Way back in the ‘dark ages’… Like, about 1987, I spent a summer as a camp counselor. It was there, during one of the weeks of camp, that I was introduced to the idea of ‘Christmas in July.’ I guess it was a fun activity in the middle of summer… certainly, thinking of colder weather and such was pleasant at a time when the heat and humidity south of Atlanta were stifling.
The phrase again struck me the other day and I thought, ‘why not?’ Good time to offer a few thoughts.
Tradition is always a volatile mix to discuss, and I rarely shy away from it, but heavy thought and discussion is most practical when we are less emotionally or financially invested. Because July is almost as far from Christmas as we can get, maybe now is a good time to consider the subject.
Where, indeed, did the whole Christmas concept come from and what is it really all about?
I was reared by well-meaning, Bible-believing parents who taught that it was a day to celebrate Jesus’ birth. To their everlasting credit, we took very little part in much of the materialism or worldly hoopla that surrounds the holiday in its present cultural outworking, but even what we did was questionable when held to the light of Scripture. What we want is the light of Scripture!
Buckle your seatbelt, take a deep breath and let’s just take an UNemotional look at the facts.
Let’s begin with simple Biblical fact.
There is NO evidence that Yeshua/Jesus the Messiah was born in December. NONE! In fact, there is evidence that He could NOT have been born during the bitterly cold Winter season. Shepherds do NOT keep their flocks out after mid-October and therefore could not have been “out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.” This fact alone constitutes a major strike against the timing of when most celebrate the birth of the Son of David. (Terrific music!!)
No where in Scripture are we ever encouraged to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We are commanded to celebrate His death and resurrection, but never is there even a hint that we are to celebrate His birth. I’m not saying His birth was not important, I’m just sharing the facts.
The death, burial and resurrection of Messiah are perfectly pictured and rehearsed in the Spring Feasts of Yahweh, commanded in Leviticus 23. He died on Passover, was in the ground during the Days of Unleavened Bread and was raised on/at the beginning of First Fruits!! Further, He gave the Holy Spirit on Shavuot/the Feast of Weeks. The Fall feasts are the shadow of good things to come that we are commanded to celebrate each year.
Seeing as how every major redemptive event in His life is pictured in the Feasts, we might expect His birth to be closely associated as well. We are not told specifically, but speculation, if we must have a season of reflection on His birth, would lead us to the Fall Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot. Still, months from late December.
So, Biblical evidence does not support a December birth.
Does Scriptural evidence specifically steer us away from December and the normally accepted means of celebrating? Actually, yes!
Deuteronomy 12:29-32 speaks directly to this very issue. It says,
When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31 You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.
Numerous other verses articulate this same sentiment, so we’ll move on.
Why would these verses, particularly the bolded sections, tell us to steer away from December? Well, let’s look at what the nations were doing centuries, and in cases millennia, before the birth of Yeshua ha Mashiach.
Saturnalia is one late December festival that was celebrated numerous centuries before the birth of Yeshua. It involved gift giving, revelry, caroling, feasting, sacrificing a suckling pig and general worship of a pagan earth deity.
A telling quote from the end of the cite is,
The ancient Roman Saturnalia was integrated into Christianity in the 4th century, as a means to mass convert the pagan Roman citizens. Due to its pagan origin, the Christmas festival was banned in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681 by the Puritans as an illegal observance.
Numerous sun deities were considered to have been born on December 25th. Horus, Mithras, etc. A couple good sources to read more on this are:
Too Long in the Sun (Rives has a good book, too!)
So, we know Yeshua was not born in December. We know Scripture tells us NOT to worship Yahweh as the pagans worship their gods. We know the pagan sun gods were worships as being born in late December with dates varying between the 21st solstice and the 25th when it visibly started getting stronger each day.
All of that put together should make the stomach of any committed follower of Messiah queasy! We should take VERY seriously, anything that would associate Him with pagan deities.
A warning from Revelation 18:4,
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;
Other sources of information?
Truth or Tradition (‘Nother good’un!)
Having established that Christmas is not a Biblical holiday that can be supported with Scripture, and is in fact considered by Yahweh to be an abomination (re-read the Deut. 12:29-32 quote above), you may feel much like I did . “What do I do now?”
First, come to Yahweh in repentance for past sin and put it behind you!!
Second, consider what the Father HAS given us!! Seven awesome holidays/feasts, some of which are a week long!! Read Leviticus 23!! NOW is the time to start getting ready for the Fall feasts… Come celebrate Sukkot with us in central SC. (Drop a comment asking for more info and I’ll get it to you!)
And thirdly, consider new family traditions that are ‘safe.’ I love my children and even Yeshua says a good father gives his children gifts… We decided to have ‘Thanksgifting’ our first year in order to intentionally DIS-associate gifts from the pagan festival season. Now, we remember the birth of Messiah in conjunction with Sukkot and enjoy blessing our children at other times of the year.
I KNOW this post has challenged some of you. I pray you will study and ponder deeply. Certainly, it is much easier to discuss and make a change at this time of year than waiting until mid-November or beyond.
I pray the peace of our Father on you!!