Challenge: Christmas Is Pagan

Posted: December 20, 2011 by Amy Hall in Do the Right Thing, Weekly Challenge

Here’s a recent comment left on the STR Blog:

Christmas is the Roman Catholic “christianization” of the pagan practices of the Feast of the Saturnalia, and has since incorporated many other pagan practices along the way. I don’t celebrate christ-mass solely because I am a Christian.

This challenge comes up every year. What do you think? Should Christians not celebrate Christmas? Tell us how you respond when this comes up, and we’ll hear Brett’s answer on Thursday.

There’s no challenge next week (we’re taking a break for Christmas…and yes, I realize the irony of writing that on this post), so this is the last challenge of the year. Great job this year! We look forward to seeing you here again in January.

Comments
  1. Sam Harper says:

    From my blog: http://philochristos.blogspot.com/2005/03/genetic-fallacy-and-jehovahs-witnesses.html

    Here’s another fallacy Jehovah’s Witnesses use in their arguments. They use this fallacy in several arguments, but the most common is in their argument against celebrating Christmas.

    The genetic fallacy is when you argue agaist a present thing or idea based on its shady past or origins. You assume that what was true in the past is true in the present. For example, suppose drums were originally invented for use in conjuring up the spirits of dead ancestors. A person would be committing the genetic fallacy if, for that reason, they thought using drums in the present is bad. Just because people use drums today doesn’t mean they pour any spiritual significance in it.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses will point out that many aspects of the Christmas celebration originated from a pagan holiday–Saturnalia. It took place on December 25th, etc. The Chrismas tree bears some similarities to ashera poles. All of these observations are used to argue that Christians shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, but this is a clear example of the genetic fallacy. Just because Saturnalia was celebrated on December 25, or just because people cut down trees to make ashera poles doesn’t mean people who celebrate Christmas today pour any pagan meaning into their celebration. There’s nothing inherently wrong with cutting down a tree, putting it in the living room, and decorating it anymore than there’s something wrong with beating a drum. And there’s nothing wrong with giving gifts. There’s nothing wrong with having a big dinner with your family. And there’s nothing wrong with doing these things for the purpose of celebrating the birth of Jesus. And there’s nothing wrong with doing it on a particular day that happens to have also been the day Saturnalia (or any other pagan holiday) was celebrated.

    The same thing applies to Easter. Although some aspects of a pagan holiday have been retained (such as rabbits and easter eggs), that doesn’t mean Christian pour any of those meanings into their celebration of Easter today. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Easter eggs, rabbits, or candy.

  2. Albert says:

    I’m never going to celebrate my birthday again! I just found out that near Tel Aviv, Israel, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler’s “final solution of the Jewish question,” was executed for his crimes against humanity.

    And here I thought I was just celebrating my birthday. Man…. this sucks!

    Actually, that did happen on my birthday. But I don’t celebrate that event, I celebrate my birth. I don’t add that event to my celebration just because it happened on the same day.

    Now wouldn’t that suck if every year we had to add the past events to our celebration just because it happened on that day? Sure glad I wasn’t born on September 11th.

    It’s crazy to think that just because a pagan holiday is on the same day, or around the celebration of Christmas, that we would be tacking on those other events to our celebration.

    When there are only 365 days of the year, it could get pretty hard to pick a day without a celebration somewhere, right?

    Commonality of holiday practices does not mean that Christmas takes on the meaning of the other holiday. It means there are things in common within the practices. The question might be to ask why are they common in ‘x’ or ‘y’? There might be a logical answer to it all.

  3. ( I have not read Sam’s posted link.) From my experience with JWs, they do not celebrate Christmas because they celebrate Jehovah, and not Jesus. Neither do they celebrate birthdays because they do not want honor of selves before honoring Jehovah.

    As far as someone equating Christmas with a pagan holiday, they have the free-will to do so. Although my sister (who was born on December 25) was devastated to learn that there is no Santa Claus, I agree with JWs that we need to ignore this fantasy. However, I also grew up to recognize Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

    Others may choose to recognize this date as a pagan holiday, but myself and other believers choose to recognize God coming in the flesh on this day.

  4. Don says:

    I think Christmas is a bit of a sacred cow in modern Christianity. The congregation that I attend (for the most part) treats Christmas as a secular holiday. They don’t really acknowledge it during services, though many members still give the children gifts, eat dinner with their families, and celebrate it at home. The birth of Christ doesn’t go unstudied, but seeing as there is no scriptural command regarding celebrating it, we could be studying it in July rather than December.

    Having come from a nominal Christian background, it was honestly very difficult for me to get used to this…I still can’t say that I’m completely used to it. But I do think that it has been positive for my faith and scriptural understanding. Paul said it best: “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” [Romans 14:5]. Be careful about being too harsh either way with this subject. It’s obviously been a point of contention for a very long time. Celebrate it or not, Christmas is not the focal point of our faith.

  5. Bobby says:

    wow brett only 3 responses ? Brett, just give a shout out to the steelers for me and in the end of the video wish the steelers luck in the post season go STEEL CITY!!!!