated “Easter” in Acts 12:4, KJV, denotes the Passover (RV). The phrase “after the Passover” signifies after the whole festival was at an end. The term ‘Easter’ is not of Christian origin. It is another form of Astarte, one of the titled of the Chaldean goddess, the queen of heaven. The festival of Pasch held by Christians in post-apostolic times was a continuation of the Jewish feast, but was not instituted by Christ, nor was it connected to Lent. From this Pasch the pagan festival of ‘Easter’ was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt pagan festivals to Christianity.”
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words (W.E. Vine, 1996)
“Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observances.”
The Reckoning Of Time (Bede, 725 A.D.)
“Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic (Germanic) goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor. As early as the eighth century, the name was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
The only appearance of the word Easter (KJV) is a mistranslation of pascha, the ordinary Greek word for ‘Passover’ (Acts 12:4).”
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Ronald F. Youngblood, 1986/2014)
EASTER (Gk. pascha, from Heb. pesah) The Passover (which see), and so translated in every passage except the KJV: “intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4). In the earlier English versions Easter had been frequently used as the translation of pascha. At the last revision Passover was substituted in all passages but this. See PASSOVER.
The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honor sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo-Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.”
Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Merrill F. Unger, 1957)
“Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. The sponsors in some countries give Easter eggs to their god-children. Coloured eggs are used by children at Easter in a sort of game which consists in testing the strength of the shells (Kraus, Real-Encyklop die, s. v. Ei). Both coloured and uncoloured eggs are used in some parts of the United States for this game, known as “egg-picking”. Another practice is the “egg-rolling” by children on Easter Monday on the lawn of the White House in Washington.
The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simrock, Mythologie, 551).”
The Catholic Encyclopedia (Charles G. Herbermann, 1907)
“The term Easter was derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Eostre,’ the name of the goddess of spring. In her honor sacrifices were offered at the time of the vernal equinox. By the 8th century the term came to be applied to the anniversary of Christ’s resurrection.”
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 1915/1982)
“The conception of the egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of colouring and eating eggs during their spring festival.”
Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 7 (Walter Yust, 1954)
“The hare, the symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt, a symbol that was kept later in Europe, is not found in North America. Its place is taken by the Easter rabbit, the symbol of fertility and periodicity both human and lunar, accredited with laying eggs in nests prepared for it at Easter or with hiding them away for children to find.”
The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 4 (1992)
“The hare has been celebrated as a symbol of fertility in many cultures throughout recorded history. Throughout Western celebrations, the hare or rabbit has been attached to the Resurrection of the Savior of the world. Exactly how this connection has come to be varies within cultures, but all are from outside the Bible.
A problematic aspect of the hare in our modern culture comes from the promise of treats to boys and girls who have been good. Not too unlike Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny magically and mysteriously appears in the middle of the night to hide a basket filled with candy for the child. Sadly, rather than waking to a morning focused on celebrating Christ’s victory over death and our assurance of faith in Him (1 Corinthians 15:13–17), the focus is on selfishly seeking a hidden basket of sweets. I ask you to question whether this is a wise practice for your family and yet to reserve judging those who choose to participate in such activities (Romans 14). Every Christian would do well to consider whether this type of activity leads to exalting Christ as Lord and Savior and to make that goal the measure of their decision whether to participate in egg hunts and the like.
Like the hare, eggs have also been a symbol of fertility cults and pagan rituals around the world. The coloring of eggs is common to many of these rituals. Many Christians across the globe have incorporated the use of eggs into their celebrations but with no specific biblical command to do so. While eggs have been symbols of the rebirth of the earth each spring in paganism, Christians have viewed the egg as a symbol of resurrection. From the apparently dead egg springs forth new life in the form of a chick. This raises an interesting question: If an object or action is used in pagan worship, can it ever be used to worship God? Answering this question is at the heart of the discussion over how to celebrate the Resurrection.”
