Many Christians have accepted the theory that Christmas has a pagan background. Many therefore have mixed feelings about this feast. The background is that under the Roman emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D.)December 25 was recognized as an official holiday. This day in ancient Rome was the ‘Dies Natali Invictus,’ ‘the birthday of the unconquered,’ the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia, which had long since degenerated into a week of unbridled carnival. Christianity took over the birthday of the sun god, the cult of the sun, and transformed it into Christmas Day, the “birthday” of Jesus the Messiah! In fact it was the birthday of the pagan sun god, worshipped by millions throughout the Roman Empire! If that is true, we have an argument not to celebrate Christmas.
But now to the true story behind Christmas!
Few believers are aware that Christmas isn’t pagan at all. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is an extra-Hebrew-Biblical feast. This feast is also called the Feast of Dedication of the temple, and goes back to the period of the Maccabees, to 168 B.C. after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple. The apostle John refers to this feast in John 10:22: “At that time the Feast of Dedication [of the reconsecration of the temple] took place at Jerusalem. It was winter.”
At this winter feast Jesus argued with the Jews about His mission in the world. At this festival Jesus presented Himself as the True Content of the temple and with His message “I am the light of the World.”
In the 4th century A.D. the church had a heavy struggle with Arius who taught that Jesus was mere a created being. After the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), which stated that Jesus was God Himself in the flesh, the need was felt to celebrate the birth of Christ. They decided to take the Festival of Lights (at the 25th day of the month Kislev) as this day, but according to the Western calendar. The church accepted this without any problem, which is seen for example in Augustine’s Christmas homily in the 5th century.
In 2 Maccabees 10:7 we read: “So they held ivy wands, beautiful branches, and also palm leaves, and offered hymns to the one who had made the purification of his own temple possible.” The context of this verse points also the second advent of Christ.
So Christmas, like Hanukkah as feast in the winter and with its beautiful branches and leaves, isn’t pagan as many think.
With this in mind, I wish all my dear Facebook friends a happy and bright Biblical Christmas, a happy and bright “Feast of the Light of Christ”, where we remember that He came into this world to renew our temple, to throw out the old man and put the new man in. In our oneness, in our union, our coming Festival of Lights reminds us that His ‘I AM’ implies our ‘I am’. At Christmas, we remember that HE IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, but also that WE ARE the light of the world. There is no better truth to be aware of this coming year.
A happy and bright Hanukkah Christmas!!!