What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

by COGwriter

Most who profess Christianity, as well as many who do not, now celebrate the holiday known as Christmas.

Since the date of Christ's birth is not mentioned in the Bible, it is not likely that the first century Christians could have celebrated it. Furthermore, the observance of Christmas is difficult to track to 2nd century Christians also, because there is no evidence that anyone kept Christmas that early. What is known, however, is that early Christians kept Passover, Pentecost, and other days considered to be of Jewish origin.

This is all taught, by the way, by the Roman Catholic Church, even though it now advocates the December 25th Christmas holiday. (Here is a link to a related sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?)

Saturnalia, Sigalia, and Christmas

The early Catholic Church did not celebrate Christmas. Furthermore, Tertullian (one of its leading 2nd/3rd century writers, whom it sometimes refers to as "the father of Latin Christianity") warned that to participate in the winter celebrations made one beholding to pagan gods. There was one such celebration known as the Saturnalia that was celebrated by the heathen in late December.

Notice what Tertullian wrote about winter celebrations, such as Saturnalia (from a pagan deity whose name meant plentiful):

The Minervalia are as much Minerva's, as the Saturnalia Saturn's; Saturn's, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year's gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens' wives and the aediles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol's birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented. Who will think that these things are befitting to a Christian master, unless it be he who shall think them suitable likewise to one who is not a master? (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter X. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Around the time of Tertullian, the Roman Bishops Zephyrinus (199-217) and Callistus (217-222) had a reputation of compromise and corruption (and this is confirmed by such Roman Catholic saints such as Hippolytus) and allowed people in their church that compromised with paganism, etc. 

So, notice what else Tertullian wrote:

But, however, the majority {of Greco-Roman 'Christians} have by this time induced the belief in their mind that it is pardonable if at any time they do what the heathen do, for fear "the Name be blasphemed"...To live with heathens is lawful, to die with them is not. Let us live with all; let us be glad with them, out of community of nature, not of superstition. We are peers in soul, not in discipline; fellow-possessors of the world, not of error. But if we have no right of communion in matters of this kind with strangers, how far more wicked to celebrate them among brethren! Who can maintain or defend this?...By us,...the Saturnalia and New-year's and Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia are frequented--presents come and go--New-year's gifts--games join their noise--banquets join their din! Oh better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claims no solemnity of the Christians for itself!...Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even it they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear lest they should seem to be Christians. We are not apprehensive lest we seem to be heathens! (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XIV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But "let your works shine," saith He; but now all our shops and gates shine! You will now-a-days find more doors of heathens without lamps and laurel-wreaths than of Christians. What does the case seem to be with regard to that species (of ceremony) also? If it is an idol's honour, without doubt an idol's honour is idolatry. If it is for a man's sake, let us again consider that all idolatry is for man's sake; let us again consider that all idolatry is a worship done to men, since it is generally agreed even among their worshippers that aforetime the gods themselves of the nations were men; and so it makes no difference whether that superstitious homage be rendered to me of a former age or of this. Idolatry is condemned, not on account of the persons which are set up for worship, but on account of those its observances, which pertain to demons (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

What Tertullian seems to be saying is that observing mid-winter celebrations make Christians appear to be followers of pagan gods, and since the pagans would not intentionally celebrate days considered by many to be Christian, Christians should not celebrate days that are honored by the heathen. Specifically, he felt that those who profess Christ should not celebrate Saturnalia, New Year's, or other pagan days, as even the observance is a form of idolatry (click here for an article titled Is January 1st a Date for Christians Celebrate?).

Notice also the following:

Roman 'Christmases' were similar to ours

The Romans celebrated the winter festival of Sigillaria on 23rd of December, part of their Saturnalia festivities. Just like on Christmas Day, Sigillaria saw presents exchanged.

Saturnalia began in the very early history of Rome. It was a festival devoted to the god Saturn...The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries until it was supplanted by the Christian festival of Christmas...

"Just like our festive season, it seems that the whole of Rome geared up early for Sigillaria. Seneca noted: 'It is now the month of December, when the greatest part of the city is in a bustle. Loose reins are given to public dissipation; everywhere you may hear the sound of great preparations'. (Ep. 18.1)." (Roman 'Christmases' were similar to ours. December 23, 2013 http://phys.org/news/2013-12-roman-christmases-similar.html viewed 12/30/13)

Since the modern Christmas celebration is at the same time as the old Gentile Saturnalia holiday (and with many of the same elements, like wreaths and gift-giving), it is clear that Tertullian is condemning these practices by stating that those that keep it are of the pagan god Saturn. He also wrote against winter giving:

...gifts like those you have in the Saturnalia! (Tertullian. De Fuga in Persecutione, Chapter 13. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

So basically, those who teach "Jesus is the reason for the season" are in error. Those who professed Christ and observed these pagan holidays did not attempt to pretend that they were celebrating "Christmas" then (that term was not developed until centuries later). The initial reason for the season appears to be that many of those who somewhat professed Christ wanted to have a party. And did not care if the party was related to pagan gods.

It is interesting to note that Tertullian objected to keeping a celebration lasting until the Roman New Years, putting up wreaths, and giving gifts.  Since most of these quotes come from his writing titles “On Idolatry” apparently he considered those practices as idolatrous.

It seems to me that no true Christians would do this, only those who were somewhat nominal, but who had been accepted, to some degree, by part of the Greco-Roman confederation.  His complaints apparently did not stop this from happening, though his objections certainly have biblical support.

Notice something that John Chrysostom wrote the following in the fourth century condemning paganism:

And what, pray you, is that Minerva of theirs, and Apollo, and Juno? They are different kinds of demons among them. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, p. 66)

Notice that, like Tertullian, John Chrysostom associated paganism with demons.

Yet, venerable Cesare Baronius, a Catholic of the 16th century, wrote:

If the candles which were formerly distributed at the Saturnalia are now identified with the feast of the Purification of our Lady? What, I ask, is there so surprising if holy bishops have allowed certain customs firmly rooted among pagan peoples, and so tenaciously adhered to by them that even after their conversion to Christianity they could not be induced to surrender them, to be transferred to the worship of the true God?" (Baronius, "Annales", ad ann. 58, n. 77). (as cited in Thurston, Herbert. "Lights." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. Nihil Obstat.October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910.21 Dec. 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09244b.htm>)

Thus, Baronius seems to be saying that Saturnalia lights are a pagan practice, yet using them is acceptable.

But even the Rheims' version of the New Testament (a Catholic approved translation) states the following:

15. And what agreement with Christ and Belial? or what part hath the faithful with the infidel? 16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with Idols? For you are the temple of the living God. as God saith, Then I will dwell, and walk in them, and will be their God: and they shall be my people. 17. For the which cause, Go out of the midst of them, and separate yourselves. saith our Lord, and touch not the unclean: and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:15-17, The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 1998, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2004, copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

So unclean practices associated with idols are prohibited by God. Does not that include celebrating as the idolaters celebrate?

The Roman Saturnalia and the Persian Mithraism themselves were adaptations of an even earlier pagan religion – that of the ancient Babylonian mystery cult.  The ancient Babylonians celebrated the reborn Nimrod as the newborn Tammuz by worshipping an evergreen tree.  The Babylonians alsocelebrated this rebirth during the season of the winter solstice.  Jeremiah condemns ancient Israel for copying this type of paganism, and and condemned the the pagan use of trees in Jeremiah 10:2-4 and the evergreen tree in Jeremiah 3:13.

