Theology and Practice: Christmas

Shall we celebrate Christmas?

Short answer: It is not so much as mentioned anywhere in the Bible. The Hebrew people did not celebrate birthdays. The individual and immediate family kept track, but had nothing like the mental image we have of it. Their sense of calendar was nothing like ours. Thus, it was common to say in that culture: “So-n-so is about X years old.” Even then, such comments were typically confined to those threshold points in life that were associated with rites of passage.

Now the longer answer: When Ancient Near Eastern royalty celebrated a “birthday” it was actually the day they were vested with royal authority, not the day of their birth. Such vestment ceremonies were carefully timed to avoid conflicts with other major holidays and celebrations, to prevent dragging vassals in and tying them up with rituals and protocols when it might hinder their productivity on the king’s behalf in the first place.

Thus, there is no valid biblical foundation for celebrating Christmas as the birth of Christ.

There are also solid historical reasons for avoiding associating Christ with that holiday. Within the New Testament narrative are multiple clues that Christ could not have been born in winter. For example, shepherds do not sleep out in the fields with their flocks that time of year. It’s most likely that Jesus was born in the springtime when shepherds were watching for sheep giving birth. Keep in mind that He was the Lamb of God.

Another issue is that Luke is careful not to compress the events of his narrative the way most Western readers envision it. The hassle of having to return to the clan home in Bethlehem meant the newlywed couple went early, stayed at least a year while the Magi arrived, and then left for Egypt. There’s no reason to assume Jesus was born the night they arrived, since the inn would have remained full for weeks during that kind of census activity. A lot of people had tents or built a shelter, but this couple found space in a stable.

I’m also not going to expound on the question about Quirinius and when he governed Syria versus the timing of the census in question; Quirinius was in and out of Syria several times in varying imperial capacities over some two decades that include a period that overlaps Herod’s reign (Jesus was born before 4BC).

Our point here is that we shouldn’t celebrate His birth at all, much less on the modern Christmas Day. If all that were not enough, we know for a fact Constantine during the Third Century AD corrupted the church leadership so he could use Christianity as his official religion of the masses. It was frankly a smart political move. Meanwhile, he kept his own devotion to the sun god until on his death bed, and Christmas happens to be the annual feast of that deity.

Thus, I celebrate Christmas as an American cultural holiday carried over from paganized European “Christianity.” Christ never was in Christmas except in the wild and hugely mistaken imagination of Westernized Christian believers. I still sing Christmas carols as a mere cultural tradition and because it’s pretty nice music. However, it is not a holy night in my religion.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
This entry was posted in teaching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Theology and Practice: Christmas

  1. Iain says:

    I think all the “Christian” holidays have pagan origins. I can understand why. “The Emperor has decreed a new religion for the Empire and it has no holidays!” would have been a tough sell.


  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Well, there were a few holdover Jewish holidays, but they were celebrating the Resurrection the next year, since it was right after Passover. But you are correct that there was a pattern of later centuries seeing the adoption of pagan festivals.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.