IS CHRISTMAS (25TH DECEMBER) THE BIRTH OF CHRIST?
BY DR. J. ADU GYAMFI
The Word “CHRISTMAS” is formed of Christ plus Mass. meaning a mass of religious services in commemoration of the birth of Christ. It is celebrated by Roman Catholics and Protestants on December 25th. Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate it on January 6th and the Armenian Church on January 19th (New Compact Bible Dictionary p.108). Those who celebrate Christmas are divided on the date Christ was born. Why?
THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS
It was first celebrated in December 25th in the time of Constantine about A.D. 325 as the birth of Christ. Pagan Rome was celebrating Saturnalia which was the birth of the invincible sun or sol in December 25th. According to religious writers and historians, there were superstition panics among the sol worshipers for fear that their sun god was dying. They lit bonfires and burned candles to awake this god. December was the main month of this pagan celebration. It was alleged that sol began to regain his strength from December 21st to 25th.
The word “CHRISTMAS” is not found in the Bible. It is believed that the bishop of Rome sanctified this pagan celebration and changed it to the birth of Christ, since each of the saint s had a mass to honour, but there was no mass for Christ. They began what they called Christ – Mass which was based on this pagan festival. Note what Tertullian said: “By us, who are strangers to Sabbaths, and new moons and festivals, once acceptable to God, the Saturnalia (and other pagan feast) are now frequented, gifts are carried to and fro… and sports and banquets are celebrated with uproars”.
According to Natural History Magazine, Pope Gregory I approved these pagan activities. “Instead of trying to obliterate peoples’ customs and beliefs, the Pope’s instructions were, use them’. If a group of people worship a tree, rather than cut it down, consecrate it to Christ and allow them to continue their worship.” The Church accepted all these and changed a pagan feast in honour of Saturnalia into Christmas. Presentation of gifts during Christmas was a feature of Saturnalia. “One is expected at this festival to make some presents to all friends.” (Ancient Italy and Modern Religion).
WHEN WAS CHRIST BORN ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE?
According to Luke, the angel Gabriel went to the house of the Virgin Mary in the sixth month (Lk. 1:26-38). Elul which is the sixth month of the Jews is like September (Neh. 6:15), Chislue the ninth month is like December (Zech. 7:1). According to the Bible Mary conceived in that period which is the sixth month of the Jews (September), The Holy Spirit exclaimed this through Elizabeth (Lk. 1:39-45). Luke says “Time came for her to be delivered” Lk. 2:1-7). Since nine months is the normal time of delivery. Christ was born between June and July, counting from the sixth month of the Jews which is Elul which is like our month September.
Dr. Luke stated that there were shepherds out in the field the day Christ was born (Lk. 2:8). According to the calendar of the Jews, the land of Palestine experiences the greatest heat with serene sky during June and July (cf Smith’s Bible Dictionary page 812). It was possible for shepherds to stay out in the field during June and July. From December to February the land of Palestine experiences the greatest amount of rain with thunder – storms and occasional snow (cf Smith’s Bible Dictionary page 812). Due to heavy rain, thunder – storms and snow, shepherds could not stay in the field in December).
DID OUR LORD CELEBRATE HIS BIRTH DAY?
Peter wrote that: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (I Pet. 2:21 cf I Cor. 11:1). It is wrong to promulgate a law that set a wrong date aside to commemorate the birth of Christ because Christ did not authorize nor the Apostles. Our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper before his death and requested that Christians take part in his remembrance Matt. 26:26-28; Lk.22:17-20). The Apostles and the first century churches obeyed this command and took part in every first day of the week (I Cor. 11:23-26; Acts 2:42; 20:7).
Only idol worshippers celebrated their birthdays in the Bible. Pharaoh in the Old Testament, he hanged his chief baker (Gen. 40:20-22). And in the New Testament, Herod too killed John the Baptist (Matt. 14:6-11). It is on records that celebration of Saturnalia which was the birthday of the sun or sol was bloody. “Unless victims were sacrificed to the sun gods, all life – including that of the gods – would die” (Natural History Magazine). Occultists and witches who worship Satan still regard 25th December as their day. The San Francisco Chronicle 21st December 1991 issue quoted a witch who is also a pagan writer as saying that: “It is one of our more strenuous holidays. We stay up all night.”
Whenever Christmas is approaching, serious accidents are reported everywhere because it is satanic. Christ brought peace on earth (Isa. 9:6-7; Lk. 2:13-14; Jn. 14:27). He did not come to destroy. He said “The thief does not come except to steal, and kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn.10:10). Why do many people die during Christmas through accidents? Christ will never introduce something that contradicts His words. Satan always opposes the word of God. A member of a group that worship Satan called Group Covenant of the goddess said: “We do a ritual… Members of our clergy perform a mystery play about the birth of the solar child.”
The Apostle Paul told Christians not to observe days, months, seasons and years (Gal. 4:6-11). Also he did not commend the church at Corinth for changing the Lord’s Supper into a feast (I Cor. 10:20-23; 11:20-25) because only idol worshippers eat, drink and dance (I Cor. 10:6-7; Mat.24:38).
Simon Scama, Professor of History at Harvard University calls Saturnalia “the orgiast of eating, drinking and other kinds of naughtiness.” All activities in the celebration of Christmas were in the celebration of saturnalia. Our Lord said only vain worshippers obey commandments of men (Matt.15:7-9). Will our God accept these immoral practices?
We are warned not to follow multitude to sin (Exd. 23:2). Christians are to imitate God not men (Eph. 4:17-19; 5:6-11; I Cor. 11:1). “Therefore my beloved, flee from idolatry” (I Cor. 10:14). A Christian does not celebrate Christmas!