Are the Symbols and Customs of Easter of Pagan Origin? (Roger Patterson, 2011, published by Answers In Genesis) –
“The custom of a sunrise service on Easter Sunday can be traced to ancient spring festivals that celebrated the rising sun.” (NOTE: I have not currently verified this citation, but I include it because it appears it is probably valid and leads to the Scripture presented next.)
The New Book Of Knowledge Encyclopedia
Ezekiel 8:16 (TLV) So He brought me into the inner court of Adonai’s House. Behold, at the door of the Temple of Adonai, between the porch and the altar, were about 25 men, with their backs toward the Temple of Adonai and their faces toward the east—and they were bowing in worship eastward toward the sun.
“Many have argued that the way in which the Eucharist became the central service for Christians, a rather mysterious ‘rite’ to which only the initiated (those who had been baptized) were welcome, closely paralleled the mystery religions. Some of the paraphernalia of the mystery cults became used by the Christians: white robes for people being baptized, candles and so on. Baptisms were conducted during night before Easter Day, another ‘secretive’ practice similar to the initiation rites of the mystery religions. Like those of the mystery cults, the Christian rites became associated with special places. Just as the mystery religions used holy temples or other locations, so too the Christians, by the third century, were using purpose-built churches – rather than people’s houses – to hold their services. There was a corresponding sense that these churches were holy, that the tables upon which the Eucharist was celebrated were altars, and that the ceremony had special powers.”
Zondervan Handbook To The History Of Christianity (Jonathan Hill, 2006)
“Coven/Household—Culturally speaking, we see public Easter egg hunts and games designed to promote community. Why not? After all, not only are those eggs a symbol of the animal fertility associated with this Holiday, but the very practice of hunting those eggs comes from the ancient practice of hunting for eggs and nuts to be given as gifts of fertility. Today, some of the largest of these community egg hunts are often held at local zoos. What better way of sharing the true Pagan meaning of this celebration with our children?”
A Wiccan Bible: Exploring the Mysteries of the Craft From Birth to Summerland (A.J. Drew, 2003)
Take a moment and think about these last two citations. Mystery religions, the mystery cult, Wicca. I mean, have Christians completely lost their minds? I know most are totally ignorant of these things, but most “Pastors” have at least at some point been made aware of these things.
These next two quotes relate to both Christmas and Easter, so I am including them here before going into quotes directed primarily toward Christmas.
“The beginning of God’s year is not January 1, the birthday of His Son is not December 25, and Resurrection Day is not Easter.”
God’s End-Time Calendar (Rod Parsley, 2015)
“When any of our readers are about to purchase a new Bible, we should be glad if they would drop a post-card to Mr. Herendeen of Swengel, Union Co., Pa., asking him for prices. This Brother is engaged in the work of the Lord, being a manager of the Bible Truth Depot, which is seeking to send forth only that which is honouring to God. He can give you a favourable rate on either cheap or inexpensive bindings. Every little helps. Give him your order, and thus support a real work of God. Mr. Herendeen refuses orders for religious fiction, “Christmas” and “Easter” cards, and other Christ-dishonouring things. He ought to have the support of all who value faithfulness to God.”
Studies In The Scriptures – 1932-1933, Volume 6 of 17, (A.W. Pink, published 2001, from an advertisement article titled Ordering Bibles)
Think about that for a moment. There once was a day when a Bible salesman who refused to sell Christmas and Easter cards because they dishonor God and he got the endorsement in a Christian publication that today is still one of the leading theology resources.
“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas, first because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. Fabricius gives a catalogue of 136 different learned opinions upon the matter; and various divines invent weighty arguments for advocating a date in every month in the year. It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; while, since the day of the death of our Saviour might be determined with much certainty, therefore superstition shifts the date of its observance every year. Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December.”
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Sermons, Parts 189-200 (Charles H. Spurgeon, December 24, 1871)
“When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then.
