As I have said before, I am involved in Facebook groups that are against non-biblical holidays. The following was posted today and I thought my readers would benefit from the information also.
Sabbats: A Witch’s Approach To Living The Old Ways by Edain McCoy (APracticing Witch)
(Page 53): “Yule is a time of mixed emotions for pagans. All around us we see evidence of the Christmas celebration…one which we know takes its form and meaning from ancient pagan practices. Virgin births, decorated trees, festive lights, feasting, wreaths, bells, and fragrant fires, were-and still areat the heart of pagan Midwinter observances.”
(Page 59): “For pagans, this usurping of Yule (by Christians) has one great advantage-it has preserved for us many ancient Yule customs which might otherwise have been lost. Look in any book and Christmas customs around the globe and you will find a plethora of pagan traditions.”
(Pages 85 and 86): “Music is another important part of Yule, and Christmas carols are yet another idea taken from paganism. Many common Christmas carols contain pagan images that are not so subtle. “Carols are form an Old /French word meaning “joyous songs”, and were also the name of round dances celebrating the rebirth of the Frankish pagan gods. The English Christmas Carol “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” contains not one Christian religious image.” (Note: That is because the images mentioned are pagan in their origin as we will see.) “When Yule rolls around you should feel free to have a lighted tree in your home, hang a wreath on your door, ring the jingle bells, and give gifts in memory of loved ones. Remember that this is a Sabbat, a pagan festival, a time that marks the return of the Sun god both to his Goddess Bride and to his joyous people.”
II Corinthians 6:15-19: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
I Corinthians 5:6: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”
Many Christians are up in arms over the fact their right to say merry Christmas in public settings is being eroded more end more every year. After all we have been told that “Jesus Christ is the reason for the season”. I too am upset over the erosion of free speech in America. But from a Biblical (as well as a Pagan) perspective, the evidence widely available emphatically proves that Jesus Christ never has or will have anything to do with this pagan holiday. To do so would be contradictory to his nature. If you doubt this please read the verses above again if need be. If you need more convincing please read on.
In addition to this, there is no Biblical warrant, precedent, nor precept for remembrance of the day of Christ's birth as a day of special religious celebration. This is not to say that we shouldn't remember Christ's birth and its significance, but for religious commemorations or celebrations, we must have Biblical command or precedent! It is very important to be able to Scripturally all things we do. Many believers say we have liberty in these matters as Christians. Well in reference to that Scripture, we need to look at the whole verse. Galatians 5:13: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." The fact of the matter is this -- the early church did not celebrate Christ's birth, but such celebration only came into the church with the "Christianization" of pagan rites as Catholicism was made the state religion by Constantine in the fourth century A.D. Since the Word of God does not support the tradition of Christmas, a Christian's conscience ought not and must not be bound.
Galatians 4:9-11: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
The following discussion describes the origin of Christmas (with its associated pagan customs, symbols, and terminology), details the Scriptural support against celebrating Christmas, attempts to show that celebrating Christmas violates the spirit of every one of the ten commandments, attempts to demonstrate that celebrating Christmas does not fall in the realm of Christian liberty, and attempts to debunk eight of the major rationalizations Christians put forth for celebrating Christmas.
I. The Origin of Christmas
A. Christmas customs are an evolution from times long before the Christian period -- a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious, and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition. Their seasonal connections with the pagan feasts of the winter solstice relate them to ancient times, when many of the earth's inhabitant's were sun worshipers. As the superstitious pagans observed the sun gradually moving south in the heavens and the days growing shorter, they believed the sun was departing never to return. So to give the winter sun god strength and to bring him back to life again, the sun gods were worshipped with elaborate rituals and ceremonies, including the building of great bonfires, decorating with great evergreen plants such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe. The winter solstice, then, was the shortest day of the year, when the sun seemingly stood still in the southern sky. Observing the slowdown in the sun's southward movement, and its stop, the heathen believed that their petitions to the sun god had been successful. A time of unrestrained rejoicing and debauchery broke out, with revelry, drinking, and gluttonous feasts. Then, when the pagans observed the sun moving again northward, and a week later were able to determine that the days were growing longer, a new year was proclaimed.
