Friday, November 14, 2008

THE TRUTH BEHIND CHRISTMAS

THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS

Most professing Christians believe that Christmas is one of the most important holidays. without question, many people blindly follow its observance. Moreover, they assume that Jesus was actually born on December 25. Because we look to Christ as our Savior, it is important to take a deeper look into his birth. We often hear people say, "Let's put Christ back into Christmas!" Perhaps we should investigate just how Christ got into Christmas in the first place.

Most Bible scholars agree that Christmas is of pagan origin. In his book 4000 Years of Christmas, Earl W. Count, Professor of Anthropology at Hamilton College, explains the origin of the Christmas celebration:

"We do not know its beginning . . . we do not really know when the Christ child it venerates was born: or the time and place when Christmas was first celebrated: or exactly how it was that, over the centuries, a bishop saint of Asia Minor, and a pagan god of the Germans merged to become Santa Claus."

"although the Christmas story centers in the Christ child of Bethlehem, it begins so long before his coming that we find its hero arriving on the scene after more than half of the time of the story has gone by. Christmas began over 4000 years ago, as the festival which renewed the world for another year. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires and probably the yule log; the giving of presents; the carnivals with their floats; their merry makings and clowning; the mummers who sing and play from house to house, the feasting; the church processions with their lights and song —all these and more began three centuries before Christ was born. And they celebrated the arrival of a new year" (ibid., page 18).

"For that day [25 of December] was sacred, not only to the pagan Romans but to a religion from Persia which, in those days, was one of Christianity's strongest rivals. This Persian religion was Mithraism, whose followers worshiped the sun, and celebrated its return to strength on that day. The church finally succeeded in taking the merriment, the greenery, the lights, and gifts from Saturn and giving them to the "babe of Bethlehem" (ibid., page 27).

Mosaic of Jesus Christ depicted as Sol, a Sun god, in Mausoleum M in the pre-fourth-century necropolis under St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It is named Christo Sole (Christ the Sun) and is dated to the late 3rd century by the Italian archaeologists

"It happened that the date [December 25] did fall in the midst of the Saturnalia. Far from being an invention to compete against Roman and Persian paganism, the birthday of Christ ran the danger of being swallowed up in pagan merry making. The [church] fathers tried strenuously to keep Christmas strictly a churchly celebration. It was part of their unremitting struggle to break the grip of the pagan gods upon the people. And as they broke, Romans became Christians . . . but the Saturnalia remained" (ibid., page 28).

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.


"When was Jesus born? No one knows. December 25 is no more than the historical date of his birth than is any other" [page 50]. "Christmas, as we have seen, is of the Mediterranean . . .for the Mediterranean world already had not merely centuries, but millennia behind it, when Christ was born; and even the religion which he founded had traveled several centuries before it discovered its need of Christmas" (page 86).

"Renewal and rebirth: After 4000 years, the festival that has grown about the birth of the Christ child remains an affirmation that all things can be made anew" (ibid., page 91).

although no one knows the exact date of Christ's birth, there is evidence that he was not born in the winter: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" (Lk.2:8). This never could have occurred in the month of December in Palestine. The shepherds usually brought their flocks from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them no later than the middle of October to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed. The Song of Solomon 2:11 and Ezra.10:9, 13 show that winter was a rainy season during which shepherds could not have remained in open fields at night:

"It was an ancient custom among the Jews of those days to send their sheep to the fields, and deserts about Passover [early spring] and bring them home at commencement of the first rain . . .During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day, . . .The first rains began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November [begins in the middle of October] we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer, and as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25 of December, when no flocks were out in the fields by night. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact" (The Adam Clarke Commentary, Volume 5, page 347).

The Birthday of the Ligth of the World - PDF

There is no command in the whole Bible that tells us to observe Christmas. Under the inspired teaching of Paul and Peter and the other apostles, the Christians of the first century never observed Christ's birth date. Christmas came to us through the Roman Catholic Church, which is where it gets its authority as a religious holiday. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is published by the Catholic Church: "Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church . . .The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. "We find this truth acknowledged further in the Encyclopedia Britannica: "Christmas [i.e., the Mass of Christ] was not among the earliest festivals of the church."

