Christmas is celebrated on December 25th and is considered a religious holiday. Christians celebrate Christmas as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus’ teaching forms the basis of the Christian religion. Christmas is celebrated by exchanging gifts, decorating a Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols, and visiting the church with family and friends.
But there are certain Christians who do not celebrate Christmas. Some Christians believe that December 25th might not be the birth date of Jesus Christ. The specific date of Jesus’ birth is not mentioned in the bible. Hence Christians need to rely on the most learned scholars to estimate the period when Jesus was born. Several theories prove Jesus was not born on December 25th.
Let’s look in more detail at why do some Christians not celebrate Christmas below.
How Did Christmas Begin?
Winter has long been in Europe, even before the arrival of Jesus. People rejoiced in the Winter Solstice when the peak of winter was behind them, and they could look forward to warmer and longer days ahead.
Winter was also a good time for celebration because that was when most cattle were slaughtered, so the cattle did not have to be fed. This was the only time when people had a supply of fresh meat. Most of the wine and beer made throughout the year finally fermented in winter and were ready to drink.
For example, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21st, through the winter solstice, till January. North of Rome, Winter was much harsher. This was when the god of agriculture, Saturn, was honored. People indulged in plentiful food and drink and partook in the festivities.
In the early years of Christianity, the primary holiday was Easter, and Jesus’ birth was not celebrated. Puritans deny the legitimacy of Christmas as the bible did not exactly mention when Jesus was born.
There is evidence in the bible that implies that Jesus may have been born in spring. This is because it is commonly known that shepherds were out in the fields when Jesus was born. Shepherds did not herd in winter, so it’s presumed to be spring when Jesus was born.
It is also thought that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem due to a Roman census. The Roman administration would not have ordered a census in winter, during bad weather and bad road conditions.
It is believed the church chose December 25th as Christmas day to absorb the festivities of the pagan Saturnalia festival. Initially known as the ‘feast of the Nativity, Christmas customs soon started spreading.
Is Christmas Biblical?
Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the first. It is believed that the church purposefully co-opted December 25th to give incentive to the pagans to convert.
The strategy to ease them into the new faith was to replace their traditions rather than entirely change them. It was thought that Jesus, the light of the spiritual world, would replace the Roman gods. Hence Christmas became a symbol of the birth of the new era of Christianity.
Pope Julius the first also picked December 25th to celebrate Christs’ birth as this was one of the most sacred days of the year for the Romans.
On this day, many Hellenistic Christians and Jews also participated in the Roman festivities. It was thought by the church that if Jesus’ birthday was also on this significant day, it would help convert Romans to accept Christianity.
Various other Christmas symbols such as the Christmas tree and presents also result from the sync between ancient Roman rituals and Christianity.
Many Christians argue that celebrating Christmas is an insult to Jesus. This is because his birthday is being celebrated on the same day as pagans celebrated the birthday of their gods. Some Christians also claim that nowhere in the bible does Jesus command his followers to celebrate his birth.
By the end of the sixth century, Christmas traditions had reached Britain. Upon the arrival of Puritan pilgrims to England, Christmas was made illegal. It was thought to honour the traditions of the Romana and Celtic gods.
How Did Christmas Gain Significance Again?
It was not until 1870 that Christmas day was declared a national holiday. This was when it was associated heavily with Christs’ birth. How did this change come about?
Religious reform in the early 1600s brought the comeback of Christmas in Europe. When the Puritan forces of Oliver Cromwell came to England in 1645, they cancelled Christmas. However, once the rule of Charles the Second was restored, this popular holiday returned to England.
However, Christmas was not a holiday in early America due to the arrival of English separatists. These separatists were extremely orthodox in their puritan beliefs. As a result, from 1659 to 1681, Christmas was outlawed in several parts of America. After the American Revolution, English customs became unfavourable, including Christmas. This did not change until 1870.
Today Christmas is one of the most important national holidays for Christians worldwide. But many Christians believe it is not wise to borrow ideas from other cultures or change the gospel’s message.
It’s also imperative not to lose the gospel message when inviting others to join the Christian faith. Therefore, certain Christians still abstain from this celebration. The points listed above answer the question why do some Christians not celebrate Christmas?