B. -- Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. It was not celebrated, commemorated, or observed, neither by the apostles nor in the apostolic church -- not for at least the first 300 years of church history! History reveals that about 440 A.D., the Church at Jerusalem commenced the celebration of Christmas, following the lead of Roman Catholicism. It was sufficient for the early Christians that Jesus, their Lord and Savior, had been born. They praised God that Jesus Christ had, indeed, come in the flesh. The day and the time of His birth had no relevance to them, because Jesus was no longer physically on earth. He had returned to heaven. And it was the risen, exalted Christ to whom they looked, and that by faith -- not a babe laid in a manger. Jesus Christ is no longer a baby; no longer the "Christ-child," but the exalted Lord of all.
Hosea 4:6&7: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame."
C. Seemingly forgotten is the essential role religion played in the world of ancient Rome. But the Emperor Constantine understood. By giving official status to Christianity, he brought internal peace to the Empire. A brilliant military commander, he also had the genius to recognize that after declaring Christianity the "state" religion (Constantine forced all the pagans of his empire to be baptized into the Roman Church), there was need for true union between paganism and Christianity. The corrupt Roman Church was full of pagans now masquerading as Christians, all of which had to be pacified. What better way than to "Christianize" their pagan idolatries. Thus, the Babylonian mystery religions were introduced by Constantine beginning in 313 A.D. (and established a foothold with the holding of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.). The Constantine-led Roman Church was more than willing to adapt and adopt pagan practices in order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen. Constantine used religion as a political tool, totally devoid of any true spirituality: Pagan rituals and idols took on Christian names (e.g., Jesus Christ was presented as the Sun of Righteousness [Malachi 4:2] replacing the sun god, Sol Invictus ).
Pagan holidays were reclassified as Christian holidays (holy-days). December 25th was the "Victory of the Sun-God" Festival in the pagan Babylonian world. In the ancient Roman Empire, the celebration can be traced back to the Roman festival Saturnalia, which honored Saturn, the harvest god, and Mithras, the god of light; both were celebrated during or shortly after the winter solstice (between the 17th and 23rd of December). To all ancient pagan civilizations, December 25th was the birthday of the gods -- the time of year when the days began to lengthen and man was blessed with a "regeneration of nature." Moreover, all of December 25th's Babylonian and Roman festivals were characterized by 5-7 day celebration periods of unrestrained promiscuous revelry and licentiousness.
In order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen, the Roman Church simply took Saturnalia, adopted it into Christianity, and then eventually many of the associated pagan symbols, forms, customs, and traditions were reinterpreted (or "Christianized") in ways "acceptable" to lukewarm Christian faith and practice. (In fact, in 375 A.D., the Church of Rome under Pope Julius I merely announced thatthe birth date of Christ had been "discovered" to be December 25th, and was accepted as such by the "faithful." The festival of Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithras could now be celebrated as the birthday of Christ!) The pagans flocked into the Catholic places of worship, because they were still able to worship their old gods, but merely under different names. It mattered not to them whether they worshiped the Egyptian goddess mother and her child under the old names (Isis and Horus), or under the names of the "Virgin Mary" and the "Christ-child." Either way, it was the same old idol-religion (cf. 1 Thes. 1:8-10; 5:22 -- Paul says to turn from idols, not rename them and Christianize them). Roman Catholicism's Christmas Day is nothing but "baptized" paganism, having come along much too late to be part of "the faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
D. Christianity had to undergo a transformation so that pagan Rome could "convert" without giving up its old beliefs and rituals. The actual effect was to paganize official Christianity. "'A compound religion had been manufactured, of which ... Christianity furnished the vocabulary and Paganism the doctrines and rights.' The idolatry of the Roman world, though deposed from its ancient preeminence, had by no means been demolished. Instead of this, its pagan nakedness had been covered with the garb of a deformed Christianity" (W.E. Vine). Pagan customs involving vestments, candles, incense, images, and processions were all incorporated into church worship and continue today.
The following customs and traditions associated with Xmas all have pagan/heathen origins. ("Xmas" is the more preferable form for the day, since it at least leaves the name of our Savior out of the heathen observance.) Naturally, true Christians of the time would not keep these customs for such evil and perverse reasons, but the fact of their origins remain and should thereby be carefully considered by all who know and love the Lord:
1. The blasphemous "Christ's Mass" shortened to "Christ-mas"
The Roman Catholic "Christ's Mass" is a special mass performed in celebration of Christ's birth. In this mass, Jesus is considered both the priest and the victim, represented by the Catholic priest who offers Him as a sacrifice each time the mass is performed. In offering this "sacrifice," the priest believes he has the power to change the bread and the wine of the Communion into Jesus' literal flesh and blood, requiring the people to worship these elements as they do God Himself. A doctrine known as transubstantiation. This is obviously a denial of the gospel, and thereby, a false gospel (a re-doing of the sacrifice for sin -- Hebrews 9:24-26: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world… Hebrews 9:12: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Yet, many who cry out all year long against the blasphemous Roman Catholic system, at year-end embrace Rome's most blasphemous abomination of them all -- Christmas!
