Volume. XXIV, No. 25
Sunday, 20 December 2009

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

There are many well-meaning and sincere Christians who do not celebrate Christmas because they believe that Christmas is a pagan holiday. There are more Christians around the world today who celebrate Christmas in various forms and degrees. If the argument of the former is valid, is there historical data to support their conclusion and conviction? And how should Christians who celebrate Christmas justify their celebration without compromising the Biblical teachings, such as Biblical separation?

Arguably Christ could not have been born on 25th December and could not possibly have been born in the month of December in the land of Israel, Palestine. According to historians and biblical scholars, Christ was perhaps born sometime between August and October (ie. autumn) because no shepherd would likely be keeping their sheep out in the cold December winter in Palestine (Lk 2:8). If this is true, how did Christians end up celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on 25th December? This date, 25th December, which came to be called Christmas was, in fact, originally a Roman pagan festival for the celebrating of the Sun god (or Saturn) and it was called Saturnalia. The following is an excerpt taken from an author Lawrence Kelemen on “The Real Story of Christmas”: “Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebratedbetween December 17-25.  During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.”  Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.” In fact, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts, US between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians in America, of course, not as a celebration for a Pagan Sun god, but a “symbolic date” for commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Also the ancient Greek writer poet and historian, Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia), describes how the festival’s observance in his time also included human sacrifice and various immoral customs, and he wrote: “…..widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).” It was only after Emperor Constantine professed his Christian faith in the 4th century AD, that the Roman Catholic Church was born and soon incorporated the “Saturnalia festival” into Roman Catholicismhoping to take the pagan masses in with it. In such a way the Roman Church could supposedly  convert large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, the Roman Church arbitrarily named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.
If the above historical data is true, should Christians continue to celebrate Christmas? First, we need to ask ourselves a question: “Why do we celebrate Christmas?” Obviously, no born again Christian would have the slightest interest in celebrating Saturnalia on 25th December, providing he knew the origin of this holiday. Second, although the date for commemorating Christ’s birth was obviously “borrowed,” or concocted by the Roman Church, this date could have been any other day in the year that falls on other “pagan festivals” or “secular holidays”. Is it not true that each day is created by the Lord and in a sense every day is a “Holy-Day” or God’s day? No day is so evil that it must be designated to Devil worship simply because ignorant men in the past have “hi-jacked” the date. Ps 118:24 says, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
So, what are we going to do about this “pagan holiday”? The origin of the “holiday” may be questionable but the tradition itself is not necessarily evil, unchristian or unbiblical. Reverend Increase Mather of Boston rightly observes, “…the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidaysmetamorphosed’ (ie. change completely in nature and form) into Christian ones.”
Still some Christians argue, But the word ‘Christmas is not in the Bible, therefore celebrating Christmas is not biblical.” Fair enough, the word “Christmas” is not found in the Bible. But many other holidays Christians celebrate or commemorate today are not mentioned in their exact phrases in the Bible. Days such as “the Reformation Sunday,”Mother’s day,” “Father’s day,” “Easter,” and many other holidays are not found in the Bible in these exact words, but the concepts are definitely biblical. Others would still argue, “But, the Bible never told us to remember Christ’s birth.” Not true - the angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds were clearly celebrating the birth of Jesus in Lk 2:13,14: “ …there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” And having heard of the good news announced by the angels, the shepherd also “…made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child”(Lk 2:17). Some may argue that they might have announced and celebrated the arrival, but it was not said that it was to be repeated. Then why did Mary say, “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. (Lk 1:48)” How could generations of people call Mary “blessed” if the story of Christ’s birth and Mary’s encounter is not celebrated, commemorated and passed down to the generations to come? Are we also not commanded to tell of God’s goodness and faithfulness toward us (Ps 89:1; cf. Ps 86:12-13, Ps 101:1, Ps 106:1, Ps 136:1-26)
In Conclusion:
Simply disassociating ourselves from celebrating Christmas does not make this day “holier” than it should be.Byand large, the world is more interested in engaging themselves in all the “unholy” activities such as drinking, partying and reveling during the Christmas season. Henceforth, Christians must all the more make use of this opportunity to evangelise to the lost and dying world. Jeremiah 10:2 says, “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.” Remember, the Lord did not say, Stay out of the heathens” but “Learn not ‘the way’ of the heathen.” Meanwhile, we must also educate children about the true meaning of Christmas. After all, it really depends on the one who celebrates Christmas and how it is celebrated rather than whether it should or should not be celebrated, simply based on its historical origin. If a Christian is ever to “celebrate” Christmas, it must be “metamorphosed” or totally changed in nature and form from what or how it is was originally celebrated as a pagan holiday. May God help us to spend this Christmas in the manner that renders all the glory to the Highest, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Ps Weng
From Pastor Ki, 13 December 2009
Please pray about this serious matter:
‘I want to share one of the letters with you, just to show you what is ahead of me.  This letter came fro the Transportation Service Unit.  The title of the letter is, "Zone KQ-Special parking arrangements during Muharam 2009.  The following is a part of the letter: 
"I am writing to inform you that the first 11days of Muharam will be observed at the Li Khoei Islamic center in Cheveni Road, from 17 December 2009 to 27th December 2009 inclusive.  As in previous years, the existing times of control within your area will be extended from Monday-Friday, 8.30am-6.30pm.  These measures are taken to address local residents concerns regarding parking difficulties, traffic congestion and road safety problems during Ramadan and Muharram festivities at the Al Khoei centre.  Please be aware that the extended restrictions will be enforced on the 25th & 26th December 2009.  It is advised that you inform your visitors to park considerately and in a location where they will not contravene the parking restrictions, otherwise a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) may be issued."
Having read this letter, I am outraged.  I do not know much about this particular Islamic festival.  However, it has been commonly known that Christians are having their time of worship and fellowship on Dec. 25.  But, this letter states that our worshippers cannot park their cars around the church because of the Islamic festival not only weekdays but also on Christmas day and Sunday.  It is a reality hitting very hard on me.  I am going to write a letter of protest, though I do not know what sort of responses I will get from the local council and Islamic centre.  It is a really disheartening experience.  Not too long ago, young Muslims declared that they would islamise England and make their sharia law to be the law of this country.  It is amazing to see that in this region even Christmas is overtaken or overshadowed by unknown Islamic festival’. 