To take this a step further, notice that using green trees as part of worship was condemned by God thousands of years ago:

2 'You must completely destroy all the places where the nations you dispossess have served their gods, on high mountains, on hills, under any spreading tree; 3 you must tear down their altars, smash their sacred stones, burn their sacred poles, hack to bits the statues of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. (Deuteronomy 12:2-3, New Jerusalem Bible, NJB, a Catholic translation)adaptations

2 Destroy all the places in which the nations, that you shall possess, worshipped their gods upon high mountains, and hills, and under every shady tree: 3 Overthrow their altars, and break down their statues, burn their groves with fire, and break their idols in pieces: destroy their names out of those places. 4 You shall not do so to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 12:2-4, DOT, a Catholic translation).

16 Beware lest perhaps your heart be deceived, and you depart from our Lord, and serve strange Gods, and adore them (Deuteronomy 11:16, DOT).

9 When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God shall give thee, beware lest thou have a mind to imitate the abominations of those nations...12 For the Lord abhorreth all these things, and for these abominations he will destroy them at thy coming. (Deuteronomy 18:9,12, DOT)

24 God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24, NJB)

Catholic translations of the Bible show that spreading shady trees, like evergreens, were not to be part of the worship of the true God--and that people should not be deceived and serve such strange practice or other pagan practivces. The truth is that Christmas reminds us that people are often unwilling to worship God as He intended, but instead often prefer pagan substitutes that they rationalize as somehow acceptable if they pretend the holiday is about Jesus.

Those who truly believe Jesus’ words, “Human beings live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NJB) will not celebrate a compromised pagan holiday such as Christmas because it contains practices and symbols (see also What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?) warned against in the Bible and was never enjoined upon true believers to practice.

Apparently the practice of 'Christmas caroling' also has its origins in Saturnalia:

In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born. In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born...http://www.essortment.com/christmas-pagan-origins-42543.html

Many practices that people associate with Christmas came from pagan holidays. (For more on Mummers, please see Canadian & Philadelphian Mummers Parades: Another tie to Saturnalia.)

The Bible and the Birth of Jesus

What does the Bible teach about the time of Jesus birth?

Here is a Catholic-accepted translation of the account in the Gospel According to Luke:

1 Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. 2 This census -- the first -- took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, 3 and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

4 So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, 5 in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, 7 and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.

8 In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. 9 An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.'

13 And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words: 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours.

15 Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.' 16 So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, 18 and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:1-18, NJB)

Notice that, at the time of the census, Luke teaches that the shepherds were out all night in the field at the time of Jesus’ birth.  This is biblical evidence that Jesus could not have been born in late December for a couple of reasons.  One of them is that the practice of shepherds spending the night with their flocks outside ceased each Fall. 

Furthermore, related to the reason that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem (the census) at the time of Jesus’ birth, even The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the “census would have been impossible in winter” (Christmas, 1908).  If something is impossible, then it did not happen.  Jesus was not born on December 25th according to Catholic teachers who will accept some of their own findings.

Partially because of this account by Luke, various ones have speculated that Jesus was born in the early Fall or perhaps late Spring.

Catholic Teachings About Christmas

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church (Martindale C. Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The above is true.

An Armenian scholar called Ananias of Shirak, circa 600 A.D., wrote:

The Festival of the holy Birth of Christ, on the 12th day before the feast of the Baptism, was not appointed by the holy apostles, nor by their successors either, as is clear from the canons...which is 6th of January, according to the Romans.

But many years after their fixing the canons, this festival was invented, as some say, by the disciples of the heretic Cerinthus; and was accepted by the Greeks, because they were truly fond of festivals and most fervent in piety; and by them it was spread and diffused all over the world.

But in the days of the holy Constantine, in the holy Council of Nice, this festival was not received by the holy fathers (Ananias of Shirak, On Christmas, The Expositor, 5th series vol. 4 (1896) Translation. pp.323-337, as reported by ccel).

Twelve days before January 6th is December 25th (see also Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, pp. 185). Hence, the above report suggests that December 25th was originally developed by the apostate Cerinthus (more on him can be found in the article Cerinthus: An early heretic).

Why would Cerinthus pick December 25th?

Probably because that was the day of celebration of the birthday of the sun-god Mithra. December 25th also took place during the Saturnalia, hence it was acceptable to at least two groups of pagans. Followers of Mithra represented an influential group in the Roman Empire. Other practices associated with Mithraism have become part of the Roman and Orthodox Catholic churches (such as their communion services) (for more details, please check out the documented article Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Cerinthus was a heretic who the Apostle John publicly denounced towards the end of the first century. Notice that the Catholic saint Irenaeus wrote that John detested Cerinthus so much that he would not even take a bath in the same building as him:

There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4).

Why would anyone want to observe a holiday started by followers of an "enemy of truth" that was denounced so strongly by the Apostle John?

Well, at least until the Council of Nicea, the December 25th Christmas holiday was not even accepted by the Roman Catholics.

The Roman Catholics have also condemned Cerinthus as a heretic:

Cerinthus A Gnostic-Ebionite heretic, contemporary with St. John...Cerinthus was an Egyptian, and if not by race a Jew...Cerinthus's doctrines were a strange mixture of Gnosticism, Judaism, Chiliasm, and Ebionitism (Arendzen J.P. Transcribed by William D. Neville. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Yet, the Church in Rome did endorse Christmas, however, no later than by the latter half of the fourth century. Astoundingly the Roman Catholics adopted it when it essentially absorbed the followers of Mithraism (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Constantine the Great… Constantine can rightfully claim the title of Great, for he turned the history of the world into a new course and made Christianity...the religion of the State… it is easy to understand that many of the emperors yielded to the delusion that they could unite all their subjects in the adoration of the one sun-god who combined in himself the Father-God of the Christians and the much-worshipped Mithras; thus the empire could be founded anew on unity of religion. Even Constantine…cherished this mistaken belief… Could not Sol Deus Invictus, to whom even Constantine dedicated his coins for a long time, or Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, venerated by Diocletian and Galerius, become the supreme god of the empire?  Constantine may have pondered over this. Nor had he absolutely rejected the thought even after a miraculous event had strongly influenced him in favour of the God of the Christians... It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas. Consequently Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun.  (Herbermann C., Georg Gp. Constantine the Great. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.  New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908).

Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. It entered Europe from Asia Minor after Alexander's conquest, spread rapidly over the whole Roman Empire at the beginning of our era, reached its zenith during the third century, and vanished under the repressive regulations of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century...Helios Mithras is one god...Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen J.  Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911).

The birthday of the sun god Mithras was what Constantine observed and he wanted his followers to observe. And it ended up getting officially adopted by the Greco-Roman bishops.

The World Book Encyclopedia notes,

In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun (Sechrist E.H. Christmas. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 3. Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1966, pp. 408-417).

It needs to be understood that some scholarly sources believe that the celebration in Rome of Christmas may have began 2-3 decades earlier (by Constantine), but none I am aware of suggest it was prior Constantine in the fourth century.

There have been scholars who believe that Constantine was involved as tradition claims a certain church in Rome as the first site of a December 25th "Christmas" celebration as the following 2007 news account indicates:

The church where the tradition of celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 may have begun was built near a pagan shrine as part of an effort to spread Christianity, a leading Italian scholar says.

Italian archaeologists last month revealed an underground grotto that they believe ancient Romans revered as the place where a wolf nursed Rome's legendary founder, Romulus, and his twin brother, Remus. A few feet from the grotto, or "Lupercale," the Emperor Constantine built the Basilica of St. Anastasia, where some believe Christmas was first celebrated on Dec. 25...

It opted to mark Christmas, then celebrated at varying dates, on Dec. 25 to coincide with the Roman festival celebrating the birth of the sun god, Andrea Carandini, a professor of archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza University, told reporters Friday. The Basilica of St. Anastasia was built as soon as a year after the Nicaean Council. It probably was where Christmas was first marked on Dec. 25, part of broader efforts to link pagan practices to Christian celebrations in the early days of the new religion, Mr. Carandini said. "The church was built to Christianize these pagan places of worship," he said. "It was normal to put a church near these places to try to 'save' them." Rome's archaeological superintendent, Angelo Bottini, who did not take part in Mr. Carandini's research, said that hypothesis was "evocative and coherent" and "helps us understand the mechanisms of the passage from paganism to Christianity." (Scholars link 1st yule church to pagan shrine. Washington Times - Dec 23, 2007 ROME (AP). http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071223/FOREIGN/924350661/1001 viewed 12/24/07).