2. Nativity Scenes
"Saint Francis of Assisi (A pagan Catholic) popularized the Christmas 'crib' or 'creche' in his celebration of the Nativity in Creccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis used wooden figures of Mary, Joseph, the infant, sheep, shepherds, starting a tradition still popular to this day." (Panati, p. 217). -- Nearly every form of pagan worship descended from the Babylonian mysteries, which focus attention on the "mother-goddess" and the birth of her child. This was adapted to "Mary-Jesus" worship, which then easily accommodated the multitude of pagans "converted" to Christianity inside Constantine's Roman Catholic Church. If anyone were to erect statues or images of Mary and Joseph by themselves, many within Protestant circles would cry "Idolatry!" But at Xmas time, an image of a little baby is placed with the images of Mary and Joseph, and it's called a "nativity scene." Somehow, the baby Jesus statue "sanctifies" the scene, and it is no longer considered idolatry!
Exodus 20:4-5 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God…” Now even if you are not bowing down and worshipping the nativity scene figurines, how do we get around the first part of the commandment that tells us not to even make the images?
3. Christmas Tree (The sacred tree of the Winter-god)
Evergreen trees, because of their ability to remain green through-out the winter season when most other forms of vegetation are dormant, have long symbolized immortality, fertility, sexual potency, and reproduction, and were often brought into homes and set up as idols. For ages, evergreen trees would be brought into the house during the winter as magic symbols of luck (Lucifer) and hope for a fruitful year to come. The five pointed star is a sacred symbol of Nimrod and also is a representation of the stars to which the ancient Chaldean astrologers looked for guidance.
The first decorating of an evergreen was done by pagans in honor of their god Adonis, who after being slain was brought to life by the serpent Aesculapius. The representation of the slain Adonis was a dead stump of a tree. Around this stump coiled the snake -- Aesculapius, symbol of life restoring. From the roots of the dead tree, then comes forth another and different tree -- an evergreen tree, symbolic to pagans of a god who cannot die! In Babylon, the evergreen tree came to represent the rebirth/reincarnation of Nimrod as his new son (Sun), Tammuz. In Egypt, this god was worshiped in a palm tree as Baal-Tamar. (Heathen people in the land of Canaan also adopted tree worship, calling it the Asherah -- a tree with its branches cut off was carved into a phallic symbol.) The fir tree was worshiped in Rome as the same new-born god, named Baal-Berith, who was restored to life by the same serpent. A feast was held in honor of him on December 25th, observed as the day on which the god reappeared on earth -- he had been killed, and was "reborn" on that day, victorious over death! It was called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun." Thus, the annual custom of erecting and decorating evergreen trees was brought down to us through the centuries by the pagan Roman Catholic Church -- the paganism of Tammuz and Baal, or the worship of the sun, mingled with the worship of Aesculapius the serpent. Whether erected in private homes or in churches, decorated or not, the evergreen tree is a glaring symbol of this false god.
Jeremiah 10:1-5: ‘Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 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. 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. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 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.”
4. Christmas Wreaths
In pagan mythology, evergreen means eternal life and a never-dying existence. Made from evergreens, Christmas wreaths were most frequently round, which symbolized the sun (just as do halos in most religious art). Hence, the round Xmas wreaths stand for an eternal sun and the circle of life. In addition, the round also represents the female sexual organ and is considered a fertility symbol. Because of these pagan associations, the Christian church was initially hostile towards the use of wreaths and other evergreen derivatives. But in the same way it Christianized other pagan traditions, the church soon found a way to confer its own symbolic meanings. For example, the sharp pointed leaves of the "male" holly came to represent Christ's crown of thorns and the red berries His blood, while the "female" ivy symbolized immortality (Sulgrave Manor, "A Tudor Christmas," p. 6).
