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Age old question...Christmas

Discussion in 'Requests for Christian Advice' started by Littlek, Aug 18, 2020.

  1. Littlek

    Littlek I'm His

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    okay sorry, I know this gets asked alot...but I grew up celebrating christmas. Loved it..Im almost 50 now and since we moved to a bigger home 15 years ago I have held our family Christmas party on Christmas eve every year..and everyone looks forward to it. We have games, prizes, exchange gifts, and eat. No drinking, just family fun. I go all out on decorations...love my trees...I have 4.

    BUT I of course don't I believe in pushing the Santa idea on kids. I don't use santa decorations..nor do I tell my gkids some old jolly man is coming through their chimney at night to leave gifts ..cant do that..lying to me. But thats me. Even though its fun and games when they truly understand.

    I did some research and history is so confusing. Christmas was not a celebration held by the followers of Jesus after he went back to heaven..nor was it commanded. It is a manmade holiday. I do see alot of history of pagans hanging mistletoe, yuletide was used for something, cant remember, houses were decorated with green and red.

    Everyone pushes the issue of celebrating Jesus's birthday and using Dec 25...which we don't know his bday..and never was commanded to celebrate it.

    What I am asking, does God see it as a abomination? Am I celebrating a manmade holiday that he does not approve of? I'm confused! Is this following the way of the world?
    Im so undecided and im 50/50 on celebrating it. I love the smells, the sights, the holiday songs, lights blinking..etc.

    Plus its soooo confusing reading history...one thing says this, and the other says something different.

    What do you think? I need advice. The season will be here before we know it. I mean I k ow it comes down to what's in my heart. My family will be torn if I don't celebrate it. And yes, we are all believers in Christ.
     
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  2. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother? Supporter

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    Why is Christmas on December 25?

    In brief, the early Church believed they had reason to recognize something significant about December 25. I trust them more than today's johnny come latelys who repeat nonsense claims about Christmas without a single critical thought.
     
  3. .Mikha'el.

    .Mikha'el. Young Fogie Staff Member Supervisor Supporter

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    To me, it's simple. If we have no real idea what the date is, why bother?
     
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  4. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    So Christians chose on their own to celebrate the birth of their Savior. Seems sensible enough to me, even if it isn't commanded in Scripture. Neither are a lot of other religious customs most of us Christians have. And then non-religious people have taken up OUR customs. That's nothing harmful to our traditions but just the opposite.

    That's true, and no one knows the real date. So any celebration has to choose one arbitrarily. But this one isn't entirely at random. The early Christians had an unofficial belief that Christ was crucified on the anniversary of his conception, so December 25 makes sense that way, even if the story is fanciful.

    In addition, when the early Christians began evangelizing Pagans (first Romans and later Germans) they chose to use an "in your face" kind of approach. That is to say, being mindful of the pagan customs of the season, the Christians chose to trump them!

    Some of them celebrated one of the prominent Pagan gods for a number of days late in December, so that was another reason for the Christians to give no quarter but to celebrate their own God at the same time. When they encountered northern Pagans who worshipped before trees, the Christian missionaries used a conifer that wouldn't drop its leaves in winter like an oak. So look!...the Christian God does not die each year, you see? That's come down to us as the Christmas Tree.

    I can't imagine any reason to think he would. We are not celebrating the birth of anyone else, are we?

    Since we Christians created the observance, I'd say no to that.

    Exactly. And if just one non-believer was moved to give Christ another thought because of the joy of the season or the solemnity of some of the observances, well, I cannot be offended by that.

    The bottom line may be to be sure to "keep Christ in Christmas." If we were to celebrate Mrs. Claus, Rudolph the Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman as more than fun fairy tales and to the exclusion of anything religious, well then, I think THAT would be wrong. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
  5. bèlla

    bèlla ⭐️ Supporter

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    Littlek,

    Holidays can be a source of great division. My benchmark is Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all you do be done in love.” I don’t believe disagreements foster love or togetherness and that’s the larger purpose of our gatherings.

    If love is my barometer, I’ll consider the impact of its absence on my guests and loved ones. It may be of little consequence to young adults, but older relatives may see it in a different light.

    Questions to Ponder:
    • Will holiday decorations and celebrations diminish my love for God?
    • How am I exhibiting His Spirit on the day and time leading up to it?
    • What will people remember?
    • What do I want them to recollect?
    • Who is being served by my stance?
    My approach is three-fold:
    • Love: “Love is patient, love is kind.“1 Corinthians 13:4
    • Hospitality: “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.“1 Peter 4:9
    • Light: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.“Matthew 5:14
    I have chosen to set aside my personal thoughts in deference to something greater. Opening my home and sharing a meal provides numerous opportunities for fellowship and ministry. Caretaking is more important than splitting hairs.

