As I did last year at this time, let me keep my “Christmas tradition” and make an appeal to all out there who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ: Don’t keep Christmas. Jesus doesn’t want you to.
Not just, “Don’t make it so commercialized” or “Keep Christ in your Christmas” — I mean the whole thing. Don’t keep Christmas at all. Jesus teaches His followers not to.
I know — it seems crazy, right?
But the facts are available to anyone willing to look. God clearly commands us not to use pagan practices to worship Him (e.g., Deuteronomy 12:29-32, “…You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…”). Also, Jesus Christ clearly condemns ignoring God’s commands so that we may keep our own traditions that may contradict those commands (e.g., Mark 7:5-13, “…All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition…”).
These things are hardly disputed.
Also, the pagan origins of virtually all things Christmas — the date, the tree, the gift giving, the holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log, et al. — are so well known that, again, they are hardly disputed. (If this is a surprise to you, you might start poking around Wikipedia as a convenient start.)
So, how do Christians have a biblically-backed excuse to keep Christmas? They don’t: (1) God commands us not to use pagan customs to worship Him, (2) Jesus said not to ignore God’s commands in order to keep our own traditions, (3) Christmas traditions are pagan customs. Therefore, (4) ignoring God’s commands and keeping Christmas goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I’m not saying that “Christian” meanings haven’t been attached to these pagan symbols. Certainly, over the centuries (indeed, for almost two millennia) many pagan symbols have been overlain with Christian words and explanations. Frankly, Israel did the same thing with the golden calf (Exodus 32:5), and we know how well that turned out. 🙂
God is clear: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…” In other words, “I do not give you permission to worship me in that manner, even if the worship is directed at Me.” He isn’t talking about worshiping other gods, at least not directly. He’s talking about worship towards Him that He is unwilling to accept.
We see in this the answer to the reasoning, “Well, I’m not worshiping a false God at Christmas, I’m worshiping the real God and Jesus.” How can we worship God by disobeying Him? How can we worship Jesus by ignoring His teachings? God’s command clearly says not to worship that way even if the worship is directed to Him.
I’m also not saying that those who keep Christmas as a Christian holiday are not well-meaning. For most I know, they are well-meaning people. Yet, I’m not interested in being simply “well-meaning.” I want to follow Christ. I want to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). I want to build my house on the Rock, which requires hearing Christ’s words AND doing them (Luke 6:47-49). I do not want to be of those who call Christ “Lord, Lord” but who do not do what He says, earning not His praise but His condemnation (Luke 6:46).
If you have kept Christmas up until now and all of this is new to you, I am not judging you. That was me, once, too — decorating my tree, exchanging gifts, etc. But thankfully, a time came when God — in His mercy — showed me the truth more clearly. Someone explained to me the things I am explaining here. And while giving up a cherished tradition wasn’t easy, my life and my walk with my Savior has never been the same since, and I would not trade that for anything — let alone for a cup of yuletide cheer.
Maybe you aren’t interested in hearing this. The Bible does speak of a time when people will not be interested in sound teaching (2 Timothy 4:3), and I do know that learning that God is displeased with a tradition you may hold very dear isn’t the best news that you will hear all day.
But at the same time, maybe you will choose to follow Christ this year and not keep Christmas. For the sake of your future walk with Him, I hope so.