Christmas carols, colored lights, decorated trees. Everyone know that Santa's on his way. Everyone loves Christmas, including most Christians. But, where or how did Christmas begin?
Software Toolworks Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1990 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc. - CHRISTMAS:
"Christmas is the feast of the birth of JESUS CHRIST celebrated on December 25."
Primitive Christianity regarded the birth of Jesus as a significant moment, important for the understanding of His person. This conviction was expressed in narrative form in the birth stories (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). Despite the beliefs about Christ that the birth stories expressed, the church did not observe a festival for the celebration of the event until the 4th century. The date was chosen to counter the pagan festivities connected with the winter solstice; since 274, under the emperor Aurelian, Rome had celebrated the feast of the "Invincible Sun" on December 25. In the Eastern Church, January 6, a day also associated with the winter solstice, was initially preferred. In course of time, however, the West added the Eastern date as the feast of the EPIPHANY, and the East added the Western date of Christmas. Thus, the West subsequently divided the Christmas celebration between December 25 and January 6. In medieval Europe, folk customs connected with the winter solstice were perpetuated together with the church celebration. The Puritans in England and in New England tried to abolish Christmas, but that move was unpopular, and Christmas survived and has been developed commercially since the Industrial Revolution. This has had the effect of pushing back the Christmas festivities to the period before Christmas.
"Mithraism, the worship of the ancient Indo-Iranian god of light, Mithra, became early Christianity's most serious rival as the mystery cult rapidly spread from Syria and Anatolia throughout the western Mediterranean and into Gaul and Britain. Its cultic origins remain obscure. Although the Persian god, Mithra, the chief ally of Ahura Mazda, the force of good in later ZOROASTRIANISM, is identical with the Roman deity, Western worship of Mithra had few connections with Zoroastrianism apart from its emphasis on the eternal struggle between good and evil. There were seven grades of initiation into the cult, completion of which conferred immortality. The most important ritual was the slaying of the bull, a reenactment of Mithra's killing of the cosmic bull of creation, which symbolized the conquest of evil and death. Astrology and sun worship also played a role in Mithraism. Introduced into the West in the 1st century AD by Roman soldiers who had fought against the Parthians, the cult remained particularly popular among the military -- the god embodied such soldierly values as victory, courage, and loyalty -- and merchant classes. Women were excluded from the cult. One of the most powerful religious movements in the Roman Empire by the 4th century, Mithraism, along with other non-Christian sects, suffered persecution after the conversion of Constantine and gradually died out. Significantly, Mithra's birth was commemorated on December 25."
The New Book of Knowledge, 1980 Edition
No one is certain why December 25 was chosen. There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that this is the date of the Nativity. It is believed that the efforts of the early Christians in Rome to change pagan customs into Christian rites led, in the 4th century A.D., to the adoption of December 25 as the date of the Christ Mass, or feast, in honor of the birth of Christ. This day was probably chosen because, according to the calendar then in use, December 25 was the winter solstice, the time when days begin to grow longer in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun-worshiping pagans had celebrated this day as the promise of spring.
The Christmas tree is the symbol of the spirit of the Yuletide in many homes. The custom came from Germany and dates back to primitive people and their reverence for trees, particularly evergreens. These trees did not die or fade in winter and seemed to be a sign of immortality. The Christians changed the custom into one honoring Christ.
The Northern peoples of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (where the forests are plentiful) adopted the custom of bringing small trees into their homes at Christmas time.
Many Christmas decorations used today were once pagan symbols. The Romans used flowers and leafy boughs in their rites. Records show that the Saxons used holly, ivy, and bay in their rites. The Druids gave the world the tradition of hanging the mistletoe in the house. When two enemies met under a sprig of mistletoe they would drop their weapons and embrace in friendship. It is thought that the modern custom of young men and women kissing under the mistletoe comes from this old ritual.
The Encyclopedias did not go deep enough into the why's and who's of how Christmas came into being. So, let's look a little farther between the lines and we might find some startling things to think on.
Genesis 10:8-10: "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
A simple Bible text? Look again. The key word here is "before." The original Hebrew uses this word in this position to mean "in place of" or "rather than." As Nimrod used his God-given talents and strength to protect the people he had clustered together in little bands, he gained the admiration and appreciation of the people he defended and this adoration started to do things in his mind. So he started his own worship services as he gazed upon his own attributes, including physique. It was not long after his kingdom of Babel was established that he allowed the people to call him a god.
