Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



The celebration of births was a pagan ritual at the time of Christ. No early Christian writers even wrote about it. So why would it become a sacred "Holy Day" of God? This is not a day set apart by God, but by man.


Christmas is celebrated throughout the world, mostly on December 25, January 6, or January 7. (see Office Holidays for a map)


The "whole world" celebrates Christmas?

A survey from Project world Impact tells us:

On average, eight in ten people in the world currently align themselves with a religious group. A recent religious demographic study shows that 2.2 billion, or 32%, of the world follows Christianity, 1.6 billion, or 23%, are Muslims, 15% are Hindus, 7% are Buddhists, and 0.2% of the world is Jewish.

So, roughly 1/3 of the world population claims to be Christian. According to Library Spot:

More than 160 countries celebrate Christmas. A few countries refer to the holiday as Family Day, including Angola and Uruguay. Some countries--like Jordan and Pakistan--designate December 25th as an official holiday only for Christians.

That is more than 160 countries of the 195 countries in the world as of 2017 (see worldometers for country count summary) that celebrate Christmas. Granted, one of those who is not included is China, but that is misleading. According to Express, the Chinese government is pushing a "crackdown" on Christmas (a huge event in China: lights, trees, and big sales, even though they do not celebrate the "reason for the season") because they fear the people are losing their feel for traditions of their own culture.

Not a "Holy Day"

Christmas is not a subject in any of the New Testament writings or any other early Christian writings. Why would we say that? Listen to the "experts":

The Catholic Encyclopedia states: "Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalita, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday... in England, Christmas was forbidden by Act of Parliament in 1644; the day was to be a fast and a market day; shops were compelled to be open; plum puddings and mince pies condemned as heathen. The conservatives resisted; at Canterbury blood was shed; but after the Restoration, Dissenters continued to call Yuletide 'Fooltide'" (vol. 3,pp 724,728)

We receive a monthly publication from a Messianic Jewish organization called Hope of the World. This publication relates that Christmas is a Christian replacement for the pagan celebration Saturnalia. Here is how the Google dictionary defines the "holiday" like this:


noun: Saturnalia

the ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, which was a period of general merrymaking and was the predecessor of Christmas.

an occasion of wild revelry.
noun: saturnalia; plural noun: saturnalias

Wikipedia adds that the Saturnalia festival was originally held on December 17th, but later expanded to last until the 23rd or 24th, depending on your source.

As to the choice of the 25th of December, Wikipedia also writes this:

Choice of December 25 date

In the 3rd century, the date of birth of Jesus was the subject of both great interest and great uncertainty. Around AD 200, Clement of Alexandria wrote:
"There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord's birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of [the Egyptian month] Pachon [May 20] ... Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21]."
In other writing of this time, May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17, and November 20 are all suggested. Various factors contributed to the selection of December 25 as a date of celebration: it was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar; it was about nine months after March 25, the date of the vernal equinox and a date linked to the conception of Jesus.

Solstice date

December 25 was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar. Jesus chose to be born on the shortest day of the year for symbolic reasons, according to an early Christmas sermon by Augustine: "Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase."

Linking Jesus to the Sun was supported by various Biblical passages. Jesus was considered to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied by Malachi: "Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings." John describes Jesus as "the light of the world."

Such solar symbolism could support more than one date of birth. An anonymous work known as De Pascha Computus (243) linked the idea that creation began at the spring equinox, on March 25, with the conception or birth (the word nascor can mean either) of Jesus on March 28, the day of the creation of the sun in the Genesis account. One translation reads: "O the splendid and divine providence of the Lord, that on that day, the very day, on which the sun was made, March 28, a Wednesday, Christ should be born.

In the 17th century, Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the solstice.

According to Steven Hijmans of the University of Alberta, "It is cosmic symbolism ... which inspired the Church leadership in Rome to elect the southern solstice, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the northern solstice as that of John the Baptist, supplemented by the equinoxes as their respective dates of conception."

NOTE: References remove for brevity, but can be found on the link provided.

Notice the certainty with which they confidently quote Augustine as saying "Jesus chose to be born on the shortest day of the year for symbolic reasons, according to an early Christmas sermon by Augustine:". Since the shepherds still had their sheep out in the pastures when the angels announced Jesus' birth, it could not have been the middle of December. They even link the worship of our Lord to the Sun, using Malachi 4:2 out of context, to make it fit with our abrogation of the Sabbath by replacing it with Sunday. People have built an entirely non-God-based celebration around a pagan holiday and pagan symbols because we don't want to act Jewish by following holy days He specified.

Need more? We are not even ashamed...

The site at History relates this gem:

A Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way. Today, Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts.

