The Christmas celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th has long been a tradition of professing Christians. But when did the Church begin celebrating this day as the birthday of Christ? More importantly, should Christians celebrate Christmas today?
Two common objections to Christmas are that the Bible speaks against Christmas Trees in Jeremiah 10 and that Santa is actually Satan. Actually Jeremiah 10:1-5 refers to heathen idol worship, not Christmas Trees. And Santa Claus’ real name is St. Nicholas of Myra, an Orthodox Christian bishop from Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) in the fourth century who suffered for Christ under the persecution of Diocletian and is remembered for his charitable life.
It is often suggested that Christ’s birthday was celebrated when the wise men presented to him gifts (Matthew 2:11). But this was not the birthday of Christ, nor was it even the birth of Christ. Matthew said, “Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). Therefore, the wise men offered gifts to Christ when he was as old as two years. But the birth of Christ is recorded earlier in Matthew 1:18-25.
Moreover, the only birthdays which are celebrated in the Bible are Pharaoh’s birthday (Genesis 40:20) and Herod’s birthday (Matthew 14:6), both of which ended in murder. Along these lines Origen (c. 245, E) wrote,
And on birthdays, when the lawless word reigns over them, they dance so that their movements please that word. Someone before us has observed what is written in Genesis about the birthday of Pharaoh and has said that the worthless man who loves things connected with birth keeps birthday festivals. And I, taking this suggestion from him, find nowhere in Scripture that a birthday was kept by a righteous man. For Herod was more unjust than that famous Pharaoh. For the latter killed a chief baker on his birthday feast. But the former killed John. (9.428)
This indicates that the early Christians did not celebrate birthdays during Origen’s time. If we find nowhere in Scripture that a birthday was kept by a righteous man, then why would we all of a sudden make a precedent for celebrating Christ’s birth? [Read more…]