Christmas Confusion: Don't Accept Unsubstantiated Claims

Unsubstantiated claims about the pagan origins of Christmas are common. Let's quit giving them more credibility than they deserve.

I frequently get questions about Christmas, and I’ve thoroughly studied the claims that associate Christmas with pagan origins.

There are thousands of articles promoting this view, but none I've read are verified by credible historical documentation.(1)  

Unfortunately, if something is taught repeatedly, it gains credibility. 

It's possible that Christmas celebrations were designed to replace pagan holidays, not to mimic them.

But let's suppose that the unproven claims about Christmas starting as a pagan celebration were true. Do you know any Christians who worship their trees or do pagan chants on December 25th? Most Christians haven't even heard of these ancient, extinct pagan holidays.(2) 

Unsubstantiated claims about the pagan origins of Christmas are common. Let's quit giving them more credibility than they deserve.
Pagans don't own the rights to a date on the calendar. If we give up everything associated with pagan practices, we'll need to give up prayer, candles, baptism, worship, etc.

We should respect Christians to make their own decision about Christmas and not accuse them of paganism on the one hand or legalism on the other (Romans 14, especially Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16).

Most importantly, if we choose to celebrate Christmas, let’s incorporate our love for Christ in everything we do!(3)  
Good resources:
➔Video: Is Christmas PAGAN? In defense of Christmas 
➔Got Questions has a number of articles on Christmas.
➔Billy Graham's article: Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?  
Christians Celebrating Christmas  

(1) Sometimes these articles against Christmas have credible historical resources to verify and describe the pagan holidays, but no credible documentation that directly links these pagan holidays with Christian Christmas celebrations.

Unsubstantiated claims about the pagan origins of Christmas are common. Let's quit giving them more credibility than they deserve.
Pagan names and pagan rituals:
I am surprised that Christmas is such a target for pagan claims when more obvious pagan practices are accepted by many Christians. The pagan religions and rituals Christmas is supposed to mimic are extinct religions and rituals. Christmas does not bear a pagan name, nor does it mimic the holiday of an existent pagan religion. But some who refuse to celebrate Christmas have no problem practicing yoga, which does bear a pagan name and mimic rituals of an existent pagan religion. See Pagan Influences.

Actual birth date: Some articles object to Christmas celebrations because they insist Christ was born at another time of the year. It's true that there is disagreement about the actual date of Christ's birth and even disagreement about the season of the year when He was born. What if December 25th is not the actual date of His birth? Does that matter? If I adopted a child and didn’t know her actual birth-date, I would choose a date. We're celebrating Christ's coming, not a date on the calendar.
Read more: Was Jesus Born on December 25th? 

(2) Concerning Christmas trees: God created trees and they have a great deal of symbology for Christians (e.g the tree of life). If you're a Christian who worships your Christmas tree or uses it to pay homage to pagan deities, that's a serious sin and you need to stop. But I've personally never heard of any Christian who does this. Have you? Read more: Do Christmas Trees Have Pagan Roots?

(3) We should have more concern with the commercialization, overspending, and greed associated with Christmas than with any ancient pagan roots.

Unsubstantiated claims about the pagan origins of Christmas are common. Let's quit giving them more credibility than they deserve. #PaganChristmas #BibleLoveNotes #Bible

