Another Blog from UK Partnerships for Christ (www.upfc.org.uk)

What is my view of Christmas as an EX-Jehovahs Witness?

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(Jason Thickpenny aka Elf boy at the Christmas Market/ Bible Give away 2014)

The first memory I have of not celebrating Christmas was when I was 7 years old, all my school friends are getting there nativity outfits ready, making Christmas decorations and cards….while I sat out of all these activities in the school Library on my own, as my parents obviously would not let me get involved. For some Jehovahs Witness children and indeed adults Christmas can be a really difficult time.

My response when I was a Jehovahs Witness when someone asked “why don’t you celebrate Christmas” my response would be “before I answer that can I ask you why you DO celebrate Christmas. Generally the answer would be “well…….tradition, presents, spending time with the family” and I would say “yes but the really reason is because of the birth of Christ yes? And regardless of what they believed they would say “yes” and now I would tie them in knots! “Well you see, I believe in the bible and nowhere does it say when Jesus is born nor does it ever suggest that the birth should be celebrated, therefore as a Christian I would not celebrate it”……..All of this sounds Christian….right??? Now I am out of the Jehovahs Witnesses I view Christmas in a very different way.

Christmas – the origins

One of the major reasons why Jehovahs Witnesses have nothing to do with Christmas is the pagan origins.
The origins of Christmas go back to before the time of Christ when many ancient cultures celebrated the changing of the seasons. In the northern hemisphere in Europe, for example, the winter solstice, which was the shortest day of the year, occurs around Dec. 25th. During this time extreme celebration occurred and, for most part, businesses and government shutdown. It was a time of pagan celebration with various forms of sinful behavior. These celebrations were based on the day where the cold winter days became shorter and shorter. Since during winter animals were penned, people stayed indoors, crops didn’t grow, etc.,–to know that winter was half over and on its way out was a time of celebration.

In the ancient Roman system of religion, Saturn was the god of agriculture. Each year during the summer, the god Jupiter would force Saturn out of his dominant position in the heavenly realm; and the days would begin to shorten. In the temple to Saturn in Rome, the feet of Saturn were then symbolically bound with chains until the winter solstice when the length of days began to increase. It was this winter solstice, December 25th, that was a time of celebration and exchange of gifts as the hardness of winter began to wane and the days grew longer. So, based on this celestial event, Saturnalia became a weeklong celebration that began on December 17 and ended on the 25th. In addition, December 25th coincided the day of the birth of the sun-god named Phyrgia a culture in the ancient Balkans. – (Source CARM.org).

“So you see Christmas and the Christmas tree originate with the pagans”

That is true Mr Jehovahs Witness however lets consider some other things that originate with the pagans :-

Wedding ring – The origin of the practice of wearing the wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand, was from the Egyptians who believed it to house a special vein that was connected directly to the heart.

Candles – Developed by the Ancient Egyptians, who used rushlights or torches made by soaking the pithy core of reeds, generally used for religious ceremonies.

January – Named after the Roman god of beginnings and endings Janus (the month Januarius).

These are just some examples …..so if we are going to say that on the grounds that Christmas and the Christmas tree originate with pagans then we also have to say that we are not going to wear a wedding ring, that we no longer will light candles and that we are going to rename various months of the year!! So although the origins are from the pagans, all of the pagan origins have been lost, and now been replaced with celebrating the birth of Christ….I fail to see why that is such a bad thing.

“Oh but Jesus never celebrated anything”…..really Mr Jehovahs Witness, have you read what it says John 10:22,23? John tells us that Jesus was at the Temple walking on Solomon’s Porch during the Feast of Dedication!!

“But there is no biblical record regarding Jesus’s birth” . That is true but neither is there a record of people refusing blood transfusions, no record of people passing round the bread and wine, and no record of people shunning former members, and yet Mr Jehovahs Witness, you guys do all of these, how is ok to follow some things and not the other.

Once more Mr Jehovahs Witness if Christmas is soooooooo evil in Jehovahs eyes, why is that in 1919 he (through Jesus) selected the Watchtower society to preach to all the earth..yet at that time they where all celebrating Christmas?

Christmas_Day_at_Watchtower_Headquarters_Bethel

(Bethel HQ Christmas party 1926)

If you are a Christian and you do not keep Christmas, that’s one thing….forcing someone to not celebrate on the grounds that you don’t is another.

“So what about Santa Claus, this is just one big lie – why would you lie to your children?” This may be controversial, but having listened to Todd Friel from Wrenched (who I love and respect by the way) says exactly this regarding Santa, I want to make a response to this as for once I disagree with his statements and as he says, its perfectly ok to disagree with this stuff and not call each other “un-Christian” as a result.

What he says regarding Santa and the fact that he has pushed Jesus out of Christmas is un-deniable, and its really sad to see. I notice more than ever Muslims love this and put Santa stuff everywhere.

Well we all cry about it as Christians or we can put every effort to put the Christ back into Christmas! Get your nativity Christmas cards, blast the Christmas Christian hymns out, get you banners out…..like this one from our church in Lincolnshire..

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and start putting the true meaning of Christmas back in. Use it as an opportunity to talk about Christ.

So where does this leave Santa as far as I am concerned? To me, so long as he is kept in his place, I don’t see the harm. He brings the presents that Mummy and Daddy have to pay him for and Jesus brings the best gift, which free and which is everlasting life.