In fact, the celebration of any births is a pagan practice that caused some influence in the setting of a date for the Birth of Christ when someone started thinking it was important to do so. According to Tokenz:

The Catholic Encyclopedia also states: "History of Birthday observance can be traced back before the rise of Christianity. In pagan culture it was believed evil spirits visited people on their birthdays. To protect the person having the birthday from the evil effect, people used to surround him and make merry. A lot of noise used to be created in such parties to scare away the evil spirits. In those times there was no tradition of bringing gifts and guests attending the birthday party would bring good wishes for the birthday person. However, if a guest did bring gifts it was considered to be a good sign for the person of honor. Later, flowers became quite popular as a Birthday gift."

Christian churches bowing to the Catholics

My wife and I attended the Baptist church of our youngest son and his family of ten children. We went to see them participating in a program singing of Jesus' birth and the coming of the wise men to give Him gifts. The show was great and the kids seemed to really enjoy giving the presentation. Imagine my surprise when, during the service, the pastor and his staff reminded everyone that this is the second week of Advent. Then gave a solemn description of the importance of the green pine-bough wreath raised up on a pedestal on the stage. Next was the solemn lighting of the second candle of four candles of Advent which surrounded the wreath. This pedestal is standing not too far from the 12- to 15-foot Christmas tree adorned in gold, silver, ribbons and lights.

Up to this point, it was my impression that Advent was a Catholic ceremony from the fourth century. On their site at Catholic Exchange, they explain:

The liturgical season of Advent marks the time of spiritual preparation by the faithful before Christmas. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30). It spans four Sundays and four weeks of preparation, although the last week of Advent is usually truncated because of when Christmas falls.

The celebration of Advent has evolved in the spiritual life of the Church. The historical origins of Advent are hard to determine with great precision. In its earliest form, beginning in France, Advent was a period of preparation for the feast of the Epiphany, a day when converts were baptized; so the Advent preparation was very similar to Lent with an emphasis on prayer and fasting which lasted three weeks and later was expanded to 40 days. In 380, the local Council of Saragossa, Spain, established a three-week fast before Epiphany. Inspired by the Lenten regulations, the local Council of Macon, France, in 581 designated that from November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours, until Christmas, fasting would be required on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Eventually, similar practices spread to England. In Rome, the Advent preparation did not appear until the sixth century, and was viewed as a preparation for Christmas with less of a penitential bent.

It started when?

Yes,friends and neighbors, this non-Biblical event marking the coming of a non-Biblical holiday, the period starting on the first Sunday after a made-up "feast day" to an apostle who never celebrated Advent, supported by non-Biblical, pagan symbols, evolved in the spiritual life of the Church that still inserts a man between God and His people. Even the Church guesses that the "holiday" started somewhere around 380 A.D. (350 years after the death of Jesus, if you are not sure). And, naturally, all the other churches should copy these rituals and symbols and bring them into their already non-Biblical worship of Jesus - an almost mirror-image of the Catholic version. How could we possibly think this is not a perfect way to worship our holy God?

"What's wrong with a little joyous worship...?"

Well, I resisted the urge to ask the pastor of the church where we can learn of this ritual, and the ensuing details, in the Bible. This subject has already caused enough problems between me and the rest of my family. When we spoke of it, my son passed his actions off as something he doesn't like doing, but he wants to keep the family happy. So he grudgingly gets the tree, and the decorations, and the gifts for under the tree, then goes to church and helps them set up the same rituals and symbols. I guess grudgingly, of course.

Then he says that he can't see anything wrong with worshiping our God and Lord this way, as long as we aren't "creating idols" and worshiping other gods. I guess that's why God was so angry when the Israelites were actually worshiping Him while using symbols from the pagans. What was the big deal? They were worshiping God, not the Egyptian bull-god Apis, right? The discussion with my son never goes far because of my "lack of understanding of the genuine expressions by normal Christians of their love for Jesus". Isn't that "expression" exactly what was happening with the Israelites and the golden calf?

The quick answer?

Nothing is wrong with a little joyous worship, sharing love, giving gifts, and all the other things people think about for the holidays. That's what makes it so hard for people to see that it's not what we are doing, its how we are doing it. Jesus was not born on December 25. We don't know the date on which He was born. The problem is that we decided to hijack a pagan holiday and use it and all its symbols - that have nothing to do with Jesus - and join the world in celebration. This is the reason God told us not to worship Him in the way of the nations (Deuteronomy 12:3-4,30-31,
3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. 4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. (Deut 12:3-4)

30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. (Deut 12:30-31)

, Deuteronomy 18:9
9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.

and Jeremiah 10:2
2 This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.