And the December 25th date was adopted apparently because the Greco-Roman church was filled with people who did not care that this was the Saturnalis/Mithra birthday (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?), so calling it by the name of Christ somehow was believed to make the sun rebirth activities more acceptable. (A highly related article is How did December 25th become Christmas?)

It may be of interest to note that the December 25th Christmas did not become part of the official observations in Constantinople until the famous hater of Jews, John Chrysostom, introduced it there:

We may take it as certain that the feast of Christ's Nativity was kept in Rome on 25 December...It was introduced by St. John Chrysostom into Constantinople and definitively adopted in 395 (Thurston. H. Transcribed by Rick McCarty. Christian Calendar. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York ).

St. Chrysostom in a Christmas sermon, delivered at Antioch in the year 386, says, " it is not ten years since this day [Christmas Day on December 25] was clearly known to us, but it has been familiar from the beginning to those who dwell in the West." "The Romans who have celebrated it for a long time, and from ancient tradition, and have transmitted the knowledge of it to us." (Addis WE, Arnold T. A Catholic Dictionary: Containing Some Account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils, and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church. Benziger Brothers, 1893. Original from Columbia University, Digitized Sep 15, 2009, p. 178)

His claim that Rome or the West knew it from the beginning is blatantly false. The knowledge of December 25th does not come from any ancient actualChristian tradition.

Furthermore, here is even more that The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches about Christmas:

Christmas...Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the "birthdays" of the gods.

Alexandria. The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Strom., I, xxi in P.G., VIII, 888) says that certain Egyptian theologians "over curiously" assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ's birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus...

Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Asia Minor. In Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserts against the Alogi (Hær., li, 16, 24 in P. G., XLI, 919, 931) that Christ was born on 6 January...

Rome. At Rome the earliest evidence is in the Philocalian Calendar (P. L., XIII, 675; it can be seen as a whole in J. Strzygowski, Kalenderbilder des Chron. von Jahre 354, Berlin, 1888), compiled in 354, which contains three important entries. In the civil calendar 25 December is marked "Natalis Invicti"...

By the time of Jerome and Augustine, the December feast is established, though the latter (Epp., II, liv, 12, in P.L., XXXIII, 200) omits it from a list of first-class festivals. From the fourth century every Western calendar assigns it to 25 December...

The Gospels. Concerning the date of Christ's birth the Gospels give no help; upon their data contradictory arguments are based. The census would have been impossible in winter: a whole population could not then be put in motion...

Natalis Invicti. The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont's epoch-making "Textes et Monuments" etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355...The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cypr., "De pasch. Comp.", xix, "O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus." - "O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born."...

Cards and presents. Pagan customs centering round the January calends gravitated to Christmas...

The yule log. The calend fires were a scandal even to Rome, and St. Boniface obtained from Pope Zachary their abolition (Martindale C. Christmas, 1908).

Hence it is clear that even early Roman writers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen did not endorse Christmas, nor did Augustine even list it as an important holiday. And that even later Catholic sources recognize that it is not logical that a census (as shown in Luke 2:1) would be done during the winter--making a December 25th date of birth unlikely (it was also too cold for shepherds to spend the night with their flocks out in an open field, as shown in Luke 2:8, making a December 25th birth basically impossible).

When Roman Bishops, such as Zephyrinus and Callistus gained power, they apparently compromised in many ways, and thus many associated with their church choose to celebrate the Saturnalia.

It also appears that towards the beginning of the third century, there were some in Alexandria (not Asia Minor, or even Rome) who began to feel that Jesus' birth should be celebrated, and that it would be in May.

But later, in the fourth century, Christmas began to be celebrated with both January 6th or December 25 being the dates observed. 

To a great degree a winter date was chosen, because the sun-worshiping Emperor Constantine, and/or one of his successors, wanted to have a Sun holiday at the time of Saturnalia and Brumalia to placate the Gentiles (it should be noted that while Catholic scholars admit the probable pagan origins of the date and celebrations associated with Christmas, they tend to not believe that it was derived from Saturnalia).

December 25th has a long history of being used in pagan worship, and because various ones consider that the sun-worshiping Emperor Constantine was “great” and/or a “saint” and his influence was powerful, they ended up selecting December 25th as the date to supposedly celebrate the birth of Jesus.  A date that Jesus could not have been born on per the account in second chapter of the Gospel of Luke.   

Although it contains certain errors, even the popular novel The Da Vinci Code understood some of the relationship between sun worship and Christmas when it stated:

In Constantine's day, Rome's official religion was sun worship--the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun--and Constantine was its high priest...By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a type of hybrid religion...

The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25...By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus (Brown D. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday, New York, 2003, p. 232).

While some may wish to argue with The Da Vinci Code, the truth, as even all the Catholic scholars admit, is that Christmas was not observed in the second century by the post-apostolic New Testament Church.

They also admit that practices associated with Christmas are of pagan origin, and many of them were condemned by early Catholic leaders. And even the name Natalis Invicti, which the Catholics admit the date of the Christmas celebration probably came from is a pagan festival that literally meansinvincible birth and that is referring to the so-called invincible birth of the sun, not Christ.

Why would the Gospels not be of no help in determining the date?

Precisely because God did not have the date recorded. Nor is it likely that Jesus was born in the winter.

It is of interest to note that God said He did not let the children of Israel see Him, lest they try to make images of Him (Deuteronomy 4:15-19). Thus it is logical that God did not have the date of Christ's birth clearly recorded as He did not want it to be observed.

Perhaps I should add that a book I bought at the Vatican in 2004 states the following about the eighth bishop of Rome (now called Pontiffs) and Christmas:

8. TELESPHORUS, ST. (125-136)...He prescribed fasting and penance in the seven weeks before Easter, thus initiating a practice that is still alive in the Christian world. He established that on Christmas eve priests could say three masses and he introduced the Gloria in excelsis Deo, which he himself may have composed, at the beginning of the mass (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p.3).

That passage is clearly in error as there is no evidence that any in the second century celebrated Christmas.

More recently, a Roman Catholic author admitted the following:

So we don’t reject the use of trees at Christmas time because they were pagan, we continue to use them, because as symbols of life they now point to Christ. (Killian Brian. Halloween, as autumn celebration, reminder God’s name is hallowed. Catholic Online International News. 10/31/06. http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=21818).

Yet, the Catholic accepted English translation of the Bible, Douay Old Testament Of Anno Domini 1609 (DOT), teaches:

2 Thus saith our Lord: According to the ways of the Gentiles learn not: and (a) of the signs of heaven, which the heathen fear, be not afraid:
3 Because the laws of the people are vain: because the work of the hand of the artificer hath cut a tree out of the forest with an axe.
4 with silver and gold he hath decked it: with nails and hammers he hath compacted it, that it fall not asunder.. .(Jerermie/Jeremiah 10:2-4, The Original And True Douay Old Testament Of Anno Domini 1609. Prepared and Edited by Dr. William von Peters, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005, Dr. William G. von Peters. Ph.D. 2005 copyright assigned to VSC Corp.).

29 When the Lord thy God shall have destroyed before thy face the nations, that thou enterest in to possess, and thou shalt possess them, and dwell in their land:
30 beware left thou imitate them, after they be subverted at thy entering in, and thou require their ceremonies, saying: As these nations have worshipped their Gods, so will I also worship.
31 Thou shalt not do in like manner to the Lord thy God. For all the abominations, that our Lord doeth abhor, have they done to their Gods, offering their sons and daughters, and burning them with fire (Deuteronomy 12:29-31, DOT).