    “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22

    Yours in His Service,

    ~Bella
     
  6. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    the holidays are for family to get together .... if the theme is Jesus is the reason for the season .... that is where the emphasis should be. Honor the Lord with the day. I'd stay away from the Santa Claus thing as much as possible ... but ... is sometimes difficult to do with the little ones.

    When our kids were small we did both the Santa Claus thing and honored the Lord as well .... for the most part did not exchange gifts among the adults .... when the kids got to adult age .... we quit gift giving all together and just got together for a very nice meal. Have been doing that for years now .... and like that much better than all the commercialized stuff going on. Let your conscience be your guide, pray about it.
     
  7. Littlek

    Littlek I'm His

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    Thank you. The adults don't give each other gifts, we buy small ones and use them for game prizes. Last year we did the saran wrap ball stuffed with numerous gifts, that was a blast. We just give gifts to the little ones.
     
  8. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    Sounds good to me ;o)
     
  9. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Of course, now people use cut trees; so the trees do die and might catch on fire so a house burns down. That is not exactly representative of how God does not die. And the growing tree can be representative of how we in Jesus keep growing . . . from year to year . . . in His love and His way of loving.

    So, may be for the symbolism, have a conifer at your place and keep it alive and decorate when you celebrate the birth of Jesus. The day is not the birth, by the way :) We need to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

    And may be we need to upgrade what we consider to be customs. Christian traditions, in my opinion, are not only about days and beliefs and practices. I believe our traditions need to include how God's word says to relate in His love, because of being in intimate sharing with Him. But a lot of people have oriented their lives and beliefs and traditions around who they want to share with and what they like to do for pleasure . . . not being about loving any and all people, in intimacy with God.

    But God does give "us richly all things to enjoy," we have in 1 Timothy 6:17. So, I am not saying there must be no Christmas pleasures, but first God and loving is our greatest pleasure treasure ! ! ! :)

    And ones might make a major thing of Christmas, but not even submit to God and how we are "called in one body" to personally submit to Him in His own peace > Colossians 3:15.

    Christ's birth is about family, yes, but with us in sharing with God, and living in Jesus Christ's "rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-30) But we can see how many are stressing and even having fights during Christmas season. So, how we keep Christmas is important. Our main tradition needs to be how we first stay prayerful and we love and share as God's family; and how we are blessed to love with God during Christmas should be our standard for how to live . . . how to love . . . all year long > but not staying the same way, but this means growing and abounding more and more after Christmas.
     
  10. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    ?? Half of that doesn't have anything to do with the point about where these things came from, that they aren't pagan in origin, but quite the opposite...and the rest of it I just don't get. Are we not supposed to have Christmas trees because they'll burn your house down?

    The day is not the birth, that's right. It's the day on which we celebrate the birth.

    That's just like we celebrate Valentine's Day or Independence Day or other holidays, religious or secular as the case may be.
     
  11. Rugged Cross

    Rugged Cross Member

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    The reason why we celebrate Our Lord's birthday on 25th December is irrelevent, the fact that we we remember His birth and use a day to do it is the reason, but also should we not celebrate His birth in our hearts everyday, remember His Sacrifice every day. He was born and He died for us everyday of our lives.

    As to the celebrations and Santa, I was bought up believing in Santa, but I grew up and realised the true meaning at an age I could understand. I also seem to remember the story of the Nativity, so even we were told about an old guy wearing red and has a white beard, I also taught about the most important part of Christmas - JESUS. So celebrate the holiday with Jesus in your heart.
     
  12. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What it has to do with is where we can be coming from, by having a living tree which represents God by staying alive.

    I am simply enjoying what could be the most symbolic of God . . . and how we like one tree can be growing all year long, in His love. So, no, my focus is not intended to tell people what to do.

    A point is a cut tree will die and could result in a fire; and therefore it would not symbolize God, and growing together in the family tree of Jesus in His love.
     
  13. Archivist

    Archivist Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Some Christmas traditions date to the pagans--burning the yule log (which had to burn for all of yuletide), consuming the boar's head on Christmas Day. However, a great many of our Christmas traditions come to us from the Victorian era. We don't know when Jesus was actually born so there is nothing wrong with selecting Christmas day to celebrate as long as we keep Jesus as the focus.
     
  14. Littlek

    Littlek I'm His

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    Thanks for all the replies...I will say all my trees are artificial lol. I will probably still have my Christmas Eve party....nothing better than being with family and enjoying our time together.
     
  15. tturt

    tturt Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Havent read all the replies but really glad you are going to continue. The world keeps trying to shut us up about Jesus, why not celebrate Him birth more?
     
  16. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

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    Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ, it was a great day for us when Jesus was born, and a bad day for the devil. I don't see why any Christian should be adverse to celebrating it, though how it should be celebrated can vary.
     
