Five Reasons I Don’t Personally Celebrate Christmas
1. Pagan Customs | Most people don’t realize it, but celebrating Jesus’ birth was never a command given by Jesus or anyone else in the Bible. Jesus wasn’t even born in the winter or on December 25th. As a result, the main traditions and customs of Christmas are rooted in ancient paganism.
Here is a list of some of the pagan influences found in Christmas celebrations:
(a) The Christmas Tree & Decorations: The Encyclopedia Britannica states, “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.”
(b) Gift Giving and the Date: The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia states, “The Feast of Saturnalia in early Rome… was celebrated for 7 days from the 17th to the 23th of December and was marked by a spirit of merriment, gift giving to children and other forms of entertainment.”
2. Greed | In my personal opinion Christmas gift giving has gotten totally out of control in the American culture and for the most part it just makes me sick. I generally see both rich and poor alike massively over spend, go deep in debt with their credit cards, children pressure their parents for non-essentials, and it seems like the majority of people have an “attitude of ingratitude” to the point I believe the only word to describe it is, “greed.”
Ofcourse, I know not everyone’s Christmas celebration is “full of greed,” however, I simply choose to withdraw myself from the whole ordeal entirely to avoid all forms of personal and cultural greed. Paul stated in 1 Timothy 6:8 a very much needed truth that I hold to in regards to gift-giving, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Therefore, I avoid any and all pressure to give and receive gifts during the Christmas season.
3. False Roman Catholic Teachings | One might ask, “If celebrating Jesus’ birth is not commanded in the Bible, how did it become a Christian holy day with so many pagan customs?” The simple answer is, “The Roman Catholic Church created Christ-mas by mixing together the pagan customs of Europe with Christianity.” Hence, the name “Christ Mass.”
Therefore, I as a Bible believing Christian reject the Roman Catholic “mass” and all the things associated with it. Including, the false Roman doctrine of transubstantiation in the communion (to believe one is eating and drinking the literal body and blood of Jesus), the role of priests in confession of sin, the Pope and his supposed authority, and the worship of saints, i.e, “Saint Nick.”
4. Church History | Not only was Christmas non-existent to the first disciples, but when the Reformers in the 1500’s protested against the Roman Catholic Church they totally rejected Christmas along with all its “trappings of popery.”
The early Puritans in America were so against the customs of the Roman Catholic Church that they actually made it illegal in Boston to celebrate Christmas! Why? Because they knew it was from Rome’s pagan mixture and they rejected it based on Scripture, Jeremiah 10:2-4.
I believe the great Baptist preacher of the 1800’s Charles Spurgeon represented the Reformer’s position best, as well as my own, when he said the following concerning Christians celebrating Christmas,
“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas. First, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.”
5. Its a Distraction | Obviously, not as important as the other points, however, I still believe its a valid reason because I dislike things that take time and money away from that which is most important. Instead of being focused on giving to the church, helping the poor, and raising godly families people get distracted by the rush of Christmas shopping and spend hardly any time with Jesus and understanding why He actually came to this earth, i.e., “to die for our sins and to give us a new life.” Thus, I choose to remain focused on God and family and not be consumed with America’s mass consumerism, Ephesians 5:16.
Four Reasons I Like the Christmas Season
- Family Time | I really enjoy the time off that is given in our culture for people to be together and share life as a family.
- Charitable Giving | Non-for-profits do their best fundraising during the Christmas season because many people have a sense to give to others.
- Opportunities to Talk About Jesus | “Jesus is the reason for the season” works for me. Despite the pagan influences, its pretty easy to overlook those things and just talk about Jesus with people while giving them free cookies and hot chocolate around the church!
- Foreign Missions Benefit: In many countries Christmas is the most liberating day for Christ followers, even Muslim countries give more freedom for Christians to express themselves. Thus, I love to help missionaries make the most of the season by feeding the poor, giving help to the needy, and spreading the Gospel of Jesus.
My Advice to “Non-Christmas Celebrators”
- Don’t Judge Those Who Do | Paul is very clear in Colossians 2:16 & Romans 14:5 that we’re not to judge another Christian according to “holy days” or “holidays.” As long as the Christian is not worshipping the tree, its fine.
- Don’t Make it an Issue | I believe unity and peace in the church is more important than arguing over Christmas. As a pastor I’ve learned in the past how focusing too much on Christmas needlessly hurt people in the church who I forced to take on my personal conviction. Therefore, I would suggest if someone asks you about Christmas graciously share with them your beliefs and then leave it alone. If God wants the teaching to go further in their lives He is able to share it with them without you “ramming it down their spiritual throats.” Remember, by you not being able to celebrate, like myself, according to Romans 14 you and I are the “weaker in faith” and not the “stronger.”
- Relax and Have Fun | If I can do it- I know you can too! I have found joy in Christmas caroling because it allows me to sings hymns on people’s door steps and share the love of Christ. People in the community are more talkative, families get together, good food is everywhere, therefore, “rejoice with those who rejoice!”
My Advice to “Christmas Celebrators”
- Don’t Judge Those Who Don’t | Paul is very clear in Colossians 2:16 & Romans 14:5 that we’re not to judge another Christian according to “holy days” or “holidays.” As long as the non-celebrator isn’t trying to burn your Christmas tree on the altar, their fine.
- Don’t Make it an Issue | I believe unity and peace in the church is more important than arguing over Christmas. As a pastor I’ve learned in the past how focusing too much on anything other than Jesus and the Bible can be a waste of time. Simply, share why you celebrate and leave it alone. No need to try to force your beliefs on those who don’t. Think of it this way, you save money not having to buy us gifts! Also, according to Romans 14 you are the “stronger in faith” and thus shouldn’t grieve the Christian who cannot celebrate because they are “weaker in faith.”
- Don’t Over Spend | Enjoy the season, do all unto God, but just don’t go into debt. Take the pressure off of yourself and do whatever you feel is best for you and your family. If your kids have food, clothes, and a place to stay consider giving them just one Christmas card and write in it, “Merry Christmas! Your gift for the next year is clothes, food, and shelter!”
Most Common Questions I Get For Not Personally Celebrating Christmas
- What About Your Kids? My kids have an ipad, iphone, clothes and toys coming out of every closet, and parents who love to surprise them year round with gifts- not mention two sets of grandparents who make almost every visit a national holiday! I think they’ll be fine, see Matthew 6:33 for my parenting priorities.
- Do You Celebrate Birthdays? If Yes, Why, Aren’t They Pagan in Origin Too? Yes to both. We celebrate birthdays and yes they are pagan in origins, meaning the celebration is not found in the Bible. However, because it doesn’t involve religion and its tailored to each person differently we as a family can control greed, expel wrong thinking, and have a good time.
- How Long Do You Think You Will Continue to Not Celebrate? Short answer, “Until my conscience is no longer grieved.” Long answer, according to Romans 14 I see myself as the “weaker brother” and thus don’t have a clear conscience to separate the “good” from the “bad.” Meaning, I cannot in good conscience see past the vast negatives and enjoy the positives. Therefore, for me to be at peace I avoid it altogether. On the other hand, if one day I can be at peace in my conscience as other Christians are who celebrate Christmas without greed and the like- I will do so. Until then I will refrain.
- How Does Your Wife and Kids Feel About Not Having Christmas? My wife and I discussed this before we got married and she agreed to my standard for our kids. At the same time, I felt comfortable enough to give her freedom without judgment to participate with others if she so desired, but after many years she has seen the peace of avoiding it altogether as well. I teach my children Santa doesn’t exist, Jesus loves them, and we do too (that seems to be enough!)