There has been much debate surrounding the origin of Christmas traditions. Many people believe the origin of Christmas is rooted in pagan traditions outside of Christianity. The origin of Christmas is not truly rooted in pagan traditions as the origin of Christmas is found in the advent of Christ into the world — not in various pagan traditions found throughout the world.
The Genesis of Christianity
The original genesis of Christmas is found in the birth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1; Luke 2). The true Christmas that Christians celebrate across the world today is rooted in our Savior’s birth into the world to save us from our sins (John 3:16-17).
While many people may advocate Christmas is rooted in paganism or pagan traditions, it is simply not true. There would be no Christmas unless it was the celebration of our Savior’s birth. Even though December 25 was originally a pagan holiday, it was Christianized over the course of time by the early church.
Scholars cannot be dogmatic about the exact day of Jesus’ birth; however, December 25 has been accepted by Christians to be the day to honor Jesus’ advent into the world. The origin of Christmas is rooted in Jesus’ birth into the world to redeem us from our sins.
Pagan traditions were widespread across the world before Jesus’ advent, after Jesus’ advent, and these traditions still circulate throughout the world today. Many critics of Christmas want to downplay Christmas by claiming it is rooted in paganism; however, the actual genesis of Christmas is strictly rooted in Jesus’ birth.
The birth of Jesus into the world was literally God taking on human flesh in order to redeem mankind. The title of “Immanuel” literally means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). In other words, Jesus’ birth into the world was God coming into the world to save the world.
The origin of Christmas is not found in pagan traditions as the true origin of Christmas is only found in the sweet infant who was born into the world to save us from our sins. There were many pagan traditions surrounding Christmas; however, Christmas never found its roots in these traditions.
Why Is it Said Christmas Is Pagan in Origin?
The Norse people group in Scandinavia celebrated a holiday on December 21, which was a 12-day holiday called “Yule.” Scholars have tried to connect the “Yule” holiday, which was rooted in paganism with Christmas; however, these holidays are not connected in any way. The holiday of “Yule” was in honor of the winter solstice.
Christmas is not rooted in the celebration of “Yule” nor in the other pagan traditions of the world. Particularly in Europe, there were many pagan practices infiltrating the land; however, Christmas does not find its roots in these pagan traditions either.
Germany took part in a pagan tradition in honor of the pagan god, Odin at the end of December (Ibid.). During the middle of winter, Germans would remain indoors and abstain from traveling outdoors in respect of Odin (Ibid.).
This respect was birthed out of fear of Odin as Germans believed Odin would fly through the skies at night and he would observe the people and see whether or not they deserved to be blessed or cursed (Ibid.).
As one can see, these pagan traditions were celebrated during the same time of the holiday we celebrate today as Christmas; however, the origin of Christmas is not rooted in Yule, fear of the false god “Odin,” or other pagan beliefs or traditions.
The most common pagan tradition people try to claim as Christianity is rooted in is Saturnalia, which is a holiday held in homage to the pagan god Saturn. Saturn was believed to be the “god” of agriculture, which meant the people thought very highly of this false god as they yearned for good crops to infiltrate their land.
Saturnalia was a holiday held in December and this holiday was filled with hedonism (Ibid.). The Romans celebrated Saturnalia and they went out of their way to make it a frivolous, hedonistic, and sinful celebration of the false god, Saturn. Simply because each of these pagan holidays took place in December does not mean that Christmas also finds its roots in pagan traditions.
Christmas is unlike other holidays and traditions because it is the celebration of Jesus’ birth in the world. It is not rooted in pagan traditions and beliefs. Rather than being rooted in pagan traditions, Christmas’ origin comes from the purity, holiness, and perfectness of Jesus’ birth into the dark world.
Pagan traditions were widespread during the time of Jesus’ birth, yet none of these traditions influenced the true start of Christmas. By the time of the Middle Ages, all pagan traditions had been replaced with the celebration of Jesus’ advent into the world (Ibid.).
People from all across the world chose to celebrate Christmas rather than the pagan traditions of the past, such as Yule or Saturnalia. In the 21st century, Christmas is celebrated throughout the world by believers and nonbelievers alike.
Unfortunately, commercialism and materialism have influenced the true meaning of Christmas by advocating Christmas is all about gifts, feasts, and expensive expenses. The true meaning of Christmas is found in the birth of the Savior of the world.
Celebrating Christmas as Christians
Christians celebrate Christmas today in honor of the Savior’s birth by spending time with loved ones and honoring Jesus’ birth into the world.
As previously established, scholars are not sure of the exact date of Jesus’ birth; however, Christians throughout the world honor December 25 as being the day Jesus’ light broke into the dark world.
Many holidays do have past roots in pagan traditions, such as Halloween; however, the origin of Christmas is truly rooted in the advent of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. The Bible is the infallible Word of God, and it is an accurate, historical record of Old Testament and New Testament times.
Within the pages of the Holy Bible, we are told of Jesus’ amazing birth into the world, His death, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth into the world and Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
The day of Christmas is a vitally important holiday of the year because it pays homage to the birth of Immanuel in the world. It is humbling to ponder and reflect on the truth that God took on human form in order to suffer, die, and pay for our sins. God loves us that much. He loves you that much.
The Bible tells us nothing can separate us from the love of God — not death, demons, or pain (Romans 8:31-39). Christmas is a day to remind us of God’s immense love for us. Jesus died for us because He wanted us to experience forgiveness of sins and have eternal life with Him. All people are dearly loved by God and Christmas is a reminder of this unconditional love.
Christmastime is a great time to live this truth out in your daily life and reflect that love to others. Share the true meaning of Christmas with your loved ones this holiday and help them learn the true origins of Christmas. Christmas is not rooted in pagan traditions, but rather in the true, historical, amazing birth of the Savior of the world. Merry Christmas everyone!
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is probably embarking on an adventure.