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Should Christians Celebrate Annual Holidays?

Updated on June 8, 2014
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Biblical Misinterpretations

In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him. And Man gave unto God a multitude of names, that he might be Lord over all the Earth when it was suited to man…--Jethro Tull, Aqualung[i]

Over the years, the Roman Catholic Church has mistranslated and misinterpreted both Old and New Testaments, some by accident, others on purpose. Christian mythology, originating from literal translations of parables and poor interpretations of specific verses, clouds Christian belief and thought. Misconceptions of Hell, literal interpretations of creation, and dinosaurs roaming the Earth with humans are a few such examples.

In Genesis 2:21, rib is mistranslated Hebrew for side. The same Hebrew word appears in Exodus 26:20: “For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, make twenty frames.” Why were these words altered?

Adam means earth or soil in Hebrew. The English version was revised later to represent a human figure. How do Christians explain this misrepresentation?

The word us in Genesis 1:26; “And God said let us make man…;” is confused with the Holy Trinity but is nothing more than an interpretation of the joint contribution of creation between God and Earth.

Since Adam, the chronology of the Bible suggests a passage of 6,500 years. A devout number of Christians still believe this today. Scientific evidence and carbon dating assert otherwise. Either way, religious interpretation based on scientific evidence is not necessarily incompatible. God’s perspective would be different from man’s frame of reference, so a day from His vantage point, outside the Universe looking in, could equal a couple billion years from ours.

[i] Anderson, Ian. Jethro Tull: Aqualung. Capitol Records, 1973.

Poll #1

Are You A Christian?

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Sabbath

Which day of the week is the true, intended Sabbath, or day of sacrament and rest ordained throughout the Old Testament? Did God intend for it to occur on Sunday, as observed by most Christian denominations, or Saturday? Why were these days substituted? Many ancient pagan traditions recognized Sunday as the day of rest since most of them worshipped the Sun. Coincidence?

Saturday was the original Sabbath ordained by God under the Fourth Commandment, yet most Christians reject it and, instead, recognize the sacrament on Sunday. Some Christians are aware Saturday is the true day of rest, but choose to ignore the Commandment. Many make excuses why observance is no longer required. They argue Jesus’ sacrifice made Sabbatical observance inconsequential yet still quote verses from the Old Testament when they apply to their personal or denominational beliefs. The Sabbath is a memorial of creation and one of the Ten Commandments. Would God think it was okay for Christians to ignore or misinterpret any one of them? Is it hypocritical of them to quote any of the Commandments or other portions of the Old Testament since they do not adhere to all of it? Animal sacrifice is one example of a large number of verses throughout the Old Testament that, for obvious reasons, Christians never quote.

Poll #2

Do You Observe The Sabbath On Saturday Or Sunday?

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Traditional Holidays

What should one make of the Christian observance of various traditional holidays? Does God indicate anywhere in the Bible for people to celebrate Christmas, Easter, or Halloween? Do these holidays; all of them doused in pagan origin and custom; have any valid connection to Christian practice and tradition? Biblical scholars would say no, yet professing Christians incorporate and celebrate these ancient pagan traditions every year no matter the glaring evidence to the contrary.

According to Deuteronomy 12:29-32, God commands us to, “Learn not the way of the heathen.” The Bible makes it clear God’s disciples are not supposed to partake in any tradition of pagan origin, yet these practices persist and are ingrained in our everyday lives. A couple exceptions are Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. They are two of the few denominations that do everything in their power to adhere to these original translations.

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Christmas

It is common knowledge Jesus was not born anywhere near December 25th. The Christmas tree, mistletoe, holly wreath, Yule log, stockings on the chimney, and exchanging of gifts were associated with pagan religious traditions centuries before the birth of Jesus. Originally, these practices were associated with the Winter Solstice festivals of the Roman feasts Brumalia and Saturnalia on December 21st. Ancient pagans practiced these traditions in honor of the Roman god of Agriculture. In order for the Catholic Church to convert the masses and gain popularity, they incorporated these notorious customs with Christianity 350 years after the birth of Jesus.

As the Roman Empire expanded, they discovered and incorporated traditional customs of many Oriental and Eastern cults. One such cult was the worship of the Persian Sun god, Mithra. Is it coincidence Mithra’s birthday falls on December 25th? In 351 A.C.E., the Roman Catholic Church, with help from Pope Julius I, declared the acceptable recognition of December 25th as Christ-Mass Day.

