Christmas” is a compound of two words “Christ + Mass,” and derives from the special Mass the Catholic Church celebrates on Christmas eve.
Adventist and other churches that conduct a special evening service on Christmas eve are imitating the Catholic “Christ—Mass” celebrated at midnight of December 24.
The Adventist churches that celebrate Christmas ignore the pagan origin of the date of Christ’s birth, Its a matter of cultural conformity sadly the desire to imitate the impressive Christmas eve services held by Catholics and Protestant churches.
Many people acknowledge that Christ was not born on December 25. Even Sunday school children participating in nativity plays, espe- cially as shepherds, realize that it would be much too cold for shepherds to be outdoors watching their flocks by night in the bleak mid-winter, even if it is only a milder winter in Israel.
Furthermore, many more are aware of how the origin of Christmas on 25 December derives from the celebration of the return of the Sun god on the day of the winter sol- stice–a day which is now corrected to December 21. History records shows how the Catholic church stepped in and redeemed an otherwise festival of great wanton orgy in Roman times and transforming it into a festival commemorating the birth of the Son of God.
Surprisingly, there is no mention in the New Testament of any the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Christ. The Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ birth are very brief, consisting only of few verses.
It is important to note that the date of December 25 is totally devoid of Biblical meaning and is grossly inaccurate as far as the actual time of Christ’s birth.
The fact that from November to February shepherds did not watch their flocks at night in the fields. They brought them into a protective corral called a “sheepfold.” Hence, December 25 is a most unlikely date for the birth of Christ.
The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of Sun-worship’s influence on the Christian liturgical calendar. It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the dies natalis Solis Invicti—the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date. Do Christian sources openly admit the borrowing of the date of such a pagan festivity? Generally not. To admit borrowing a pagan festival, even after due reinterpretation of its meaning, would be tantamount to an open betrayal of the faith.
Augustine and Leo the Great strongly reprimanded those Christians who at Christmas worshipped the Sun rather than the birth of Christ. Therefore, it is well to keep in mind that in the investigation of the influence of the Sun-cults on the Christian liturgy, the most we can hope to find are not direct but indirect indications. This warning applies not only for the date of Christmas but for that of Sunday as well. See Augustine, Sermo in Nativitate Domini 7, PL 38, 1007 and 1032, enjoins Christians to worship at Christmas not the sun but its Creator; Leo the Great rebukes those Christians who at Christmas celebrated the birth of the sun rather than that of Christ (Sermon 27, In Nativitate Domini, PL 54, 218).
In his dissertation The Cult of Sol Invictus, Gaston H. Halsberghe similarly concludes: “The authors whom we consulted on this point are unanimous in admitting the influence of the pagan celebration held in honor of Deus Sol Invictus on the 25th of December, the Natalis Invicti, on the Christian celebration of Christmas. This influence is held to be responsible for the shifting to the 25th of December of the birth of Christ, which had until then been held on the day of the Epiphany, the 6th of January. The celebration of the birth of the Sun god, which was accompanied by a profusion of light and torches and the decoration of branches and small trees, had captivated the followers of the cult to such a degree that even after they had been converted to Christianity they continued to celebrate the feast of the birth of the Sun god.” Gaston H. Halsberghe, The Cult of Sol Invictus, 1972, p. 174.
The Church of Rome pioneered not only the observance of Sunday and Easter-Sunday, but also the new date of December 25 for the celebration of Christ’s birth. In fact the first explicit indication that on the 25th of December Christians celebrated Christ’s birthday, is found in a Roman document known as Chronograph of 354 (a calendar attributed to Fuzious Dionysius Philocalus), where it says: “VIII Kal. Jan. natus Christus in Betleem Judaeae—On the eighth calends of Janu- ary [i.e., December 25th] Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.”
T. Mommsen, Chronography of Philocalus of the Year 354, 1850, p. 631; L. Duchesne, Bulletin critique, 1890, p. 41,
That the Church of Rome introduced and championed this false new date, is accepted by most scholars. For instance, Mario Righetti, a renowned Catholic liturgist who is the author of the standard four volumes set on Storia Liturgica—A History of Liturgy, writes: “After the peace the Church of Rome, to facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, found it convenient to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the temporal birth of Christ, to divert them from the pagan feast, celebrated on the same day in honor of the “Invincible Sun” Mithras, the conqueror of darkness.”
Mario Righetti, Manuale di Storia Liturgica, 1955, II, p. 67.
In honor of Mithra, the sun god. December 25 was dedicated to the keeping of his birthday. Therefore sincere Christians considered it to be a form of sun worship. The sun had reached its lowest angle in the sky on December 21 (the winter solstice), and the 25th was the first ob-servable day in which it began rising in the noon sky. So December 25 had, for centuries, been celebrated as the “birth of the sun god.”
The adoption of the date of December 25th for the celebration of Christ’s birth shows not only of the influence of the pagan Sun-cult, but also of the primacy exerted by the Church of Rome in her falling away in apostasy in promoting the adoption of the pagan holidays of Dies Solis (the Day of the Sun) and Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the Invincible Sun) held on December 25. The fact that both Christmas (Christ + Mass) and Sunday (Dies Solis) were pagan holy days adopted and promoted by the Catholic church, should cause Adventists to ponder on the legitimacy of their observance.
The Roman world was essentially pagan. Many gentile converts to Christianity had come to enjoy those festivities and did not want to forsake them after baptism into the Christian church.
“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 to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol [the Latin word for ‘sun’], as no certain knowl-edge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”—Encyclope-dia Americana (1944 edition), “Christmas.”
Back in the earlier centuries, of Jesus and the apostles earnest believers recognized that Christians dare not accept pagan practices or pagan holidays.
May God help us to be faithful Christians that love and obey God’s holy Word.
Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Thus saith the Lord,
Learn not the way of the heathen.
For 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.
They deck it with silver and with gold;
they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not:
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
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