“So you are happy to lie to your kids?” At 4 years old most of my school mates knew that Santa wasn’t real (kids aren’t stupid!!).They knew he was a make believe character just as Peppa Pig, Aladdin, Cinderella and of course Sparlock are all make believe characters. Are you going to deny your children all of these “make believe” characters? Santa is just part of the wonderful thing that is a childs imagination and that is why so long as Santa is kept in place, I PERSONALLY don’t see and issue.

Now that’s said, I am disappointed that even church Christmas services now put a picture of Santa on the adverts as oppose to Jesus. But my child will have Santa, and he will also know that he is just a mythical character just as the other Disney characters are. So long as he knows that Christmas ultimately is about Jesus, everything else is second.

So do I celebrate Christmas now! YES! Is it the most wonderful time of the year! YES – but not because of Santa, not because of presents, not because of the food. But because Jesus came to earth who was Emmanuel which means “God is with us” and paved the way that “all who believe are not condemned, but HAVE eternal life” – John 3:18.

Keep the CHRIST in Christmas and in the words of Todd Friel, “Until the next time….go serve your King”

Merry Christmas everybody.

Jason Thickpenny

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5 Responses »

  1. Well done Jason, you have used many illustrations that I have used when talking to JWs, rings, months, day names etc. And yes, we do need to put Christ back into Christmas. How do I feel about Santa? Yesterday I was Santa with my elf for a group of children who loved it, and so did we, and that was about the 7th outing for this particular Santa this year!!!!! Nice Elf costume by the way. Merry Christmas to you and yours Jason. Robin McEwen

  2. Your case is extremely thin at best. The development of the wedding ring has its roots in a misunderstanding of anatomy not pagan tradition.(Egyptians also thought the brain was a useless organ), and candles? really? Just because they were used in pagan ceremonies you think they are a parallel for Christmas? They were made for the express purpose of lighting a room. It matters little else what they decided to do with it. Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus, as you well know. Every aspect of it is steeped in pagan worship. Mixing that pagan worship with the bible is exactly what God tells us not to do numerous times in the Bible. As for your point on January that is probably the most ridiculous. There are a thousand things today that derive there names from mythology. Using those terms in our vernacular does not constitute pagan worship. Christmas on the other hand obviously does. The celebration is 100% pagan nothing in it is christian. Jesus wasn’t even born in December, so in effect your just worshiping what is pagan. As for Witnesses in the early days yes they did celebrate Christmas, but their Religion is one of Bible study, and since it was the early days they knew less than than they know now. Through bible study they found that there was no basis for this celebration and so they stopped observing it.

    • Thanks for your reply. I will respond from the beginning. you said…”Wearing a wedding ring did start with the pagans”. Well this is what the Watchtower says …. “Even where the wedding ring is recognized as marking a married woman and serves notice upon anyone with passionate desires, some may conscientiously object to featuring a ring in the ceremony, having in mind the pagan origin of the customary wedding ring”. Watchtower 15th of September 1956. I would therefore suggest you write to JW HQ and tell them that what they have written is wrong.

      You make the claim that Christmas is mixing pagan worship with Jesus. I would be interested to know what exactly you are talking about? All the “pagan origins” as I mentioned in my previous post have been completely gone, as they have in many of these other things, hence I see no issue as to whether or not you should be allowed to celebrate it.

      You said that Christmas is “100% pagan” well is actually “0% pagan” as it has lost of it’s “paganess” …. The problem is that because you are a Jehovahs Witness like I was for 23 years I know how they dress it up, the reality of it is some what different when you come out.

      Also please explain what you mean when you say “Jesus wasn’t even born in December, so in effect your just worshiping what is pagan”. I know Jesus was not born in December, I as of yet have never met a Christian that believed that, its just that we choose to celebrate it during December.

      So because Jehovahs Witnesses change there beliefs based on constant studies of the scriptures, this would mean its ok to falsely predict dates that mark the end of of the world (like Nathan Knorr did concerning 1975)?

      Also we are going to be recording a podcast in the next few weeks….we would love for you to come on the show and talk about these things in more detail.

      Look forward to your response.

      Jason

  3. Jason, you brought out many good points . Thanks .

    n1914 , you said concerning Jw ‘s celebration of Christmas in 1926 :
    ” …. but their religion is one of Bible study, and since it was in the early days , they knew less than they know now . Through Bible study they found that there was no basis for the celebration and so they stopped observing it .”

    Nice try . Jw’s did’nt fins this out through Bible study , rather they found this out because of watchtower study — big difference . Individual Jw’s are not allowed to interpret the Bible for themselves so they must accept whatever their Governing Body tells them the Bible says . Jw’s were engaging in pagan worship( by their account ) by observing Christmas for years and years simply because they accepted without hesitation whatever view came from Brooklyn . What’s so sad about all this is that nothing has changed , Jw’s still blindly follow a proven false prophet , a prophet who has exhibited a CLEAR PATTERN of false predictions and a myriad of doctrinal flip flops . What’s really sad is that given the Watchtower’s behavior , at the next Jw convention the ” new light” could very well be that they will return to observing Christmas !

    Jehovah loves Jw’s and so do we . May they dismiss the Watchtower from their lives and comply with His arrangement for complete forgiveness and everlasting life by coming to Jesus for salvation and peace with God . Jw’s : Jesus is waiting to hear from you . Matt 11:28

  4. I’m happy to live and let live with any religion…hey…I’m Catholic so I carry the scars but I can NEVER allow religion to treat as outcasts my family and friends who mean so much to me. JW religion does if anyone leaves the Fellowship. THAT my JW friends is unforgivable…period…as our american cousins say.

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