  17. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    As we read the New Testament one of the things that is clear is that the old observations, feasts, and rules which were given to the Jewish people as part of the old covenant God made with them were not binding upon Christians. Those things, St. Paul tells us in Colossians, were but "shadows" which pointed to what was to come, that is, to Jesus.

    That doesn't mean, however, that Christians didn't engage in various observances, practices, etc. For example, from nearly the very beginning we see that Christians began meeting together on the first day of the week. They didn't do this because God commanded them to, but rather because it made sense to meet together on the same day that Christ rose from the dead. By the end of the 1st century, in fact, the first day of the week had gotten the name "The Lord's Day" (see Revelation 1:10). In fact, even today in Greek the first day of the week is called Kyriaki, from the old phrase kyriake hemera, "Lord's Day".

    And Christians did the same thing by setting aside certain days and times of the year for Christian observance and practice. The earliest Christian feast is Pascha (Easter), it comes directly from the Jewish Passover but was radically remolded in Christian practice. Originally there was no singular way of observing Easter, some Christian communities celebrated it on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, the same day Jews celebrate the Passover, while in other Christian communities it was always observed on a Sunday and thus was often the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. The way which Easter is calculated today is the same way it's been done since it was standardized in the 4th century--the point was simply to allow Christians, regardless of where they lived, to be celebrating the feast of Christ's resurrection on the same day everywhere.

    Another very ancient Christian feast was Epiphany (also called Theophany), this day of observance arose as Christians wanted to set aside time to celebrate the truth of Christ's coming into the world, the appearing of Christ in our midst as God made flesh, hence the names Epiphany/Theophany. This day occurs on January 6th, and is sometimes known as the Three Kings Day in the West because in the West the day has often come to focus on the arrival of the magi who brought gifts to the Child Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The main theme of Epiphany is Christ's baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist, as this was when the voice of the Father spoke from heaven "This is My beloved Son" and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, inaugurating His earthly ministry. For some in the past it was also a time to observe the birth of Christ. In fact, even today in the Armenian Apostolic Church (the ancient and historic Church in Armenia) the Feast of Christ's Nativity--Christmas--is January 6th, Epiphany.

    So why do most Christians celebrate Christ's birth on December 25th? The answer to that is kind of interesting. So when we go back to the 3rd century we find that Christians were occasionally being curious about things, like, what day of the year did Jesus die? What day was He born? Things like that. Well something that had kind of become generally accepted was that Jesus died on March 25th. From this some early Christians began to try and figure out what day He would have been born; and a common opinion at the time was that since Jesus was perfect, His life being perfect, that He must have either been conceived on, or born on, the same day that He died. So some argued, then, that Jesus was born on March 25th, but others instead argued that Jesus had been conceived on March 25th, and then they simply added 9 months to arrive at December 25th as the day of His birth.

    The celebration of Christ's Nativity didn't happen all at once in the Church, but was a practice that spread over time, and as noted above there were differences in opinion and so sometimes Christians were celebrating Christ's birth at different times. It isn't until the 5th century that an effort among Christian bishops to try and standardize the the feast of Christ's birth settled on the most common practice, that of observing Christ's birth on December 25th.

    If you go online, you will come across a lot of websites and people claiming that Christmas and Easter are pagan. There's going to be a lot of claims. But it's important to notice that what basically all these people have in common when they make the "Christmas is pagan" or "Easter is pagan" kinds of claims is that they don't actually provide sources. And the few times that they do, it becomes clear that they never read the sources for themselves.

    A good example of this has to do with Easter. One will find it routinely argued that Easter is pagan, because the name "Easter" comes from a pagan goddess by the same name, or more specifically an archaic form "Eoster", and they will cite the work of Bede from the 8th century. They will then go on to make further claims, such as that the goddess Eoster was worshiped as a spring fertility goddess, and eggs and hares/rabbits were symbols of her worship and fertility rites. Well, here's the thing, it is true that Bede mentions an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eoster once worshiped before they were converted to Christianity, but that's about it.

    More specifically, Bede wrote a work called the Reckoning of Time, and in it at one point he describes what the Anglo-Saxon people in Britain called the months of the year. He describes the name of each month, and offers what he believes to be the etymology of the name. The month that corresponded with the Roman April was Eosturmonath "Easter-month", and here is how Bede describes how it got its name:

    "Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated ‘‘Paschal month’’, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month.Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance." - Ven. Bede, The Reckoning of Time, 15

    That's everything, that's literally everything that Bede has to say about this subject. And we can break it down:

    The Anglo-Saxons had a month called Eosturmonath, which by his time had come to be called Paschalmonath or "Paschal-month", that is, the month in which Christians observe Pascha, Christ's resurrection. The old name for the month was named after a goddess named Eostre, and he says that feasts were celebrated in that month in her honor at some point in the past. However, since the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons they no longer do so, but the month name is still used to refer to the Christian feast of Pascha, of Christ's resurrection. That is, they called the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus "Easter" because that was the name of the month. In essence, it's like calling the feast of Christ's resurrection "April" because that's the name of the month it usually occurs in.