God does not approve of trees that are decorated in worship or other practices associated with pagan worship. Such things should not be done by Christians. This is also shown in Protestant preferred translations of the Bible, like the King James Version, as any one can check.

Catholics used to warn that because of Martin Luther’s promotion of Christmas trees, that this form of idolatry made Protestantism the “Tannenbaum religion” (tannenbaum literally means “fir tree” and is the German term for Christmas tree.

In the old days, God warned that some even past their children through fire for these ceremonies. By the way, a substitute practice like that was associated with the Saturnalia, now renamed Christmas. Notice this article:

Saturnalia’s Dark Echoes

     Author Hugo Slim reminds us that Christmas "is perhaps the best example of the early Church Christianizing the traditional non-Christian festivals of a season—in this case the festivals of returning light surrounding the winter solstice" (A Feast of Festivals, pp. 36–37). The Romans celebrated the solstice season as the "Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture" (Fillmore, p. 10). 
This connection to the Saturnalia reveals an even darker side to Christmas traditions, and shows plainly why Christmas is not a child-friendly holiday! The Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that at the feast of Saturnalia, "all classes exchanged gifts, the commonest being wax tapers and clay dolls. These dolls were especially given to children…" (article: "Saturnalia," 11th edition). What was the purpose of those gifts? "Varro thought these dolls represented original sacrifices of human beings to the infernal god. There was, as we have seen, a tradition that human sacrifices were once offered to Saturn, and the Greeks and Romans gave the name of Cronus and Saturn to a cruel Phoenician Baal, to whom, e.g. children were sacrificed at Carthage" (ibid.).

Child Sacrifice and Cannibalism?

     Saturnalia—the festival Christmas absorbed—even carries echoes of ancient child sacrifice! It sounds horrific that dolls were given as gifts as symbols or proxies of children burnt to pagan gods. Yet this practice echoes the modern tradition of hanging cherubs or human figures on Christmas trees! The ancient Greeks placed small masks called oscilla on branches, where they could twirl freely in the wind. Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that oscilla were small figures, most commonly masks or faces, that were hung up "as offerings to various deities.… The custom of hanging these oscilla represents an older practice of expiating human sacrifice" (ibid.). 
Not only did ancient Saturn-worship and fire-worship involve child sacrifice, it also included cannibalism. Author John Garnier noted: "Cannibalism appears to have been initiated by Cronus, i.e. Saturn… For we are told by Sanchoniathon that Cronus was the originator of human sacrifices… Saturn is represented as devouring his own children." (The Worship of the Dead, pp. 34–35). 
When "Christian" missionaries turned a blind eye to the symbols of ancient pagan festivals observed by their converts, they absorbed into their own worship and practice a number of ancient rites that echoed child sacrifice and cannibalism. Symbols of these abominable practices are still extant today as grim reminders of the "dark side of Christmas!" 
When the ancient Israelites entered Palestine, they encountered a people who worshiped the god Moloch, the precursor of Saturn and Kronos...Though God forbade His people from following the Canaanites’ example, they slid into this morbid practice: "They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan" (Psalm 106:37–38). 
Would God want you to observe traditions that contain trappings of child-sacrifice and fire-worship? Would God want you to teach your children beliefs that obscure the real God and instead focus on myths and fables? Would He want you to participate in traditions that are blatantly materialistic?

Even the fourth century Catholic historian Eusebius reported that humans were sacrificed annually for Saturn:

For what can be a greater proof of madness, than to offer human sacrifice, to pollute every city, and even their own houses, with kindred blood? Do not the Greeks themselves attest this, and is not all history filled with records of the same impiety? The Phœnicians devoted their best beloved and only children as an annual sacrifice to Saturn. The Rhodians, on the sixth day of the month Metageitnion, offered human victims to the same god...At Heliopolis three victims were daily offered to Juno, for whom king Amoses, impressed with the atrocity of the practice, commanded the substitution of an equal number of waxen figures. In Chios, and again in Tenedos, a man was slain and offered up to Omadian Bacchus. At Sparta they immolated human beings to Mars. In Crete they did likewise, offering human sacrifices to Saturn...

Diodorus, the epitomizer of libraries, affirms that two hundred of the noblest youths were sacrificed to Saturn by the Libyan people, and that three hundred more were voluntarily offered by their own parents (Eusebius. Oration in Praise of Constantine Pronounced on the thirtieth anniversary of his reign. Chapter 13, Verses 7,8).

Notice that Eusebius is actually condemning not only Saturn sacrifices, but the use of substitution with human made figures.

Essentially the Christmas-New Year's season run for most of December until January 1st.  Modern observances basically coincide with the dates of the old Saturnalia, Mithra, and New Year's celebrations. 

Eating Boar to Honor Nimrod/Tammuz?

Some have looked into history and concluded that eating boar on Christmas is tied in with pagan practices. Notice the following:

The boar was sacrificed to Adonis, or Tammuz, the Sun-god, and its head served up at his festival, because Adonis (the same, be it remembered as Nimrod) was said to be killed with the tusk of a boar. The goddess Diana, though only commonly regarded as the huntress Diana, was in reality identical with Cybele, and Rhea; in her attributes under the form of the Ephesian Diana was worshipped as the Mother-goddess. Now this deity was none other than Semiramus deified : though there is a confusion in the Babylonian mythology between Semiramus and Eve--each being, in a sense, regarded as the Mother of the Child. And Diana, accordingly, is frequently represented with the boar's head as her accompaniment: in token not merely of success in the chase, but of her triumph over the traditional destroyer of her son. The boar was also sacrificed to Venus--another form of the Mother of the Child--for the same reason. In Rome, the boar formed the principal dish at the festival of the Saturnalia, which is the Roman Christmas--Saturn being identical with Nimrod, Tammaz, or Adonis. In like manner, the continental Saxons offered a boar on Christmas day to the Sun--worshipped by them as a goddess--to propitiate her for the loss of her beloved Adonis. (Shepheard H. Traditions of Eden; or, Proofs of the historical truth of the Pentateuch. 1871. Original from Oxford University, Digitized Aug 17, 2006, p. 167)

Also notice some comments from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Nature Worship generally, and Agrarian in particular, were unable to fulfil the promise they appeared to make. The latter was to a large extent responsible for the Tammuz cult of Babylon, with which the worships of Adonis and Attis, and even of Dionysus, are so unmistakably allied. Much might have been hoped from these religions with their yearly festival of the dying and rising god, and his sorrowful sister or spouse: yet it was precisely in these cults that the worst perversions existed. Ishtar, Astarte, and Cybele had their male and female prostitutes, their Galli: Josiah had to cleanse the temple of Yahweh of their booths (cf. the Qedishim and Kelabim, Deuteronomy 23:17; 2 Samuel 23:7; cf. 1 Samuel 14:24; 15:12), and even in the Greek world, where prostitution was not else regarded as religious, Eryx and Corinth at least were contaminated by Semitic influence, which Greece could not correct. "Although the story of Aphrodite's love", says Dr. Farnell, "is human in tone and very winning, yet there are no moral or spiritual ideas in the worship at all, no conception of a resurrection that might stir human hopes. Adonis personifies merely the life of the fields and gardens that passes away and blooms again. (Martindale, Cyril Charles. "Paganism." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 17 Feb. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11388a.htm>)

Thus, The Catholic Encyclopedia is condemning practices associated with Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Ishtar, Astarte, and Cybele. And some practices associated with them are tied to Christmas today. To this day, various ones will consume boar/pork on Christmas day.

Notice the following passages of scripture from the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible:

29...you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:29, NJB).

