(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?
(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..
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.