It has not always been that way. Christmas as a holiday on Dec. 25 is not even mentioned until the year 336 AD. One church father said that the day of Jesus’ birth was either May 20 or April 20. Some of the early church fathers said that only pagans celebrate the birthday of the gods. One said that only sinners celebrated birthdays. The Puritans banned Christmas in England and New England for 20 years in the 1600s, because the holiday was associated with drunkenness.
We are not even sure why the date of Dec. 25 was chosen. Perhaps it was to take over the Roman celebration of the Sun, especially as Jesus was seen as the “Sun of Righteousness” of Malachi 4:2. Perhaps it was chosen because the Annunciation – the birth announcement from the angel Gabriel to Mary – was celebrated nine months earlier on March 25.
Yet, there is something powerfully symbolic about celebrating Christmas on Dece. (sic) 25: In the midst of the darkness, a light shines. When the days are the shortest and the night stretches out too long, a glimmer of hope appears.
~ Rev. David Armstrong-Reiner, “ARMSTRONG-REINER: Christ is our glimmer of hope in the darkness“
The above is a prime example of making a justification. I mean “justification” in the common sense, not in the theological sense. The Google dictionary defines justification as “the action of showing something to be right or reasonable.” In other words, it is taking an illegitimate act and putting a positive spin on it. In blunt terms, it is taking a lie and presenting it as the truth. When it comes to pagan holidays, it is amazing at how many will not only perpetuate the myths and lies but lovingly embrace them. In fact, the arguments almost always, like the above does, fall back on emotionalism, bypassing the center of reason in our brains. He rejects the facts and goes to the heart.
I realize I sometimes sound like a broken record, but it always comes back to discernment. Without discernment, you cannot know the truth, you are destined to live a lie, and you will ultimately have to deal with the consequences of such.
We all have a tendency to justify ourselves, especially before others. “I was tired.” “I was hungry.” “I was angry, so I struck out.” And so on.
Ever notice the commonalities in all of the pagan holidays that have been “Christianized”? They all contain fanciful lies, and most extremely fanciful lies. It led me to ponder some of those lies, and there seems to be a thread of a theme that runs through all of them. I’m going to more or less throw some of these out there for reflection upon how it impacts us in ways that perhaps we have not realized.
New Years Day is really just an extension of the Christmas season, so I won’t deal with it separately here. Some like to debate this point, but where do you think the “twelve days of Christmas” went? Did they just disappear? No, they simply turned into seven days instead of twelve, and they end on New Years Day.
Anyhow, Christmas is perhaps the most fanciful of them all, filled with a rather odd assortment of oddities. Think about how otherwise rational people talk about flying reindeer. In fact, what pagan holiday does not include some sort of magical furry animal? Only one I can think of does include other magical creatures nonetheless. In Christmas, though, the pagan holiday of pagan holidays, you get both because you have elves as well. In fact, one elf in particular is credited with god-like powers to see who does good and who does evil.
The color green seems to be in many of these holidays as well. An evergreen tree usually dominates people’s homes during this season, green wreaths are hung on the door, and flowers popular this time of year are red and green. Red is another prominent color, not only with flowers and berries, but with Santa suits, red bows and red socks hung on the mantel.
After surviving the cold winter, people long for spring. Is Groundhog Day a pagan holiday? Not in the sense that some others are, but it is based upon superstition and a religion that claims to be Christian but is not. It started with a “Christian” festivity known as “Candlemas Day”, which marked the midpoint between the solstice and the equinox. Leave it to the Germans, though, to throw in a hedgehog who could be frightened by his shadow. Again, we have a furry animal imbued with supernatural powers. It is also a day to dress up in odd costumes, in this case old style coats and top hats. As you can see, although it traditionally is not viewed as a religious holiday, it does have religious origins and really should be avoided for that if for no other reason.
St Valentine’s Day is a head-scratcher, honestly. How many days named after Catholic saints do Protestants celebrate? While not traditionally a day off, marketers of candies and sweets love to push this holiday for their own profits. Ads make you feel guilty for not participating. In honesty, though, all of the “love” that is promoted is rooted in pagan fertility rites where couples were paired up. Strips of skin were often given to the males so they could chase the women and whip them, which supposedly made them more fertile. If you really think about it, it is actually about as far from real love as one can get.
The color red predominates, as it does in most of these holidays. Red is the color of blood (and thus the heart), and it is a color that excites. Whether it promotes romanticism or outright lust is a matter that should be pondered.
Supernatural elements borrowed directly from paganism are obvious. It should be pointed out, however, that Cupid was not originally portrayed as a “cute little cherub” (a topic worthy of its own article), but as one of the older but lesser deities. His arrow and torch often inflicted pain and torment. Originally he was the Greek deity Eros, with whom we associate burning lustful desire. He has quite a few contradictory stories and origins, and he eventually was pictured as a youth because youthful passions are so irrational. This is about as far from godly love as you can get.
Not to be outdone, St Patrick’s Day supposedly marks the Christianization of Ireland by “Saint Patrick”. I have written about this before, and I believe “Patrick” is actually an amalgam of various Catholic bishops who went to Ireland. There may actually have been a predecessor to all of these, however, and he was a Sabbatarian. However, it would not have been unlike the Catholic Church to change the story in an effort to exert their influence instead.
Having said all of that, it is anything but Christian. Patrick supposedly drove the snakes from Ireland. However, there is no evidence that Ireland ever was overrun by snakes. Again, a person with magical powers and leprechauns, who are also mythical magical creatures. Green is again in abundance on the holiday. Patrick had his own version of the cross, another pagan symbol, which better shows its true origins in sun worship. Patrick’s staff was thrust into the ground and supposedly became a living tree. Notice how trees also seem to appear in many pagan holidays. The color green is perhaps more prominent in this holiday than any other, and this is the only one in which I cannot think of a single item where red predominates.