The use of the mistletoe plant (which is poisonous to both man and animals) can be traced back to the ancient Druids. (The Druids were pagan Celtic priests who were considered magicians and wizards.) It represented the false "messiah," considered by the Druids to be a divine branch that had dropped from heaven and grew upon a tree on earth. The mistletoe symbolized the reconciliation between the gods and man. And since a kiss is the well known symbol of reconciliation, that is how "kissing under the mistletoe" became a custom -- both were tokens of reconciliation. The mistletoe, being a sacred plant and a symbol of fertility, was also believed to contain certain magical powers. It was supposed to bring "good luck" and fertility, and even to protect from witchcraft the house in which it hung.
The practice of "kissing under the mistletoe" also had roots in the pagan celebrations of the Celtic Midsummer Eve ceremony. At the time the mistletoe was gathered, the men would kiss each other as a display of their homosexuality. (The custom was later broadened to include both men and women.)
6. Santa Claus
Santa Claus or "Father Christmas" is a corruption of the Dutch "Sant Nikolaas." ("Saint Nicholas" was the 4th century Catholic Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, who gave treats to children; he was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, "regarded as a special friend and protector of children." The red suit comes from the fact that Catholic bishops and cardinals in Italy wear red.) Santa Claus was also known as "Kriss Kringle," a corruption of the German "Christ Kindl"-- Christ Child. This has to be one of the most subtle of Satan's blasphemies, yet most Christians are unaware of it.
Originally, the Santa Claus concept came from the pagan Egyptian god, Bes, a rotund, gnome-like personage who was the patron of little children. Bes was said to live at the North Pole, working year-round to produce toys for children who had been good and obedient to their parents. In Dutch, he was called "Sinter Klaas." Dutch settlers brought the custom to America. In Holland and other European countries, the original Santa Claus was actually a grim personage who traversed the countryside, determined to find out who really had been "naughty or nice." Those who had been acting up were summarily switched. The association of Santa Claus with snow, reindeer, and the North Pole suggests Scandinavian or Norse traditions of the Yuletide season. (In Babylonia, also, the stag [reindeer] was a symbol of the mighty one, Nimrod. The symbolism of antlers worn on the head of a noble leader would demonstrate his prowess as a hunter, and thereby, influence people to follow him.)
Santa is the blasphemous substitute for God! He is routinely given supernatural powers and divine attributes which only GOD has. Think about it. He is made out to be omniscient -- he knows when every child sleeps, awakes, has been bad or good, and knows exactly what every child wants. He is made out to be omnipresent -- on one night of the year he visits all the "good" children in the world and leaves them gifts, seemingly being everywhere at the same time. He is also made out to be omnipotent -- he has the power to give to each child exactly what each one wants. Moreover, Santa Claus is made out to be a sovereign judge -- he answers to no one and no one has authority over him, and when he "comes to town," he comes with a full bag of rewards for those whose behavior has been acceptable in his eyes.
Santa Claus has become one of the most popular and widely accepted and unopposed myths ever to be successfully interwoven into the fabric and framework of Christianity. It is a fact that Christ was born, and that truth should greatly rejoice the heart of every Christian. But the Santa Claus myth distorts the truth of Christ's birth by subtly blending truth with the myth of Santa Claus. When Christian parents lie to their children about Santa Claus, they are taking the attention of their children away from God and causing them to focus on a big man in a red suit with god-like qualities. All of this teaches the child to believe that, just like Santa, God can be pleased with "good works," done in order to earn His favor. Also, they teach that no matter how bad the child has been, he will still be rewarded by God -- just as Santa never failed to bring gifts. Even in homes of professing Christians, Santa Claus has clearly displaced Jesus in the awareness and affections of children, becoming the undisputed spirit, symbol, and centerpiece of Christmas.
7. Christmas Eve
"Yule" is a Chaldean word meaning "infant." Long before the coming of Christianity, the heathen Anglo-Saxons called the 25th of December "Yule day" -- in other words, "infant day" or "child's day" -- the day they celebrated the birth of the false "messiah"! The night before "Yule day" was called "Mother night." Today it is called "Christmas Eve." And it wasn't called "Mother night" after Mary, the mother of our Lord -- "Mother night" was observed centuries before Jesus was born. Semiramis (Nimrod's wife) was the inspiration for "Mother night," and "Child's day" was the supposed birthday of her son (Tammuz), the sun-god!
