December 25 is celebrated by Christians around the world as the day that Christ was born. A diligent student of the Bible knows that it does not tell, anywhere within its pages, the exact day of Christ’s birth. A diligent study of the history of the world will show that the date December 25 is actually celebrated as the birthday of the pagan deity Tammuz, worshiped as a god. He has many names depending on the culture, but the date and the way his birth is celebrated is deeply rooted in paganism. So why do Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Christ?
Likely it is because not many of us are diligent students of history. We don’t believe in paganism and the many varied gods and services and rituals that are worshiped and performed in that religion, and since we don’t believe, we dismiss paganism as a relic religion of the past. The pagan religion involved the worship of many things—trees, bunnies, chicks, stars, the sun, the moon, mountains, rivers, the earth and the sky. As Christians, should we then be concerned about having pictures of trees and mountains and rivers in our homes? Should we be concerned because we are fascinated by the stars in the sky and the things of the earth?
Perhaps our concern should not be so much about how Christmas came to be and more about the Christ who came.
“The 25th of December has long been commemorated as the day of Jesus’ birth, and … it is not my purpose to affirm or question the propriety of celebrating this event on this day, but to dwell upon the childhood and life of our Saviour … the humble manner in which the Redeemer came to the world. All heaven was interested in the great event of Christ’s advent to earth. Heavenly messengers came to make known the birth of the long-promised, long-expected Saviour to the humble shepherds who were watching their flocks by night on the plains of Bethlehem. The first manifestation that attracted the notice of the shepherds at the birth of the Saviour, was a radiant light in the starry heavens, which filled them with wonder and admiration. …
“The astonished shepherds could scarcely comprehend the precious message borne to them by the angels, and when the radiant light had passed away, they said one to another, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child’ (Luke 2:15–17). …
“What matchless love Jesus has manifested for a fallen world! If angels sang because the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, shall not our hearts echo the glad strain, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men? Although we do not know the exact day of Christ’s birth, we would honor the sacred event. May the Lord forbid that anyone should be so narrow minded as to overlook the event because there is an uncertainty in regard to the exact time. Let us do what we can to fasten the minds of the children upon those things which are precious to everyone who loves Jesus. Let us teach them how Jesus came into the world to bring hope, comfort, peace, and happiness to all. … Let the hearts of all respond with exceeding joy for the priceless gift of the Son of God.” The Review and Herald, December 17, 1889
(For a more in-depth reading regarding Christmas and its pagan origins, see Marshall Grosboll’s article How to Celebrate Christmas, p. 2, in this issue.)