It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubic, ‘Is this a law of the God of Jacob?’ And if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.”
The Treasury of David: Spurgeon’s Classic Work on the Psalms (Charles H. Spurgeon, 1968)
NOTE: Whitsuntide is the Roman Catholic replacement festival for Shavuot (The Day of Pentecost).
“Those who follow the custom of observing Christmas, follow not the Bible but pagan ceremonies.”
Quote often attributed to Charles H. Spurgeon
“Among the harmful abuses of the Christmas season in America is the substitution of Santa Claus for Christ as the chief object of popular interest, especially among the children.
The morality of Mother Goose stories and fairy tales has been questioned by serious-minded Christian parents, but my opinion is that these are relatively harmless because they are told as fiction and the child is fully aware that they are imaginary. With Santa Claus it is not so. The child is taught falsehood as sober truth and is thus grossly deceived during the most sensitive and formative period of his life.
What shall we do? Cultivate humility and frugality. Put the emphasis where the Bible puts it, on the Christ at the right hand of God, not on the babe in the manger. Return to the simplicity that is in Christ. Cleanse our churches of the unscriptural pageantry borrowed from Rome. Take the Scriptures as our guide and refuse to be pressured into conformity to paganism practiced in the name of Christ.”
Warfare Of The Spirit: Religious Ritual Versus The Presence Of The Indwelling Christ (A.W. Tozer, 1993)
“During the period dating from the earliest general celebrations of Christmas, numerous customs have been introduced into the event. Originally, it appears that a special religious ceremony marked the occasion. Gradually a number of the prevailing practices of the nations into which Christianity came were assimilated and were combined with the religious ceremonies surrounding Christmas. The assimilation of such practices generally represented efforts by Christians to transform or absorb otherwise pagan customs.
The Feast of Saturnalia in early Rome, for example, was celebrated for 7 days from the 17th to the 24th of December and was marked by a spirit of merriment, gift giving to children and other forms of entertainment. Gradually, early Christians replaced the pagan feast with the celebration of Christmas; But many of the traditions of this observance were assimilated and remain to this day a part of the observance of Christmas. Other nations—such as the Scandinavians, Germans, French, English—have left their mark on the observance as well. Some groups refrain from celebrating Christmas on the grounds that the introduction of pagan practices has destroyed the original significance of the event. They cite the use of Christmas trees and the yule log, among other things, as examples of the paganization of Christmas. Yet many Christians contend that such practices no longer bear pagan connotations, and believe that the observance of Christmas provides an opportunity for worship and witness bearing.”
The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 1: Revised Full-Color Edition (Merrill C. Tenney, 1975/2010)
Notice that this citation ends by pointing out that many Christians say that because these things “no longer bear pagan connotations” that they are somehow useful to worship God and attract potential converts. I will remind you that this is specifically what Deuteronomy 12 tells us NOT TO DO.
“Various symbolic elements of the pagan celebration, such as the lighting of candles, evergreen decorations and the giving of gifts, were adapted to Christian signification. Later as Christianity spread into northern Europe, the Celtic, Teutonic, and Slavic winter festivals contributed holly, mistletoe, the Christmas tree, bonfires, and similar items.”
The Christian Encyclopedia
“Several non-Christian elements have crept into the observance of Christmas. The use of lighted tapers reminds us of the Jewish feast of purification. The giving of presents was a Roman custom, whereas the yule tree and yule log are remnants of old Teutonic nature worship. Gradually the festival sank into mere revelry. In England an abbot of misrule was chosen in every large household; in Scotland an abbot of unreason, who was master of the house during the festival. The custom was forbidden by an act of parliament in 1555; and the Reformation brought in a refinement in the celebration of Christmas by emphasizing its Christian elements.”
Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Merrill F. Unger, 1957)
NOTE: While Unger refers to a Jewish custom as non-Christian, it should be considered that Christianity is founded on the Hebrew faith and a Jewish/Hebrew custom or tradition is not “pagan”, unless it is otherwise traced to an original pagan religion—such as when we read about Israel adopting practices like raising Asherah poles, building altars to Baal, burning incense in high places, and molding golden calves, as recorded in the Books of Kings.
“The transition from festivals commemorating the birth of a sun god to a celebration ostensibly for the Son of God occurred sometime in the fourth century. Unable to eradicate the heathen celebration of Saturnalia, the Church of Rome, sometime before 336 A.D., designated a Feast of the Nativity to be observed.”
The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church (James Dixon Douglas, 1978, from Christmas by James Taylor)
“Many of the customs associated with Christmas also took their origins from the heathen observances. The exchanging of gifts, extravagant merriment, and lighting of candles all have previous counterparts in the Roman Saturnalia. The use of trees harkens back to the pagan Scandinavian festival of Yule.”
The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church (James Dixon Douglas, 1978, from Christmas by James Taylor)
“The influence of the Saturnalia upon the celebrations of Christmas and the New Year has been direct. The fact that Christmas was celebrated on the birthday of the unconquered sun (dies solis invicti nati) gave the season a solar background, connected with the kalends of January (January 1, the Roman New Year) when houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and presents were given to children and the poor. Concerning the gift candles, the Romans had a story that an old prophecy bade the earliest inhabitants of Latium send heads to Hades and phota to Saturn. The ancient Latins interpreted this to mean human sacrifices, but, according to legend, Hercules advised using lights (phos means “light” or “man” according to accent) and not human heads.”
Encyclopedia Britannica (Online Article titled Saturnalia: Roman Festival)
“One of the best-known festivals of ancient Rome was the Saturnalia, a winter festival celebrated on December 17-24. Because it was a time of wild merrymaking and domestic celebrations, businesses, schools, and law courts were closed so that the public could feast, dance, gamble, and generally enjoy itself to the fullest. December 25 – the birthday of Mithra, the Iranian god of light, and a day devoted to the invincible sun, as well as the day after Saturnalia – was adopted by the church as Christmas, the nativity of Christ, to counteract the effects of these festivals.”
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 7 (1983)
“Christmas, the feast of Christ’s birth, observed by the Christian Church annually on the 25th of December. 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. The death of the martyr Stephen, and the massacre of the innocents at Bethlehem, had been already long celebrated, when, perhaps in opposition to the doctrine of the Manichaeans respecting the birth of the Savior, a feast was established in memory of this event in the 4th century. In the 5th century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the Roman feast of the birth of Sol, though no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed. Among the German and Celtic tribes the winter solstice was considered an important point of the year, and they held their chief festival of Yule to commemorate the return of the burnind-wheel. The holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log, and the wassail bowl relate more to paganism than to Christianity. ”
The Encyclopedia Americana: A General Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences, Literature, History, Biography, Geography, Etc., Of The World (Fredrick Converse Beach, 1904)
“The idea of using evergreens at Christmas also came to England from pre-Christian northern European beliefs. Celtic and Teutonic tribes honored these plants at their winter solstice festivals as symbolic of eternal life, and the Druids ascribed magical properties to the mistletoe in particular.”
The Encyclopedia Americana International Edition (Scholastic Library Publishing, 2005)
NOTE: This citation from The Encyclopedia Americana International Edition is from page 666. Coincidence? Maybe. But even with all the citations being provided, what are the odds that any of these quotes attributing these holidays to satanic religious practices outside of Judeo-Christian faith would be on page 666 of their source? Something to think about.
“Even our Christmas tree, which originally made its way into England and France principally through the influence of Prince Albert and the Duchess Helena of Orleans, is really nothing but a survival of an ancient German custom of heathen origin, and we may safely disregard the foolish theory of its being Christian because the 24th of December chances to be consecrated to Adam and Eve.”
