The word Christmas has controversial origins. But the holiday season does also. Family get-togethers, mutual gift-giving and end-of-year celebrations are accused of having pagan origins. The question is, what is Christmas to you? The root word is Christ.
For those accusers, I’ll explain the biblical origins: Family get-togethers are recorded to originate in the Jewish tradition of the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25, authorized by God. End-of-year celebrations with gift-giving are recorded to originate in the Jewish book of Esther.
But the modern holiday season does have its pagan aspects. We’re commanded by God, in the Bible, to not have idols in our homes (Deuteronomy 7:25-26) nor in our places of worship (Deuteronomy 16:21-22, Jeremiah 32:34). (And Christmas tree lighting ceremonies may be compared to the idol of gold in Daniel 3.)
But not everything in the holiday season is pagan. Regardless of what time of year it occurred, the angels celebrated the arrival of God’s son into the world he created. Paul told the Corinthians, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
No, we’re not commanded to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it’s certainly no sin to celebrate it. “If we have forgotten the name of the Lord our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god, shall not God search this out? For he knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalms 44:20-21).
Seth W. Carl