I know many Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas, the second most important Christian holiday behind only Easter. Why not, you may ask? Many choose not to celebrate Christmas because they believe it to be related to various pagan holidays. One of such holidays is the feast called Saturnalia, a tribute dedicated to the Roman sun god Saturn.
This topic has always bothered me. Not because I was uncomfortable with the idea of giving up my family’s Christmas traditions, but because I wanted to know the truth about the origins of Christmas. Knowing and believing the Truth has always been my goal, hence, this blog.
Google “is Christmas a pagan holiday?” and 99% of the results are bloggers ranting about how horrible Christmas is; moreover, that if Christians would just open their eyes, and care more for truth, they would stop celebrating Christmas. Somehow, I didn’t believe those claims. I didn’t buy into the “Christmas is a pagan holiday” thing.
Today Christmas is so “Christian” that people all over the world are trying to “de-Christianize” it by saying “Happy Holidays” as their salutations for the time leading up to Christmas. This should be considered a victory of the early church, even if they did take a pagan holiday and turned it into a Jesus-centered one. Its even more impressive that the holiday remained present in the world-wide community 20 centuries later.
If you do some in depth research, not just trusting Google, it is actually very easy to prove that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th pre-dates any pagan holiday that was also celebrated on December 25th.
The earliest mention we find of a pagan holiday (the birth of Sol Invictus) being celebrated on December 25th is from a manuscript containing a calendar of the year 354 A.D. This text also includes the celebration of Christ’s birth on that same day. This diminishes the likelihood that the pagan holiday came first, and that the Christmas celebration came from it.
There is documented evidence that December 25th was of significance to the early Christians prior to 354 A.D. The writings of Hippolytus of Rome, in 204 A.D. gives us one example:
The first Advent of our Lord in the flesh, when He was born in Bethlehem, happened on the eighth day before the calends of January [Dec. 25], on a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of Augustus, in the year 5500, reckoning from Adam. He suffered in His thirty-third year, on the eighth day before the calends of April [Mar. 25], on a Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius, while Rufus and Rubellius were consuls.
– Commentary on the book of Daniel
This is not the only mention. There are also many, many mentions from the early Church fathers that clearly indicate their desire to distance themselves from pagan religions. These writings of the early Christians demonstrate a contemptuous view of pagan polytheism and idolatry. It is abundantly clear the Church fathers found the practices of these pagan religions abhorrent and would never try to copy one of their holidays. Whether or not Jesus was actually born on December 25th, we do know that the early Christians celebrated Christ’s birth on that day long before any pagan holiday was.
Whether you are Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Catholic, or someone who argues the origin of Christmas, you can now be assured that Christmas is indeed a very, VERY Christian holiday. I encourage you to enjoy it, just as our ancestors did many centuries ago.
Don’t let the modern day non-Christians “paganize” a holiday Christians had from the very beginning.
If you’re interested in reading more, here are my sources and suggestions: