THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS Ancient Origins

Twas the Night Before Christmas

YESHUA WAS NOT BORN IN WINTER

Luke 2:8
8 And in the same country there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

It says the shepherds were <keeping watch over their flock by night>. The shepherds would keep watch over their flock throughout the night mainly during lambing season which was in the spring. The shepherds always brought their flocks from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date. Notice that the Bible itself proves that winter was a rainy season not permitting shepherds to abide in open fields at night (see A Lamb Born in Bethlehem)

Song of Solomon 2:11
“For look, the winter is past, the rain is over, gone.
Ezra 10:9
9 Then all the men of Yehudah and Binyamin gathered at Yerushalayim within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth of the month {a part of our December}. And all the people sat in the open space of the House of Elohim, trembling because of the matter and because of showers of rain. 

 Adam Clarke comments:

it was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the Passover, and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain (October): during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day.
Adam Clarke Commentary, Vol. 5, page 386 (and 370)…
…during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As . . . the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November [begins mid-October], we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer. And, as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact … See the quotations from the Talmudists in Lightfoot.”

The shepherds could not have been out in the fields at night during the winter rains so December 25 is not a feasible date for Yeshua’s birth.

Werner Keller in his book The Bible as History states

“Meteorologists have made exact recordings of the temperature at Hebron. This spot in the southern highlands of Judah exhibits the same climatic conditions as Bethlehem, which is not far distant. The temperature readings show over a period of three months that the incidence of frost is as follows:

December – 2.8 degrees; January – 1.6 degrees; February – 0.1 degrees. The first two months have also the greatest rainfall in the year: approximately 6 inches in December, and nearly 8 inches in January.
According to all existing information the climate of Palestine has not changed appreciably in the last 2,000 years, consequently modern meteorological observations can be taken as a basis.
“At Christmas-time Bethlehem is in the grip of frost, and in the Promised Land no cattle would have been in the fields in that temperature. This fact is born out by a remark in the Talmud to the effect that in that neighbourhood the flocks were put out to grass in March and brought in again at the beginning of November. They remained out in the open for almost eight months.
“Around Christmas-time nowadays both animals and shepherds are under cover in Palestine.What  Luke tells us points therefore to the birth of Jesus having taken place BEFORE the onset of winter…”
(p. 331-332).

THE CELEBRATION OF BIRTHDAYS WAS NOT A JEWISH CUSTOM
The first-century historian Josephus {37- 100 after Yeshua} writes about the attitude of the Jews  towards birthdays in Messiah’s time

“Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the births of our children”
(Flavius Josephus, Against Apion, Book II, section 26).

Encyclopedia Judaica says this on the topic:
 
“The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual.”
 
Therefore, Yeshua being a Jew, did not celebrate birthdays.
It was a pagan custom and is not one of the Eternal’s commands.  Scripture mentions the celebration of birthdays only on two occasions, the birthday of Pharaoh in Joseph’s time – Genesis 40:20-22 and Herod’s birthday – Matthew 14:6-10. Strangely enough, on both occasions blood was shed.

Origen of Alexandria
{184- 253 after Yeshua} an early Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian writes

“…not one from all the saints is found to have celebrated a festive day or a great feast on the day of his birth. No one is found to have had joy on the day of the birth of his son or daughter. Only sinners rejoice over this kind of birthday. For indeed we find in the Old Testament Pharaoh, king of Egypt, celebrating the day of his birth with a festival, and in the New Testament, Herod. However both of them stained the festival of his birth by shedding human blood…But the saints not only do not celebrate a festival on their birthdays, but, filled with the Holy Spirit, they curse that day (after the example of Job, Jeremiah, and David).”
(Homilies on Leviticus: 1–16 /Origen, Barkley, 1990, 156.)

Ralph and Adelin Linton in their book The Lore of Birthdays, write:

“Mesopotamia and Egypt, the cradles of civilisation, were also the first lands in which men remembered and honoured their birthdays. The keeping of birthday records was important in ancient times principally because a birth date was essential for the casting of a horoscope.”