14 Do not harness yourselves in an uneven team with unbelievers; how can uprightness and law-breaking be partners, or what can light and darkness have in common? 15 How can Christ come to an agreement with Beliar and what sharing can there be between a believer and an unbeliever? 16 The temple of God cannot compromise with false gods, and that is what we are -- the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16, NJB)

19 What does this mean? That the dedication of food to false gods amounts to anything? Or that false gods themselves amount to anything? 20 No, it does not; simply that when pagans sacrifice, what is sacrificed by them is sacrificed to demons who are not God. I do not want you to share with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons as well; you cannot have a share at the Lord's table and the demons' table as well. (1 Corinthians 10:19-21, NJB)

Using pagan practices to worship Jesus is wrong.

Santa Claus is Wrong

Some Catholics are getting concerned about some of the paganism associated with modern Christmas observance. Notice the following news item from 2011:

Vatican paper disfavours Santa Claus

Rome, Dec. 22: Santa Claus, and Christmas trees, have been condemned in an editorial in the Vatican weekly newspaper, “L’Osservatore della Domenica.” The editorial describes Santa Claus as a “monstrous substitute” for the Christ Child, and says that the idea of Santa “is offensive to the faith” and “will not and must not be accepted or tolerated by Christians.” The use of Christmas trees — which have only recently become a part of the Italian Christmas — is condemned as “an attempt to substitute the Crib ..... with a certain feeling of naturalism and paganism.” (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/dc50/vatican-paper-disfavours-santa-claus-684)

No one should be using Christmas trees, Santa Claus, etc. And even some in the Vatican are telling people that. It may also be of interest to note that Catholics originally condemned Protestants for using trees. Catholics used to denounce Protestantism as the "Tannenbaum religion" see Protestantism the ‘Tannenbaum religion’?) because of Martin Luther's promotion of Christmas trees (tannenbaum literally means "fir tree" and is the German term for Christmas tree). Catholics should still condemn the use of trees now.

Also notice what the Bible (NJB) teaches:

5 The truthful witness tells no lies, the false witness lies with every breath. (Proverbs 14:5, NJB)

Is not Santa Claus a lie? Is not endorsing Santa Claus bearing false witness?

Want more reasons?

Look at the following:

Here's Why You Shouldn't Lie To Your Kids About Santa

...why, exactly, parents shouldn't lie to their kids and make them believe in Santa Claus.

The argument goes something like this: lying to children is bad.

You would think that this would be uncontroversial, somewhere between "Don't punch old ladies" and "World peace is a good idea", but there we are. So let us explain.

It's not just a story. Parents usually defend the Santa lie by saying that it's just a story, like Snow White. But there's a difference between fiction and lying. When you tell your kids a story, they know it's a story. They don't believe it's actually real. When kids play cops and robbers, even though they pretend otherwise -- and that's part of the fun! -- they know they're not actual cops and robbers. It's not the same thing as a telling them a story. Telling stories is awesome. The Santa lie, however, is a lie.

It doesn't do anything for their imagination. This is usually the next line of defense: tricking kids about Santa somehow helps their imagination. But that makes no sense. You're not asking kids to actually imagine anything, you're feeding them beliefs. You are taking advantage of the fact that they trust you to make them believe things are true which are not. That has nothing to do with imagination. If believing in Santa was an exercise in imagination, every kid would believe in a different Santa. And yet the things kids believe about Santa are the things their parents tell them (unless the kids are smart).

Who cares if it's tradition? For a very long time, tradition included such smart education principles as "spare the rod, spoil the child." Now our society doesn't believe in beating children -- and that's a good thing. Families that celebrate Christmas should have Christmas traditions! If you're Christian, well, your religion already has plenty of traditions around that. If you're secular but still want to celebrate Christmas, you still have carols, food, spending time together, and exchanging gifts for the right, correct reason: that you love each other. You don't need to invent a supersonic fat man to show your children you love them.

It's bad tactics. From the parents' purely self-interested perspective, the Santa lie is just dumb parenting. First of all, it erodes your trust capital. Once your kids discover that you were actively lying to them for several years, how much do you think they'll trust you? Some kids are unaffected, but many trust their parents less. The Santa lie is also used to control children: if you're "good" you'll get presents, and if you're "naughty" you won't. But really, has that ever worked? Except for the two weeks before Christmas, and possibly for thirty seconds after being reminded, has any child ever altered his behavior in any way because of this threat?

It's just morally wrong. Sorry to repeat ourselves, but lying to children is just wrong. It is. Just because someone is gullible is no reason to lie to them, and children have a right not to be deceived like everyone else. You can make a case for some "white lies" but the Santa lie is not a white lie. It's just a lie.

It's selfish. That's the biggest reason. Despite their protestations to the contrary, parents don't do it for the benefit of the children. They do it for their own benefit. When pressed and rebutted, parents will eventually blurt out "But they're so cute when they believe in Santa!" That's the real reason, isn't it? Parents tell their kids the Santa lie because it's a form of entertainment. They like to watch kids helplessly believe something they know isn't true. At the end of the day, it's a cruel prank.

So there you go, parents. It's not too late. Come clean. (Gobry PE. Here's Why You Shouldn't Lie To Your Kids About Santa. December 25, 2010. http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-lie-to-your-kids-about-santa-2010-12#ixzz2pdnSGMck=)

Lying is wrong. Santa Claus is wrong. Various Catholic and other leaders realize this.

When Was 'Christmas' First Celebrated in Jerusalem or Palestine?

If early Christians celebrated Christmas on December 25th, then it would seem logical that those in the area of Jerusalem/Palestine would have been the first to do so.

But this was not the case.

Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia reported:

Jerusalem...In 385, therefore, 25 December was not observed at Jerusalem.This checks the so-called correspondence between Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) and Pope Julius I (337-352), quoted by John of Nikiu (c. 900) to convert Armenia to 25 December (see P.L., VIII, 964 sqq.). Cyril declares that his clergy cannot, on the single feast of Birth and Baptism, make a double procession to Bethlehem and Jordan. (This later practice is here an anachronism.) He asks Julius to assign the true date of the nativity "from census documents brought by Titus to Rome"; Julius assigns 25 December...(Martindale C. Christmas, 1908).

Notice what a Franciscan Catholic priest from Jerusalem reported:

The peregrinations also extended to Bethlehem on the occasion of the Epiphany, which was a feast that united with Christmas.

The feast of Christmas, on December 25 despite the protestation of St. Jerome that the feast was already "universal", was not introduced until the 6th century (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, Part 1, Chapter 1.  Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p. 73).

Thus, it was not until the 6th century that December 25th was celebrated as the birth of Jesus in Palestine/Jerusalem. And of course, the Christians that were true to the Bible and early Christianity, never celebrated it there.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that it was not even called Christmas until 1038:

The first written reference we have to the word “Christmas” itself being used comes from a Saxon book dating from 1038 that mentions Cristes Maesse, meaning “Christ's Mass,” from which we get “Christmas.” (Green J. Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas. Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009)

The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131. In Dutch it isKerstmis, in Latin Dies Natalis, whence comes the French Noël, and Italian Il natale; in German Weihnachtsfest, from the preceeding sacred vigil. (Martindale C. Christmas, 1908).

So, it was not until over a 1,000 years after Jesus died that a term for 'Christmas" was used--and this was reported in The Catholic Encyclopedia. Thus, this was obviously not an original Christian holy day or holiday.

The Day for the God of the Sun Became the Day for the Son of God?

21st century non-Catholic historian Craig Harline wrote the following:

To begin with, Sun Day mattered more than even among Roman pagans, who still far outnumbered Christians and who may well have influenced how Christians worshiped on their special day...

