Here’s a question: “Why do you celebrate Christmas when the original celebrations actually started as ‘pagan’ parties?” Many Christians are questioning Christmas celebrations and our many traditions.
We receive that question every year from curious Christians. As a result, we have given this issue a lot of thought and prayer. At first, we were surprised. That is because we actually thought that the Christmas holiday originated as a celebration of the birth of Christ. But since then, we’ve learned that this isn’t so. It’s a like a lot many of our wedding traditions; they also don’t have a Christian origin. Yet Christians have the unique gift of taking that, which is meant for evil and bringing “light” to it.
Questioning Christmas Celebrations
There are so many stories about the originality of the celebration of Christmas, it’s difficult to know what is true. Steve and I asked God what we are supposed to do, with what is before us. We’ve come to realize that it’s an individual conviction. The Apostle Paul addressed this in Romans 14 concerning the eating of meats that were being sacrificed to idols. The Life Application Bible commentary says:
“Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. While the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities that are expressly forbidden by Scripture, it should not create additional rules and regulations and give them equal standing with God’s law. Many times Christians base their moral judgments on opinion, personal dislikes, or cultural bias rather than on the word of God.”
We can see where this also applies to celebrating the holiday, which is now known as Christmas.
You may ask if the Christmas holiday is really for Christians. Just the fact that “Christ” is in the title gives Steve and me cause to celebrate and pay attention to it. It gives us the opportunity to be “salt and light” to a world in which God told us to minister. Turning away from celebrating Christmas because of the many who abuse this holiday, we feel, shouldn’t be a viable reason for us, personally. There will always be those who will spoil every celebration there is! That’s the depravity of human beings, apart from knowing Christ. You shouldn’t judge celebrations by its abuses.
Any occasion to celebrate Christ is reason for us! We would be “turning off the Light” to the opportunity that is before us to spotlight Christ —OUR real reason for celebrating the season! Instead of focusing on the abuses (or even the originality) we use this holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ each year and treat it reverently, with respect… and we also have fun with it, reaching out to others, being generous, and displaying both the love and joy of the Lord. It’s a wonderful evangelistic opportunity for outreach!
All of this is a spiritual decision that you have to decide. There really doesn’t appear to be a right or wrong of doing it unless you’re convicted by the Holy Spirit to do things another way. Pray about it and decide for yourselves what to do.
To learn more about the traditions of Christmas, and its originality, we’d like to recommend a book to you. It’s titled, Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas -written by Ace Collins, published by Zondervan. Another great book you might consider is titled, Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. This book is also written by Ace Collins, published by Zondervan.
If you’d like to (or can) order one or both of them through Amazon, through links that are provided. If you order these resources (or anything else) through our web site, you’ll also help this ministry. Amazon sends Marriage Missions a percentage of their profits. We can then reinvest this money into helping marriages.
We know that some of you don’t have the ability to do this for various reasons. But for those of you who can, we want to let you know about this, just in case.
Next week we will provide a Christmas Quiz that might provide good conversations, and even give you something more to discuss with others.
We’ll give you one of the questions as a preview: How many wise men came to see Jesus in the manger?
b. the Bible doesn’t say
Here’s the answer that author and researcher Ace Collins gave a Family Life Today broadcast interview:
“We don’t know how many wise men there were. Thanks to [the Christmas song] ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are,’ we think there were three. The Bible doesn’t say. There could have been 100. We don’t know, but they brought three gifts —frankincense, gold, and myrrh. You had gold, which was the most important, wealthy commodity on the world. You only have presents of gold to kings. Yet this was a humble child in a manger. So they had been given the insight that this was royalty, this was the Son of God.”
Ace also pointed out that frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used mainly for funerals. They may have given them “because they knew this child was going to give His life and die” someday. And the myrrh was “sweet-smelling, and Christ’s life was sweet.”
When we as Christians think of the symbolism, it makes us all the more in awe of Christ and our Heavenly Father. And it can cause us to want to celebrate all the more, the birth of our King.
We hope this sheds a little more “light” onto your Christmas celebrations. We encourage you to strive to live out God’s peace in your home and the community around you. May you use this holiday as another way to reflect the love, grace, and joy of the Lord.