    Now more should be mentioned here. Note that I said that the above quote is the only thing Bede has to say on the matter. Not only is that the only thing Bede has to say on the matter, it's literally the only thing anyone ever had to say. What I mean is, is that Bede is the only source we have. There are no historical sources or records, besides this brief comment by Bede, that the Anglo-Saxons even ever at any point worshiped a goddess by the name of Eoster. There are no archeological records, nothing in writing from either Christian or non-Christian sources, there are no carvings, or engravings, or runic markers by any Germanic pagan people who worshiped a goddess by this name, or any similar name.

    That means that it's entirely possible that Bede was mistaken, that there was no goddess named Eoster at all, and the etymology for the name of the month is completely different. In fact, it may simply have been called Eosturmonath because this is the month where the sun starts to rise earlier, in the East. So it may simply be nothing more than that this is the "dawn-month" the month where the dawn is earlier.

    And what about eggs and rabbits? Or spring fertility rites? Nope, nothing there. That's something people just made up. It sounded good, I mean, a spring time fertility goddess with eggs and rabbits as symbols of renewal? That sounds like something ancient pagans might have had. But that idea is literally completely made up.

    And that's the same thing, in fact, with things such as Christmas trees. The origin of the Christmas tree dates to the 15th or 16th centuries in Germany, in fact there doesn't seem to be much evidence for Christmas trees before the Protestant Reformation, and it was early Lutherans and other Protestants who really ended up popularizing the practice. So it is a practice that originated with Christians, nothing pagan about it. Evergreen trees were green through the winter, they were a symbol of life during the dead of winter, they were decorated with candles because Christ is the light of the world. Really some basic Christian symbolism.

    Even the eggs and bunnies of Easter probably have Christian origins. The tradition of dying eggs comes from the Christian East, where they were dyed red. This is based on the ancient tradition that Mary Magdalene when she was preaching the Gospel in Rome once was invited to come to the house of the emperor, and ate dinner with him. He gave her the opportunity to speak to him about Jesus, and so she explained and preached the Gospel at supper. Caesar, mockingly, took a boiled egg from the table and declared, "It is more likely for this egg to turn red in my hands than for your Christ to have risen from the dead" which, at that very moment, the egg miraculously turned red. And, based on that tradition, Christians dyed eggs red during the Paschal season. The practice began in the East and spread West, where the dying of eggs (though it is no longer just red, but many colors) has remained common.

    Rabbits? Well honestly rabbits are probably a common thing one sees in spring, and so rabbits are going to show up as a spring-time animal during a spring-time event (well spring in the northern hemisphere anyway). Though it is also possible that due to numerous symbolic reasons rabbits have come to be included. C.f. Rabbits and hares in art - Wikipedia

    The short version of all this is that no, these are not abominations before God. Christmas is not bad, it's good. It is the celebration of Jesus Christ, of His birth, it is the celebration of the Incarnation, the celebration of the great gift of salvation which God has given the whole world. It is beautiful and good and right. Even Santa Clause is fine, he's based loosely on the real historical St. Nicholas of Myra, a real Christian bishop who was renown for his generosity and giving of gifts as an act of Christian charity. So you don't even have to get rid of Santa, Santa can still be a wonderful symbol of Christian generosity that we should teach our children about, and it's a great way to learn and then teach about the real Nicholas, and the virtues of charity and kindness and looking out for one another. That is all very wonderfully Christian and God-honoring.

    Don't let the liars out there on the internet rob you of your joy in Christ.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
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  18. Littlek

    Littlek I'm His

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    Thank you for such an in depth answer, I appreciate your help! I do have different opinions on santa though.
     
  19. Tony B

    Tony B Active Member

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    Christmas and Easter do little to promote who Jesus is. He wasn't into overspend, over eating and drinking, materialism, and financial stress. Can't see how that honours Him. I'd rather not support the excesses that occur in any way.
     
  20. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Hmm. Perpetuating and retelling the accounts of how the Savior of Mankind came into this world and also how he redeemed it has, for me, always seemed relevant.

    No, we don't know the exact day of the year either of those happened, and we are not explicitly commanded in Scripture to celebrate them, but I cannot imagine why it would be wrong for the followers of Christ to make special remembrances on some appointed days, to reassert the importance of the original events that are being commemorated, and make them more alive in our minds by doing that sort of thing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2020
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