8. Yule Log
The Yule log was considered by the ancient Celts a sacred log to be used in their religious festivals during the winter solstice; the fire provided promises of good luck and long life. Each year's Yule log had to be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve by the family using it, and could not be bought, or the superstitions associated with it would not apply. In Babylonian paganism, the log placed in the fireplace represented the dead Nimrod, and the tree which appeared the next morning (which today is called the "Christmas tree") was Nimrod alive again (reincarnated) in his new son (sun), Tammuz. (Still today in some places, the Yule log is placed in the fireplace on Christmas Eve, and the next morning there is a Christmas tree!)
Today's Yule log tradition comes to us from Scandinavia, where the pagan sexand- fertility god, Jule, was honored in a twelve-day celebration in December. A large, single log was kept with a fire against it for twelve days, and each day for twelve days a different sacrifice (many times human or animal) was offered. This is where we get the song (On the 12 days of Xmas my true love….) The period now counted as the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany was originally the twelve days of daily sacrifices offered to the Yule log. (What, then, are we really doing when we send "Yuletide greetings"? Are we really honoring Christ by sending greetings in the name of a Scandinavian fertility god? These are the same customs being practiced today as in ancient paganism! Only the names have changed.)
Candles were lit by the ancient Babylonians in honor of their god, and his altars had candles on them. And as is well known, candles are also a major part of the ritualism of Roman Catholicism, which adopted the custom from heathenism. Candles approached the Yule log in ritual importance. Like the Yule log, they had to be a gift, never a purchase, and were lighted and extinguished only by the head of the household. Such candles stood burning steadily in the middle of the table, never to be moved or snuffed, lest death follow. The Yule candle, wreathed in greenery, was to burn through Christmas night until the sun rose or the Christmas service began (Sulgrave Manor, "A Tudor Christmas," p. 9). Obviously, candles should have no part in Christian worship, for nowhere in the New Testament is their use sanctioned.
10. Giving of Gifts
The tradition of exchanging gifts has nothing to do with a reenactment of the Magi giving gifts to Jesus, but has many superstitious, pagan origins instead. One prominent tradition was the Roman custom of exchanging food, trinkets, candles, or statutes of gods during the mid-winter Kalends (the first day of the month in the ancient Roman calendar). This custom was transferred to December 25th by the Roman Church in keeping with the Saturnalian festival and in celebration of the benevolent St. Nicholas. [Is it not the height of ridiculousness to claim that giving one another presents properly celebrates Jesus' "birthday" (not that there is anything necessarily wrong in giving each other presents)? But what are we giving Him, if indeed we are specifically celebrating His incarnation?
11. Christmas Goose
The "Christmas goose" and "Christmas cakes" were both used in the worship of the Babylonian "messiah." The goose was considered to be sacred in many ancient lands, such as Rome, Asia Minor, India, and Chaldea. In Egypt, the goose was a symbol for a child, ready to die! In other words, a symbol of the pagan "messiah," ready to give his life (supposedly) for the world. This is obviously a satanic mockery of the truth.
12. Christmas Ham
Hogs were slaughtered and the eating of the carcass was one of the central festivities of the Saturnalia. Each man would offer a pig as a sacrifice because superstition held that a boar had killed the sun deity Adonis. Hence, the tradition of the Christmas ham on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
13. Christmas Stocking
According to tradition, a poor widower of Myra, Turkey, had three daughters, for whom he could not provide a dowry. On Xmas-Eve, "Saint Nicholas" threw three bags of gold down the chimney, thereby saving the daughters from having to enter into prostitution. One bag rolled into a shoe, and the others fell into some stockings that had been hung to dry by the fire. Hence, the beginning of the tradition of the "Christmas stocking" or "boot."
14. Christmas Cards
The first British Xmas card can be dated back to 1843. The first cards featured pictures of dead birds! Evidently, the popularity of hunting robin and wren on Christmas Day made the dead bird image an appropriate one for "holiday" cards. Often the text of the cards would also have a morbid tone. Later, the cards displayed dancing insects, playful children, pink-cheeked young women, and festively decorated Christmas trees. The first actual Xmas cards were really Valentine's Day cards (with different messages) sent in December. Mass production of Xmas cards in the United States can be traced back to 1875. Initially, the manufacturers thought of Xmas cards as a sideline to their already successful business in playing cards. But the "tradition" of sending cards soon caught on, leading to a very profitable business by itself.
15. Christmas Carols
What do you suppose the reaction would be by a church's leaders if its pastor were to propose that the following hymns be introduced into the church to commemorate the birth of Christ? After all, the tunes are quite lovely.
