History of Christmas
Christians have been celebrating Christmas as the day of Jesus’ birth on December 25th since the early 4th century. The first credible observance of the holiday was in Rome in 336 CE. The earliest Christians do not seem to have been commemorating the birth of Christ, but His baptism and resurrection. Actually, some early Christians were actually opposed to celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Origen of Alexandria argued that only pharaoh of Egypt and Herod celebrated their birthdays in the Bible. They argued that birthdays were for pagans and not christians. Jehovah’s Witnesses still believe in this as a basis of their religion and, therefore, they do not celebrate birthdays or Christmas.
In early centuries, many dates were selected as the “correct date” of the birth of Jesus. This included days in March, April, May, November, and January. People then began to develop the idea that Jesus was born on the first day that the sun was created: “… and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth…” (Genesis 1:15-17). This is the verse from the Bible that people used to justify their belief that Jesus was born on a Wednesday, because in Genesis it states that on the fourth day God created the sun.
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Which Religions celebrate Christmas?
Christmas is one of the most popular Christian holidays and it is even celebrated by non-Christians around the world in its now secularized version. The holiday customs include celebratory events like gift-giving, traditional songs and hymns, church service, and the story of Santa Claus. It is not uncommon for people of other religions to celebrate Christmas because of the festivities involved. They typically just abstain from the biblical and religious aspect of the celebration. They see it as time for gifts and celebration as opposed to the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Some families will celebrate the holiday just to introduce Santa Claus as a hero-like person that delivers gifts to well-behaved children. Typically all Christian denominations celebrate Christmas, except for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some celebrate more seriously than others, but the holiday is usually present in all Christian denominations.
Christmas: Protestant Christians
Protestant Christians celebrate Christmas like all other denominations do, however many of their traditions are based in Catholicism. The Catholic church has set the liturgical celebration of Christmas on December 25th. Most denominations confidently celebrate on December 25th because it was a date selected by the Catholic Church and it is typical to celebrate on this day. Some Protestants, however, believe that it needs to be more strongly considered. They believe that celebrating Christmas is a tradition, and not a literal day of Jesus’ birth, because there is no evidence in the Bible. Protestants believe that it is still okay to celebrate because it does not directly conflict with anything in the Bible and it is a tradition of the Catholic Church that has been adopted widely and accepted by a majority of Christians.
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Christmas: Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas and they use scripture as a basis for their reasoning to not celebrate this holiday. Some people believe that they do not celebrate Christmas because they do not believe in Jesus. This is false because they do believe in Jesus and they believe that salvation can only come from Jesus himself. There are multiple reasons that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas:
- Jesus said that we should commemorate his death, not his birth. They use Luke 22: 19-20 as a reference to this fact
- Jesus’ apostles and disciples did not celebrate Christmas and there is no proof that December 25th is the day that Jesus was born. His birth date is not recorded in the Bible, which leads Jehovah’s Witnesses to believe that the holiday is pagan and rooted in secular beliefs.
In conclusion, Christmas is one of the most widely known holidays throughout the world. It is celebrated by millions of people of all different religions and backgrounds. Even though the religion celebrates the birth of Jesus, people celebrate just for the festivities and cultural tradition of spending time with family and celebrating the giving and receiving of gifts. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of G-d; almost every denomination shares the same beliefs about Christmas, but there is conflicts when it comes to the actual date that Jesus was born.
- “Christmas.” ReligionFacts. Published on March 17th, 2015. http://www.religionfacts.com/christmas.
- The Holy Bible. Today’s New International Version. Colorado Springs ,CO: International Bible Society, 2001.
- Scott, Arnold. “Why do Protestants Celebrate Christmas.” Catholic365.com. Published on December 25th, 2015. http://www.catholic365.com/article/3200/why-do-protestants-celebrate-christmas.html.
- “Why don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas.” Jehovah’s Witness. Accessed on May 6th, 2017. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/why-not-celebrate-christmas/.