I’ve shared before on the topic of whether Christmas is a pagan holiday or not (based on a blog by Lenny Esposito from Come Reason ministries) here and here. Recently on Facebook, a friend shared a post from Christian Answers for the New Age, which is run by a former new ager. The post is titled “Christmas is not pagan, once again” by Marcia Montenegro and included an extensive list of links providing information regarding how we got the date of Christmas, whether Christmas is based on a pagan holiday or not, whether the Bible speaks against Christmas trees, and more.
Marcia starts the post with this:
Here is my annual post answering the accusations from cults and misinformed Christians that Christmas is pagan in origin. I am posting facts provided in the links. Therefore, there is no valid argument that proves Christmas is pagan so links to such sources or arguments will be deleted. This is not opinion related; it is fact related.
You need to read at least some of the links if you have been misinformed about Christmas. The claim that Christmas is pagan does not hold up. I used to think it was pagan when I was a new Christian but I was willing to examine the facts and discovered it is not. All Christians should want the facts!
Please share in order to inform others. Who most would not want us not to celebrate the birth of the Savior? Think about it. Let’s remember that the armies of angels celebrated.
And then quotes Luke 2:10-14:
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
There were so many links that it took me several weeks to get read all the articles and watch all the videos. And I must say, it was very informative. It even inspired me to use this as the topic of my monthly bible study as well as my monthly supper club. So, following a model of that original post, here are the links. Most of these are what was included in the original post by Marcia, though there were a few that I did not include, and a few that I have added that were found following a rabbit trail of some of the original links.
Refutation of Christmas Being Pagan (The Date of December 25th):
Essentially, it goes like this. It’s claimed that Christmas is a pagan holiday that Christians Christianized, specifically during the time of Constantine (and sometimes it’s claimed by Constantine). However, when you look at the pagan holidays that this charge is directed against, either the dates of the holiday do not line up with December 25th, or when the pagan holiday started being celebrated is after when Christmas started being celebrated.
So how did Christians come to the conclusion of December 25th as the birth of Christ? Hippolytus of Rome in the early 3rd century (199-217 AD) started calculating Jesus death being March 25th and birth as December 25th. Julius Africanus in 221AD and Cyprian in 243AD both confirmed Hippolytus’ March 25th date. The death of Jesus is obviously important because Paul said that if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain (1 Cor 15:14). And Jesus cannot have been raised if he did not die. His death is important because it is something that occurred in history.
Here is a helpful timeline that As Bereans Did put together (source):
So it seems that there was a Jewish tradition (and Christianity has its origins in Judaism) that prophets or martyrs, people of importance, that the day of their death is the day of their conception. Going from March 25th as the conception, what is 9 months later? December 25th.
Another way that December 25th is determined to be the birth of Christ is from Luke 1:5
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
1 Chronicles 24 records that the priests were divided into 24 divisions and the division of Abijah was the 8th division. Each group was given a 2 week period to cover the responsibilities of the temple. Abijah’s division seems to have landed in September. While Zachariah was serving the temple, the angel appeared to him and told him his wife would have a child. Because he disbelieved, he was struck mute. And then she became pregnant. Elizabeth was the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant is when the angel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would be miraculously pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 6 months from September is March. 9 months from March is December.
The truth is, we will never really know when Jesus was born. December 25 is as good a day as any other day. When you read all of the material regarding it, it seems very reasonable to me to justify December 25th as the day to celebrate his birth.
Here’s the links with more detail. Reading each of these will give you plenty of reading material, but they seem to cover every main objection to Christmas.
(After publishing this blog, I stumbled across this 22 page document, posted on Twitter by iApologia that said “Interesting read: Very early Christian claim that Jesus was born on Dec 25! If true, it shows that the date was not adopted from pagan holiday….” The document looks like it is from Yale: Calculating December 25 as the Birth of Jesus in Hippolytus’ Canon and Chronicon )
The Myth of December 25th Based on a Pagan Holiday (some of the links above may touch on this):
Pagan Gods and Dec. 25 Debunked
On the Christmas Tree:
As Bereans Did has a whole series on this. Here are just a few of them:
TektonTV has a series on YouTube:
Former Jehovah Witness Agustin Astacio explains how we got Dec. 25 and Jan. 6 (Orthodox churches) as Christmas dates pf celebration based on dating in Scripture from Zechariah’s time in the temple, Elizabeth, and timing with Mary: The Bible reveals Xmas day on the 25th-not from paganism
Issue of cold weather and sheep in December