I want to begin by saying that growing up Christmas was my favorite holiday, by far. When the Lord started talking to me about this area I was not happy about it for many reasons, but the more I learned the less I could ignore what I was finding.
What I’ve learned has been a great reminder that we have a responsibility to be in full uncompromising alignment with what the Lord says because generations will follow in our footsteps whether we are trying to be leaders or not. Many years ago decisions were made intentionally and for reasons many of us would disagree with today, yet we follow them still today simply because it’s what we’ve been taught to do and because we’re familiar with it we see no harm in it. Many well-intentioned individuals have innocently and unknowingly followed along this path – myself included. Let us not take our responsibilities lightly on how we proceed from here.
The word “holiday” is derived from “holy day”. Leviticus 23 very specifically lays out the “holy days” of the Lord: the weekly Sabbath (Shabbat) and the 7 feasts. The chapter begins in verse 2 by saying:
…These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are My appointed feasts.
Convocations are gatherings or assemblies. So in other words, the Lord is laying out His holidays (holy days). The chapter goes on to detail the various occasions and four times this chapter states that they should be observed “forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings”.
You may wonder why I’m starting a post on Christmas and Easter by talking about “Jewish” feasts. It’s because one thing I had wondered is if I am “grafted in” (Romans 11) to Israel (the root), am I not part of these “generations” Leviticus 23 is talking about? Isn’t this part of my inheritance? If I am living my life according to scripture, how can I ignore something God has said to do forever? I also start here because the creation of Christmas and Easter began with the rejection of the Lord’s feasts.
In 321 AD, the Roman Empire made Christianity it’s official religion. On the surface this seems like it would be a big win for the Lord, but it proved to be detrimental and have consequences that have lasted for generations. You see to make this decision more palatable to the pagans (and because Constantine was anti-Semitic), dates of pagan holidays were adopted and “Christianized” and made into the new “holy days” – Christmas and Easter as well as a Sunday “Sabbath”.
Constantine (emperor of Rome) wrote a letter to the Counsel of Nicea in 325 AD that captures the flavor of some of the changes that were implemented:
When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of festivals, to follow the customs of the Jews who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter; We ought not therefore to have anything in common with the Jew, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship following a more legitimate and more convenient course: And consequently in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jew.
For it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question, for in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements they frequently celebrate two Passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error (see Numbers 9:6-12 for why this occurs).
How, then, could we follow these Jews who are most certainly blinded by error? For to celebrate a Passover twice in one year, is totally inadmissible. But even if this were not so it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communication with such wicked people (i.e. the Jews). You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves, and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews. (Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib III 18-20 – emphasis mine and notes added in italic)
So for the sake of convenience, rejection of those we deem beneath us and hurt pride from taking direction from them, “we” decided to do what was right in our own eyes. This brings to mind Deuteronomy 12 where the Lord is specifying how to worship Him and in verse 8 specifically states that we are NOT to have “everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes”. This also brings to mind my post on Worshiping God (Exodus 32) which explores whether it’s ok for us to worship God in the way WE want to.
The pagan worship of the Ishtar (goddess of fertility/spring) became Easter and winter solstice, the “birthday” of the Sun god, became Christmas, and thus we rejected the heart behind 2 Corinthians 6:15-18
What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,”I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Several other scriptures come to mind as I ponder this topic:
- 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. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’” – Mark 7:6-7 (KJV)
- Jesus also said, “You make the law of God of none effect through your tradition.” – Matthew 15:6 (KJV)
- Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were… Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction… Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. – 1 Corinthians 10:6-7, 11, 14 (NAS)
- …Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold… – Jeremiah 10:1-4
- Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise.” Thou shalt not do unto the Eternal thy God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods… What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. – Deuteronomy 12:30-32 (KJV)
One other thought I’ve pondered I find interesting. There are dates of many events in the bible. We know when to celebrate all the feasts because of the dates in the bible. And yet in the four gospels – 4 accounts of Jesus’ life, 2 of which include detailed genealogies – none include His birth date. If He wanted us to celebrate His birthday, wouldn’t He – the Word = have included it so we’d know when to do it? Just a point I’ve pondered.
Let me just say, I do not judge those who celebrate Christmas and Easter. The purpose of this post is not to offend anyone, simply to share the things He’s shown me and hope that perhaps others will be blessed by it. For a more complete breakdown on the pagan roots of Christmas and Easter, I suggest watching Truth or Tradition. Even if you don’t agree with everything he presents, if you agree with any of it – it should be enough to give you pause to consider…
As for me personally, I am learning to observe the feasts and am no longer observing Christmas and Easter – which makes for an awkward moment on many occasions since the bulk of my Dyed4you customers do and in full sincerity view these (as the holiest of days as so many of us were taught to believe). My desire is not to bring division, but at the same time my convictions on this topic are resolute, which is why I felt the need to explain a bit about where I’m coming from – lest they think I am anti-Christ, which I CERTAINLY am not! Bless you all as you seek Him 🙂
Lord, I pray for wisdom and discernment as we seek You and seek to honor You and bring You glory. Help us to choose You and what pleases You above what is familiar and convenient. Thank You for the grace to walk out whatever You have called us to!
For further reading: Robin Sampson shares a neat article about her own experience with this on Heart of Wisdom.