The Encyclopedia Americana states:

"Christmas, . . .it was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian's usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth . . ." (The communion, which is instituted by New Testament authority, is a memorial of the death of Christ.) ". . .A feast was established in memory of this event (Christ's birth) in the fourth century. In the fifth century, the Western church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed."

How did the pagan custom get into the church? Most recognized authorities agree that Christmas was not observed by the early church for the first two or three hundred years and that its origin began in the western segment of the Roman Church in the fourth century A.D.. However, it was not until the fifth century that the Roman Church ordered it to be celebrated as an official Christian festival.

The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia:

"How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia (December 25) following the Saturnalia (December 17-24), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the "new sun " . . .cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence. The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and manner. Christian teachers of the West and Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their western brethren of idolatry and sun worship for adopting as Christian the pagan festival."

"The observance of December 25 (as a Christian festival) only dates from the fourth century and is due to assimilation with the Mithraic festival of the birth of the sun" (World Popular Encyclopedia, Volume 3).

"Gradually a number of prevailing practices of the [heathen] nations into which Christ came were assimilated and were combined with the religious ceremonies surrounding Christmas. The assimilation of such practices generally represented efforts by Christians to transform or absorb otherwise pagan practices" (The Zonderian Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 1, page 805).

"The pagan symbolism was taken over and, in Christian view, elevated. Jesus became the "sun of justice" and the "sun of righteousness" (Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Myers, page 310).

"Our annual Christian festival (Christmas) is nothing but a continuation under a different name of this old solar festivity (Saturnalia)" (The New Golden Bough, Frazer and Foster, page 653).

"Christmas was generally celebrated in the West only after the triumph of Constantine when the time of Christ's birth was reckoned with the Day of the Unconquered Sun on 25 December" (From Christ to Constantine, Smith, pages 150-151).

"The assimilation of Christ to the sun god, as sun of righteousness, was widespread in the fourth century and was furthered by Constantine's legislation on Sunday, which is not unrelated to the fact that the sun god was the titular divinity of his family" (A History of the Christian Church: Revised, Walker, Section 13, pages 154-155).

The Myth of Nimrod

Nimrod, the grandson of Ham and the great grandson of Noah, was the real founder of the Babylonian system of worship and government that continues to thrive throughout the world.

Ancient writings speak of Nimrod as the one who started a great, organized world apostasy against God, which still dominates the world. It is said that he was so wicked that he married his own mother, Semiramis. After Nimrod was killed, his mother-wife propagated the doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit-being. She claimed that a full grown evergreen tree sprang up overnight from a dead tree stump which symbolized the resurrection of Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth (supposedly December 25), she claimed Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it.


Mother and Child Theme

Through her scheming and planning, Semiramis became the Babylonian Queen of Heaven, and Nimrod, under many other names, became the Divine Son of Heaven. Through the generations, in this idolatrous worship, Nimrod also became the false messiah, son of Baal, who was the sun-god. In this false Babylonian religious system, the mother and child (Semiramis and the reborn Nimrod) became chief objects of worship. This worship of mother and child spread throughout the world. Only the names varied because of differing languages. In Asia they were known as Cybele and Diorus. In Rome they were Fortuna and Jupiter. In Egypt their names were Isis and Osiris. Long before the birth of Jesus Christ, the counterpart of the Madonna can be found throughout China, Tibet, and Japan.

The following are explanations of the origins of popular practices and symbols of the Christmas celebration.

Yule Logs

The yule log is in reality the sun log. Yule means wheel, which is applied as the pagan symbol of the sun. Today, professing Christians speak of the sacred yuletide season. There is nothing sacred about it! The symbols come from the worship of false gods.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree was equally common in pagan Rome and pagan Egypt.In Egypt that tree was the palm tree and in Rome it was the fir tree. The palm tree denotes the pagan messiah, Baal-Tamar (Jdg.20:33), and the fir tree denotes the same pagan messiah under the name Baal-Berith. The mother of Adonis, the sun god and great divine mediator, was said to have been mystically changed into a tree. And when she was in that state, she brought forth her divine son.

