Sunday, May 1, 2011

Considering Christmas

Our family gave up celebrating Easter a few years ago. The main reason was that we couldn't find anything about it in the bible. The early church didn't celebrate it. Additionally, its pagan roots were too much to ignore. Let me be clear: we love the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We just don't care for Easter.

We are now pondering Christmas.  Again, we see nothing mentioned in the bible about it.  The early church didn't celebrate it.  As with Easter, many of the traditions surrounding Christmas have pagan roots.

We gave some thought to this last Christmas.  However, we were right in the midst of the "Christmas season" so it was difficult to think clearly about it.  For some reason that I don't understand, we are much more emotionally attached to Christmas than we are to Easter.  Maybe it has to do with memories from childhood. I really don't know.

Since we are now far from Christmas on the calendar it seems like a good time to make some decisions about it.  Stores won't begin pushing Christmas on us for at least another three months.

An ironic thing that I try to remember in all this is that, despite what some Christians like to say, Jesus really isn't the reason for either season - Christmas or Easter.  The pagans have a right to claim their own holidays.

As related to Christmas, something else is a bit frustrating. Christmas has sort of monopolized the giving of gifts in our culture. When do we tend to give presents to others? We do it on their birthdays and on Christmas. Christmas is the one day of the year when it is expected that everyone gives gifts. I like the fact that in other cultures (Indian and Russian for example), gift-giving is both encouraged and expected at other times during the year.

So what are we going to do with Christmas? It is a struggle. I can sense that our family is gradually moving toward not celebrating it. At some point we will have to "make the break." One of the issues involved is that we like giving gifts (to be honest, we also like getting them). We may still do this, but separate it completely from the Christmas holiday. I'm not sure how this will work out exactly, but it seems like a good step to me.  Some might say it is a bit of a cop-out, but I don't think that's actually the case.

There is an odd bit of mourning involved in this. I have to admit liking the whole Christmas thing. However, I just cannot justify celebrating it when I look in the bible.

10 comments:

Brian said...

What about birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, bridal showers?

Where is the line drawn?

Eric said...

Brian,

Thanks for commenting. Those are good questions. I haven't thought through all those topics yet.

The line will probably be different for different ones of us. There does seem to be an element of freedom in all this.

Christmas and Easter are problematic because they are holidays recognized by the church that have both pagan roots and no biblical basis. I'm not sure that the things you mention fall in those same categories.

They are certainly worth thinking about.

weighedandwanting said...

Eric,

I am enjoying the few posts I have read so far. I do appreciate the honesty and courage you are exercising in this decisions about Easter and Christmas.

I have a similar dilemma. While I could probably give Christmas up the others in my immediate family do not see things the way I do. So while I have no personal regard for the day, I do not want to force my views on my wife and kids. We should also realize that we cannot totally eradicate paganism for our lives, unless we insist on calling the days of the week and months by other names (they are pagan too). I am guessing our weddings and birthdays are of the same origin.

As for giving and getting gifts, well, why do you need a special day?

PS: I have a post on Easter from my own blog.

Gary

Eric H said...

I look to Romans 14 in these matters. The fact is that many believers celebrate Christmas and Easter, but they are not worshiping a tree or a fertility god (or in most cases even know anything about those roots). Once we are made aware or are convicted contrary to our tradition/practice, it is then that we must change. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

micah7 said...

Eric, I was thinking of the same question as Brian. You could argue that birthdays have both pagan roots and no Biblical basis. Jehovah's Witness don't celebrate birthdays because they say "birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity" and "The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship Jehovah" (quoted from the Watchtower Society website.)You could also argue that Mother's Day and Father's Day are linked to ancestor worship and we don't see Mother's Day or Father's Day in the Bible. Is something automatically tainted if it has pagan roots, especially when its current form bears no resemblance to its pagan ancestor? Abraham had pagan roots. The cross was an instrument of death invented by a pagan culture.

Eric said...

Gary,

Thanks for commenting. The family issue is certainly a difficult for most folks who are wrestling with this dilemma. I'm still not sure how to handle it. I do know, however, that the more I think about Christmas, the more uncomfortable I feel about it. We may end up giving it up for the most part, but still taking part in broader family celebrations.

Eric said...

Eric H.,

You must be a good guy because you have an excellent name.

You make a good point about Romans 14. I don't stand in judgment over other believers' decisions on this matter. It is probably a matter of conscience.

My conscience has, obviously, been bothering me about Christmas. The pagan origins, even if we don't celebrate them, continue to trouble me a great deal. That combined with the lack of biblical evidence for the celebration in the first place.

Eric said...

Micah,

Great questions about the other days you mentioned. I haven't given them much thought at this point.

My issue with Christmas stems from the fact that it is one of the two main holidays that most Christians celebrate. Because of this, it has great significance for the church.

My hope is that in light of this there would be ample biblical evidence for the celebration. Of course there is none. Instead we see pagan roots to the holiday. That combination concerns me a great deal.

rodrigo said...

Hi Eric,
I appreciate your desire to actually think about things and not just do things because everyone else is doing it or it was always done that way etc. I personally don't have any problem celebrating Christmas but also I have no problem with people who chose not to either. It's better to follow your conscience when it beckons you.
If you are trying to think through this you may enjoy reading five scholarly articles on this at christinyou.net/pages/xmasceleb.html. It's also very informative about where all are traditions come from and how they developed.

Eric said...

Rod,

Thanks!