Bible Love Notes


  1. "Christmas does not bear a pagan name" but it bears a Roman Catholic name Christ-Mass" and practice. Mass is the perpetual sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the priests have special powers to convert the wine and bread into the actual blood and body of Christ, so they say in their own documents and practice. So if we are truly pulling away from the Roman Catholics by being protestant (because of all the pagan rituals that are practiced in their religion), why are we observing with them our version of their eve of Mass, venerating their saints "St. Nicolas/Santa Claus" "Queen of Heaven - Mary with her child" "Santa Lucia in Sweden along with Tompte their elf version of Santa Clause". And the "tree of life" Christmas tree that is the main focus of our living rooms. If Jesus and Paul were to come back and see what we are focusing our attentions on, be honest, what would they say, how would they react?! I can't help but see the fire in the eyes of Jesus when he was speaking to the churches in Revelation ... you hate the ways of the Nicolatians like I HATE! Strong words. Most other countries of European background and exposure to the gospel say "Happy Nativity" (who's birth? Sol invicti? Mithras? Jesus? amazingly they don't mention Christ's name.) Sweden says "God Yule aka Good Yul - Yul a pagan practice". Charles Spurgeon is quoted as speaking against the practice of celebrating it. The puritans had a law against it in the new England areas there for 200 years! They new of pagan origins then! And they new how corrupt the Roman Catholic church had become with blending paganism into their practices. Please re-consider. What about our Lord's command to "not do as the pagans"? I loved Christmas and didn't want to look for anything negative either, and finally obeyed the Lord and have discontinued the practice since last year. It's so easy to be lulled to sleep with the "spirit" of Christ-Mass.

    1. Hi Teresa,
      I can respect your choice not to celebrate Christmas, and I believe you are sincere.

      But the way you are expressing your beliefs seems to violate the principles of Romans 14:5-6,10 which says in part: "One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord...Why, then, do you judge your brother? Or why do you belittle your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat."

      In your comment, you seem to be putting the celebration of Christmas on the same level as intentionally participating in pagan worship or violating moral commands.

      But you are basing your convictions on vague and obscure connections:
      The literal meaning of "mass" is assembly. Only when it is directly related to Catholic faith does it take on the meaning it has for Catholics. And I don’t know a single protestant who uses the word “Christmas” to mean a Catholic mass. In fact, I don’t think Catholics even use it that way. Even on Dec. 25th, a Catholic would call it a Christmas mass, not a Christmas.

      You wrote a great deal about your disagreement with Catholic practices, but that’s not relevant to a discussion about modern-day celebrations of Christmas since protestants don’t incorporate Catholic practices into their Christmas celebrations.

      If you are going to avoid everything that originated in the Catholic church, you will not be able to attend a protestant church that uses altars, pulpits, robes, choirs, hymns, kneelers, preaching, singing, small groups, sunrise services, prayer books, sermons, candles, etc. because all of these things originated in the Catholic church.

      Most people who are against Christmas trees claim that using God-created trees to celebrate Christmas is evil because pagans once decorated their homes with greenery. If a person follows that same logic in every area of their lives, they will need to quit using the word “God” because pagans use that word in their pagan worship. In fact, they will need to carefully research every food, plant, object, and name to make sure it has never been used in pagan practices even if those pagan beliefs are ancient and obsolete, and their connections are obscure and vague.

      However, if I understand you correctly, you think a Christmas tree symbolizing the “tree of life” should not be the focus on our Christmas decorations, and that really confuses me since the tree of life is a wonderful symbol of our faith in Christ:

      Revelation 2:7: To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

      Revelation 22:14: Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

      I believe God owns the right to trees and foods and celebrations, and words.

      Does Christmas have a pagan name? I don’t think so.
      Are Christians worshipping false gods when they celebrate Christmas? I don’t think so.

      When a Christian family sits at the foot of their Christmas tree, reads the Christmas story from Scripture and thanks Jesus for coming and saving their souls, do you actually believe Jesus looks down at them with fire in His eyes and says He hates what they are doing?

  2. I'm all about seeing opportunities of redemption in our world. Christmas is one of the best ways to share the gospel to those who don't yet know Jesus.

    Even this morning on the way to school with my two elementary-aged girls, we were listening to "The First Noel" and I was able to talk about how important "stinky shepherds" were to Jesus and talked about how God wants to reach the outcast. So not only can we use Christmas for missions, but for discipleship as well!

  3. Thank you for these cogent thoughts. I did a lot of research on this myself, and I've come to the same conclusions. However if someone doesn't want to celebrate it, that's fine. Each person's conscience is important to God.

    But I feel more strongly that Christmas is a great thing to celebrate — since the focus is about the coming of the true Messiah. Just my thought.

