My husband read to me last night Answers in Genesis’ article on the Origin of Christmas. I found it to be a good, informative article meant to address a couple of serious questions that people may have about Christmas:
Is the true origin of Christmas pagan?
Was Christ really born in December?
I encourage the curious to check it out!
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I’ve been examining the question lately: What are holidays really? They are days that we set aside as special days to remember something great or important.
It seems to me that some days bear greater recognition than others and hence that not all holidays are equal. Following this train of thought I think to myself: Being a Christian is the most important thing in my life, so holidays that celebrate important Christian events hold the most importance for me. Of Christian holidays , the most important would be the those that celebrate the most significant to the Christian faith. The most pivotal event to the Christian faith is Christ’s death and resurrection, so celebrating this should be the most important to Christians, right? The time of year that Gentiles celebrate this is during Easter. I really am no fan of the name “Easter” (named after a pagan goddess named Ēostre) so as others before me have also done, I prefer to refer to the day I celebrate Christ’s resurrection as “Resurrection Day”.
So this past year, armed with my resolve to make Resurrection Day a special celebration, I began to look all through the stores for some festive decorations. I was quite surprised by the serious lack of anything Christian linked to the holiday with which to celebrate in my most frequented store, Walmart. So I made a special trip to the Christian bookstore and was shocked to find just one item. The Easter/Resurrection Day holiday had been taken over by bunnies and chicks! Okay, so that didn’t work out so well. I also realized that having celebrated Christmas a mere 3 months prior, that we were neither in the mood nor had the finances to have “another big holiday” so soon. I came to realize that if I was going to really try to make something special out of the Resurrection Day celebration, that Christmas was going to have to be scaled back. So only able to make a small effort out of Resurrection Day this past year, I have determined to change things the next time around.
Christmas is the celebration of the miraculous and the beginning of the promises and prophecies given, and Christ’s birth is a necessary precursor to Christ’s death, but should the celebration of Christ’s birth all but supplant and negate the celebration of His resurrection? Something just seems a bit out of place about that to me. So it is my resolve to find a smaller but still meaningful way to celebrate Christmas and to find a way to make Resurrection Day into more than just a day of chocolate baskets and egg hunts and closer to the celebration that it really should be.
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I’ve been thinking a bit about this topic for the past few weeks. Many of us celebrate holidays sheerly because of tradition. We get days off, we don’t want our families and more specifically our children to be left out, so we celebrate holidays the way our parents celebrated them with us when we were kids or we more or less mimic celebrating them the way everyone else does. When I first reached adulthood, I decided that I didn’t want to believe something just because that’s what my church or family believed, but because it was true and was what the Bible said. The more I’ve thought on the celebration of holidays, the more I see myself returning to the same thought. I want what I do to have meaning, and doing things just for the sake of tradition is not a sufficient reason for me to do things. Traditions in various times and various places have been flat out wrong (especially in places of widespread paganism), so I don’t think tradition alone is a good reason to do things.
The Bible being the ultimate source and guide for my life, I decided to turn to it to find answers to my questions concerning holidays and celebrations. Here is what I found:
God Himself gave 3 times of celebration and festivity (holidays) to His people, the Israelites to celebrate. These celebrations, therefore, are God ordained, God commanded and holy. (The commands for these are listed in a few places in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.)
The holidays that God gave the Israelites to celebrate were times to commemorate God and to remember the good things that He did for them.
a) The Feast of Unleavened Bread, coupled with the Passover, is the celebration of God’s liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
b) The Feast of Weeks and of Ingathering are a time of thanksgiving to God for His blessings during the harvest.
c) The Feast of Tabernacles is a celebration of God’s provision to the Israelites during the time of their travels in the wilderness after they left Egypt and before they settled in the land of Canaan.
So from these commands I believe that it can be concluded that it is good and God-honoring to have celebrations that commemorate the good things that God has done for us.
Though we trace our spiritual roots to the Israelites, the Jews, as Gentiles we don’t have the same heritage as they do. As a result, we Gentiles tend not to celebrate the same events that the Jews do; therefore, I think that having a few of our own celebrations is a good idea. I like the idea of celebrating Christ’s birth for Christmas and Christ’s death and resurrection during Easter. I also think that the holidays such as the American holiday of Thanksgiving in which we are to give thanks to God for His provision is also a great idea. Having special days of remembrance is a good way for us to remember to thank God for the many good things that He has done for us and it is also a good time to teach our children to do the same.
“I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11)
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