What if Jesus Isn’t the Reason for the Season, and We Celebrate Anyway!

I’ve had a novel (or maybe not) revelation this year.

For years, Christians have debated Christmas. “Do we celebrate at all, or do we not?”  “The origin of Christmas is pagan.” “The origin of Christmas is St. Nicolas.” ” ‘Xmas’ is an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.”  “No, ‘Xmas’ actually uses the Greek letter ‘Chi’ which means Christ.” “Jesus wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a commercialized holiday.” “Jesus wants us to celebrate his birth, no matter what it looks like or when it is.”

I’ve read them all, extensively.

For years our family has tried to find a balance by forsaking the Santa/commercialized angle but still enjoying the season and insisting that the holiday really is/should be centered around the Christ child. No harm done.

But if we were all brutally honest, no matter how hard we try, Christmas still ends up being largely about food, squeezing in all the family gatherings and exchanging gifts. We try to focus our minds on Christ but end up feeling guilty because we’re distracted by all the celebrating.

So that’s why I’ve asked the question: “What if that’s OK?”

Can’t we simply have a holiday of fun, food, family and gifts?

Because here’s the thing: Christians neither need a holiday to celebrate the birth of their Savior (we live daily in celebration of Him, don’t we?) nor are they forbidden to celebrate, to have fun and to give gifts, just because.

I’m having a guilt-free Christmas this year! Not a gluttonous, go-into-debt-to-buy-things-no-one-needs, lie-to-your-children kind (Christians are bound to live righteously), but a joyful celebration of life, of sharing good things with my family and friends, of beautiful lights and music and candles and decorations because we were created to love beauty and beauty inspires.

Can we just enjoy the winter season and all its beauty without feeling guilty for “doing it wrong” or conscience-bound for doing it at all?

I’m not saying you can’t celebrate Jesus during this season too, setting aside a special time of remembrance. But I am suggesting you don’t have to, and that often our attempts to are a facade.

And despite the alleged pagan roots of the Christmas tradition (even our days of the week have pagan roots), our Lord has redeemed every day (Romans 14:5) and He has come that we may have abundant life, including fun times of guilt-free merriment for the pure enjoyment.

I am a child of God, celebrating the birth, death and life of my Savior every day, and throwing some parties and giving gifts to those I love in December.

Merry Christmas!

31 Responses to “What if Jesus Isn’t the Reason for the Season, and We Celebrate Anyway!”

  1. a concerned woman says:

    I wish everyone could read this. If it goes against your own convictions to celebrate Christmas- fine. But the fighting between Christians this time of the year should end. There are bloggers who turn the Christmas debate into blood sports.

  2. Laura Santos says:

    I have been saying this for years. Even the fact that non-Christians are looking for “Christmas Spirit” is reason for us to celebrate…to demonstrate we’ve got it all year long. To live is Christ…lights, gifts, and hospitality doesn’t take away from that, or add to it. The point is we do every thing as unto the Lord. Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

  3. Smitti says:

    Thank you for this timely post. I have been plagued by the guilt (and overwhelming busy-ness) of Christ vs commercialism for years. I hadn’t considered the idea of enjoying the season ‘just because’ before. The freedom is tantalizing! : ) I think this will make a lovely discussion topic as ‘to Grandmother’s house we go’ today (Thanksgiving). Thank you so much!

  4. HeatherHH says:

    This is largely where we’ve ended up. We don’t believe that Christmas is a Christian holiday, but a secular one. There’s nothing Scriptural even suggesting Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Not saying it’s wrong, just that it’s not required. We view it as a secular holiday. We do read about the birth of Jesus, etc, at that time not because we think it has to be done at Christmas time, but because so many Christians (including family and church members) would be confused or even upset if we didn’t celebrate the “reason for the season.”

  5. Amy K says:

    AMEN! Love, love, love this post 🙂

  6. Megan says:

    I have come to the same conclusion this year. I am thankful that we, as celebrating Christians, are aware, mindful and intentional of why we are celebrating. I also am excited to DO the celebrating! What a time for family togetherness, closeness and building memories.
    Recently I finished a study in Esther and loved Esther 9:19-32. It speaks of the Jews celebrating “with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another”. Later it also speaks of gifts to the poor. This holiday was written by the Jews as a rememberance of their delieverance.
    This isn’t my reason for celebrating. I just enjoy seeing throughout scripture the celebrating with gladness in rememberance of what God has done, thinking of others and the less fortunate, and a day set aside to do so. How it reminds me of Christmas which is a time my family and I get a whole month to focus on The Lord in a magnified way with gladness, feasting and gft giving!

