Growing up, we celebrated Christmas. It's all I knew and that was the norm. As I grew up and found myself a baptized believer in Christ, the holiday took a turn, the whole point being brought into sharper focus.
As I continue on my journey of digging into my faith and figuring out what I believe and why, I'm being led in an ongoing biblical direction, trying to dig out exactly what the bible says about all sorts of things, including the things that I'd always just taken for granted. My job, my marriage, children, their education, doctors, vaccinations, church, requirements for church leaders, what is man made and what is not, etc.
As biblical holy days came up into the list of things to research, of course that brought up the observance of man made holidays as well, and Easter and Christmas were called into question.
Like many other things, there is as much argument for any given topic as there is against it. Some of it good, some of it bad, and a lot of it taking scripture out of context. As I research in and around Christian and Messianic resources, I run (mostly) into two opposite ends of the spectrum. 1. Pagan hunting (let's find a Christian who celebrates Christmas and rip them to shreds), and 2. People participating blindly simply because that's the way it's always been done, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Yes, when I learned the pagan connections to a lot of the things we do for Christmas, I was sick and ready to do away with it all together. (Unfortunately, my first response to things like this are pretty extreme.) Thankfully I am married to Mr Perfect who said no, that we'd look into things a bit more.
Anyway, I've been sorting through this for a few years now and here's what it's boiling down to for us.
We're going to celebrate Christmas.
We KNOW it's not the actual day of Christ's birth. We KNOW it's not in the bible. But you know what? Ice cream isn't in the bible either, and we enjoy that. We enjoy the fact that Christ was born. No, we don't have the right date, but nor do we claim to and we're at peace with that. We aren't saying that thou must observe Christmas or thou shalt certainly burn an eternity in Hell. We don't feel we 'have to'. We are simply going to spend some time being happy and celebrating the fact that the Saviour was born. There are lights on the tree, as He is the creator of light and we want His creation around us. There is a crown of thorns on the top, because we want a constant reminder that He came to die for us.
We have a tree. Yes, indeed, those pagans used trees for all sorts of yiky things with them. People do yiky things with guns too, but we enjoy those as well. But GOD made the trees before the Pagans started using them for their idolatry. Does that mean I can never enjoy looking at an evergreen? God is eternal, ongoing, never ending, as is the ever green. We are not chanting and dancing with the Druids, nor learning the language of the Shaman. we're simply being reminded of a few of the many characteristics of God every time we walk by.
We're giving gifts too. I know - insert a big commercialism and materialistic gasp here. I'm sorry, but there are a few people on the planet that we love. We have a perfect Father in Heaven who gives us fabulous gifts, and we'd like to emulate Him in our own pathetic-attempt way. Our children get one gift on each Sunday of Advent, you know - because we are waiting for His coming - the perfect gift we get to receive! If waiting in anticipation for our Saviour is wrong, then please forgive us. Our children get a few gifts as we all await the Perfect gift. They are not Pagan sacrifices, we are not trying to buy anyone's approval. We are loving our neighbor.
On Christmas Eve we're going to church and our daughter is playing in the orchestra. We're going to sing Christmas songs and being thankful for His arrival. We're not dancing around Stonehenge while slicing open the throats of small animals, we're going to worship the Lord.
And - steady yourself - on Christmas morning the children are getting stockings too. I know - we're going to hell and would a Pagan hunter please come rip into me and beat me over the head over my evil ways? I'm sure that would help. You know - the story of the Christmas stocking is so sweet. Stockings are fun! Our children, or sons especially, are going to giggle with innocent pleasure for a brief moment of each year.
Yes, indeed, a lot of the things we use have been used by Pagans as well. Wiccans use salt in their witchcraft, and I use salt in the kitchen - but that doesn't make me Wiccan any more than owning a bible makes me a Christian.
We celebrate Christmas, but it is not the driving force of the year. We don't elevate it above biblical holy days, nor equate it with such. We've thought it through. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? To what end?
No, everyone does not have to do it the way we do it. It's not our business, and to each his own. Just please be sure that you know why you do what you do or don't do, and be sure your motives are pure, rather than being caught in the trap of, and therefore exhibiting the fruit of legalism.
"The fruit of legalism is easily recognized - arguments, jealousy, selfish ambition, and envy."
(A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays)
If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! :)