The world today believes that “Christmas” is the birthday of Jesus Christ. But it should be noted that the word “Christmas” is derived from two words – “Christ” and “mas”.
We Christians know that the word “Christ” means the Messiah or the One sent to redeem us from sin. On the other hand, the word “Mas”, according to James Gibbons, a Catholic scholar, is derived from the Catholic sacrifice of Mass (during Eucharist or Holy Communion celebration). Candles are usually burnt during the process. ( See Faith of Our Fathers, page 355).
Thus, it is clear that the word “Christmas” has nothing to do with birthday. The word is therefore a misnomer for our Lord’s birthday as Christ and Mas do not connote Christ’s birthday. We Christians must therefore separate our Lord (Christ) from Mass as the term, apart from lacking support of scriptures, does not mean birthday.
ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS
Before the advent of Christianity, the Roman heathen had the feast of Winter Solstice (i.e feast of the sun) usually celebrated in December period.
It is said that with the advent of Christianity and consequently Catholicism, many of the heathen believed in Christ. In spite of this “conversion” they were still observing the heathen feast of Winter Solstice. So, in 354 AD a Roman Catholic bishop named Liberius declared December 25 as Christ’s birthday so that instead of worshipping the Sun, the heathen who have been converted to “Christianity” will now use the occasion to worship the Son of God (See World Book Encyclopaedia Vol. 3 Page 1425). So, “Christmas” has its origin from paganistic heathenism, 321 years after Christianity started in AD 33. This might be a good idea humanly speaking. But in matters of faith, we cannot think for God as His ways are not our ways Isa 55:6-9.
WHEN WAS CHRIST BORN?
The Bible has record of Christ’s birth in Matt. 1:18-21 and in other corresponding passages of Mark and Luke but the date is not recorded. In Deut 29:29, the Bible says that the secret things belong to God but those that are revealed to us belong to us. So, if God and the Holy Spirit did not disclose the birthday of Christ to us in the Bible, the silence of the Holy Spirit and God in that regard must be respected. Otherwise, it will be an addition to the word of God to purport to fix a date as Bishop Liberius did in AD 354. Please note that God warns against such unauthorised addition to His word towards the beginning of the Scriptures in Deut 4:2, that warning was sounded; in the middle of the scriptures in Prov 30:5-6, the warning was re-echoed and finally at the end of scriptures in Rev. 22:18-19 the warning and its consequences were laid down by the Holy Spirit. So, let us avoid the wrath of God and desist from any act that will amount to an addition to God’s word.
December 25 is a common assumption as the birthday of Christ just as we have other common assumptions that are erroneous in the Christendom today. For example, it is often assumed by many that “three wise men” brought gifts to Christ when He was born. But please my dear reader/listener have you ever taking time out to find out if the number of wise men was given in the scripture? The story of the wise men’s visit when Christ was born is recorded in Matt. 2:1-11 and the Bible only reveals that wise men came from the east to Jerusalem Matt.2:1. The fact that the wise men presented three different types of gifts to Jesus in Matt. 2:11 does not automatically mean that the visitors were three. The only truth that can be derived from Matt. 2:1 is that the visitors were in their plural. They could have been two, three or even more. Two visitors can present three types of gifts (if one brings two types of gifts and the other brings the third gift, just the same way more that three visitors can present the same gifts). Other erroneous assumptions in the Christendom include, Catholic Church being the first church. This is wrong because the Church of Christ, established in AD 33 (Acts 2) is the first church. Also, many do refer to the building where the church worships as the church. From the Bible point of view, the word “church” is derived from the Greek word eklesia meaning “the called out”, “a gathering” or “an assembly”. The church can worship anywhere that is convenient for her to assemble or gather.
Moreover, it should be noted that from the Bible point of view, Jesus could never have been born in December going by the account of Lk 2:1-8. This is because in verse 8 of that passage, we read that when Christ was born, Shepherds were seen abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock. Those who are familiar with the city where Christ was born know that Shepherds are not normally seen in the field during winter, which is the period of December.
If God had intended that Christians should celebrate the birthday of Christ, it would have been clearly stated in scriptures. After all, God did it before in the Old Testament when he wanted the Jews to celebrate Passover, He gave them the exact date to be on the 14th of the first month. Ex.13:4; Lev.23:5; Num.9:2-3. So, giving date is not a big deal to God.
THE ONLY FEAST FOR CHRISTIANS TODAY
The only feast meant for Christians to celebrate in honour of Christ in a religious sense is the Lord’s Supper otherwise known as the Holy Communion Matt 26:26; Acts 20:7; ICor.11:23-30. Observe it with great respect and honour for Christ because it is a remembrance of the death and resurrection of Christ, which is the bedrock of the Christian faith. But unfortunately, this is the feast most neglected by those who claim to be Christians No instruction could be more clear than “Do this in remembrance of me” as clearly stated in ICor. 11:26.
CONSEQUENCES OF OBSERVING CHRISTMAS
Let us note the following facts: a) Christ did not celebrate His birthday when He was alive; b) His disciples did not celebrate it either; c) The Bible did not command us expressly nor impliedly to observe Christ’s birthday; therefore to observe it is an addition to the word of God which is punishable according to Deut 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19.
CONCLUSION: It is only sentiment that makes people to think that if Jesus was such a great man in history then his birthday must be observed by his followers. But we should not forget that we cannot think for God. His thoughts are different from ours (Isa 59:8-9). Moreover, statistics has shown that the sins of fornication, drunkenness and reckless driving leading to unwarranted accidents are more during the so-called Christmas celebration. Can this be the best way to mark the birthday of the One who came to seek and save the lost and saved us from our sins?? Lk 19:10; Matt 1: 21. Definitely not!
What therefore should Christians do during Christmas since December 25 has been universally accepted by men as the birthday of Christ? The period should merely be observed as just any other holiday. But definitely not the way the people of the world mark it with all sorts of sins. The fact that the whole world has accepted it does not mean acceptance by God. After all, the Bible says in Romans 3:4 “……….let God be true and every man liar”….
Jeremiah 10:1-5….origin of Christmas tree