  7. Jessica M. says:

    Dear Kelly,

    I appreciate your sincerity in the things you have shared here. However, I hope you will reconsider your reasoning. What you are essentially saying is that, although Christmas is actually an ancient pagan holiday upon which Christian symbolism has been incorporated, it is ok for you to participate in this holiday, because Christ came to redeem it? So, his redemption was so that you can participate in pagan rituals and still be ok? You are saying that instead of him coming to redeem you from pagan practices, he came to redeem the pagan rituals and make them ok for you? Your reasoning may seem reasonable to you, but it is simply not Biblical.

    God spells out that he does NOT want His people to worship him according to the ways pagans have worshipped their gods.

    29 “When the LORD your God cuts off from before you (Israel) the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods. (Deut 12:29-31)

    The fact of the matter is Christmas IS a pagan holiday at its core, through and through. People can justify their participation in it, but it does not change the fact. God has been there for every generation, and to Him the same pagan holiday has continued on.

    I hear what you are saying about the days of the week – but living in a Babylonian society that has named the days of the week after their gods – is different than choosing to be a part of paganism and its rituals. Yes, December 25th is a day, and every day belongs to God, but that does not mean pagan rituals are to be a part of the lives of His people on that day.

    Think of Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. They were given Babylonian names while working under the authority of the Babylonian system, yet in no way would they worship the gods of Babylon and participate in idolatry, unlike all the world around them – they stood aside and did what was completely outside the norm. This position was far from respected, they faced potential destruction at the hands of men, but their God stood with them and saved them.

    A couple of years ago, our family changed from celebrating pagan holidays – we now celebrate the holidays that God designed as he instructed His people. Instead of the glittery holidays of men’s creation, the God of the Bible’s holidays are real. They are full of meaning and purpose. He designed them; how could they be anything less? In fact, the very creation is designed around His appointed times. On the fourth day of creation, when God created the lights of the heavens (ie. sun, moon, stars), it says that He said – “let them be for signs and seasons, days, years”. The Hebrew word for seasons is “mow’ed” – which means “appointed times”. The very same word used to describe the “feasts” of the God of Israel in Leviticus 23 – and it’s right there at the very beginning of creation.

    I believe people need to reconsider what true redemption and reconciliation is. What does God want to redeem? Has He actually redeemed sin and evil so that what used to be evil is now good? Or is His true redemption to save us from walking in the destructive ways of evil, in all its forms, so that we can walk in His ways? I am convicted that it is absolutely the latter. And His ways are perfect.

    Thank you, Kelly for considering this lengthy response. I wish you and your family blessings as you seek the Creator and His ways.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you Jessica for your response. That is what I wanted to say and you said it so well. My family struggled with trying to feel at peace every December for years. Trying to make sure we celebrated Christ and not get caught up in the materialism, traditionalism, etc of Christmas. Once we finally threw it all out, about 4 years ago, we have experienced peace like you can’t believe every December. God is so good and deserves and requires that we worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Jessica,

      I’m not Kelly, and don’t claim to speak for her, but, if I may, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you regarding your post, which, BTW, I thought was very respectfully worded.

      I believe it is through our freedom in Christ that we all, as Christians, can choose whether (and how) or not to celebrate Christmas.

      I understand where you are coming from with the different points you mentioned in your post, but I would submit that, as gently as you seem to be speaking, you are nevertheless taking a personal conviction and thinking it applies to all Christians — that we should not celebrate Christmas because of “pagan roots”, and if we do, then we “need to reconsider what true redemption and reconciliation is”, according to your words.

      The following article, while lengthy, has a pretty thorough summary of some of the objections to celebrating Christmas that you and others have put forth, and offers what I believe to be a truly Biblical examination of the topic. In reading the article (and I do sincerely hope you read the whole thing), you will note the many references to attitudes of the heart the author rightly states. What is the spirit behind our practices, regarding Christmas celebrating or anything else?

      https://bible.org/article/should-christians-celebrate-christmas

      From the above article:

      “What Colossians 2:16-17 forbids is the celebration of religious seasons or holy days when they have been prescribed as religious duty and necessary for holiness or spirituality.

      In this passage, the Apostle is talking about the Old Testament festivals which were shadows of the person and work of Christ–but Christ has now come. To continue to celebrate them is to dishonor the fact of His coming, or to act as though He were not enough for salvation or spirituality. Note what the Apostle says, “let no one act as your judge in regard to . . .” He is saying don’t let anyone tell you these things are requirements for fellowship with God. They were only shadows of the person and work of Christ, and He has not only come and fulfilled those shadows, but He is totally sufficient.

      Colossians 2:16 and 17 in no way forbids believers from commemorating something such as the birth of Christ if it is done out of love, devotion, and the joy the season gives when used as a way of focusing on the Savior and not as a religious duty. The issue is not the observance, but the reason, the attitudes and the spirit in which it is done.” (Emphasis mine.)

      God looks at the heart. And that is where our concern must also be, and not with the externals of outward actions of people whose hearts we do not know as the Lord Himself knows.

