Should Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter? If so, why?
Are Christmas and Easter really Christian celebrations or are they just modified versions of the holidays of ancient religions, legends and folklore? Some would say that Christmas and Easter are secular holidays with a Christian emphasis. Many people understand that these are religious holidays but do not like the religious emphasis. The majority of Christians know that the original purposes for Christmas and Easter celebrations were designed by the Christian church to celebrate Jesus’ birth (Christmas), death, and return to life (Easter).
The celebration of Jesus’ birth was apparently not formalized until about the fourth century. Some claim that the date for Christmas was chosen to replace a pagan holiday – the worship of the sun. They state that the celebration of the Son was a victory over pagan gods. He was the “invincible sun.” Yet, there is evidence that Christmas was celebrated on December 25 because the early church believed that was the date of Christ’s birth (see “Was Christ born on December 25?”).
The first celebrations of Easter occurred during the first century at the time of Passover. The celebration started on Saturday night and continued until Sunday morning in honor of Christ’s return to life. Sometime after A.D. 200 historical records show that Christians finished the worship celebration with the baptism of new Christians. This pictured the death of new Christians to their old life and their commitment to a new life in Jesus.
Change Has Occurred
Today, Christmas and Easter are celebrated very differently in the homes and churches around the world. In the United States the spiritual emphasis of Christmas has almost been completely replaced with gifts, feasts, decorated trees, Santa Claus, and music. Easter now includes rabbits that carry chicken eggs in baskets, stylish clothes, yellow and pink colored paper, and a feast. The celebrations started well, but today the world has almost lost the message. So what should a Christian do – participate or not?
Celebrate Or Not?
The apostle Paul provides us with a biblical principle that will help us. In 1 Corinthians 10, he provided advice to some Christians who were struggling with eating meat offered to idols. The idea of eating meat offered to idols was offending other Christians. Here is his advice. It will surprise many.
Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you, and you wish to go, eat anything that is set before you, without asking questions for conscience’ sake. (NASB) 1 Corinthians 10:25-27
His point was simple. Do not ask, just eat. To participate in Christmas or Easter is not a sin. Christians are not worshiping idols or other gods. The issue is: why are we celebrating Christmas and Easter? Every Christian should celebrate Christmas and Easter as times to remember Jesus’ birth, death, and return to life. If we did a survey of the practices of the false religions, we would discover that they read from their sacred books, donate money, make speeches and sing music. Just because their practices are similar to ours, does not make our spiritual worship wrong. What is important is why do you worship Christ? Listen to His Paul’s words at this point.
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (NASB) Romans 14:23
What is important is that we celebrate with a clear conscience and with a clear purpose.
Christmas and Easter are wonderful opportunities to remember Jesus’ birth, death, and return to life. They are opportunities to teach our children the true meaning of these events. But I would encourage every Christian not to teach your children that Santa Claus or Father Christmas or the Easter rabbit are real for three major reasons. First, it is a lie. Christians are to tell the truth.
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices . . . (NASB) Colossians 3:9
Second, if a Christian parent tells his or her child that someone whom they never see (Santa Claus and the Easter rabbit) are real and alive today, how can they expect their children to believe them when they say that God is real? I would encourage every Christian parent to explain the real meaning of Christmas and Easter, to tell our children the truth that Santa Claus and the Easter rabbit are not real, and to minimize the worldly emphasis. Third, to teach our children that Santa Claus and the Easter rabbit mysteriously give gifts is to ascribe to them god-like powers. God has asked us not to give honor to any other “god.” Christmas and Easter are times to worship Jesus – not things that have no eternal value!
Suggested Links:Did the people who crucified Christ go to hell or the lake of fire?
Was Jesus born on December 25?
Fables of Christmas - Online Sermon