More important in raising the status of Sun Day among pagans was Mithraism. This movement was related to the emperor's Invincible Sun Cult but carried much broader appeal, especially among the empire's multitude of soldiers. Followers of Mithra did emphasize Sun Day, and with greater impact than early Christians. In fact they may have influenced the Christian choice of the first day of the week for worship and some Christian forms of worship. Purification by baptism, the virtues of abstinence...setting aside heaven for the pure...and celebrating the birth of their God on December 25 are all allowable parallels.

Another was Mithraism's treatment of Sun Day. Christians assigned their own meanings to such practices...Christ was the true Sun, and east was the direction in which Christ ascended into heaven...the similarities in worship, the new status of the first day among both groups at about the same time, the pagan assumption that Christians were fellow Sun-worshipers, and the emergence of the Christian metaphor "Christ the Sun" all suggest a connection of some sort (Harline C. Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl. Doubleday, NY, 2007, pp. 5,9-10).

Is that not astounding? There is nothing in the Bible to suggest Jesus Christ is the Sun nor that east was the direction in which Christ ascended into heaven (to verify that latter point, simply read the account in Acts 19-11). Actually, the Bible is clear that humans are not to worship any celestrial bodies, which includes the sun (Deuteronomy 4:19).

Although in English, the terms "son" and "sun" sound exactly the same, that is not the case in either Greek nor Latin. In Greek they are phonetically pronounced (h)wee-os and (h)ay-lee-os respectively (Source: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). In Latin, they are spelled filius and solrespectively.

Furthermore, the Greek for the expression Christ the Sun would be Χριστός τό Ηλiου. Ηλiου meant sun, but was also the name of the sun god (Helios).Wikipedia has this interesting statement:

In Late Antiquity a cult of Helios Megistos ("Great Helios") drew to the image of Helios a number of syncretic elements, which have been analysed in detail by W. Fauth by means of a series of late Greek texts, namely: an Orphic Hymn to Helios; the so-called Mithras Liturgy. Notice that Helios is tied to Mithraism. And that the cult of Helios drew syncretic elements (Helios. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios verified 09/10/07).

Combining "Christianity" was pagan elements is syncretic.

Does any true Christian think that real Christians were going around saying, "Christ is true Helios" or "the Son of God is Helios"?

Thus, this is apparently why those into Mithraism would consider that the paganized "Christians" that did this were sun-worshipers like them. This probably brought the two groups (Mithraism/Helios followers and sun-honoring Christ professors) closer together and may better explain how what passes for mainstream Christianity adopted such non-biblical practices such as a December 25th celebration called Christmas.

Mithra was allegedly born in a below-ground cave, and many (contrary to logic) claim that Jesus was born in a cave--but He was not (see Was Jesus Born in the Grotto of the Nativity?).

Notice the following carving of Mithra:

Carving of Mithra the Sun God

Can you see the sun-rays from around Mithra's head? Does that not suggest the "halo" like depictions of Christ that many artists show? This is yet another area where pagan practices apparently influenced what now passes for mainstream "Christianity" (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).

Were Birthdays Celebrated?

The first century Jewish historian Josephus, who was familiar with some aspects of Christianity, noted that Jewish families did not celebrate birthdays:

Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the birth of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess (JosephusTranslated by W. Whiston. Against Apion, Book II, Chapter 26. Extracted from Josephus Complete Works, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids (MI), 14th printing, 1977, p. 632).

Since nearly all of the first Christians were Jewish, this may partially explain why the non-celebration of Jesus' birth would be consistent with that custom.

However, even as more and more Gentiles began to profess Christ (so much so that they outnumbered those of Jewish heritage that did), the early Gentile leaders also did not endorse the celebration of birthdays.

The writings of the early third century Catholic theologian Origen show that most Catholics were against the celebration of birthdays. The Catholic Encyclopedia records that Origen wrote:

"of all the holy people in the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod) who make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born into this world below" (Origen, in Levit.Hom. VIII, in Migne P.G., XII, 495) (Thurston H. Natal Day. Transcribed by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to Margaret Johanna Albertina Behling Barrett. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The writings of the late third century Catholic theologian Arnobius show that, even that late, most Catholics were against the celebration of birthdays as he wrote:

...you worship with couches, altars, temples, and other service, and by celebrating their games and birthdays, those whom it was fitting that you should assail with keenest hatred. (Arnobius. Against the Heathen (Book I), Chapter 64. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Thus birthday celebrations, even of gods and leaders, were condemned as far as the late third century by Roman Catholic leaders.

What Did Early Christians Observe?

Unlike with Christmas, God did inspire the recording of the dates of all the festivals that He called "my appointed Feasts" in the Bible (Leviticus, Chapter 23).

While everyone knows that Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:10) and the Passover (Matthew 26:18), many do not realize that the first century Christians observed the all holy days listed in Leviticus Chapter 23. Specifically the New Testament shows that they observed the Passover andDays of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), Pentecost (Acts 2:10;20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8), the Day of Atonement (called the Fast, Acts 27:9) and the Feast of Tabernacles (called the Feast, Acts 18:21). And that the fulfillment's of the Feast of Trumpets is also described in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 8-11).

(Some have claimed that they only can be kept in Jerusalem. Yet, can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and it nowhere says that Jerusalem is the only place that God will place His name. The children of Israel did not even observe the holy days in Jerusalem until the time of David as it was still controlled by non-Israelites until then. The Apostle Paul kept Pentecost in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8); and the faithful in Asia Minor in the second century, for example kept Passover there.)

While there is a lot of evidence that PolycarpMelitoApollinarisPolycrates, and others kept the what are now considered to be Jewish Holy Days in the second century, the subject of Jesus' birth as some type of holiday is not found in their writings.

When the late 2nd/early 3rd century Catholic writer Tertullian, twice mentioned the holidays celebrated at that time, he mainly mentioned those considered to be Jewish ones by most moderns, such as Passover and Pentecost (Tertullian. De Corona, Chapter 3; On Baptism, Chapter 20), but not Christmas.

For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Passover:

The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ's death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration...The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast...Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip (Holwek F. G. Transcribed by John Wagner and Michael T. Barrett. Easter. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Copyright © 1909 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Well, actually those in the true church in the Orient observed the 14th day of Nisan (see article on Polycrates or Apollinaris). However, the basic point is that the Catholic Church admits that Christ was slain on the Passover and that it still should be observed (even though they changed the name, intent, and the date--also the Jews never called it Easter).

For another example, The Catholic Encyclopedia states this about Pentecost:

Pentecost...A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10)...Pentecost ("Pfingsten" in German), is the Greek for "the fiftieth"...In Tertullian (De bapt., xix) the festival appears as already well established (Holweck F.G. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Pentecost (Whitsunday). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In the early third century, the Catholic theologian Origen listed the following as being celebrated:

If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example the Lord's day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost...(Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VIII, Chapter XXII. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

It is likely that other days were also then celebrated, but Christmas would not be among them. While Origen listed what would be considered to be the Spring Holy Days, some were still keeping those known as the Fall Holy Days.

Perhaps it might be helpful to realize that Catholics do admit that early Christians did observe the Feast:

St. Jerome (PL 25, 1529 & 1536-7) speaking of how the Judaeo-Christians celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles…tells us that they gave the feast a millenarian significance (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision.  Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p.202).

The Greco-Roman Bishop & Saint Methodius of Olympus in the late 3rd or early 4th century taught that the Feast of Tabernacles was commanded and that it had lessons for Christians. And he tied it in with the teaching of the millennial reign of Christ:

...these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation , the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation...

For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord , which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us. For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation , in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider the naked truth itself, for He says, A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb , and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings. (Methodius. Banquet of the Ten Virgins (Discourse 9, Chapter 1). Translated by William R. Clark. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/062309.htm>).

Although not all Greco-Roman supporters endorsed or kept the Fall Holy Days, some of their saints did.