More Lively Hope



Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Jason Tan. Next Lord’s Day Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Sis Tabitha Tan.
Christmas greetings to all Hopefuls from Session.
Christmas greetings to all Hopefuls from Pr. Zhang (Cambodia) & Bro Max Opaskiatikul (Thailand).
Deepest Sympathy to Sis Myung Ki & family on the home-going of her father on last Lord’s Day.
Flower roster for 2010 on notice board. Please write your name if you can help.
Sis Sam Chai has left Adelaide to work in S’pore
CDs & DVDs of the Christmas Concert. Please write your name on the list on the notice board, if wishing to have copies. CD $5; DVD $8.
No Reformed Hermeneutics & Apologetics Class until further notice.
Looking Ahead
Watchnight Service, Thurs, 31 Dec, 7:30 pm.
Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Sis Myung Ki & family (Lond); Dn David Yeo & family (China); Bro Raymond Ang & family (Tas); Bro N J Gong & family (Perth); Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng (Pt Aug/Adl); Bros Raymond Chia & family, Colin Gan; Sisters Sam Chai, Suzane Lim, Amanda & Amelia Tan, Clara Sim (S’pore); Sarah Carpenter, Michelle Lee & Corinne Teng (Adl) ; & others who have travelled.
Church activities over the past week.
Daily mercies, protection, and guidance.
Success of our year 12 students in their Exams.
Fellowship & Contribution of Sis Sam Chai to Hope BPC in the past few years.
Hopefuls organising a get-together in S’pore yesterday evening
Salvation of Sis Myung Ki’s father.
Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr & Mrs S H Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Alan Marion, Len & Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Fred Volvricht & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth (recent fall), Nita Chong’s mother, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Myung Ki (& her father - S Korea), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona & Lehia Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.
Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province); Rev David Koo & Ministry & Life University; Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry; Preacher Zhang & Ministry (Sihanoukville).
Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam (Vientiane).
Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim (Melb).
IBPFM (USA) - missionaries & funds.
Batam (Indonesia) Missions in Jan 2010 (organised by Ebenezer BPC , Melb) - preparations.
Ps. Ki’s family & ministry in New Life BPC, London. God’s comfort for their grief.
Hopefuls in S’pore; Teo family (Kuching).
Journey mercies: Dn David Yeo & family (Adl); Mrs Amy Ang & Bro Clement Ang (S’pore); Bros Raphael (Pt Aug/Adl) & Frank Wong (Adl); & all others who are travelling.
Job - Sisters Hui Wei Chua, Judy Li, Tabitha Tan & Corinne Teng.
Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Mira Hornung (twins), Bernadette Ng, & Susan Weng.
God’s comfort, strength, guidance & care: Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.
Bro Richie & Sis Mira Hornung’s missions work in The Philippines.
Bro Richard Tee - seeking for God’s direction in his further studies/research.
Sis Sam Chai- as she begins her career in S’pore; for spiritual guidance & growth
Unity of fellowship & doctrine of B-P Churches.
Persecuted believers in Communist & Islamic countries.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041