The New Standard Encyclopedia, Volume 9 (William A. Colledge, Nathan Haskell Dole, George J. Hagar, 1903)
“The earliest certain mention of December 25 as Christ’s birthday occurs in the Philocalian calendar (354), and that date seems to have become general throughout the West by the 5th century.
December 25 was already a major festival in the pagan Roman world, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, as “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” falling within the week long celebration of the Saturnalia, a feast honouring the renewal of the sun at the winter solstice. Pagan celebrations on December 25 had included feasting, dancing, lighting bonfires, decorating homes with greens, and giving gifts. So when this became a Christian festival, the customs continued, but with a Christian meaning imparted to them.”
Encyclopedia International, Volume 4 (Lexicon Publications, 1980)
“The use of evergreens was so closely associated with the garlands of pagan days that in many of the early church celebrations they were forbidden.”
1001 Christmas Facts and Fancies (Alfred Carl Hottes, 1937)
“As Christianity spread to northern Europe, it met with the observance of another pagan festival held in December in honour of the sun. This time it was the Yule-feast of the Norsemen, which lasted for twelve days. During this time log-fires were burnt to assist the revival of the sun. Shrines and other sacred places were decorated with such greenery as holly, ivy, and bay, and it was an occasion for feasting and drinking.
Equally old was the practice of the Druids, the caste of priests among the Celts of ancient France, Britain and Ireland, to decorate their temples with mistletoe, the fruit of the oak-tree which they considered sacred. Among the German tribes the oak-tree was sacred to Odin, their god of war, and they sacrificed to it until St. Boniface, in the eighth century, persuaded them to exchange it for the Christmas tree, a young fir-tree adorned in honor of the Christ child.”
The Christian Calendar A Complete Guide to the Seasons of the Christian Year Telling the Story of Christ and the Saints, from Advent to Pentecost (L.W. Cowie and John Selwyn Gummer, 1974)
NOTE: As I point out in another article discussing the history and origins of Santa Claus, the Norse pagan god Odin is the primary influence of the modern Santa Claus character. So, engaging with a Santa Claus is literally connected to the worship of a pagan god named Odin.
“The Christian holiday of Christmas, especially, owes many of its traditions to the ancient Roman festival, including the time of year Christmas is celebrated. The Bible does not give a date for Jesus’ birth; in fact, some theologians have concluded he was probably born in spring, as suggested by references to shepherds and sheep in the Nativity story.
But by the fourth century A.D., Western Christian churches settled on celebrating Christmas on December 25, which allowed them to incorporate the holiday with Saturnalia and other popular pagan midwinter traditions.”
Saturnalia (History.com article)
Finally, before coming to a conclusion, I want to share with you a full article from A.W. Pink, titled XMAS, as documented in his Studies in the Scriptures – 1930-31, Volume 5 of 17
“Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen … for the CUSTOMS of the people are vain” (Jer. 10:1-3).
Christmas is coming! Quite so; but what is “Christmas”? Does not the very term itself denote its source—“Christ-mass”? Thus it is of Romish origin, brought over from Paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Saviour’s birth. Is it? And who authorised such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth. Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born? The Bible is silent thereon. Is it without reason that the only “birthday” commemorations mentioned in God’s Word are Pharaoh’s (Gen. 40:20) and Herod’s (Matt. 14:6)! Is this recorded “for our learning”? If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?
And who is it that celebrates “Christmas”? The whole “civilized world”. Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who “despise and reject Him”, and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merry-making under the pretense of honouring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on it’s lowest ground, we would ask, Is it fit that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratifications? Does any truly born-again soul really think that He whom the world cast out, is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world’s joys? Verily, “the customs of the people are vain”; and it is written, “thou shalt not follow multitudes to do evil” (Ex. 23:2).