The 1967 New Catholic Encyclopedia, under the article “Christmas and Its Cycle,” indicates, “Inexplicable though it seems, the date of Christ’s birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month…. According to the hypothesis…accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice (December 25 in the Julian calendar, January 6 in the Egyptian) because on this day, as the Sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invisible Sun)…. Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the Sun was particularly strong at Rome…. Though the substitution of Christmas for the pagan festival cannot be proved with certainty, it remains the most plausible explanation for the dating of Christmas.”[i]

Further evidence of this historical fact is in Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Volume 3, article, “Christmas.” It states, “There can be little doubt that the church was anxious to distract the attention of Christians from the old heathen feast days by celebrating Christian festivals on the same days.”[ii]

Perhaps the most significant piece of historical evidence supporting the origins of these pagan holidays is summed up in an excerpt from the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Volume III, article, “Christmas.” It states, “The pagan [winter festival] of Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence…. The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit or in manner…. Christians of Mesopotamia accused their western brethren of idolatry and Sun worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival. Yet the festival rapidly gained acceptance and became at last so firmly entrenched that even the Protestant revolution of the sixteenth century was not able to dislodge it….”[iii]

[i] New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967. Volume 3, “Christmas and Its Cycle,” p. 656.

[ii] Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 1908. Volume 3, “Christmas,” p. 607.

[iii] New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. 1909. Volume 3, “Christmas,” p. 48

Poll #3

Do You Celebrate Christmas?

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Easter

Tradition is very difficult from which to break. For many Christians, knowing most of their celebrated holidays are of pagan origin is not enough of a deterrent. Human beings are creatures of habit and tradition.

Passover, or the Greek translation Pascha, and not the pagan celebration of the Babylonian spring goddess Ishtar, or Easter, was commanded by Jesus of his people to observe forever. Yet many professing Christians incorporate such pagan customs into their annual festivities. The dyeing of eggs in association with a rabbit has nothing to do with the observance of Jesus’ resurrection. How, then, do Christians justify injecting such obvious pagan traditions into their annual celebrations?

People are very culture oriented, subject to the praxis syndrome. Continuity of memories and tradition are powerful motivators for various holiday observances. It would be difficult for a parent to tell a small child there is no longer an Easter bunny, October 31st will no longer be a night for acquiring sweets, and Christmas will be cancelled. Perhaps it is nothing more than a vicious cycle, and turning a blind eye to the obvious interpretation is easier than properly altering the holidays they hold so dear.

According to excerpts from Ezekiel 8:15-18, God said, “Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these [other visions of idol worship] and He brought me into the inner court of the Eternal’s house, and behold…between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with…their faces toward the east [emphasis added]; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then He said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing…that they commit the abominations which they commit here?…Therefore will I deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.”

So how did this pagan festival inject itself into the church? The Encyclopedia Britannica explains why: “There is no observance of the indication of Easter festival in the New testament, or in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers…. The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish [Pascha] festivals, though in a sew spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a sew conception added to it, of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb and the first fruits of the dead, continued to be observed.”[i]

[i] Encyclopedia Britannica. 1910. 11th edition, Volume 3, pp. 828-829.

Poll #4

Do You Celebrate Easter With The Dyeing Of Eggs?

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Halloween

Most Christians admit the origin of Halloween, or All Souls’ Eve, is pagan in origin whether they decide to stop passing out candy or not. Obvious pagan connotations envelop this widely celebrated holiday. The Druids of Britain were among the first to celebrate a form of Halloween in honor of Samhain, Lord of the Dead. The annual festival originally took place on November 1st. Babylonians and the pagan Greeks and Romans recognized these traditions as a commemoration of those who passed on. Ancient Celts considered it their New Year.

In 834 A.C.E., the name of this Christianized celebration changed to All Hallows Eve on October 31st and All Hallows Day on November 1st, meaning All Holy Evening and All Holy Day. Many Christians are aware of this historical fact but ignore it by dressing up their children in scary costumes and sending them out to beg for frights or goodies every October 31st.

It is no wonder there are so many different interpretations of the Bible, Christian denominations, and mistranslations of the Old and New Testaments. The ambiguity is prevalent and misinterpretations understandable. After all, King James and the Roman Catholic Church are among the main culprits.

Poll #5

Do You Celebrate Halloween?

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Devil's Advocate

On a lighter note, one could argue traditional holidays have evolved into something lighthearted and fun, merriment for the kids. They have become a part of our culture and continuity as Americans. Whether driven by social pressure or the economy, we have embraced them as part of our lives and a good excuse to gather the family together for fun and merrymaking. One could argue Christians have evolved with the times into something very different than what was expected of them during biblical times. There are several portions of the Bible Christians now recognize as outdated and no longer necessary to embrace, such as animal sacrifice, stoning your wife or daughter for adultery, and many more. It can be argued that holidays like Christmas, Halloween, and Easter are good for our kids and provide them with happy, loving memories. After all, there is nothing outwardly harmful or negative about them. And they certainly are a lot of fun…

Epilogue

The main purpose of this article was to help the general population gain an overall outlook on what the historical record indicates in reference to modern traditional holidays. What’s important to remember, though, is our beliefs are personal ones and everyone should retain the freedom to practice what they choose, provided those beliefs are not harmful and do not infringe upon another’s. If there is some Higher Power, your relationship with Him, Her, or It is something each will answer for in the end. While there is nothing wrong with amicably coercing someone to believe the way you do, it is not okay to be judgmental and overly critical if he or she does not.

