Can we celebrate Christmas?
Rev. Dr. Paul Kaiparambadan on 05/31/2010 at 23:01pm
“Don’t celebrate Christmas. It has a pagan background!” Iglesia Ni Cristo, Ang Dating Daan, Jehova’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists are not ready to celebrate Christmas with the whole world as they believe that the birthday of Jesus is not written in the Bible and that some practices related to this celebration has pagan background! In order to realize the foolishness of their stand we have to analyze some facts (historical and biblical, common sense and reason) related to the celebration of Christmas every 25th of December.
As we all know, the birth of Jesus is written in the Bible but not its day and date. We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December not because that particular date is important, but because the event that we celebrate on that date, which divided history into two is very essential for our salvation. The Bible doesn’t say exact date of Christ’s birth as December 25, and even that the calendar we use today was not in existence at that time! Just like any other feasts in the Catholic Church, (Good Friday, Easter Sunday etc) we commemorate biblical events in different days of the liturgical calendar, not because those ‘dates and days’ have something to do with our salvation, but because that we commemorate are mysteries essential for our salvation.
The Biblical Basis of Christmas Celebrations
At the time of Jesus, birthday celebrations were very common as they were observed among the Jews. The birthday of Pharao (Gen 40:20-22), Herod (Mk 6:21-28), Job (Job 1:4, 18-19) are narrated in the Bible. There is no evidence in the Bible that Jesus prohibited birthday celebrations as anti-Catholics insist now!
The Bible of Jesus was celebrated by shepherds and angels, in heaven and earth, as the Bible describes. We have to know that, just because the date is not seen in the Bible, does not mean that we cannot celebrate the anniversary of Christ’s birth! Even Protestants who are addicted to the ‘Bible alone theory’ of Luther, also celebrate Christmas!
Jesus celebrated those annual holy days and feasts that are not commended in the Old Testament but observed as simple customs at that time. (Passover, Pentecost etc…were commended. But the celebrations narrated in Judges 11:39-40, Ester 9:19 and the Feast of Dedication that Jesus himself observed in Jn 10:22-23 are not commended by the scripture. It was instituted by Judas Maccabeus and celebrated by the Jews, only as a custom!)
Christmas and Pagan traditions
Anti-Catholics make a big issue about some of Christmas practices that are similarly to pagan customs (Christmas trees, candles, December 25, exchanging of gifts etc.)
But all Christian practices that are written in the Bible, also have the same problem! They already existed in the pagan world, in different forms and styles! For example, Baptism by immersion in water for the forgiveness if sins existed as an old custom of ancient Hindu religion. They believed that immersion in the river Ganges purifies them from all sins! Does that mean, baptism is pagan? As the pagans bowed their heads and prayed to their gods, should Christians not bow down and pray? Even the word ‘Bible’ was widely used in the pagan world to refer to ‘the books’ that were written about Greek gods. Should we not use the word Bible then? The construction of the church of Iglesia Ni Cristo is blind imitation of Catholic cathedrals of Gothic art in Europe; does that mean, the INC is a Catholic Church? Those elements which have similarities with the pagan culture and found their way in Christmas celebrations will never make Christmas a pagan celebration. (The real word meaning of ‘Christmas’ is Christ and Holy Mass; without that, Christmas becomes meaningless.)
The date December 25
The early Christians selected December 25 as the proper date of Christmas maybe because, according to some Bible scholars, there was biblical evidence to conclude that it was the exact date of our Lord’s birth.
St Luke who wrote the gospel in ‘orderly sequence’ (Lk 1:1) most probably got the date of the Lord’s birth from Mother Mary. The scripture says that Zechariah received the message from an angel while he was incensing; which shows the feast of the Dedication of the Temple on September 18-24 according to the Roman Calendar. After six months Mary received the annunciation from the angel (Lk 1:26) and that is in the month of March. (Traditionally, the Church celebrates it in March 25). We just have to add nine months form this date to know the date of Christ’s birth and this justifies the century’s old custom of Christmas on Dec. 25.
The second reason as to why early Christians celebrated Christmas on 25th of December was to attract pagans to Christianity. For pagans, December 25 was the birthday of the sun god. The Christians proudly proclaimed to them that the real Sun is Jesus, the ‘Sun of righteousness’ (Mal 4:2) and slowly replaced the pagan feast with a meaningful celebration, and in the process attracted the pagans to the true faith, in obedience to the Bible: “Overcome evil by good” (Rom 12:21). Thus, Christmas became a celebration of the victory of Jesus over pagan gods! (Ref: Dictionary of Roman Religion. Oxford University Press, New York, 1996).
Now, all over the world, nations and religious groups like Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, remember the great birth of Jesus in that day. (Only the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Ang Dating Daan and other fake churches, try their best to remind others of the ‘forgotten gods of history’; the sun god, Mitra and the devils, on this Holy Day for their vested interests, and the hope that they will get some more followers!)
LINK FROM: Bro. Cielbert A. Dondoyano, Sr. – Catholic Faith Defender Dipolog Chapter