Monday, December 21, 2009

Is Christmas really a “pagan” holiday?

This time of year, a lot of well meaning messianic believers have sent to me or posted videos and essays on the pagan origins of Christmas and other traditional Christian holidays. I find them all very interesting but not anything new or containing any earth shattering revelations. It is all a matter of public record as to the origins of Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Most of these videos or essays are completely true. But I have come to believe that they are counter-productive to true discipleship and the great commission found in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 28:19 NKJV 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

A vast majority of Christians are totally unaware of the pagan connections to traditional Christian holidays and festivals. They have never practiced the associated pagan rituals. For most, these Christian holidays and festivals are traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation and have totally lost their pagan roots. They are holidays full of meaning and miracles. Lives have been changed for the better at Christmas and Easter.

I cannot deny the positive effect that these holidays and have had on me, my family, and the people around me over the years. The Christmas season has been a special time of joy for me from my early childhood. If Christmas, as it is practiced today by believing Christians, is truly evil because of its origin, as some of the posts and essay would have you believe, then why does the LORD honor our service through it? Does Yeshua (Jesus) care more about the origin of this holiday or about the spirit in which believers practice it today? How many lives have been touched by the Christmas story? How many have been saved through an Easter Passion Play? As Christians, remember where we came from! To deny the effectiveness of these holidays in reaching souls for God is to deny the roots of our own salvation!

There is no biblical record of a date for the birth of Yeshua. There is plenty of research on the subject, and it can be shown that it could not have been on December 25th. So what? What difference does it really make? A date was chosen, perhaps out of convenience or for political reasons originally, and His birth is now celebrated on December 25th. Because it also is the date of some evil pagan ritual from ancient Rome, does that fact diminish the celebration of our Savior’s birth?

I believe that an over emphasis on the part of many in the Messianic movement as to the pagan origins of centuries old Christian traditions, is counter-productive to the mission of taking the Torah of God to the nations. How are we to reach out to Christians when the first thing out of our mouths is an insult to their beliefs and traditions? We are to make disciples, not adversaries. Show them what the Torah says and represent it to them. Let God do the changing.

Judaism of Yeshua’s day had many manmade traditions and nearly 2000 years of pagan influence since the giving of the Torah in the wilderness. Yeshua did not always reject the traditions of men. Take the minor festival of Hanukkah as an example. We read in the Gospel of John chapter 10 that:

John 10:22 NKJV 22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.

This is Hanukkah. And Hanukkah was and is an entirely a manmade tradition. It is not to be found in the Bible among any of the appointed times spelled out in Leviticus 23 or anywhere else. Hanukkah is not even found in the Jewish scripture and yet Yeshua practiced it and taught His disciples about the deeper messianic meaning behind it.

There is nothing wrong with manmade traditions in the Church or Synagogue as long as they don’t contradict the Torah. Yeshua practiced many manmade traditions, but taught that salvation does not come from the practice of religion but by a faith in the saving grace from God. So during this Christmas season, let us remember who it is we are celebrating, not what we are celebrating. Let us join in the festival celebrating the birth of our Savior. Let us rejoice in the many new souls added to God’s kingdom through this time. It might really be the wrong date, and coincide with a long forgotten and dead pagan festival, but who really cares? Do you think Yeshua does?

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Brenda and I are going to Israel next June 19th to 29th. You can join us in the land promised to Abraham for a special tour where you will see the promised Messiah of Israel like you have never seen Him before! We will visit places off the beaten path and follow in the foot steps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Join us as we also explore the people, culture, politics and conflict that is today’s Israel and a special Sabbath day in Jerusalem. For details on the tour visit

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