). "Doing it for Christ" is not a valid reason for disobeying God. That's like saying, "But Lord, I'm breaking your rules just for You!"

Even the Jews are caving in

From the perspective those who stay close to the word of God on the issue, read an example at the site at Judaism 101. Many Jews are now celebrating Christmas. Even there you see the effect the world is having in persuading even the "people of God" to accept the ways of the world and admitted paganism. The tug between following Him and escaping the family conflicts by conceding is very strong - trust me, I know. But, we really don't care what the Jews think, right? After all, we don't want to start acting like the "legalists". Besides, we have already supposedly replaced them as the people of God... (see Replacement Theology on the main menu for some discussion on this idea)

Birthday gift?

Interest starts later when the rulers of the empires start getting involved in making decisions about who celebrates what and when. However, we seem to celebrate birthdays without even thinking about where the concept came from. We recently watched a movie called "The Perfect Gift" with Jefferson Moore as the star, one of the writers, and he was involved in production. The story was great and showed great unity among the believers in a community.

However, in one of the musical interludes we were told "not many people are aware that gift-giving was started by the wise men" who visited Jesus at His birth. People accept this statement without question, but most are not aware that the magi did not find Jesus until well after His birth when He was at home with His mother (Matthew 2:11
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

, house, not manger). The gifts were not a custom for celebrating a birthday, but gifts for a King. So, if this is to be a new custom for us, how long after the birthday do we wait to bring the gifts?

"Let's make one up and pretend we're following God."

Let's take an example that we have already used on the Holiday page. At a serious Bible study group in October 2017, the subject of holidays came up. Of course, I just had to mention that all our "Christian" holidays are adopted from pagan worship, with all the trappings. My wife mentioned that Jesus was likely not even born in December, but in fall to coincide with the Feast of Tabernacles, so we are making up a holiday for ourselves outside the will of God.

The study leader was offended by this, and suggested we look at it in a different way. He was aware that Jesus was not born in the middle of winter, and said to count back from the fall month (we used September, but in 2017 the Feast is October 4-11) for the 9 months of pregnancy - voila! - you are in December! He said that this is really celebrating the "Tabernacling" of Jesus on the earth! "See?", he implied, "We are celebrating God's holiday!"

But, what about...

So, here we can take a pagan holiday, name it something completely new and non-Biblical, pick a day out of the pagan blue on which to celebrate it, use pagan symbols, buy gifts for each other, join in secular activities with the rest of the world that will not even mention the "reason for the season", and claim that we are actually following the will of God. Silly me. How can that not be in the will of God? I'm just having trouble locating the Bible passage that makes this the way to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. By this reasoning, God must have made a mistake when He told the Israelites in Lev 23:33-44
33 The Lord said to Moses, 34 "Say to the Israelites: 'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord's Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.

37 (" 'These are the Lord's appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord - the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord's Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)

39 " 'So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees - from palms, willows and other leafy trees - and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.' "

44 So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.

when and how to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles way back in the months of September or October of our calendar.

Remember the church visit mentioned earlier? The solemn little ceremony of lighting the candles around the "meaningful" Advent pine-bough wreath? Look through the Leviticus reference in the previous paragraph and see if you can find the mention of any trees.

What did He actually tell them to do?

You'll find it in verse 40
40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees - from palms, willows and other leafy trees - and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.

, mentioning the use of leafy branches, not pine or fir boughs, followed by instructions to do this for seven days - not four weeks. This is followed by instructions to do it in the seventh month (Tammuz, in June-July), not the twelfth.

Oh, and the first and seventh days are to be sabbaths of rest, requiring offerings and gifts to the Lord in addition to the normal offerings of the regular Sabbath. Finally, His instructions were to build temporary shelters or booths and experience the hardship of living in the wilderness like those who left Egypt. Other than that, we are doing exactly what He said to do for "Christmas", right?

Well, this is what He told the Israelites to do. We Gentiles have no problem making up a new holiday on a new date, for our own length of time, using our own "meaningful" symbols - no, wait, those aren't even ours! We borrowed them from the pagans and the Catholics. Yet we seem to claim to be worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and His Son, using methods He did not give us and told us not to use. In fact, He told us in Deut 12:2-5
2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.

4 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. 5 But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;

what to do with pagan things when we found them.

"But, we don't use them as idols, we are just doing it our way!"

Right. If anything comes between you and God's instructions, those things either become idols or foster idolatry. We don't very often see Asherah poles or sacred stones, so we can claim that this doesn't apply to us. But what about those non-Biblical symbols from old pagan rituals? One way to see how important something is to a person is to question it or act like you are trying to take it away. The more important it is, the louder the protest. You know you are getting close to home when they start calling you names like "legalist", "Judaizer", or Scrooge.