Going back to the word "before" in the Bible text, we can now see where it is used also as meaning "against." Nimrod turned the people against God.
What about Nimrod's wife? Her name was Semiramis. She was also his mother!
Nimrod had one thing in common with all living things, he died! But that wasn't the end of it. His wife called the people together and told them that Nimrod was now serving his people in an exalted position as the sun-god! She further told the people that the earth was shaped like a dinner plate, round, yet flat, and on the underside there were all manner of gigantic, devouring demons trying to creep and crawl up over the edge to destroy them. But Nimrod, every evening, as he plunged over the edge of the plate went to fight back those demons to protect his people. Furthermore, he wanted to insure that they had warmth and light and he reappeared every morning from the other side of the plate. So you see how the sun, moon, and stars became gods. So, every morning, the people bowed prostrate before Nimrod, the sun, as he came up, fresh from battle in their behalf. A substitute, a counterfeit religion, carried on through the centuries.
There is more to this story, but let 's get back to the discussion of Christmas.
Colossians 2:8: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (customs) of the world, and not after Christ."
Almost everything about Christmas is based upon the traditions of men, not after Christ. Christ could not have been born on December 25th. Most place His birth as late as September or early October. This was the customary time to pay taxes, and would be about the final days of shepherds watching their sheep at night in the open fields, as recorded in Luke 2:8.
December 25th was the date of a major Pagan festival. The Roman Bramalia. The final day of the week long Saturnaliain honor of the sun god, then called Saturn. The day of the invincible sun. A pagan holiday to honor the rebirth of the sun, the winter equinox. The Babylonians, before the time of the Romans, celebrated on December 24th and 25th in honor of Ishtire, son of the Babylonian queen Estarte. They called that day "Yule Day," meaning "child day." Babylon was the seat of the first great apostasy against God after the flood, established by Nimrod, ruled by himself and his wife/mother, the queen, Semiramus. This incestuous relationship led to the many forms of pagan fertility worship in Babylon's culture. The sun was worshiped as the "life force" which was the supreme sex-god! As the sun set earlier in the winter, the Babylonians feared that this sexual force would leave them forever. These ancients lit festive fires late in December to encourage the rebirth of the sun just as Christmas bonfires, candles, and colored lights burn in December today. But about December 21st, the winter solstice , the days began to grow longer, so they tried to cheer the sun back by their vile and base celebrations in honor of the sun-god. They feasted because the sun-god, the light of the world, had been reborn and this celebration took place from December 24th through January 4th or 5th.
What about the tree? The Encyclopedia told us that tradition came from Germany. True, but it came to them via the ancient pagan religions. Because the trees are always green they were viewed as being inbred with special life forces. They were a sign of fertility to the pagans, as were branches of holly and mistletoe. These plants actually bear fruit when everything else is dead. The pagan Romans trimmed these trees with trinkets and toys during their sun feast orgies in December. These customs have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. They are a celebration of another sun. "Sun!" The sun-god of pagan antiquity.
What about gift giving? We give gifts just like the wise men did. But, the wise men didn't give their gifts to each other. They gave them to Jesus. So where does this custom of giving gifts to each other come from? The practice of exchanging presents at Christmas comes from the ancient Roman custom called Strinnea. During the Saturnalia, Romans used to give good luck gifts to their friends and on the eve of December, Yule logs were cast into a tree from which divine gifts appeared. They were supposed to be presents from the gods for the new year.
Jeremiah 10:22-24: "Thus says the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
Have you noticed the well laden tables everywhere at that time of year? The impulse to spend seizes everyone. He who through the whole year has taken pleasure in saving, suddenly becomes extravagant.
And then, there is the fireplace. It was believed to be the natural entrance and exit of the fire and solar gods. People swept and scoured their chimneys in preparation for these gods' visits. They are fire gods and are pictured in the history books as being dressed in pointed red caps and red jackets! This costume has not changed over the years. Only the influence. Parents reinforce this ho, ho, hoax in their children with lies and deceptions of every sort; reindeer fly, Santa lives at the North Pole. We force them to believe a lie. Because Mom and Dad said so, this becomes reality to our children.
Colossians 3:9,10: "Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him."
Why does a child believe in God and His supernatural powers? Because his parents tell him to. What happens when that child begins to question the existence of God, just like he does the existence of Santa Claus? Those little white lies we told about Santa suddenly become giant obstacles to our children's faith. How can we practice such deceptions on our children while trying to teach them perfect honesty? How can we support them in their fables on things of this earth when we tell them the importance of thinking of things of heaven?
