It’s What You Make of It – Christmas

Christmas presents under the tree

Last time I complained about the hypocrisy of Christians rabidly condemning Halloween for its pagan origins while happily celebrating Easter despite its arguably pagan origins and influences. However, not all Christians buy into the compelling but admittedly circumstantial evidence that the Easter festival’s customs were adopted by imperial Roman-influenced Christians. They prefer to believe a story about a surplus of eggs in the Middle Ages, a clumsy string of events surrounding the naming of the holy day, and so on.

Our first written record of Easter, Paschal as the Romans knew it, wasn’t until AD 154, so we don’t know for certain. And certainly, Roman Christians weren’t dying boiled eggs and hiding them in bushes for kids to find. It’s easy for some Christians to dismiss pagan influences on Easter as conjecture.

Good luck trying that with Christmas.

The celebration of the birth of Christ became popular much later than the celebration of His resurrection, but this means the relevant historical records are much clearer than that of Easter. And it’s without a doubt a case of imperial adoption.

Admitting It

The celebration of the birth of Christ became popular much later than the celebration of His resurrection, but this means the relevant historical records are much clearer than that of Easter. And it’s without a doubt a case of imperial adoption.

 

Some try to put the most kosher spin on it they can. In Catholic Traditions: Treasures New and Old, Joanne Turpin explains, “The December 25 date for Christians was not chosen until the fourth century… According to the calendar followed in the Roman Empire at the time, December 25 marked the winter solstice: nature’s darkest time of year. Christians used this pagan celebration of the birth of the sun god on that day to celebrate the birth of Jesus as the ‘Light of the World.'” How charming. If only this explanation had a couple more unicorns and rainbows, it might be as harmlessly cute as dwarf bunnies.

Others try to dance around the possibility, as if acknowledging any truth to such claims might be admissions of wrongdoing. Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity states, “It is not known for certain why these dates were picked, but it is possible that Christian churches chose days which were already public holidays for pagan celebrations.” Perhaps. Maybe. I guess we’re saying if it happened it was incidental. I mean, people needed to have a day off and getting the authorities to add it to the calendar would be a hassle.

Thankfully, some come out and say it. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (which strangely but thankfully addresses Christmas, Easter, and countless other topics outside the Bible, despite its name) holds one such refreshing assessment. “The Feast of Saturnalia in early Rome, for example, was celebrated for seven 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.”

Whew! Now, was that so bad?

Being Honest with Ourselves

Now that we’re being honest with ourselves, we see the picture clearly. The heathens had a big party, and they had no desire to give it up. The Christians wanted to reach their souls and saw no need for them to give up the celebration, provided it was taken out of the context of heathen purpose and cleared of remaining pagan religious elements.

These converts to the Gospel of Hating Halloween may go right on practicing Christmas or Easter, oblivious to the hypocrisy of such a stance.

But not all are satisfied. Zondervan’s encyclopedia goes on to observe and assess modern awareness of such influences. “Some groups refrain from Christmas on the grounds that the introduction of pagan practices has destroyed the original significance of the occasion. They cite the use of Christmas trees and the Yule log, among other things, as examples of the paganization of Christmas.”
“…introduction of pagan practices has destroyed the original significance…” Talk about putting the cart before the horse!

These are some of the same people who hate on Halloween with all the potency of Christian dogmatic judgment. And many of them preach these convictions like gospel, and lead others to condemn this or that because they’re taught to rather than because the Holy Spirit convicts them personally. These converts to the Gospel of Hating Halloween may go right on practicing Christmas or Easter, oblivious to the hypocrisy of such a stance.

Is this reasonable? Isn’t Halloween evil? Occultist? Satanic? I’m not convinced, and I’ll explain why next.

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About Phil (251 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.