I have never liked Christmas--I didn't really know why, but it was for me (as for countless others, if we are to believe the statisticians) a very depressing time of year. I would reluctantly take a minimal part, but my heart was definitely not in it. When I became an adult I began dropping Christmas customs with fear and trepidation, lest I offend people, but with determination that I be free of worry about what people think of me. The fear of man dies hard and when you fly in the face of traditions and society's customs, you don't get much help. So I continued to be depressed every Christmas season.
At some point I read the Scripture in Jeremiah 10:1-5 about trees and I knew instinctively that it referred (at least) to Christmas trees:
1Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Since my heart has always been to obey God rather than man (though I haven't always done so successfully) I decided that Christmas trees would never again be part of my home. It has always grieved me to see Christmas trees in any believer's home and multiplied times more to see one in a church--and that was long before I learned to keep Sabbath and be Torah-observant! I am so grateful to finally know there is a reason why I didn't like Christmas and to know that I don't have to bother with it anymore! The Holy Spirit was convicting me about it all those years.
Easter was somewhat different. I wasn't into sunrise services and new Easter bonnets, and it really disturbed me to see people giving their kids chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, but I didn't know there was anything wrong with the celebration itself. It seemed good to remember Christ's sacrifice for us on Good Friday and then rejoice that He had risen on Easter Sunday morning. In fact, I was always extremely moved by the Easter services--with deep emotion welling up in my heart and tears in my eyes. That was laudable, but why did all this move me so much emotionally? Lately I have come to understand that this, too, was the Holy Spirit at work--because He was grieved that His people didn't obey His instructions to remember Passover and instead adopted and tried to "redeem" pagan customs for a similar purpose. That might be considered a good thing if it weren't for the fact that God had already specifically told His people not to do that! One such example is Deuteronomy 12:30-32:
30Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32Whatsoever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
God does not want His people to copy in any way, shape, or form the customs of the pagans--not for any reason. (Including remembering/naming pagan gods, so please excuse my use of such words as Easter and Friday in this document; I do so with a queasy feeling in my stomach.) We cannot claim good intentions and explain that we don't do the bad parts (like burning our children in fires) and expect God to accept our self-justification. God wants us to keep His feasts, not those that have been created by "redeeming" festivals that originated with pagans. (See Hebrew Roots links for some excellent websites where you can get more information about all this.) God's feasts are clearly laid out in Scripture (see Leviticus 23, below). When we obey God and keep His feasts we can have good times celebrating with our families and friends and have God's blessings!
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 4These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. 5In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S Passover. 6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 9And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. 13And the grain offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 15And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: 16Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new grain offering unto the LORD. 17Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD. 18And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD. 19Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. 22And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God. 23And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 24Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 26And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath. 33And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 34Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 35On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. 37These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a grain offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: 38Beside the Sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD. 39Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. 40And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. 44And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.
When I learned to keep Sabbath and began to research why God wanted me to do so, I kept bumping into websites and articles about the pagan roots of Christian celebrations. Here are some links that I thought were good enough to keep in my "Christmas and Easter" Favourites folder. There are lots of such articles on the internet, but these were the best of those that I found. As you read, please remember that I do not endorse everything that anyone says (and not even everything that is presented in these articles) and do not necessarily recommend that you explore the rest of their websites. These links are offered only to give you food for thought--a jumping off point for doing your own research.
What did you think of this article? Do you disagree with anything the author said? Did s/he overlook anything important? Send me an e-mail or use a contact form to have your say.