We faithful in the Continuing Church of God also keep the Feast of Tabernacles and believe that it foreshadows the coming millennium.

The early Church clearly kept the what are now known as Jewish Holy Days and saw Christian fulfillment's in them (especially the Spring ones). And since the Apostles observed them in the New Testament, shouldn't they and not Christmas be celebrated by true followers of Christ. Gradually, those under Catholic influence stopped celebrating the Fall Holy Days.

Does God Hate His Own Festivals or Are They a Blessing?

Even into the late 4th century, history records that the Fall Holy Days were still being celebrated by some who professed Christ.

Yet, the Catholic saint John Chrysostom preached against them following in 387 A.D.:

The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do...

If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies...

Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2.. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).

Now this actually causes a problem for the Catholic Church. First, it shows that until at least the late fourth century, that some who professed Christ still kept all the Holy Days. Secondly, even the current pontiff acts like the Fall Holy Days are venerable (he used the term "a blessing"). And thirdly, since the Catholic Church claims that it still keeps a version of Passover (though under the name Easter in English) and Pentecost, then their saint, John Chrysostom, should never have condemned all of the festivals that God gave the Jews.

Yet he did.

Notice what the Roman Catholic Church says about John Chrysostom:

Chrysostom has deserved a place in ecclesiastical history, not simply as Bishop of Constantinople, but chiefly as a Doctor of the Church. Of none of the other Greek Fathers do we possess so many writings. We may divide them into three portions, the “opuscula”, the “homilies”, and the “letters”…eight “Against the Jews”…

As an exegete Chrysostom is of the highest importance…it would be a mistake to underrate the great theological treasures hidden in his writings. From the very first he was considered by the Greeks and Latins as a most important witness to the Faith. (St. John Chrysostom. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910).

There are very few “Doctors of the Church” from a Roman Catholic perspective, but this hater of Jews and God’s Holy Days–John Chrysostom–was one of them! (For more on John Chrysostom himself, please check out the article John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Antisemite.)

Interestingly the Pope Benedict brought up the subjects of John Chrysostom and the biblical Holy Days on apparently the same day. According to a 9/20/07 article by Zenit, on Wednesday (September 19, 2007) the Pope’s “reflection at the general audience focused on St. John Chrysostom”--he praised him so much in that homily that he wants everyone to "pray that the Lord render us docile to the lessons of this great teacher of the faith." 

And on the same day, it was announced that when the Pontiff praised one who hated Jews and God’s Holy Days, he also claimed that the Holy Days as observed by Jews can be a source of blessings from God. Notice this news item from Zenit (a Vatican-supporting news agency):

The Jewish calendar marks Rosh Hashana (New Year) Sept. 12-14; Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Sept. 21-22; and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) Sept. 27-Oct. 3.

“These festivities,” the Holy Father wrote, “can be occasions for many blessings from the Eternal and a source of immense joy, so that the will to promote the peace that the world so greatly needs will grow within each one of us. May God in his goodness protect your community and grant that the friendship between us deepen, in this city of Rome and everywhere.” (Benedict XVI Wishes Chief Rabbi a Happy New Year. Zenit.org 09/19/07)

Anyway, since the Holy Days provide blessings from God (blessings is a word similar in meaning to "venerable"), one would think that the Roman Catholic Church would observe them and not praise one (Chrystostom) who condemned them.

Furthermore, the New Testament calls one of the so-called “Jewish” holy days “great.” Notice the following from both a Protestant and a Catholic translation: 

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out (John 7:37, NKJV)

And in the last, the great day of the festivity JESUS stood, and cried (John 7:37, Rheims New Testament).

So who is right?

Those who follow Jesus' practices or those who condemn them.

Recall that John Chrysostom, in this case, somewhat correctly stated,

"If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies".

So which days should be observed? Which days should be condemned?

Notice what the Bible says:

1 These are the feasts of the Lord, which you shall call holy.

3 Six days shall ye do work: the seventh day, because it is the rest of the sabbath, shall be called holy. You shall do no work on that day: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your habitations.

4 These also are the holy days of the Lord, which you must celebrate in their seasons.

5 The first month, the fourteenth day of the month at evening, is the phase of the Lord:

6 And the fifteenth day of the same month is the solemnity of the unleavened bread of the Lord. Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:2-6, Douay-Rheims)

In Leviticus 23 God lists His commanded days and HE RECORDED WHAT DAY THEY FELL ON. And Christmas is NOT one of them.

Please carefully consider the following:

15 Keep therefore your souls carefully. You saw not any similitude in the day that the Lord God spoke to you in Horeb from the midst of the fire:

16 Lest perhaps being deceived you might make you a graven similitude, or image of male or female,

17 The similitude of any beasts, that are upon the earth, or of birds, that fly under heaven,

18 Or of creeping things, that move on the earth, or of fishes, that abide in the waters under the earth:

19 Lest perhaps lifting up thy eyes to heaven, thou see the sun and the moon, and all the stars of heaven, and being deceived by error thou adore and serve them, which the Lord thy God created for the service of all the nations, that are under heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19, Douay-Rheims)

It was likely INTENTIONAL that God did not command keeping the day of Jesus' birth nor did He even inspire when He was born. Thus, God obviously did not want that date kept, and most certainly not with practices that came from heathen religions.

Notice what Jesus told the religious of His day who preferred traditions OVER God's commands"

6...you have made void the commandment of God for your tradition.

7 Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying:

8 This people honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me.

9 And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men. (Matthew 15:6-9, Douay-Rheims)

Christmas is a tradition of men, and most who keep it do NOT keep God's commanded days. Which position has real scriptural support, even from the Catholic translation of the Bible?

What Holidays doe God Hate?

Does it make sense that God intended Christmas to be the biggest Christian holiday of the year?

Recall that God did not even have the date of Jesus' birth recorded in the Bible (nor Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays?), that Scripture never says to celebrate it, that the New Testament Apostles did not celebrate it, that the second century Church leaders (including Catholic ones) did not celebrate it, that it Christmas involves tree decorating which seems to be condemned, and that in reality Christmas is a continuation of Gentile pagan practices that early Catholic writers such as Tertullian condemned.

Actually, the Bible shows that feast days that God hates are those who have idols:

21 I have hated, and have rejected your festivities: and I will not take the odor of your assemblies...
26 And you carried a tabernacle for your Moloch, and the image of your idols, the star of your God, which you made to yourselves. 27 And I will make you remove beyond Damascus, saith our Lord, the God of hosts is his name. (Amos 5:21,26-27).

What is Christmas if not a renamed holiday to pagan idols like the above was?

The Catholic saint John Chrysostom specifically admitted that if the Jewish festivals are great, then those then observed by the Roman Catholics (which by then included Christmas) are lies. And on this point he was correct. And that is what the Catholic Church really teaches about Christmas and God's Holy Days.

More information on the true Church and Holy Days can be found in the following articles:

Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. 
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant and Catholic scholars say Sunday, but is that what the Bible teaches?
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true?
Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles which state that this should be a local decision. Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? 
Melito's Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. 
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? This article supplies some biblical answers.
UCG and Its Unleavened Bread Study Paper What does the Bible say about eating unleavened bread for seven days? What has UCG officially said about it?
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? More Christians somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? 
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus? 
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? 
The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians "The Day of Atonement". Does it have any relevance for Christians today? 
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians?

Christmas Was Long Opposed

Throughout history, not just Tertullian, but those associated with the Church of God, such as the Paulicians of the Pergamos Church era, opposed Christmas and other Catholic endorsed holidays. But they and their practices upset the Roman Church.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about the Paulicians:

Leo V, though an Iconoclast, tried to refute the accusation that he was a Paulician by persecuting them furiously. A great number of them at this time rebelled and fled to the Saracens. Sergius was killed in 835. Theodora, regent for her son Michael III, continued the persecution...

