Christmas Customs—Are They Christian?

Some say that Christmas is a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ, and Family.

What do you know about Christmas?

Is the celebration of Christ’s birth supported in the Bible?

What is behind this popular celebration held every December 25th?

If you take a few moments to research this subject, you will find that Christmas has no roots in true Christianity.



Christmas Banned

Many Bible scholars of various religious denominations acknowledge this. With that in mind, it should not surprise you that in England, Cromwell’s Parliament decreed in 1647 that Christmas be a day of penance and then banned it outright in 1652.

Parliament purposely met on December 25 every year from 1644 to 1656. According to historian Penne L. Restad, “ministers who preached on the Nativity risked imprisonment. Churchwardens faced fines for decorating their churches. By law, shops stayed open on Christmas as if it were any regular business day.” Why such drastic measures?


Puritan reformers believed that the church should not create traditions that did not exist in the Scriptures. They actively preached and distributed literature denouncing Christmas celebrations.

Similar attitudes were evident in North America. Between the years 1659 and 1681, Christmas was banned in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.*

According to the law enacted then, Christmas was not to be observed in any form or fashion. Violators were subject to a fine. Not only were Puritans in New England uncomfortable with celebrating Christmas but some groups in the middle colonies were also.


Pennsylvania Quakers were as adamant as the Puritans in their view of the celebration. One source says that “shortly after Americans had won their independence, Elizabeth Drinker, a Quaker herself, divided Philadelphians into three categories. There were Quakers, who ‘make no more account of it [Christmas] than another day,’ those who were religious, and the rest who ‘spend it in riot and dissipation.’”

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Henry Ward Beecher, a renowned American preacher who was raised in an orthodox Calvinist household, knew little about Christmas until he was 30 years old. “To me Christmas was a foreign day,” wrote Beecher in 1874.

The early Baptist and Congregationalist churches also found no Scriptural grounds for celebrating Christ’s birth. One source notes that it was not until December 25, 1772, that the Baptist Church of Newport [Rhode Island] observed Christmas for the first time. This was approximately 130 years after the founding of the first Baptist church in New England.




The Origin of Christmas

The New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges: “The date of Christ’s birth is not known. The gospels indicate neither the day nor the month . . . According to the hypothesis suggested by H. Usener . . . and accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian Calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian), because on this day, as the sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun).


On Dec. 25, 274, Aurelian had proclaimed the sun-god principal patron of the empire and dedicated a temple to him in the Campus Martius. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome.”

M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopœdia says: “The observance of Christmas is not of divine appointment, nor is it of N[ew] T[estament] origin. The day of Christ’s birth cannot be ascertained from the N[ew] T[estament], or, indeed, from any other source.”

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An “Empty Deception”

In view of the above, should genuine Christians share in Christmas traditions?

Is it pleasing to God to fuse his worship with the religious beliefs and practices of those who do not worship him?

The apostle Paul warned at Colossians 2:8: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”



The apostle also wrote: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?

Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial [Satan]? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?”—2 Corinthians 6:14, 15, footnote.

In view of the irrefutable evidence at hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses refrain from sharing in Christmas celebrations. In harmony with the Scriptures, they strive to practice “the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God,” by keeping themselves “without spot from the world.”—James 1:27.



A Closer Look at Nativity Traditions

Concerning the Christmas celebration as it is generally known all over the world, The Encyclopedia Americana says: “Most of the customs now associated with Christmas were not originally Christmas customs but rather were pre-Christian and non-Christian customs taken up by the Christian church. Saturnalia, a Roman feast celebrated in mid-December, provided the model for many of the merry-making customs of Christmas. From this celebration, for example, were derived the elaborate feasting, the giving of gifts, and the burning of candles.”


The Encyclopedia Americana explains: “Nativity plays early became a part of the Christmas celebration . . . The representation in church of the crèche [the manger scene] is said to have been begun by Saint Francis.”

When the so-called three wise men—who in fact were astrologers—visited, Jesus and his family were no longer living in a stable. Time had passed, and the family was living in a house. You will find it interesting to note this detail in the inspired record at Matthew 2:1, 11. You can also note that the Bible does not say how many astrologers there were.*



Early Christians did, not celebrate Christmas, or the Nativity.

One encyclopedia says about this: “The celebration was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth.” The Bible links the celebration of birthdays with pagans, not with God’s true worshipers.—Matthew 14:6-10.


This does not, of course, mean that it is not beneficial to learn and remember the actual events involved in the birth of the Son of God. The factual Bible account provides important insights and lessons for all those who want to do God’s will.





In his book The Trouble With Christmas, author Tom Flynn set out conclusions reached after years spent researching Christmas:

“An enormous number of traditions we now associate with Christmas have their roots in pre-Christian pagan religious traditions. Some of these have social, sexual, or cosmological connotations that might lead educated, culturally sensitive moderns to discard the traditions once they have understood their roots more clearly.”—Page 19.

After presenting a mass of supporting information, Flynn returns to the basic point: “One of the great ironies of Christmas is how little of its content is truly Christian. Once we dispose of the pre-Christian elements, most of what remains is post-Christian, rather than authentically Christian, in origin.”—Page 155.


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