Now, let's do a comparison. You will need your Bible, and your memory.
Isaiah 44:8: "Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told you from that time, and have declared it? You are even My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? Yes, there is NO God; I know not any!"
God, Jehovah God, is the only God. He Himself says that He knows of no other. But Santa is a king. One of a kind. There is not another being like him anywhere in the world. Unique. No! Equal.
Revelation 1:14: "His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire."
Revelation 2:18: "And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; these things says the Son of God, who has His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass."
Who are these texts talking about? Jesus! Of course! But Santa has curly white hair, like wool, and a "twinkle in his eye."
Isaiah 14:13,14; "For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High."
Psalms 48:2: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the North, the City of the Great King."
Exodus 26:35: "And you shall set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and you shall put the table on the North side."
Where is Christ's throne? In the North of the Temple. Where does Santa come from? The North Pole. Why not South Pole?
Jeremiah 32:27: "Behold, I AM the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?"
So, God has unlimited power. But what about Santa? Children believe that they can ask for anything and they get it!
Psalms 139:1,2: "0 Lord, You have searched me, and known me. You know my down sitting and my uprising, You understand my thought afar off."
2 Kings 19:27: "But I know your abode, and your going out, and your coming in, and your rage against Me."
God knows everything you do. He is omniscient. "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake." For goodness sake? Why not for Jesus sake?
Hebrews 13:8: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever."
Jesus is ageless. He is and has been and will be forever. Has Santa aged? How old is he? Is he subject to death? Evidently not. He's still living after countless centuries.
Isaiah 45:5: "I AM the Lord, and there is none else, there is NO God beside Me: I girded you, though you have not know Me."
There is no other God. Jehovah is Boss. There is no one above Him. Santa has no boss. There is no one else. He does his own thing.
Isaiah 64:6: "But we are all as an unclean
thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade
as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
Hebrews 4:15: "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Jesus was not, is not a sinner. He is the only one without sin. But what about Santa? Does he have any faults? Deformities? Wrongs?
Revelation 20:12: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Jesus has books of judgment. Our deeds are written down. Santa has a list. He checks it twice!
John 5:30: "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me."
John 5:27: "And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man."
Ephesians 2: 8,9: "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast."
Jesus judges fairly. Jesus give s good gifts. He offers eternal life through Him, through faith alone, not by our works. Santa gives good gifts, doesn't he? "He's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice." Santa judges, doesn't he? But according to our text, who only has the right to judge?
Romans 14:10: "But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you set at naught your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
John 14:3: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
Revelation 22:12: "And behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
How often is this reward given by Jesus? Once. How often does Santa give his gifts? Once -- every year.
1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God, and men, the man Christ Jesus."
1 John 2:1: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
Jude 24: "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."
Psalms 103: 2,3: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities."
Matthew 9:6: "But that you may know that the Son of man has the power to forgive sins, ..."
Who can forgive sins? Who is a mediator? Who is our Mediator? But Santa takes the children on his lap while they tell him they are sorry for being naughty during the year and promise him that they will be good from then on. Is Santa playing the role of forgiver of wrongs?
Psalms 25:8: "Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way."
Matthew 17:19: "And He said unto him, Why do you call Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments."
Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."
Ephesians 6:1: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."
Through Christ's strength we can do all things. We can obey with the strength of Jesus. If we sin, He is there to strengthen, forgive, uplift and present us to God. We obey in the Lord. Does Santa tell the children to obey their parents, for his sake? Be good, obey, or you won't get any presents.
Matthew 18:2: "And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them."
Mark 10:14,16: "But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." And He took them up in His arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
Jesus took the children in his arms, seated them on His lap, blessed them. Who else does that?
Hebrews 1:8: "But unto the Son He says, Your throne, 0 God, is forever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom."
Daniel 7:9: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire."
God's or Jesus' throne is beautiful beyond words. Have you ever seen Santa sitting on a plain old chair? Usually he is depicted as sitting on a throne-like looking chair. God's throne is forever. Santa's has been too, so far.
Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Psalms 141:8: "But mine eyes are unto You, O God the Lord: in You is my trust; leave not my soul destitute."
Who are we to keep our eyes focused upon? Jesus. But when Santa comes, once a year, on the night that is supposed to be Jesus' birthday, who do we see? The picture of Jesus becomes very dim.
Luke 12:40: "Be ye there fore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not."