My wife and I have an ongoing "discussion" regarding the trappings of Christmas - specifically the decorated tree. Once we brought up Jeremiah 10:1-5
1 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says:

"Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.

3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.

5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
    their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
    because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
    they can do no harm
    nor can they do any good."

to the pastor of the Sunday church we were attending at the time. I held that this was a reference to using a tree cut from the forest as the pagans did at the time. This was around 600 B.C. As you read above, the Catholics admit that no one celebrated the Christian holiday we call Christmas even in the earliest days of the church, and that only "sinners" celebrated birthdays.


Now, the pastor told me that Jeremiah was not disparaging the tree itself, but only the idol that was fashioned by the craftsman with his "chisel". That part is partially true, but we have to remember that the pagan practice was to go out into the forest and cut down a tree and bring the tree into the house as part of their worship service. Why is it that if we don't have a "Christmas tree" in the home at Christmas, we are not considered to be joining in on the "festivities" when it is not even part of the story of the birth of Jesus?

We recently spoke to a Jewish rabbi about this. His view was lenient about the celebration of Christmas in his congregation because he knew America has a custom of celebrating Christmas. Interesting, since God said not to worship Him as the pagans did, and not to practice their customs. He did make one excellent point, though. He said that if you have a tree, do not put the gifts under the tree. Why? You must bow before the tree in order to get each of the gifts. Remember Exodus 23:24
Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.

, Jeremiah 10:2
This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them."

, Deuteronomy 12:4
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.

, Deuteronomy 12:30-31
30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' 31 "You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods."

32 "Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it."

, as God was pretty specific about this.

Based on what?

Well, I have since done some investigation, and found that the Hebrew for the word translated as "chisel" also means "axe". Most Christians who celebrate Christmas and Easter will prefer the word chisel as it means that the craftsman made something to worship out of the tree - an idol. They hold that since we don't make an idol to worship, we can use the tree to worship God and celebrate the birthday of Jesus.

Where do we get the idea that the tree is the proper way to worship God and celebrate the birth of Jesus? Since the kings of Israel had to send out of the country for lumber to build things (think Lebanon Cedars), why do we even think there were enough trees for the people to use them for holidays? Why are there no mentions in Scripture of setting up trees, or using trees for anything but buildings, furniture, and idols?

They don't believe, but it's still O.K?

Another question. Why is it that the non-believers in the world feel right at home celebrating CHRISTmas with the same trappings (mistletoe, wreaths, decorated trees, Santa, elves, and presents) even while they are pushing Christ out of the holiday? Could it be that all these "trappings" do not offend them because they have nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas? If Jesus is the "reason for the season", why is it still O.K. for non-believers?

It appears that we are, once again, following the "way of the pagans", ignoring the word of God, and His holidays, and "creating" our own holidays by imitating those that only the "sinners" celebrated. So, using the modern "re-translation" of "Do not worship Me the way the pagans do" into "You can do it the way the pagans do if you don't carve out idols from the tree, just make sure you don't upset the pagans", we now incorporate holidays celebrated only by the pagans to replace those holidays God told us to keep. Why? It is only the height of arrogance to think that we know a better way than the one God gave us.

Some research

Why do we even celebrate Christmas? It is not an early Christian practice. An interesting, if somewhat indecisive, article at Biblical Archaeology gives some insight as to the number of things going on between the time of Christ and the 12th Century.

What about the original holidays?

Is it wrong to worship the Lord on a day set apart by man? Of course not. Nor is it necessarily wrong to celebrate birthdays. But, when doing so replaces the days that God did set apart, or becomes a new way to worship God or His Son based on a model of pagan style, we begin to have a problem with the reason we are doing it. Not one of the original holidays specified by God are kept in the Christian community.

The closest we come to one is when we celebrate Communion (the Lord's Supper), which is a modification of the Passover feast in the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. God was very specific in the times and days He deemed important. Starting (literally) with the seventh day of the week - every week. We have even changed that to Sunday with not even a hint from God to do so, and with every reason not to change it.

Disagree with me, but at least have a good reason

I understand that not everyone agrees with me. Most do not, yet most have no basis or references for any real objection. Believing something is fine, but you should just at least have a good reason for believing. And it should entail something besides the fact that you think, or someone told you, that I am a whacko.

We cannot find one shred of evidence that supports Christmas, or Easter, or Halloween, but these are three of the largest money-makers - er, "Christian holidays" - of the year. We can show many Biblical references to support real holidays that refer to Christ and demonstrate Him to be the reason for all the Bible holidays. If we are going to follow God, we should do it in the way He described, not ignore His instructions and make up our own ways. But then, that's only if you want to spend eternity with Him.

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