I had originally planned on writing an article titled “How did December 25th Become Christmas?”, but I found wildly conflicting information. The Bible doesn’t indicate when Jesus was born, so there are many different opinions on how that date was chosen. Rather than possibly give incorrect information, I thought I’d ask a more fundamental question: Should Christians celebrate Christmas?
Some people may be surprised at asking the question, because celebrating Christmas is a strong part of our culture. Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year in the United States, and probably in many other countries, for both Christians and many non-Christians. For many people, the season begins the day after Thanksgiving, but not for everyone. I’m actually writing this on September 29th, and a week ago I saw Christmas decorations in a store next to the Halloween decorations.
Arguments Against Celebrating Christmas
What we do know about Jesus’ birth comes from Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV) and Luke 2:1-38 (ESV). Nowhere in those verses, or anywhere else in the Bible, is a command Christians should celebrate the birth of Christ. There are passages indicating some events should be observed, but Christmas isn’t one of them.
- Passover – This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. (Exodus 12:14 ESV)
- Sabbath – Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. (Exodus 31:16 ESV)
- Purim – These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants. (Esther 9:28 NIV)
- Communion – For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26 ESV)
A common argument given by Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas is that it had become too commercial. The celebration of the birth of Jesus has been eclipsed by Santa, parking lots, checkout lines, presents, trees, lights, candles, parties, pageants, food, stress and exhaustion. The commercial parts of Christmas aren’t inherently bad, but they often take the focus away from Jesus.
As I stated above,there are many theories on how December 25th became Christmas. A common theory is that the date was chosen because there were already pagan celebrations on that day, so some Christians wanted to have people worship the one true God instead of false gods. In the centuries since then, some people believe since celebrations on December 25th started on a pagan holiday, Christians shouldn’t celebrate. In England, the Puritans banned Christmas in 1647, but King Charles II restored the celebration in 1660. In Boston, Christmas was banned by the Puritans from 1659 to 1680, but it was later allowed by an English governor in 1681.
Arguments for Celebrating Christmas
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he allowed Christians to have celebrations.
- One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. (Romans 14:5)
The real reason forc elebrating Christmas is important to why and how we celebrate. Our reason should be to worship, praise and thank God for sending a savior. The commercial parts are fine, as long as we remember to be focused on Jesus.
There are some parts of even a highly commercialized modern Christmas which can help people remember the reason for the celebration.
- Gifts – remind us of God’s gift to us
- Gifts – remind us of the gifts the wise men gave to Jesus
- Lights – Jesus is the light of the world
- Lights – remind us of the star which guided the wise men to Jesus
- Angels – remind us of the angels who announced Jesus’s birth
- Hymns – Tell of Jesus’s birth
- Hymns – Praise Jesus
Christmas is a time of year when many non-Christians expect to hear about Christ. Overtly Christian songs are played on secular radio stations. Christmas cards are sent. Houses and yards are decorated with manger scenes. Christians have another opportunity to witness to the people around them. Maybe these will cause non-Christians to reconsider their beliefs, and move one step closer to a relationship with Christ.
Although there are valid reasons against celebrating Christmas, there are also good reason we should celebrate it. I encourage people to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this time of year, and let others know the real reason you’re celebrating.
- Manser, Martin (Editor). Dictionary of Bible Themes (Martin Manser, 1999) 8642 celebration. (Logos)
- Sproul, R. C., Jr. Should We as Christians Celebrate the Jewish Feasts of the Old Testament? (Ligonier Ministries, Jan 11, 2014) (Blog, accessed 08-Nov-2018)