Some will argue for the “keeping of Christmas” on the ground of “giving the kiddies a good time”. But why do this under the choke of honouring the Saviour’s birth? Why is it necessary to drag His holy name in connection with what takes place at that season of carnal jollification? Is this taking the little ones with you out of Egypt (Ex. 10:9, 10) a type of the world, or is it not plainly a mingling with the present-day Egyptians in their “pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25)? Scripture says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Scripture does command God’s people to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), but where does it stipulate that it is our duty to give the little ones a “good time”? Do we ever give the children “a good time” when we engage in anything upon which we cannot fittingly ask the Lord’s blessing?
There are those who do abstain from some of the grossor carnalities of the “festive season”, yet are they nevertheless in cruel bondage to the prevailing custom of “Christmas”, namely, that of exchanging “gifts”. We say “exchanging” for that is what it really amounts to in many cases. A list is kept, either on paper or in memory, of those from whom gifts were received last year, and that for the purpose of returning the compliment this year. Nor is this all: great care has to be taken that the “gift” made to the friend is worth as much in dollars and cents as the one they expect to receive from him or her. Thus, with many who can ill afford it, a considerable sum has to be set aside each year with which to purchase things simply to send them out in return for others which are likely to be received. Thus a burden has been bound on them which not a few find it hard to bear.
But what are we to do? If we fail to send out “gifts” our friends will think hard of us, probably deem us stingy and miserly. The honest course is to go to the trouble of notifying them—by letter if at a distance—that from now on you do not propose to send out any more “Christmas gifts” as such. Give your reasons. State plainly that you have been brought to see that “Christmas merry-making” is entirely a thing of this world, devoid of any scriptural warrant; that it is a Romish institution, and that now you see this, you dare no longer have any fellowship with it (Eph. 5:11); that you are the Lord’s “free man” (1 Cor. 7:22), and therefore you refuse to be in bondage to a costly custom imposed by the world.
What about sending out “Christmas cards” with a text of Scripture on them? That also is an abomination in the sight of God. Why? Because His Word expressly forbids all un-holy mixtures; Deut. 22:10, 11 typified this. What do we mean by an “unholy mixture”? This: the linking together the pure Word of God with the Romish “Christ-mass.” By all means send out cards (preferably at some other time of the year) to your ungodly friends, and Christians too, with a verse of Scripture, but not with “Christmas” on it. What would you think of a printed program of a vaudeville show having Isa. 53:5 at the foot of it? Why, that it was altogether out of place, highly incongruous. But in the sight of God the circus and the theatre are far less obnoxious than the “Christmas celebrations” of Romish and Protestant “churches”. Why? Because the latter are done under the cover of the holy name of Christ; the former are not.
“But the path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18). Where there is a heart that really desires to please the Lord, He graciously grants increasing knowledge of His will. If He is pleased to use these lines for opening the eyes of some of His dear people to recognize what is a growing evil, and to show them that they have been dishonouring Christ by linking the name of the Man of Sorrows (and such He was, when on earth) with a “merry Christmas”, then join with the writer in a repentant confessing of this sin to God, seeking His grace for complete deliverance from it, and praise Him for the light which He has granted you concerning it.
Beloved fellow-Christian, “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (Jas. 5:8). Do we really believe this? Believe it not because Mussolini is dictator of Italy, or because the Papacy is regaining its lost temporal power, but because God says so—“for we walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). If so, what effect does such believing have upon out walk? This may be your last Christmas on earth. During it the Lord Himself may descend from heaven with a shout to gather His own unto Himself. Would you like to be summoned from a “Christmas party” to meet Him in the air? The call for the moment is, “Go ye out and meet Him” (Matt. 25:6): out from a Godless Christendom, out from the Christ-deserted “churches”, out from the horrible burlesque of “religion” which now masquerades under His name.
“For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ: that everyone may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). How solemn and searching! The Lord Jesus declared that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). If every “idle word” is going to be taken note of, then most assuredly will be every wasted energy, every wasted dollar, every wasted hour! Should we still be on earth when the closing days of this year arrive, let writer and reader earnestly seek grace to live and act with the judgment-seat of Christ before us. His “well done” will be ample compensation for the sneers and taunts which we may now receive from Christless souls.
