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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?Below we explain why you should celebrate Christmas. You can skip down to it. But first let's think about the opposing opinion.
There are many true believers in Christ who feel that we should not celebrate Christmas at all. It seems that their main concern is that many of the origins of Christmas traditions had connections with ancient pagan practices. Another concern is that Christmas was not celebrated by the earliest followers of Jesus. Only Easter was celebrated from the beginning. A further concern is that Christmas has historically been associated with excesses of food, alcohol, and covetousness. There are many more concerns, too. In fact, early immigrants to America were very devout believers and were generally strongly against Christmas. That's right. In early America Christmas was not generally celebrated. Actually, it was illegal to celebrate it in early Boston, for example. Christmas gained popularity in America in the middle 1800s and became a federal holiday in 1870. For more on the history of Christmas, go to our Christmas History page.
Here are some links to sites that say Christians should not celebrate Christmas. There are probably hundreds more on the Internet.
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1026.htm (Charles Spurgeon)
Yes, Christians should celebrate ChristmasCelebrating Christmas is good when done in a way which brings honor to Christ. We will not attempt to refute the many and varied arguments against celebrating Christmas. But it is appropriate to make at least some comment regarding the major arguments against celebrating Christmas.
It is true that much of what we do at Christmas has origins in pagan religions. However, that fact does not mean that Christmas should be rejected. Whenever Christianity moves into a new area of the world through mission work, a lot of difficult questions arise as to how to deal with practices which existed in that area before Christianity came. One approach is to just abolish the particular pagan practice altogether. Another approach is to keep the practice but try to give it a new meaning, one which conveys spiritual truths. And that is what happened in Europe regarding Christmas hundreds of years ago.
The same problem occurs with words. Let's take the universe referred to in English as "heaven," for example, and consider how to convey the biblical concept of heaven to someone who has not been exposed to it before. When a missionary goes into an area where there has been no Christianity, there is no established Christian vocabulary. So decisions must be made whether to use the existing words which people use in spiritual contexts, and try to change the meanings of those words to have a Christian meaning, or to try to create a new word which represents the Christian concept behind our English word “heaven.” If missionaries and new believers in that land where Christianity is taking root decide to use an existing word, they have not done wrong, even though the word originally had a lot of wrong stuff associated with it. Our English word “God,” for example, had pagan origins. But over time it has been given a new meaning.
The same can be said for almost any Christmas practice or decoration. In many, if not most cases it would have had pagan origins. But what really counts is the meaning assigned to it today. Can a decoration, ceremony or ritual tradition which once long ago had a non-Christian meaning be ascribed a spiritual meaning which honors Christ at Christmas today? If so, then it would seem that God is pleased by it.
And so we should not refuse to celebrate Christmas just because it started in Europe among a people who had been pagan and were in the process of turning to Christ.
But this Christmas be diligent in giving honor and centrality to Christ. This necessarily means that you also have to be diligent in stepping back away from what unbelievers want to make Christmas be about in America.
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