Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?
Is Christmas a pagan holiday? If Christmas has pagan origins then should Christians celebrate Christmas every year on 25 December?
The best way to answer these questions is by reading 2 scriptures which give some principles regarding the honoring and celebration of various feasts, festivals or the esteeming of particular days.
Romans 14:5-6 says: One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Colossians 2:16 says: Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
The principles we can learn regarding honoring certain days are as follows:
- It is up to the conscience and personal conviction of an individual if he/she chooses to esteem a certain day above another (Romans 14:5).
- It is up to the conscience and personal conviction of an individual if he/she believes that all days are alike or that all days are the same (Romans 14:5).
- It’s not so much about when you honor a certain day, but it is about how you give honor during that particular day (Romans 14:6).
- Whatever you choose pertaining to any particular day, whether eating, celebrating or abstaining – is it all done to honor God? (Romans 14:6).
- Whether a person chooses to abstain or to esteem certain days above others, we should not pass judgment if it is done to the honor and glory of God (Colossians 2:16; Romans 14:7-13)
The above principles can also apply to whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas. There are many Christians who celebrate Christmas and do it in remembrance of the birth and purpose of Jesus Christ. However there are others who do not celebrate the Christmas holidays on the argument that December 25 was originally a pagan holiday and that the exact date of the birth of Jesus is not mentioned in Scripture and is therefore unknown.
For example, according to Britannica: “The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer”.
December 25th coincided with the idolatrous pagan festival Saturnalia which was an ancient Roman pagan festival honoring the agricultural god Saturn.
However Christians on opposite sides of the argument should not judge one another. So if someone celebrates Christmas in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ, then it should not be a problem.
Also if someone abstains from celebrating Christmas because of his/her conscience and convictions about the pagan origins of Christmas, then such a person should not be judged too.
Let’s suppose someone’s date of birth was on a pagan holiday like Halloween? Should that person celebrate his/her birthday? Should that person’s family and friends also celebrate the birthday?
Or let’s suppose a person was born on Christmas day – which is a day that some people consider to be a pagan holiday. Should that person celebrate his/her birthday on Christmas day?
The argument of whether or not Christmas is a pagan holiday is irrelevant as long as those who esteem or celebrate the day, celebrate it in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and not in honor of a false god or for any purpose regarding pagan worship. The motive is what really matters.
Let’s be reminded that Romans 14:5-6 says: One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord…
The principle is that the celebration or esteeming of a certain day or days depends on the conscience and conviction of the individual. Furthermore the particular day which one esteems is not as important as how that individual esteems that particular day.
Also with many people, there are certain specific days which are of immense value and importance, but yet to others, every single day is just the same.
So a person can choose to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas day and furthermore another person can choose to celebrate Christ’s birth and purpose for humanity on a totally different day.
Therefore we should not judge people regarding which particular day they esteem as important or not – as long as whatever choices they make (whether to esteem or abstain) is in honor of Jesus Christ.