Does any Christian reader imagine for a moment that when he or she shall stand before their holy Lord, that they will then regret having lived “too strictly” on earth? Is there the slightest danger of Him reproving any of His own because they were “too extreme” in “abstaining from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul?” (1 Peter 2:11). We may gain the good-will and good-word of worldly religionists today by our compromising on “little (?) points”, but shall we receive His smile of approval in that Day? O to be more concerned of what He thinks, and less concerned about what perishing mortals think.
“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2). Ah, it is an easy thing to float with the tide of popular opinion; but it takes much grace, diligently sought from God, to swim against it. Yet that is what the heir of Heaven is called on to do: to “Be not conformed to this world” (rom. 12:2), to deny self, take up the cross, and follow a rejected Christ. How sorely does both writer and reader need to heed the word of the Saviour’s, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11). O that each of us may be able to truthfully say, “I have refrained me feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy Word” (Psa. 110:101).
Our final word is to the Pastors to a goodly number of whom this little magazine is being sent. To you the Word of the Lord is, “Be thou an example of believers, in word, in deportment, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Is it not true that the most corrupt “churches” you know of, where almost every fundamental of the faith is denied, will have their “Christmas celebrations”? Will you imitate them? Are you consistent to protest against unscriptural methods of “raising money”, and then to sanction unscriptural “Christmas services”? Seek grace to firmly but lovingly set God’s Truth on this subject before your people, and announce that you can have no part in following Pagan, Roman, and Worldly customs.”
—ARTHUR W. PINK
Think back to the Scriptures listed at the beginning of this article. I want you to specifically consider the passage from Deuteronomy 12 where God commands against the use of pagan practices in our worship of Him.
I know there are those who would argue a context that attempts to void application of this passage for the purposes of pagan influences in Christmas and Easter. But should we do that?
In the same article I cited from Answers In Genesis, for example, they claim that Deuteronomy 12 is specific to the time period and Israel’s conquest over Canaan. Does that mean we cannot or should not apply the general concept to anything coming out of pagan religion at any given time period? I think we would do good to err on the side of caution in cases like this and assume the principle applies to modern acts of assimilating paganism into the worship of Yahweh. As the Answers In Genesis article also repeatedly points out, these practices are not beneficial to our faith and worship, they are potentially dangerous to it, and they are not in The Bible. That last point should be enough.
I pointed out in a brief comment earlier that the kings of Israel began accepting practices like raising Asherah poles, building altars to Baal, molding golden calves, burning incense in high places, and so on. The record written by the prophets of God tells us that these things were considered evil in God’s eyes. It would seem the principle of Deuteronomy 12 carried over to the period of Israel’s kings, so we must consider it can be applied today as well.
I’ve seen and heard people argue that something not being in The Bible is a weak argument. In some cases, perhaps. But what about when something is or even might be derived from paganism that opposes Yahweh? I think that changes things drastically. If something is not in The Bible AND it has any potential connection with another religion, it goes from being a weak argument to being a potential salvation issue. And once it crosses that line it goes from something we probably shouldn’t waste our time discussing to something that we should be warning anyone and everyone who will listen about it.
Again, I’ve been accused of leaning toward idolatry for “making an idol” out of my passion to deter people from Christmas and Easter. But how can that be if I am wholly persuaded that these things are evil and may be preventing people from being accepted into God’s Kingdom? With that considered, it’s not idolatry to be “obsessed” with warning people about these things. It’s preaching the Gospel!
Some today have become concerned with the extreme and more sensational claims against these holidays. It is true that the work of Alexander Hislop has largely been debunked, though it does appear at least some of his claims are validated to some degree in other reliable sources. It is true that there is no direct connection between these holidays and ancient Babylonian sun-god worship or other such forms of ancient pagan religion. As previously stated, most of the more credible connections are from the later Roman and European religions. So, as a result of this, some view it as their duty to save the reputation of the Body of Messiah by deterring people from talking about even the credible arguments against these things, from real academic sources as are presented above.
