Recently I received correspondence from an AFA supporter who posed the following thought and eventual question.
“I am an ardent follower of Jesus Christ and I have a question for you regarding the keep "Jesus Christ in Christmas Campaign".
For years past, I was "all in" for keeping Jesus Christ in Christmas. However upon further reading of the Bible regarding this issue, I have come to the understanding that Jesus does not even want to be in this holiday we call Christmas and considers this following the ways of pagans in glorifying their false gods as well as following man-made traditions over His Holy Day observance statutes. I think it is somewhat common knowledge our Christmas holiday is simply a rename by the Roman Catholic Church of a pagan holiday in which the pagans honor the winter solstice god. Also it seems quite clear Jesus was not born in December as I highly doubt the shepherds were in the fields in Israel's winter.
So my question is, in insisting we keep Christ in Christmas, are we perpetuating something that is detestable to the Lord? I would appreciate your thoughts.” *
Saturnalia is a pagan holiday which originated in Rome. Precisely when it became a holiday is not known but it is assumed to have originated before the birth of Christ. This holiday, while changing in nature over time, continued during the Roman Empire and at least until 300 AD, according to historical documents.
Around this same time came the Christian celebration called Christmas. Pope Julius I (337-352 AD), set December 25 as the official day in Rome for the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the Nativity or birth of Jesus Christ. According to historytoday.com, “The earliest known reference to it [Christmas] commemorating the birth of Christ on December 25th is in the Roman Philocalian calendar of AD 354.” The Orthodox Church in Europe then fixed the date of Christmas at January 6th. The celebration of the birth of Christ quickly spread.
Are Saturnalia and Christmas connected?
There’s little evidence to suggest that the two are related other than the fact that they were celebrated during the same month. Some historians suggest that the Pope adopted this Christian holiday around the same time as Saturnalia in an attempt to overtake the pagan holiday.
Was Christ born on December 25?
Both historians and Christians hold varying opinions as to what day or month the birth of Christ occurred because the Bible doesn’t specifically point to a day or month. No one can say with any certainty either the day or the month Christ was born. But that shouldn’t prevent Christians from celebrating the birth of our Savior. There’s nothing overtly or specifically holy about the month of December. It’s simply the month the majority of believers choose to celebrate the birth of Christ, which seems harmless.
Is it important to keep Christ in Christmas?
If we allow Jesus Christ and His birth to be forgotten during the Christmas season then December 25 will surely become a pagan holiday. Secular forces in American would rather us call the Christmas holiday “Xmas” or “winter holiday.” Hence, there are companies that refuse to use the term “Christmas” when advertising for shoppers to buy Christmas gifts which is absurd.
For those who say we need to stop stressing the importance of keeping Christ in Christmas, I would suggest that for most believers, honoring the birth of the Son of God is neither sinful nor pagan.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).