ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Christmas: Christian or Pagan Holiday?

Updated on December 1, 2017
bombadere profile image

Former Homicide Detective Jim Warner Wallace teaches children how to use the tools of a detective to analyze evidence for Christianity.

The Origins of Christmas

Every year around Christmas time, various people will start questioning the Christian nature of the holiday by claiming that Christmas started as a pagan holiday and was then “Christianized” by the Roman church.

This may be the case. The Christian Church rose to prominence in a society that had previously been heavily Pagan. Consequently, many of the Pagan festivals were “redeemed” by the Church by associating them with Biblical events surrounding the life of Christ.

In the Roman Empire wherein the Christian Church took roots and eventually rose to prominence, the winter solstice was celebrated by a holiday named Brumalia (bruma meaning “shortest day”). This celebration honored, among other things, Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and merriment.

Brumalia was celebrated by a month of feasting between November 24th and December 25th. This celebration was honored as late as the 6th century, by which time Rome was largely Catholic.

In the northern Scandinavian region, a solstice celebration called Beiwe was celebrated the return of greenery on which the reindeer fed, and of the goddess of the same name rode through the sky on reindeer bones. Since the Saint Nicholas legend also came from this region, many suggested it is probable that much of the current Santa Claus legend was adopted from this earlier celebration.

Just so, some have speculated that the sun-worship associated with solstice was adopted by the church to commemorate the coming of the “Sun of righteousness,” a reference to an Old Testament prophecy Christians associate with Jesus.

Because of the probable pagan influences on the contemporary Christmas celebration, many suggest that Christianity itself is simply a more modern adaption of older religions, or that this holiday is illegitimate.

Regarding the first assertion, it is worth noting that the birth of Christ was not celebrated by any special holiday in the Bible, nor was it traditionally celebrated by the early church, while the death and resurrection of Christ was almost immediately adapted from the prior Passover Celebration of Jewish tradition. Because Christmas, much like Hanukkah, is a later celebration that does not have its roots in the origins of either religion, proving it to be an adaption of a pagan holiday does nothing to disprove Christianity.

But is Christmas an illegitimate holiday because it has pagan origins? This claim is a red herring. Christmas is not a matter of syncretism, the mixing of two religions into one (such as the voodoo of Haiti, which often adopts Catholic elements). If Christians worshiped the sun along with the coming of Christ, or some variation, this accusation might hold water, but the fact of the matter is that, however it started, Christians now worship something entirely different and entirely biblical on this celebration, even if some of the non-religious practices of Christmas may have been adopted.

The birth of the Messiah may not be as significant to Christian doctrine as his death and resurrection, but it is still cause for celebration. As Mary sang when learning of her station as mother to Messiah:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”

And as the angels sang to the shepherds:

“…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Christmas is the celebration of the fulfillment of the promise of salvation by the miracle of God coming to earth in the form of a man. So the only relevant question is, “Is Jesus the Messiah?” If he is, then the Christmas celebration is legitimate.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)