  4. If we read Jeremiah 10:2-4,we know God disapproves of Christmas trees.

    And He might not be looking down at us with fire in his eyes, but He sure is disappointed that we are not studying the word.

    God bless

    1. Hi RoxMc,

      I'm not surprised that Jeremiah 10:2-4 is used to teach against Christmas trees. It’s a good example of taking a Scripture out of context and giving it a meaning it doesn’t have.

      I think it's interesting that you quoted verses 2-4, but not verse 5 since verse 5 clarifies the meaning of the passage.

      "This is what the Lord says:

      “Do not learn the ways of the nations
      or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
      though the nations are terrified by them.
      3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
      they cut a tree out of the forest,
      and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
      4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
      they fasten it with hammer and nails
      so it will not totter.
      5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
      their idols cannot speak;
      they must be carried
      because they cannot walk.
      Do not fear them;
      they can do no harm
      nor can they do any good.”

      This passage is about crafting idols from wood. It is a warning for the Israelites not to be afraid of pagan idols because they are merely pieces of decorated wood without power.

      It has nothing to do with decorating a tree in our home.

      But let’s look at some other claims of those who teach against Christmas trees: They usually claim the practice originated in the pagan festival of Saturnalia. However, if you study that festival carefully, you will find that they decorated trees outside and only brought branches and greenery into their homes. In addition, this pagan holiday was celebrated on December 17th, not the 25th.

      Other people claim that Christmas mimics the pagan holiday of Winter Solstice, which was called “the Yule” in Germanic countries. It’s likely that the Yule log originated with this pagan holiday and it's true that they felt the evergreen tree was a symbol of life in the winter, but they didn’t cut trees down and bring them inside to decorate.

      There is also a widely held belief that Martin Luther began the practice of decorating trees with candles at Christmas time.

      We can’t prove this Luther connection, but neither can we prove the pagan connections.

      Is it possible that the Christmas tree is loosely related to some pagan practice? It’s possible. Is it possible that the Christmas tree tradition originated with Luther? It's possible.

      I guess we need to ask ourselves what the tree symbolizes for us when we put it in our living room. If a person associates it with it's pagan roots as you do, they shouldn't have a tree. If we associate it with it's Christian roots, there is no Scripture that prohibits us from doing so.

      The Scripture you quote is only applicable if Christians carve their Christmas tree into idols for the purpose of worshiping them.

      It does not, as you claim, prove that God disapproves of Christmas trees.

  5. Question: when did this celebration started? Did the apostles taught about it? Till the day of their death as martyrs, i never read that a church they ministered ever celebrated it.

    1. Since I’m pretty sure that you haven’t researched every ancient document and personal letter written by early Christians, you can assume (based on something someone else taught you) that early Christians didn’t celebrate Christ’s birth, but you can’t be sure. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the most ancient manuscripts of Scripture ever found, were not discovered until 1946, and they supplied more accurate information about the Bible than we’d had previously. Perhaps ancient documents will be discovered that tell us about ancient Christians celebrating Christ’s birth. Perhaps not. Does it matter?

      I’m not aware of a single Scripture that commands us to only do those things done by the early church.

      If so, we need to quit using the internet for Biblical purposes. We need to tear down every church building and only meet in homes. We need to get rid of our Bibles because the early church only had letters and loose manuscripts. We will have to stop doing outreach to the homeless because the Bible only talks about the early church collecting funds for the needy in the church. There are thousands of things we will need to stop doing.

      But, as I said, Scripture never commands us to only do those things done by the early church.

      To answer your question about when our present-day Christmas celebration began, I’ll give you the honest answer: no one really knows for sure. Those who claim it began as the pagan festivals have no clear historical proof of that connection. Those who claim it began with Luther have no clear historical proof of that connection. A person would be quite arrogant to think they can know the answer to that question when scholars have researched it for years and come to different conclusions.

      If you feel Christmas is pagan, don’t celebrate it, and you will bless God. And don’t pass judgement on people who don’t believe in the pagan connection and bless God by celebrating Christ’s birth.