Christmas: Origins and Practice

Christmas Nativity

A Brief History of the Origins of Christmas

Prior to writing about the traditions of modern day Christmas celebrations we need to examine a Biblical view of celebrating the birth of Jesus approximately 2,000 years ago. Let’s first acknowledge that the actual birth date of Jesus cannot be proven. December 25 was chosen as the date to honor the Christ by Constantine, the Roman Emperor, at the time. Constantine had converted to Christianity and declared it (Christianity), as the favored religion of Rome and its citizenry. Christianity and the practice of Christmas made its way to the Western world. December 25th became the accepted date to celebrate Jesus as the Messiah circa 330 AD.

Having established the approximate beginnings of the practice of Christmas we must acknowledge that prior to this time the celebration of the winter solstice was celebrated around December 25.  We now call this time of year the beginning of winter.  The traditions of Christmas such as gift giving, lights, a Christmas tree, caroling, and bells ringing can be traced back to events that were not or are not necessarily associated with Christ and His appearance as a man.

Biblical Considerations

Consider Paul’s teaching and the principles found in Romans 14 as to whether we ought to celebrate Christmas or not. Paul wrote:

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.  But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God

Romans 14:5-10

Paul also wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable” I Corinthians 6:12).

Although some traditions may have come from somewhere other than scripture, that does not make them right or wrong. Each believing Christian much choose to practice or ignore them according to their own conscience.

A Personal Practice of Christmas

As for me and my household, we will love the Lord and choose to consider the Christmas season as an opportunity to tell people that Jesus was born and that He lived a sinless life, died on a cross and was raised on the third day.  He ascended back to heaven where He awaits those who name Him as Lord and love Him.

My choice is to see a Christmas tree as an evergreen – a tree that does not go dormant but represents the joy of the season and hope that tomorrow will come.  I will choose to:

  • see gift giving as sharing the greatest gift of Jesus which is not considering equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptying Himself and being born as a bondservant to live and die to save me from my sins granting me the gift of grace love, mercy, and salvation.
  • consider Christmas lights as the Light of the world, Jesus, coming to live among us and showing us how to live.
  • consider caroling as giving praise to the one born King of kings and Lord of lords.
  • choose not to condemn those who do not believe as I do. 

Christmas, to me, is about the joy, hope, love, and peace that are found in Jesus.  Christmas, for me, begins with the traditions that point us to Him as we sing out praise to the Lord for coming to us and saving us.

Pastor Dwight <><