Did Christmas start as a pagan holiday?

Rev. Frank Logue writes that it was first celebrated on a pagan holiday, but that fact misses the larger point.

December 25 was a pagan Roman holiday. There were other pagan holidays before Christianity spread across Europe. Pastor Logue writes that the longer answer is that there is nothing pagan about Christmas. What it is, in fact, is an attempt to wipe out pagan practices from a culture. And that attempt was quite successful.

The first change to making the pagan holiday Christian was when in 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. This was so that it would take over a pagan celebration. The struggle to Christianize pagan practices continued for centuries more.

Christmas trees are a remainder from a German pagan celebration at the winter solstice. In 1521, in a region along the German/French border, a Lutheran pastor declared: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ,” and brought the evergreens into Christian use for Christmas.

Do you think a holy purpose was accomplished in changing pagan holidays to Christian ones? What about today? Does Christmas fight secularism in these modern times? Now, even the secular meaning of Christmas seems to be attached to gathering with family and friends to share gifts. Does that lift up or degrade the Christian ideal of celebrating the gift of God’s own self in Jesus?

We can only control that for ourselves and our families. We must not lose the “God with us” message of celebrating Immanuel’s birth. If we do, it will be the result of letting our own consumer culture overwhelm the true meaning of Christmas.

This is Carl Ramsey and that’s Another View of the News.

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