THE PLAIN TRUTH
Where did the world get Christmas?...from the Bible, or paganism. Here are astonishing facts which may shock you. Test yourself. How much do you know of the origin of the Christmas tree - of "Santa Claus" - of the mistletoe - of the holly wreath - of the custom of exchanging gifts?
When I was a little boy, I was taught to hang up my stockings on Christmas eve. When I awakened the next morning, they were filled with small toys and sacks or little boxes of candy and nuts. And beside the mantle, from which my stockings hung, a Christmas tree had suddenly appeared, decorated with shiny tinsel. And on it hung presents. Other presents for us children were piled on the floor underneath. I was told Santa Claus had come down the chimney during the night and left all these things.
But did I question what my parents had told me? Of course not. I accepted it - took it all for granted. Didn't you?
Stop and think a moment. Very few have ever reflected on WHY they believe what they do - WHY they follow the customs they do, or from WHERE those customs came. We were born into a world filled with customs. We grew up accepting them without question. Why? Sheep instinct? Well, not exactly. But by nature we do tend to follow the crowd, whether right or wrong. Sheep follow others to the slaughter. Humans ought to check up where they are going. How - WHEN did Christmas originate? Does Christmas REALLY celebrate the birthday of Christ? Was Jesus born on December 25th? Did the original apostles, who knew Jesus personally and were taught by Him, celebrate His birthday on December 25th? Did they celebrate it AT ALL?
If Christmas is the chief of the Christian holidays, WHY do so many non-Christians observe it? Do you know? Why do people exchange presents with family members, friends, relatives, at Christmas time? Was it because the wise men presented gifts to the Christ-child? The answer may surprise you.
Most people have "supposed" a lot of things about Christmas that are not true. But let's quit "supposing" and get the facts!
WHAT ENCYCLOPEDIAS SAY
The word "Christmas" means "Mass of Christ," or, as it came to be shortened, "Christ-Mass." It came to non-Christians and Protestants from the Roman Catholic Church. And where did they get it? NOT from the New Testament - NOT from the Bible - NOT from the original apostles who were personally instructed by Christ - but it gravitated in the fourth century into the Roman Church from paganism.
Since the celebration of Christmas has come to the world from the Roman Catholic Church, and has no authority but that of the Roman Catholic Church, let us examine the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, published by that church. Under the heading "Christmas," you will find:
"Christmas was NOT among the earliest festivals on the Church...the first evidence of the feast is FROM EGYPT." "PAGAN CUSTOMS centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas."
And in the same encyclopedia, under the heading "Natal Day," we find that the early Catholic father, Origen, acknowledged this truth: "...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 in which they were born into THIS world".
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1946 edition, has this: "Christmas (i.e., the Mass of Christ)...Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church..." It was not instituted by Christ or the apostles, or by Bible authority. It was picked up afterward from paganism. The Encyclopedia Americana, 1944 edition, says: "Christmas...It was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth..." (The "Communion," which is instituted by New Testament Bible authority, is a memorial of the death of Christ.) "...A feast was established in memory of this event [Christ's birth] in the FOURTH CENTURY. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever ON THE DAY OF THE OLD ROMAN FEAST OF THE BIRTH OF SOL, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed."
Now notice! These recognized historical authorities show Christmas was not observed by Christians for the first two or three hundred years - a period longer than the entire history of the United States as a nation! It got into the Western, or Roman, Church, by the fourth century A.D. It was not until the fifth century that the Roman Church ordered it to be celebrated as an official Christian festival!
JESUS NOT BORN DECEMBER 25th
Jesus was not even born in the winter season! When the Christ-child was born "there were in the same country shepherds ABIDING in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:
. This never could have occurred in Judaea in the month of December. The shepherds always brought their flocks from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date. Notice that the Bible itself proves, in Song of Solomon 2:11 and Ezra 10:9, 13, that winter was a rainy season not permitting shepherds to abide in open fields at night.
"It was an ancient custom among Jews of those days to send out their sheep to the fields and deserts about the Passover (early spring), and bring them home at commencement of the FIRST RAIN," says the Adam Clarke Commentary (Vol. 5, page 370, New York ed.)
Continuing, this authority states: "During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As...the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November (begins sometime in OCTOBER), we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole SUMMER. And, as these shepherds had not YET brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields BY NIGHT. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a CHRONOLOGICAL FACT...See the quotations from the Talmudists in Lightfoot."
Any encyclopedia, or any other authority, will tell you that Christ was not born on December 25. The Catholic Encyclopedia frankly states this fact.
The exact date of Jesus' birth is entirely unknown, as all authorities acknowledge - though if I had space in this booklet I could show you scriptures which at least strongly indicate it was in the early fall - probably September - approximately six months after Passover.
If God had wished us to observe and celebrate Christ's birthday, He would not have so completely hidden the exact date.
HOW THIS PAGAN CUSTOM GOT INTO THE CHURCH
Then how did this pagan custom creep into the Western Christian world?
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religous Knowledge explains it clearly, in its article on "Christmas": "How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia (Dec. 25) following the Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the 'new sun'...cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia WERE TOO DEEPLY ENTRENCHED IN POPULAR CUSTOM TO BE SET ASIDE BY CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE...The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ's birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia ACCUSED THEIR WESTERN BRETHREN OF IDOLATRY AND SUN WORSHIP FOR ADOPTING AS CHRISTIAN THIS PAGAN FESTIVAL."
Remember, the Roman world had been pagan. Prior to the fourth century, Christians were few in number, though increasing, and were persecuted by the government and by pagans. But, with the advent of Constantine as emperor, who made his profession of Christianity in the fourth century, placing Christianity on an equal footing with paganism, people of the Roman world began to accept this now-popular Christianity by the hundreds of thousands.
But remember, these people had grown up in pagan customs, chief of which was this idolatrous festival of December 25th. It was a festival of merrymaking, with its special spirit. They enjoyed it! They didn't want to give it up. Now this same article in the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge explains how the recognition by Constantine of Sunday, which had been the day of pagan sun worship, and how the influence of the pagan Manichaeism, which identified the SON OF GOD with the physical SUN, gave these pagans of the fourth century, now turning over wholesale to "Christianity," their excuse for calling their pagan-festival date of December 25th (birthday of the SUN-god), the birthday of the SON OF GOD.
And THAT is how "Christmas" became fastened on our Western world. We may call it by another name, but it's the same old pagan sun-worshipping festival still. The only change is in what we call it. You can CALL a rabbit a "lion," but it's still a rabbit, just the same.
Again from the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Certain Latins, as early as 354, may have transferred the birthday from January 6th to December 25, WHICH WAS THEN A MITHRAIC FEAST...OR BIRTHDAY OF THE UNCONQUERED SUN...The Syrians and Armenians, who clung to January 6th, accused the Romans of sun worship and idolatry, contending...that the feast of December 25, had been invented by disciples of Cerinthus..."http://home.sprynet.com/~pabco/ptofxmas.htm