We hear continually of wars against the Saracens, Armenians, and Paulicians...

This eliminated the sect as a military power. Meanwhile other Paulicians, heretics but not rebels, lived in groups throughout the empire (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Richard L. George. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

In other words, since the Paulicians and Emperor Leo V were against idols, Leo decided he had to persecute them because he was accused of being a bit like them in that area. And additional persecution followed Leo's. The above quote also shows that there were Paulicians, who even though persecuted, would not fight back. This is because those truly in the Church of God were opposed to military participation (please see article Military Service and the COGs).

The historian, Fred C. Conybeare observed this about some affiliated with the Paulicians:

They are accused by their Armenian opponents of setting at naught all the feasts and fasts of the Church, especially Sunday...The Sabbath was perhaps kept...Of the modern Christmas and of the Annunciation, and of the other feasts connected with the life of Jesus prior to his thirtieth year, this phase of the church knew nothing. The general impression which the study of it leaves on us is that in it we have before us a form of Church not very remote from the primitive Jewish Christianity of Palestine (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, pp. clii, cxciii).

In other words, those who practiced the Christianity of the primitive, the original, Church, opposed added days such as Christmas and other Catholic promoted days.

Christmas Trees Were Finally Added

Of course Christmas trees and many other symbols associated with modern Christmas celebrations are also of pagan (pre-Christian) origins. Here is some of what Wikipedia mentions:

With likely origins in European pre-Christian cultures, the Christmas tree has gained an extensive history and become a common sight during the winter season in various countries. Patron trees (for example, the Irminsul, Thor's Oak and the figurative Yggdrasil) held special significance for the ancient Germanic tribes, appearing throughout historic accounts as sacred symbols and objects. According to Adam of Bremen, in Scandinavia the Germanic pagan kings sacrificed nine males (the number nine is a significant number in Norse mythology) of each species at the sacred groves every ninth year...

Other notable traditions in relation to Christmas have also been derived from Germanic pagan practices, including the Yule log, Christmas ham, Yule Goat, stuffing stockings[4], elements of Santa Claus and his nocturnal ride through the sky, and surviving elements of Pre-Christian Alpine traditions (Christmas Trees. Wikipedia. viewed 12/21/07).

Essentially, pagans who professed Christ wanted to keep their pagan symbols and celebrations and that is what happened to make Christmas.

But to make this sound better other explanations were offered.

Most who have looked into the subject of Christmas trees are familiar with the passages in Jeremiah 10 that clearly seem to condemn pagan tree practices:

2"Do not learn the ways of the nations 
or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them. 
3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails 
so it will not totter. 
5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried 
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm 
nor can they do any good." (Jeremiah 10:2-5, NIV).

While the trees themselves cannot harm us, God says that they cannot do any good.

Even though there is nothing in the Bible to encourage putting a tree in one's house to honor the Jesus or the Father, both Catholics and Protestants believe that they have a legitimate reason.

Catholics claim that once their St. Boniface chopped down an oak dedicated to Thor, a fir grew at the same place, and that he stated that "Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light" (Christmas Tree. Wikipedia, 12/22/07).  But the truth is that the evergreen tree had long been a pagan religious symbol in northern Europe, and as cited before using them as part of worship is condemned by the God of the Bible (Deuteronomy 12:2-4).

According to the Historic Trinity Lutheran Church of Detroit:

Dr. Martin Luther is credited with originating the use of lighted pine trees in the home for Christmas (http://www.historictrinity.org/advent.html).

Here is one account of the tree story:

St. Boniface Story

Why do we have a decorated Christmas Tree? In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry.

Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.

The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night (The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree Copyright © 1998-2007 Maria Hubert von Staufer. http://www.christmasarchives.com/trees.html viewed 12/22/07). 

Of course, that once again is one of the problems of Christmas, it substitutes pagan symbols for that of the true God.

And if you are asking yourself, doesn't the trinity represent God, you may wish to study more into the Bible and the History of Christianity and also read the article Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?

Santa Claus

Other symbols of Christmas also shift the emphasis from the true God to pagan substitutes.  For example, notice something that the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

For we must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10, RNT).

Yet, Christmas teaches children that throughout the year that they need to sit before the judgment of Santa Claus–a pagan substitute for Christ. 

SantaSanta 

Also, at least in many Western cultures, Santa Claus is supposed to bring presents to children all over the world by coming down chimneys at night.

Many parents actually tell children this lie every year. They forget that Jesus taught that Satan was a liar and the father of lies, and that once their children get older, they will realize that their parents lied to them. The Rheims' version of the New Testament specifically shows that Jesus taught the following:

43 Why do you not know my speech? Because you cannot hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. 45 But if I say the truth, you believe me not. (John 8:43-45).

Lying to children does NOT improve the bond between parents and children as some apparently hope the Santa Claus lie will somehow help their family. Please tell your children the truth. Is that not what Jesus would do?

Furthermore, when I was at a Catholic website (EWTN) on 12/25/09, it had a report that there is a tradition that claims that "Saint" Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (near Constantinople), the man now known as "Santa Claus", attended the Council of Nicea and while there assaulted Arius by hitting him in the face (this is also reported in Butler A, Thurston H, Attwater D. Butler's lives of the saints, Volume 4. 2nd edition, Christian Classics. 1956. Original from the University of Virginia, Digitized Jul 29, 2008, p. 504).

Not a particularly fine example of Christianity.

Parents should not lie to their children about Santa Claus. This is not the Christian thing to do.

Notice that even the Douay Old Testament (the accepted Roman Catholic translation of the Latin Vulgate into English ) teaches:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16)

It is a false witness against children to tell them that Santa Claus has God-like powers and that he delivers presents to children in the 21st century.

Concluding Comments

Even the Vatican realizes that Christmas was not an original Christian holiday, that Santa Claus and Christmas trees are pagan and should not be used by Christians. Hopefully, Catholics and others who can recognize those facts should realize that Christmas is not a biblical holy day.

Do you really believe the Bible or are you more comfortable with traditions of men?

Now, some believe that all the lies and pagan symbols associated with Christmas are simply harmless fun.  They believe that Christmas brings families together, and gets people to know about Jesus.  While the name of Jesus gets mentioned more than at other times of the year by various ones, the reality is that those who observe Christmas do not properly discern the message of Jesus Christ, nor do most of the customs associated with Christmas help people understand how Jesus would have them live.

Someone stated to me that in spite of the truth about Christmas, he said he thought its observance was a good idea and asked what could be wrong with observing it.

I simply commented that those that keep Christmas are observing a non-biblical holiday and that those that celebrate Christmas normally fail to observe the Holy Days in the Bible and learn what God intended that they learn. Those who do not observe the biblical Holy Days simply do not understand what God is trying to teach humans through His Holy Days, including the truth about God's plan of salvation.

Notice the following scriptures, one section which will use two translations for emphasis:

'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread...So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD (Leviticus 23:2-6,44).

31 For all the abominations, that our Lord doeth abhor, have they done to their Gods, offering their sons and daughters, and burning them with fire. 32 What I command thee, that only do to our Lord: neither add any thing, nor diminish. (Deuteronomy 12:31-32, DOT).

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:32, NKJV).

Christmas is never listed anywhere in the Bible or even early church writings to be "a feast of the LORD." But the biblical Holy Days were listed in the Bible and observed by those who have professed Christ throughout the ages. This is clear from even Catholic writings and Catholic translations of scripture.

Do you prefer to listen to the teachings of the Bible on God's Holy Days or rely on traditions of men in observing days like Christmas?

Here is a link to a sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?

Back to Early Christianity page

Back to COGwriter home page

Thiel B. Ph.D. What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? www .cogwriter.com 2005/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014 0217