      • Claudia says:

        Loved this link, 6 arrows! Thanks for sharing! Sure wish you lived next store!

        • 6 arrows says:

          Oh, that would be so neat for me if you did! 🙂

        • 6 arrows says:

          Claudia,

          Not sure you’ll see this, but…

          If you’re interested, would you like to exchange email addresses? I don’t post it online, or specifics about where I live, but I suspect, based on a general comment you made one time, that we might live closer to each other than either of us suspects. 😉

          I give Kelly permission to share my real name and email address with you privately, if you would like to request that from her, Claudia.

          No obligation though. 🙂 I enjoy chatting with you here, too!

    • Thank you, Jessica, for your kind reply and thoughts. I have studied these things at length and have not come to this conclusion in a careless or hasty way. When I studied the specific verses you listed, because I surely do not want to do anything detestable before the Lord, this is the conclusion that made the most biblical sense to me:

      “This passage in Deuteronomy is dealing with idolatry and certain behaviors connected with idolatry that were the detestable practices that God hates. God was not condemning all worships practices conducted by pagans. If we are to apply Deuteronomy 12 in some universal sense, then Israel would have been prohibited from having a priesthood, doing sacrifices, tithing, having festivals, practicing circumcision, building a temple and a host of other worship practices that pagans also did in their idolatrous worship.

      If we are to apply Deuteronomy 12 to negate the Christmas celebration we must also negate prayer, kneeling to pray, singing of hymns, communion service, baptism and a host of other worship activities as these are all things pagans have done and continue to do to this very day in their worship of other gods. Once again we see a Non Sequitur argument. The conclusion simply does not logically follow from the premise. The premise is that all pagan methods of worship are detestable to God. This simply isn’t true.

      If we were to begin sacrificing our children to God, that would be detestable. If we would begin to cut ourselves with knives in our worship service, that would be detestable. If we began to have chapel prostitutes, that would be detestable. These are the kind of worship practices the scriptures reveal to be detestable things that God hates.” (http://www.theologicalperspectives.com/the-christmas-controversy)

      There are detestable things and there are honorable things, that both Christians and pagans have shared. We are forbidden to do the detestable things, to break God’s law in our worship and lives. Decorating our homes, giving gifts and celebrating with family are not forbidden or detestable and are allowed, regardless of who else has done them.

      Idolatry is forbidden. But worshipping the Lord, or merely celebrating with family, as I’ve described in the post, is not a sin.

  8. Heather says:

    Did anyone see Saving Christmas, the movie that was just out in theaters with Kirk Cameron? It was only out for 14 days, ending on Thanksgiving, and I did not get the chance to see it, but did see the trailer. It is a comedy on this exact discussion, with the same conclusions you made Kelly. You can see the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqG1Hafyhhk.

  9. Laura says:

    No matter how or why people (Christian and secular) celebrate Christmas, the fact remains that through this holiday people ARE reminded of the incarnation. When I walk through the mall in December and hear Christmas hymns piped through their speakers, I smile. For all the commercialism and Santa that people get overwhelmed with, God is still making Himself known. We can call it pagan, or lament about how commercial it’s become, but I personally feel that God uses this holiday to continually proclaim to this godless society that His son did indeed come to save us. Just my two cents 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Laura, this is exactly how I feel about the Christmas season. It is the time of year when we hear Jesus Christ proclaimed in so many venues. How can that not bring honor and glory to our Father in heaven?!

  10. Sharlene says:

    This is the very discussion I have had with a family member. She feels compelled to explain why we are all “wrong” for celebrating Christmas with traditions, etc. My thoughts are simply this – Christmas Season, Easter, and Mother’s Day are the few times that some people attend church, because of the obvious. If the church feels the need to remove themselves from the few times people find themselves in the presence of delivery of God’s Word then we as a body are missing out on a great opportunity to share the story of Christ’s birth. Yes, we should live it every day. Yes, we should share it every day. Yes, yes, yes to all of those things. But, some do not want to hear it every day and are only willing to listen even remotely half way on those 3 holidays. Is it more Christian to remove yourself from a pagan Holiday, or is it more Christian to share Christ to a pagan world? – When all is said and done, we all are accountable for our own actions and if you feel conviction for celebrating, then by all means do not do so. But I do hope I am not perceived as showing condemnation for your choice, because I do not mean to. May you all be blessed however you choose to participate/celebrate this season of love.

  11. MC says:

    *hugs*

    I don’t think you’re less righteous a Christian for celebrating tradition, family, and joy on December 25th (or the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring, or any other day).

    These things are among the good fruits of a Godly life. I am not a learned scholar; however, it seems to me that it would be Pharisaic of us to put prescriptions of celebration/non-celebration ahead of the litmus test He gave us: Look to the fruits.

