Are the origins of some Christmas traditions pagan?
It is undeniable that some Christmas traditions have pagan origins. However, research on the history of Christmas traditions often reveals contradictory accounts regarding the origins of various activities. For example, some suggest the date of December 25 was selected due to its connection with pagan celebrations or its proximity to the Winter Solstice. Others cite early Christian accounts of December 25 as the date the church selected.
Other areas such as Christmas trees, decorations, the ringing of bells, the giving of gifts, and wreaths have been associated with both pagan and Christian traditions. In some cases, it is uncertain which account is earliest and most accurate.
Does this mean Christians should not celebrate Christmas traditions? Romans 14:5 offers this advice: "One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." The celebration of Christmas and its traditions are matters each Christian must determine how and in what ways to participate. Some may choose to utilize practices like gift-giving to help those in need. Others may decide to use the holiday as an opportunity to share the true story of Christmas through music or other special events.
A person who puts up a Christmas tree and takes his or her child to visit Santa Claus at the mall is not necessarily doing anything wrong as a Christian. Yet each person must have the freedom to determine whether certain cultural practices associated with Christmas are honoring to God. Some believers may choose not to decorate or participate in some aspects of Christmas, yet all can agree the coming of Jesus as a child in Bethlehem is a unique event worthy of celebration.
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