The Origin of Christmas

By Larry Ray Hafley

“Christmas originated in pagan rites, laced with astrological superstition; and . . . its recent associations with the divine event at Bethlehem are wholly arbitrary.

“It’s true enough. Before there was Christmas, our remotest ancestors … pranced about and painted themselves blue and probably drank too much … this time of year. They had much to celebrate; for in answer to their frantic prayers and sacrifices the sun god had once again consented to halt his threatening retreat and return to warm the Earth for the crops soon to be planted. And in truth, our observance of this yearly festival is often not less pagan in spirit than theirs” (Houston Chronicle, Edwin M. Yoder, Syndicated Columnist, December 25, 1996, 46A).

Let us not be misunderstood. Neither Edwin M. Yoder nor myself is saying that the birth of Jesus is “pagan” in origin. No, the birth of Jesus was as real an event as was your birth or mine (Matt. 1; Luke 1 and 2). However, “Christmas” and the world’s observance of December 25 as the God. Christmas was birth of Jesus “originated in pagan rites, laced with .. . superstition.” In short, Jesus was born of God. Christmas was born of man. December 25 is no more sacred or holy than is February 2, “Groundhog Day.” Both days “originated in pagan rites, laced . . . with superstition.”

Jesus is real. His birth occurred as chronicled in the New Testament. Groundhogs are real. Some may come out of their holes on February 2. If they are capable of noticing, they may see their shadows. The same is true of groundhogs on January 2, March 2, etc. What does any of that have to do with the length of winter or the coming of spring? Nothing; absolutely nothing!

Christians are thankful that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, Mary. They rejoice in the fact of his birth, but they glorify God through his death on the cross (Gal. 2:20; 6:14). Obviously, he could not have died on the cross if he had not been born in a barn, but the significance of his birth is only given relevance through his sacrificial death (Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:9).

The anniversary celebration of Jesus’ birth clearly is of human origin. His disciples did not celebrate it; Jesus never taught them to observe it; the apostles never commended or commanded it; the churches of the first century never worshiped on a set day in honor of his birth (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 John 9). But, ever and always they bore about, carried about, and talked about his death and resurrection (Acts 4:2; 17:18; 25:19; 2 Cor. 4:10).

Mr. Yoder, in the quote above, told the truth about Christmas. Now, it remains for us to tell the truth about Christ, about his life and about his death (1 Cor. 2:2).

Guardian of Truth XLI: 24 p. 1
December 18, 1997