  12. Kelly L says:

    Yes and Amen! “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” We are not to be in bondage to made up religious rules. This is so well written!
    Merry Christmas. 🙂

  13. Kristen says:

    I struggled with this idea a couple of years ago and just decided…..I’m going to “go with it.” It’s a nice season, I love the music, the family times, baking…. And I am not going to let it become an issue. I’m just not. So, we do the Advent Calendar and we don’t believe in Santa, but I decided that I’m not going to try to do too picky of a dividing line between Sacred and secular. Actually, when I think about it, to a Christian, all should be Sacred.

  14. Jim Ijames says:

    It is not unkind to tell the truth and as someone said. Christmas is a pagan holiday and Yahweh was very angry all through the Old Covenant about observing other nations ways. If you will read Zac, Luke you will find that Elizabeth was 3 months along when Mary went to visit her carrying Yeshua (Jesus). If you calculate you can determine Yeshua was born on Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23). Christmas didn’t come into being until around the 4th Century and was used to consolidate Constantines power. Just info the Holy Spirit will do the rest.

  15. Mrs L says:

    This is encouraging 🙂 Your blog has been a gift Kelly.

    Our family does not celebrate Christmas, as we believe it’s a secular holiday and we want to worship God the way He instructs us, not the way we feel that we should (or are told we should. Or to do what others do, or to follow human traditions- regardless of which humans the traditions came from).

    However, we think it’s a time of year full of opportunities to meet with and bless our non-Christian extended family (our Christian family does not celebrate), with home-made gifts and fellowship and sharing a meal.

    The children also love having a goal to save towards to give money to various missions etc at this time of year.

    I don’t believe in ‘redeeming’ the traditions like decorating a tree etc. We don’t decorate our house or give gifts to one another or observe the day in any form within our four walls, but surely we can seek to be a blessing to others at any time of the year- and people are quite receptive at Christmas.

    This is an issue which is hard enough for any individual family to approach- I pray that we may all be meek and mild and seek peace with one another at this time of year (and every other!)

    I think you are always gracious in your choice of words Kelly.

  16. R says:

    10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

    2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

    3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

    4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

    5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

    6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

  17. Claudia says:

    Thank you Kelly, for this post! To say I agonized over this minimizes the time, research, and thought I put into it. I became overwhelmed with all the voices in my head from Christians who took opposing sides. Unfortunately, I had done this in other areas of my life as well. I got to a point where I wasn’t sure if I was doing a thing to please the Lord, or to please the people whom I deemed most godly. By the grace of God, I cried out to Him: “Who AM I, really, Lord? Help, me, Lord, be who YOU want me to be.” Shortly thereafter, one Sunday in church, an interim pastor shared a story about a young princess. Forgive me if I get the details wrong. She was lost and frightened. My ears pricked. “That is me, I thought,” though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time to anyone. She was asked by someone, “WHO ARE YOU?” And she answered, “I don’t know; but I know my daddy’s the King.” *Tears* then. He was speaking to me: I didn’t have to know WHO I was as much as WHOSE I was. I needed to be hid in Christ. And lovingly, the Lord directed me to….(imagine this) my husband. 🙂 I knew that while we agreed on the majors, I did not completely agree with all my husband’s views , but Ahhhhh….the freedom in going to the one God gave me for love, protection, advice. I cannot describe the new freedom in Christ I have found. It did mean that some of the voices I was listening to were no longer as interested in friendship or advice from me, but what I gained in peace and contentment in our home far surpassed the admiration I lost. Even though it may have looked godly on the outside, the Lord knew my heart, and (personally~only speaking for myself)my motivation was wrong. So in the end, my advice to other moms, when asked, is, “What does your husband think about that?” I wish someone had asked me that question years ago. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your position on highly controversial areas, and making this a place where people can oppose in a spirit of love and grace (like Jessica). I so appreciate the fact that you do not take a stand without first giving it much thought, research, and time spent seeking the Lord!

    • 6 arrows says:

      Claudia,

      Many of the things you said in your post really resonated with me. (I am not surprised by that.) 😉

      This especially: “I didn’t have to know WHO I was as much as WHOSE I was.”

      That statement fits right in with a book I checked out of our church library and read in two days this week. It is entitled Through the Looking Glass and Back: Your Passport to Identity. (You can find it at Amazon, too.)

      It’s a short read, but packs in some powerful truths about how we so often look to humans for our identity, trying to please them, as you say, and such like, when, as Christians, our true identity comes from who we are in Christ.

      A very convicting read for me, which included many applicable scripture verses on the topic.

      Reading it and meditating on the scriptures the author shared was a real blessing, as was seeing your post tonight, Claudia.

      So nice to see you back — I always enjoy your participation in the conversation here. 🙂

      Blessings.

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