Poll #6

Were You Offended By This Article?

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    • Bill Sego profile image
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      Bill Sego 2 years ago from Logan, Ohio

      Alda, in the end, it's a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer. I'm simply relaying the facts of its origin and it's up to the individual to decide how they choose to worship and believe. There are a couple of churches out there off the top of my head that do adhere to these original teachings: Jehoveh's Witnesses and The Worldwide Church of God, which was organized by the late Herbert W. Armstrong. I celebrate Christmas because I love the holiday, but I don't subscribe to one religion or another.

    • profile image

      Alda Gamble 2 years ago

      Do we as christians have to observe the holy days and feasts of the old testament or just communion ? Is birthdays pagan or can we keep them is Saturday is true day to worship I don't have a Saturday church just 7 the day Adventist and they keep holidays and I don't believe in Ellen G White ,is thanksgiving pagan what do can't find a church ?

    • profile image

      Jessica Henderson 3 years ago

      Mark 7:6-9King James Version (KJV)

      6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

      7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

      8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

      9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

      Christians have no business celebrating pagan holidays. You can't take something of the devil and slap a Jesus sticker on it then, think you're going to be pleasing God. My so called christian family brought me up celebrating these holidays. Now that I know the truth and actually read the bible myself, I will never celebrate any holiday and neither will my children.

      Everyone who celebrates these holidays and say they're Christians are no better then the Jews who made the golden calf after God took them out of Egypt.

      As for me and my house we will serve The Lord.

    • TRUTHNWORDS profile image

      Devin Worlds 4 years ago from Topeka, Kansas

      This is really good info. I did know most of the facts but I still love holiday s lol it's just how I was raised.

    • Bill Sego profile image
      Author

      Bill Sego 4 years ago from Logan, Ohio

      Thanks everyone for all your kind comments. I try to remain as neutral as possible with my religious category hubs and even posted one that attempts to find common ground between religion and science. I'm so glad I didn't come across as offensive to anyone. I see atheists periodically post offensive articles or comments in the Christian category and it saddens me. I don't adhere to any "belief," myself, and think everyone should be allowed to practice what they wish. It's at the heart of my book too. There's already enough hate and suffering in the world and what some (on both sides of the fence) don't realize is that it does no good to lash out like that. It's certainly no way to get your point across. Again, thanks everyone and I hope you enjoy my hubs. Once I get my initial goal of 20 posted, I plan to do some reading and commenting on the site myself. Trying to get connected with ads and all that first so that I can hopefully do this for a living. I have SOOOO many ideas floating around in my head and love to write.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Bill... I was raised in the shadows of Catholicism and as a child ended with some untruth being taught. It was been many years since I attended a Catholic service. Being a Pastor myself in the Evangelical Church I have come to know and teach the truth.

      Each faith has their own belief but one thing that is evident is the fact that any holiday no matter what if the are Christian or Pagen have become commercialized and have become just another excuse for big business. What a same when something others believe in is turned into a commercial venture.

      Hugs and Blessings to all

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Really cool article. I am a Christian and a Preacher me and my peoples have great fun with the holidays and even set aside those arbitrary dates to place special emphasis on certain occurrences or ideas.

      But we are not so silly as to think the days themselves have importance. I kind of have to work on my Sabbath, because I preach so perhaps Saturday is really mine. Parties and singing and having fun and doing special things for people, especially children and don't forget eating are great ways to socialize. But they are not and will never be anything but that.

      My children grew up with just the right amount of guilt to remember these days and get Dad something special. hihihihi

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 4 years ago from the Ether

      Bill - I am a pagan and I found this article to be very informative and not-at-all offensive. Well written and your conclusion at the end tells me that you are a non-judgmental open-minded person, which is something to be admired in this day and age. Might I add that "Easter" was also a Germanic Maiden Goddess of Spring known as "Eostre"? I celebrate the Wheel of the Year, both Pagan traditions and Christian (as my family is mostly Christian and they do celebrate the holidays every year without knowing that they are based on Pagan ways). What I did sort of take offense to was the comment above mine saying "ugh" after talking about Halloween...or what we call Samhain (as you mentioned in your article). Most people do not understand Pagans and unfortunately we get a bad rap from Hollywood and so forth, so I commend you on your article, friend. Blessings to you.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Hello. Bill this is all very interesting.. .. I have read this before and I have even studied it .. It does pain me to know so much of the pagan ways has been Incorporated into our christian beliefs and holidays.. i do not believe in Halloween.. ugh.. I do not do the dyeing of the eggs.. you can dye eggs anytime.. I know Christ was not born anywhere near Dec. 25th.. but I am only celebrating His Birth nothing else.. this is a great hub and very informative. I will share this on Facebook in the christian writers group and the prayer request group.

      God Bless you

      Keep writing

      Debbie