The importance of birthdays in the pagan world had to do with the position of the stars and planets and determined what the future and the path that the life of the new born would take. Astrology, horoscopes and fortune played a big part in birthday celebrations and the Eternal repeatedly warns us against these practices

Micah 5:12 
I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you will have fortune-tellers no more.
[see: Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 20:16 & 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-13; 1 Samuel 28:3 & 8; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:24; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14; Isaiah 8:19; Jeremiah 27:9; Acts 16:16]

(For more on birthdays read the article on Birthdays)

DECEMBER 25 AND THE PAGAN WORLD
Centuries before the birth of Yeshua, December 25 was an important religious holiday in ancient times across the pagan world. It was the winter solstice (
Also called:Midwinter, Yule, the Longest Night, Jól). Astronomically, it marked the beginning of lengthening days and shortening nights. It was the BIRTH of the SUN.
The World Book Encyclopedia says:

“Christmas…In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun”
(Sechrist. Christmas. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 3. 1966, pp. 408-417).

This is a rebellion against the Eternal as He clearly commands us in the Scriptures

Jeremiah 10:2
Do not learn the way of the gentiles...

Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons tells us:

“That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin. In Egypt, the son of Isis, the Egyptian title for the queen of heaven, was born at this very time, ‘about the time of the winter solstice.’ The very name by which Christmas is popularly known among ourselves — Yule-day — proves at once its Pagan and Babylonian origin. ‘Yule’ is the Chaldee name for an ‘infant’ or ‘little child;’ and as the 25th of December was called by our Pagan Anglo- Saxon ancestors, ‘Yule-day,’ or the ‘Child’s day,’ and the night that preceded it, ‘Mother-night,’ long before they came in contact with Christianity, that sufficiently proves its real character”
(The Two Babylons pp. 93-94).
 

HOW THIS PAGAN CUSTOM ENTERED INTO CHRISTIANITY
Now notice! These recognised historic authorities show Christmas was NOT observed by Yeshua’s followers for the first two or three hundred years. It got into the Western, or Roman Church, by the 4th century after Yeshua. It was not until the 5th century that the Roman Church ordered it to be celebrated as an official “Christian” festival!

Then how did this pagan custom slither its way into so-called Christianity?

The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia explains it clearly, in its article on CHRISTMAS:

“How much the date of the festival depended upon the Pagan Brumalia (Dec. 25) following the Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the ‘new sun’ . . . cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence … The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular, that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and in manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ’s birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun-worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival.”

We should bear in mind that the Roman world had been pagan before officially becoming ‘Christian’. Prior to the fourth century, believers in Yeshua were few in number and were persecuted by the government and by pagans. But, with the advent of Constantine as emperor, who made his profession of Christianity in the fourth century, placing Christianity on an equal footing with paganism, people of the Roman world began to accept this now popular Roman Christianity by the hundreds of thousands.

But remember, these people had grown up in pagan customs, chief of which was this idolatrous festival of December 25th. It was a festival of merrymaking, with its special spirit. They didn’t want to give it up. Now this same article in Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia explains how the recognition by Constantine, of Sunday, which had been the day of pagan SUN-WORSHIP, and how the influence of the pagan Manichaeism, which identified the SON of God with the physical SUN, gave these pagans of the fourth century, now turning over wholesale to “Christianity,” their excuse for calling their pagan-festival date of December 25th (birthday of the SUN god), the birthday of the SON of God.
Again from the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

“Certain Latins, as early as 354, may have transferred the birthday from January 6th to December 25th, which was then a Mithraic feast . . . or birthday of the unconquered SUN . . . The Syrians and Armenians, who clung to January 6th, accused the Romans of SUN-WORSHIP and IDOLATRY, contending that the feast of December 25th, had been invented by disciples of Cerinthus…”

The word “Christmas” means “Mass of Christ” or, as it later became shortened, “Christ-Mass.” It came to us as a Roman Catholic mass. And where did they get it? From the pagan celebration of December 25th, as the birthday of Sol Invictus the SUN GOD! It is, actually, an ancient rite of BAALISM, which the Scriptures condemn as the most abominable of all idolatrous worship!