Mistletoe

"That mistletoe bough in the Druidic superstition, which was derived from Babylon, was a representative of the Messiah, "the man of the branch." The mistletoe was regarded as a divine branch, a branch that came from heaven, and grew upon a tree that sprang out of the earth. Thus by engrafting the celestial branch into the earthly tree, heaven and earth, which sin had severed, were joined together. Thus the mistletoe bough became the token of divine reconciliation to man, the kiss being the well known token of pardon and reconciliation" (The Two Babylons, Hislop, page 99).

The Encyclopedia Americana says:

"The holly, the mistletoe and the yule log . . . are relics of pre-Christian times."

Gifts

Many exchange gifts because the three wise men presented gifts to the Christ child. Did you know the Bible nowhere states there were three wise men? Did you know those wise men never appeared at the manger on Christ's birth night; they actually arrived many months later? They didn't appear at the manger, they appeared at Christ's house (Matt. 2:11).

although most people believe that the custom of giving gifts at Christmas is associated with the men that brought gifts to the child Jesus, the New Standard Encyclopedia, Christmas, says:

"In reality, at least so far as the English speaking people are concerned, it [gift giving at Christmas] is derived from an old heathen custom."

"The wise men gave their gifts to Christ, but did not exchange gifts with each other. The gifts presented to Christ were to a king, because of his royalty, and not because of his birthday. He was a king, and the people of the East never approached the presence of a king without a present in their hands" (Adam Clarke Commentary, Volume 5, Matt. 2:11, page 34).

The Christmas Wreath

The use of Christmas wreaths is believed by authorities to be traceable to the pagan customs of decorating buildings and places of worship at the feast which took place at the same time as Christmas. The Christmas tree is from Egypt and its origin dates from a period long anterior to the Christmas era(Answers to Questions, Frederick gentlemen. Haskins).

Christmas and many other holidays have come directly from paganism, but the annual observances and festivals of Leviticus 23 have come from God and should be observed today by the children of God. See our study papers about the annual festivals and commanded observances of God.

Santa Claus

The name Santa Claus is actually the corruption of the name St. Nicholas, a Roman Catholic bishop who lived in the fifth century.

St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. . .a saint honored by the Greeks and Latins on the 6th of December. . .a legend of his surreptitious bestowal of dowries on the three daughters of an impoverished citizen. . .is said to have originated the old custom of giving presents in secret on the eve of St. Nicholas (December 6) subsequently of Christmas and Santa Claus"(Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th Edition, Volume 19, pp. 648-649).

Kris Kringle

“From the German people were to come those most universal of Christmas customs: the Christmas tree, and the portly beneficent Kris Kringle, known as Santa Claus.

Gradually the Presbyterians, Quakers and Puritans accepted such customs as the Christmas tree, the giving of small gifts and the Christmas feast. But they spoke violently against the corruption of the Christkindl, (the Christ Child) into Kris Kringle. After Kris Kringle was fully assimilated, there was much concern among all religious groups about the non-religious trend of the holiday”(Christmas Day: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Myers, pp. 314-316).

SUMMARY

Easter, Halloween, and Christmas are the three major religious celebrations of professing Christianity today. And all three violate the instructions of God concerning false Gods and false religious practices.

There are many holidays that are national or local in origin and are not forbidden in the Biblical record (e.g., Thanksgiving Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day). If a holiday does not violate God's law and is merely an observances of respect, honor, or gratitude, no spiritual issue is in question. However, if a person chooses to incorporate these days as part of their worship of God, there is an obvious violation of God's law.

The scriptures clearly record that the only worship acceptable to God is worship that conforms to his instructions concerning how he wants to be worshiped. Moreover, God's law imposes the death penalty on all who improperly worship him.












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