Mark 13:33: "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is."
Matthew 25:6: "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes, go ye out to meet him."
When does Christ say His return, coming, will be? At an hour when you least expect it, when you know it not. At midnight. When is Santa supposed to come? At midnight , or sometime after. Exactly when is not known. But he will come, so it is said.
Revelation 18:8,9: "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who Judges her."
Christ's judgments come swiftly, in one day! Santa delivers his gifts-judgments, if you will, in just one night.
Psalms 139:7: "Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?"
Amos 9:2,3: "Though they dig into hell, there shall Mine hand take them, though they climb up to heaven, there will I bring them down: and though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from My sight in the bottom of the sea, there will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:"
Proverbs 15:3: "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."
Jeremiah 23:24: Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? says the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? says the Lord."
No matter where you go or what you do the Lord is there to see. Can you hide from Him? Santa makes the same claim. No man can do that. But Santa wasn't made to be just an ordinary mortal.
Revelation 19:13: "And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called the Word of God."
1 Peter 1:18,19: "For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
Revelation 7:14: "And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said unto me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Jesus shed His own blood to buy our freedom from sin. What color is blood? Red! Revelation tells us He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood. What color is Santa's suit? Red! Why not blue or green or another color? Could it be that this color is mocking Christ's sacrifice? Mocking His shed blood? Mocking our ability to be cleaned by Christ's blood?
Ezekiel 1, entire chapter.
Revelation 4, entire chapter.
Descriptions of God's throne. It is a living throne. It moves! It is surrounded by beings that are described as well as the limitations of our language can. It seems mystical, magical. Surrounded by mystical, magical, creatures. Attended by a leading being, the covering cherub, Christ's right hand. We know him by the name of Gabriel.
What about Santa's sleigh? It moves, magically, powered by magical creatures, led by one special magical creature we know as Rudolph.
Revelation 1:7: "Behold, He comes with clouds and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen."
Daniel 7:13: "I saw in the night vision, and, behold, One like the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before Him."
What are clouds? If you enter a cloud, you say you are in a fog. Right? So can we say clouds are fog? Certainly! Is it an accident that Santa comes on a foggy Christmas eve? Christ comes in clouds. Santa comes in clouds-fog!
Revelation 21:18-23: "and the building of the wall
of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass."
The next verses describe the jewels in this wall and city.
Hebrews 12:22: "but you are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels."
God and Jesus, live in a beautiful shining city filled with so many angels, we can't count them. We know that the angels do God's bidding. They are His messengers, His helper. Where does Santa live? In a city that shines like ice crystals. Pretty, dazzling, bright. Happy? He is surrounded by an uncounted number of beings that are his helpers. The origins of each of these cities and their inhabitants are unexplainable.
Romans 3:10: "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one."
Romans 5:19: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous."
God is the giver of righteousness. There is no one who is righteous of and in himself. Only Jesus. What is Santa's knick name? St. Nick. Saint!! Does he imply that he is holy? Thus is he righteous in and of himself?
Zechariah 2:6: "Ho, Ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the North, says the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, says the Lord."
This text begins with the words, "ho, ho." Interesting! God is calling to come forth and flee from the land of the north. The land of the North was known as Babylon. God is calling His people to come out of Babylon. Why does Santa use these words before he announces his arrival, or his message of ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas? Could it be that this simple ho, ho, ho, is a lashing out at God? No, you say? It's just laughter. He's a jolly fellow. Well, think about it!
Who's picture is plastered everywhere that time of the year? Whose face appears in every magazine you read? Whose plastic body is displayed on, in and around so many houses? This is image worship. If we were willing to display our adoration of Christ as openly as we do our blind love for Santa Clause perhaps more people would have heard of His precious name by now.
Ask yourself, how many times did I mention the name of Jesus last Christmas? Not the trite mentioning of it but the praise, and honor and glorifying talk of uplifting His Holy Name. Can you not see how Santa and Christmas have totally eclipsed the true object of worship from our lives? Isn't it obvious how Christmas and Santa are designed to weaken or even totally destroy the spiritual perceptions of our most precious possessions, our children?
No doubt Santa will continue to grow fat on the adorations of the youth, but he ought to be starving to death in God's churches. Tell your children the true story. Don't lie to them. Santa is a myth. Tell them the real origins of Christmas. Teach them to adore Jesus Christ, the giver of every good gift, the Friend of every child, the Savior of all man kind. Suffer the little children to come to Me. Replace Santa with Jesus.