When pagans converted to Christianity, they converted their favorite celebrations.
The Spirit of Christmas
Those who criticize the celebration of Christmas are not just atheists. Some people look at only the historical aspect of the holiday. They let it be known that Jesus was most likely born in the Spring. It has also been exposed that originally the Roman god Saturn was celebrated during the latter half of December with feasting, dancing, and giving of gifts. The pagan worship and decorating of evergreen trees also developed into a Christmas custom. All this is true, but most of us must accept that our ancestors were pagans and not originally God worshipping Jews. When the pagans converted to Christianity, they converted their favorite celebrations. The Christian church also gave in and helped them Christianize the old ceremonies.
The Christian church condemned the old worship of the Roman god Jupiter with its wild celebrations of drinking, dancing, fornication, gambling, gluttony, and the lighting of candles to chase away the evil spirits of darkness. Instead the celebration was converted to holy days in the worship of the Christ child. Eventually, the holiday centered around the date of Dec. 25 to be recognized as the day to celebrate the birth of God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The old sinful forms of Jupiter celebrations were replaced with the Christian celebrations. The Biblical story that centered around the Messiah’s birth was told, read about, dramatized, and songs written to proclaim the wonderful event. Christians also celebrated with church worship services, family gatherings, feasting, and gift giving. The pagan holiday was successfully replaced with a Christian holiday.
In Europe the pagans enjoyed the worship and decorating of evergreen trees. When the pagans converted to Christianity, they obviously converted their enjoyment of decorating evergreen trees. A replica of the Star of Bethlehem graced the top of the tree. Sometimes a heavenly angel replica was put on the top of the tree to represent the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Lighted candles were placed on the branches to look like twinkling stars in the sky on the night of the Nativity. At the bottom of the tree a beautiful manger scene was set to represent the Nativity with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wisemen, and the barn animals. The pagan tree was converted to a beautiful testimony of the birth of the Messiah.
Our old pagan ancestors converted their favorite customs to honor God and represent Christianity. They did not mean to do evil or continue paganism. They meant their actions to be good.
In the first century, the converted pagans became new people when they accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and repented of their sins. The Holy Spirit dwelt with them and they became children of God. The Jewish Christians condemned the male Gentile Christians for not being circumcised, which was a representation of the Jewish covenant with God. However, the apostle Paul addressed this in Romans 2:26-29. He said that the Gentiles received “circumcision of the heart, in the spirit,” and not in the Jewish law. He proclaimed that mankind was no longer under the law, because no man could be perfect and not sin. Everyone has broken the commandments of God. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In Romans 6:23 the Bible states that, “The wages of sin is death.” People have earned death because of sin. However, in Romans 5:8 the Bible proclaims, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus Christ never sinned. He was perfect and had not earned the wage of death. However, he allowed men to crucify Him, so that he could die in our place. Jesus Christ suffered death and hell in our place. He paid our debt for us. Then he conquered and defeated Satan, death and hell by raising from the dead on the third day. Romans 10:9 tells people how they can have eternal life and forgiveness of their sins, “ That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The first thing we have to do is go to God in prayer and confess that we believe Jesus died for our sins. The second thing that we have to do is really believe in him and that he did resurrect from the dead. Those two actions bring about salvation of the soul, not circumcision. Then the Holy Spirit of God dwells with the new Christian, and leads that person into righteous living. The new Christian does not have to worry about looking in the law of the Old Testament for what is a sin. The Holy Spirit lets a person know what is right and what is wrong.
Christians who use Christmas to glorify God and worship the Savior should not be condemned for using December 25 to celebrate the Messiah’s birth. Christians who use a Christmas tree to demonstrate the Nativity, should not be condemned, because they are glorifying Christ. If gifts are given at Christmas time to honor the Lord Jesus, that is good. The Bible explains to us in the words of Jesus found in Matthew 25:40, “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Christians tend to become even more generous to needy people and good causes during the Christmas season. They also give gifts of love to their children and each other. Giving with the spirit of love can only glorify the Lord. However, if the holiday of Christmas is used to get drunk, become greedy, or glorify Santa Clause over Jesus, that is wrong. If the evergreen tree is decorated with evil or worldly symbols, then it is a pagan tree and not a Christmas tree. If Christmas honors Christ, then it is honorable and acceptable. If the holiday is used for anything else, then it is evil and unacceptable to the Lord and Christianity.