Then, there is All Fool’s Day. Technically, this is not a pagan holiday. However, it is a day to spread lies. The major thread of these days is that they do not convey truth but are based upon lies.
Ash Wednesday on its own sounds innocent enough. However, consider that ashes come from trees, particularly palm branches. Many ancient religions worshiped trees. In addition, the mark put on the forehead is the cross, a pagan symbol of the sun god. It is not a standalone holiday, though, as it is directly tied to Easter. So are Mardi Gras, Palm Sunday (notice green and trees again) and Good Friday. With those strong ties to a pagan holiday, it is sufficient to avoid them.
Easter, what can I say? It is just as fanciful as Christmas. You have magical bunnies that lay eggs, both being fertility symbols. One such bunny is so magical that he delivers the eggs to places where children can hunt for them. His origins were that of the Easter Hare, who, like Santa Claus, judged children as being good or bad. Eggs are brightly colored, but they were originally probably red and later green ones were added. Red and green again. The bunny, which originally was a hare not a rabbit, probably has origins where the goddess Eostre turned her companion bird into a hare.
Halloween perpetuates the lie that evil is fun. Think about how many celebrities make a name for themselves by portraying roles that are rebellious, against the grain, shocking or even downright immoral. The allure of evil is like the saying that the grass is greener on the other side. It is all an illusion. In spite of the fact that people acknowledge it is all an illusion, grown adults will live out the lies for an evening or even longer. When I was a kid, Halloween was a “kid’s holiday”. Grown adults did not take the day off or even dress up. Stories of immature adults having costume parties circulated from time to time, but they were considered the odd ones. These days, the ones who do not participate are considered the odd ones.
If Christmas is overrun with supernatural qualities in mythical creatures and even certain plants, Halloween is the epitome of this. Red is a primary color in most of these holidays, but Halloween is different in that red and black predominate rather than red and green. It is a “dark” holiday in more than one way. This is the exact opposite of the light that Christians are encouraged to embrace. I don’t think it is any coincidence, either, that it follows so soon after the Feast of Tabernacles. This makes the contrast between two ways of life even starker.
In fact, only Halloween contains more lies and myths than Christmas itself. Creatures that are “undead”, not dead but not alive (zombies), immortal souls (“ghosts”), people or creatures with supernatural powers (witches, cats, Jack O’Lanterns, and more) and other things that are representative of darkness. Like most holidays, it centers on what you get rather than what you give. It is simply more blatant in that “trick or treat” is the definition of extortion, whereas Christmas getting is dressed up a lot more in supposed joy and the good feeling of giving. Halloween has become such an important holiday, especially for the candy industry, that it is where some companies begin to turn from red to black accounting-wise.
There simply is nothing redeeming in Halloween. Some Protestants have come to this realization and provide alternate activities on trick-or-treat night. And, yet, these activities often mimic the very thing they are supposedly rejecting, just providing a “safe environment”.
Speaking of a “safe environment”, most holidays see an increase in crime associated with the holidays. Sometimes, it is brought on by depression and other negative attitudes that come to fruition during them. However, Halloween seems to bring out the most evil of evil. Treats filled with razor blades, needles or poison are not unknown. There are some sick and demented people in the world, and Halloween only gives them an excuse to express their sick attitudes. Thankfully, it is not a majority or even a significant minority of people, but there always are the weak in the world who will give in to the deepest and darkest of impulses; they only need an excuse to do so, and Halloween gives them just such an excuse. Rather than uplifting, Halloween drags down the human spirit.
There is a reason that the media and advertising stoke the fires beneath these holidays. Advertisers find it in their best interest to do so, for it makes them a profit. Since gifts and parties predominate so much during these holidays, advertisers find it so easy to sell materialism as a substitute for spiritual content (even wrong spiritual content) upon an increasingly skeptical and agnostic society.
What separates these holidays from God’s holy days? First and foremost, holidays represent false gods and lies, whereas God’s holy days represent the plan of the true God and His truth.
Discernment. It’s what is missing in this world. And why should we expect otherwise? Eve was not discerning in the Garden of Eden. She bought the lie that she could live forever and be “like God”. The serpent enticed her through mostly emotional appeals, especially to her vanity. We aren’t told what motivated Adam, but I suspect it was fear. Whatever it was, it also was not a rational decision, so it only stands to reason that he too was motivated by emotion. Those are the same tactics used by the enemy today. Emotion clouds reason, and it disrupts discernment.
It is also for this reason that we are to love God not only with our heads but with our hearts (Mt 22:37). When our love for God overrides our selfish lusts and desires, we turn instead to the truth. This strengthens not only our discernment but our faith. Adam and Eve did not have sufficient enough trust in God to resist Satan’s temptations. No matter the appeals and temptations of the flesh, when our trust is in God, we are less likely to succumb.
However, the majority of humanity has not only a lack of faith in God, but increasingly it lacks even a belief in God. It keeps sliding further and further away from God, and these holidays and how they are celebrated are representative of that reality. True faith in God is a gift, and it is one we must cherish.
Do you pray for faith and discernment daily?
There are those who will take various exceptions to the disciples’ request for more faith (Lk 17:5). However, Heb 11:6 makes it obvious that we cannot please God without faith. Since even our faith is a gift from God, it stands to reason that Jesus did not rebuke His disciples because He expects us to ask for more faith. This belief is bolstered by Paul’s writings:
15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
Paul writes as though he expects our faith to increase.
Again, how good are we at asking for an increase in faith and an increase in discernment? We need the faith and discernment to keep the attitudes of the world from dragging us down, and that includes the worldly holidays.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.