Here’s the thing about that. I intentionally listed only sources I personally verified, with one noted exception. All of these sources are from Encyclopedias, Bible Dictionaries, history records, and the teachings of ministers who are considered of good reputation. I made a point of not pulling from Internet blogs or YouTube videos. There were citations I intentionally did not list because, while attributed to such academic sources, I was unable to personally verify them in an original source document. Should I verify them in the future, I will add them in future revisions of this article.
So what happens if all of the above information is wrong? After all, there are scholars who are challenging this plethora of documented historical claims. Their arguments are full of speculation and “maybe’, but it is possible this handful of modern researchers have traced all of these claims back to errors in the earliest of these historical claims that have snowballed out of control.
Well, if wrong I suppose I will stand before God and he will tell me that these things—Santa Claus, Christmas trees, the Easter rabbit, colored egg hunts, and all the rest of it—were permissible and there was no harm in doing them. He will then probably say something like, “I will commend you for at least not wanting to do what cannot be found in The Bible and focusing on doing what is in The Bible.” Basically, if all my listed sources are wrong and my stance is in vain, there is no actual harm done. I just encouraged people to do only what can be found in Scripture.
On the other hand, what happens if even some of these sources are true? What happens if those who choose to ignore, attempt to dispute, or mock messages like this are wrong?
Those who do that will stand before God to find out that they were engaged in idolatry, paganism, and witchcraft. Can you imagine? People who believe they are going to heaven, people who are wholly committed to their Churches, still going to hell over things like Christmas and Easter? Yet that is where all of this leads us. This whole study presents at least that very real possibility. How sad it would be to witness a Christian being told by God, “You did evil in my eyes. You engaged in pagan idolatry and witchcraft. You now need to go through that door over their, the one with smoke billowing out of the cracks, where you hear screams of agony and terror coming from the other side.”
Suddenly that person is grabbed by two beings, and dragged over to that door. The door opens, a gust of scorching heat and the stench of death hits their face. They scream, begging and pleading. But it’s too late. They are thrown into the fire and the door closes and locks behind them. All because they celebrated some unbiblical thing with all the other people in Church.
I know that my little description of hell is more poetic than realistic to Scripture, but I want to paint a picture in your mind. Hell is real. I don’t care what any modern preacher tells you. And if you are not wholly committed to doing what The Bible says, you run the risk of going there. Don’t take that chance. It’s not worth it.
Let me pose this question to everyone on all sides of this issue: Can anyone be absolutely, positively, 100% certain that God approves of these festivals or “doesn’t care” if we celebrate them? An honest answer from all sides would consistently be “NO,” there’s just too much left to speculation. And that should be the end of the discussion. And some of the folks taking a step back and saying: “Maybe it’s not pagan, maybe we shouldn’t worry about it, maybe there’s no harm in it,” should be real careful about that. If God does view these things as forms of paganism, you may be held responsible for anyone you misled with such a relaxed attitude. I understand context and “ancient near east history”, but I also understand common sense and logic!
So there you have it. I will now leave it up to you to decide what you want to do. You can follow the crowd, do what you see everyone else doing, and justify it with excuses along the way. Or you can stick to doing what you can find in The Bible—and it’s not like there is any shortage of exciting celebrations to be found in Scripture.
Was Easter A Pagan Goddess? (Article published by Truth Ignited Ministry)
The Christmas Debate (Article published by Truth Ignited Ministry)
Meet Santa Claus (Article Published by Truth Ignited Ministry)
Adam Ruins Everything – Christmas (A clip from Adam Conover’s television program)
~Blessings and Shalom~
To learn more, CLICK HERE and check out all of the Truth Ignited articles.