Hymn #1 -- A hymn by a Unitarian minister (Unitarians reject the Trinity and full deity of Christ) that does not mention Jesus Christ and reflects the liberal social gospel theology of the 19th century.
Hymn #2 -- A hymn by an American Episcopal priest, the fourth verse of which teaches Roman Catholic superstition about Christ coming to be born in people during the Advent season.
Hymn #3 -- A song, the words by an Austrian Roman Catholic priest, the music by a Roman Catholic schoolteacher, containing the Roman Catholic superstition about halos emanating from holy people, with no gospel message. Perhaps you would expect the church's leaders to be very upset. It might surprise you to learn that they were upset when they suspected that the pastor might somehow prevent them from singing them! You see, those three hymns were already in the church's hymnals! The pastor did not have to introduce them. The three theologically incorrect "Christmas carols" referred to above are It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Silent Night. (See the sub-report for an evaluation of some of the most popular Xmas carols found in church hymnals today.)
E. European Xmas Traditions -- In the early days of Christianity, as it moved north and west into Europe, many pagan celebrations were encountered. For example, in the late-6th century in England, the Angles and Saxons were found celebrating Yule. The Christian evangelists thought they would fail in any attempt to rival, suppress, or stamp out such long held customs, so they simply adopted popular dates for their own "special rituals and hallowed services." In other words, it was easier to establish a festival celebrating the birth of Christ if it conveniently coincided with an existing popular pagan feast day. In this way, the pagan peoples (albeit potential converts to Christianity) could continue with their usual celebrations at this time of year, but the reason for the merrymaking could be redefined and attributed to Christ's birth rather than to any pagan rituals. As paganism eventually died out and Christianity became widespread, Christmas became increasingly more associated with its religious foundations than any others (Sulgrave Manor, "A Tudor Christmas," p. 2).
It was left to the Puritans to denounce everything. For them, Christmas was rightfully part popish, part pagan, and was forbidden to be kept as a holiday or feast day. The attack began in 1644 when the Puritans controlled the Parliament; December 25th was changed to a Fast Day. By 1647, even the Fast Day was abolished as a relic of superstition, synonymous with the Church of Rome. No observation on December 25th was any longer permitted, but the day was to be observed as a normal market-day. Christmas was accurately depicted by such names as the Profane Man's Ranting Day, the Superstitious Man's Idol Day, the Papist's Massing Day, the Old Heathen's Feasting Day, the Multitude's Idle Day, and Satan -- that Adversary's -- Working Day. In those days, any Christmas celebrations would be broken up by troops, who would tear down decorations and arrest anyone holding a service. Some who celebrated it in Europe were also thrown into prison. Because of the riots that broke out following the banning of Christmas, the celebrations and revelry were restored in 1660 by King Charles II, a Roman Catholic (Sulgrave Manor, "A Tudor Christmas," p. 3).
F. American Xmas Traditions -- America's settlers (the "founding fathers" of so called "Protestant America") rightfully considered Christmas a "popish" holiday. In fact, it was only in the early 1800s that several founding members of the New York Historical Society "invented" Christmas. Before then, it was illegal in colonial Massachusetts to even take December 25th off work. Christmas was forbidden as "unseemly to ye spiritual welfare of ye community." (It was banned in Massachusetts in 1659, and this law remained on the books for 22 years. In Boston, public schools stayed open on December 25th until as late as 1870!) It wasn't until 1836 that any state declared Christmas a holiday (Alabama), and then there were no more state declarations until the Civil War. It was not until 1885 that all federal workers were given Christmas Day off. The so-called Xmas customs and traditions were later concocted more for commercial purposes than for religious.
Quoting from a 12/23/83 USA TODAY article about Christmas: "A broad element of English Christianity still considered Christmas celebration a pagan blasphemy. The Puritans, Baptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Calvinists and other denominations brought this opposition to early New England and strong opposition to the holiday lasted in America until the middle of the 18th century."
Henry Ward Beecher, a Congregationalist, wrote in 1874 of his New England boyhood:
"To me Christmas is a foreign day, and I shall die so. When I was a boy I wondered what Christmas was. I knew there was such a time, because we had an Episcopal church in our town, and I saw them dressing it with evergreens, and wondered what they were taking the woods in the church for; but I got no satisfactory explanation. A little later I understood it was a Romish institution, kept by the Romish Church."