In 4000 Years of Christmas, E. W. Count’ writes

“The first day of the Saturnalia shifted during the lifetime of Rome…it began around the middle of December… and continued until January first. In its midst was December twenty-fifth, the day, as the Romans calculated, when the sun was at its lowest ebb…” [page 28]
“There were many immigrants into the ranks of the Christians by this time. The Church Fathers discovered to their alarm that they were also facing an invasion of pagan customs. The habit of Saturnalia was too strong to be left behind. At first the Church forbade it, but in vain”…
“The Church finally succeeded in taking the merriment, the greenery, the lights, and the gifts from Saturn and giving them to the Babe of Bethlehem…The pagan Romans became Christians — but the Saturnalia remained!”  [page 31]
[4000 Years of Christmas, E.W. Count]

There is not one word in the New Testament, or anywhere in the Bible, telling us to observe Christmas. The Christians of the first century, under the inspired teachings of Peter and Paul and the other apostles, never observed it. There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for its observance, strange as it may seem.

Christmas has come to us through the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia, states the following:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church…The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt…Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas.”

And, further, we find this truth acknowledged:

” …in the Scripture, sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday.

In Encyclopaedia Britannica we find the following:

“Christmas (i.e., the Mass of Christ).
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church…” It was not instituted by Christ or the apostles, or by Bible authority — it was picked up afterward from paganism.

The Encyclopedia Americana says:

“CHRISTMAS.
It was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth . . .” (The “Communion” which is instituted by New Testament Bible authority, is a memorial of the DEATH of Christ.) “. . . a feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered it [Christmas] to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”

THE ANCIENT ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS
If we got Christmas from the Roman Christianity, and they got it from paganism, where did the pagans get it from? Where, when, and what was its real origin?
It is a chief custom of the corrupt system denounced all throughout prophecies and teachings of the Scriptures under the name of Babylon and it started and originated in the original Babylon of ancient Nimrod! It stems from roots whose beginning was shortly after the Flood!
Nimrod, grandson of Ham, son of Noah, was the real founder of the Babylonian system that has gripped the world ever since — the system of organised competition — of man-ruled governments and empires, based upon the competitive and profit-making economic system. Nimrod built the tower of Babel, the original Babylon, ancient Nineveh, and many other cities. He organised this world’s first kingdom. The name Nimrod, in Hebrew, is derived from «Marad», meaning ‘he rebelled’ – Genesis 10:6, 8-12.
From many ancient writings, we learn that this man started the great organized worldly apostasy from the Eternal that has dominated this world until now. Nimrod was so evil, it is said he married his own mother, whose name was Semiramis (also known as Ishtar and Isis). After Nimrod’s untimely death, his so-called mother-wife, Semiramis, propagated the evil doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolised the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th, was the birthday of Nimrod. THIS IS THE REAL ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE.

Through her scheming and designing, Semiramis became the Babylonian “Queen of Heaven,” and Nimrod, under various names, became the “divine son of heaven.” Thru the generations, in this idolatrous worship, Nimrod also became the false Messiah, son of Baal the Sun-god. In this false Babylonian system, the “Mother and Child,” (Semiramis and Nimrod reborn); became chief objects of worship. This worship of “Mother and Child” spread over the world. The names varied in different countries and languages. In Egypt it was Iris and Osiris. In Asia, Cybele and Deoius. In pagan Rome, Fortuna and Jupiter. Even in Greece, China, Japan, and Tibet, the counterpart of the Madonna is to be found, long before the birth of Yeshua!

Thus, during the fourth and fifth centuries, when the pagans of the Roman world were “accepting” the new popular “Christianity” by the hundreds of thousands, carrying their old pagan customs and beliefs along with them, merely cloaking them with Christian-sounding NAMES, the Madonna and “Mother and Child” idea also became popularised, especially at Christmas time.
The real origin of Christmas goes back to the ancient Babylon. It is bound up in the organised apostasy with which Satan has gripped a deceived world these many centuries! In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis (Egyptian name for “Queen of Heaven”) was born December 25th. Paganism celebrated this famous birthday over most of the known world for centuries before the birth of the Messiah.
December 25th, is not the birthday of Yeshua. The apostles and early Church never celebrated Yeshua’s birthday at any time. There is no command or instruction to celebrate it in the Scriptures.
As true believers in Yeshua and the Scriptures we should abandon these pagan based customs and practices no matter how close or dear to our hearts because the Eternal abhors them and commands us not to follow the pagans in their practices.
Sources: David J. Meyer; John D. Keyser; Dr. Russell K. Tardo,

 

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from The Scriptures,
Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research.
Used by permission.