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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why Don't Jehovah's Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?

Jehovah's Witnesses only celebrate the one event that Jesus commanded his followers. The memorial of his death (1 Cor. 11:23-26). They also celebrate other events which are referred to favorably in the Scriptures such as marriages, anniversaries, the birth of a baby, graduations and many other happy occasions.

But why don't Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate Christmas? Jehovah's Witnesses take their worship very seriously and insist upon keeping their worship of God undefiled (James 1:27). So Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas simply because Christmas has pagan origins and associations; Christmas is based upon falsehoods and Christmas also promotes idolary, a practice the Bible condemns. Jehovah's Witnesses do not want to offend God by imitating these celebrations which incorporate so much falsehood and are associated with the most horrible beliefs from the past.

This article will further address these reasons why Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas.
(Also see the short video at the bottom of this page.)

Christmas Has Pagan Origins and Associations

Christmas is a corruption of Christianity and was adopted from terribly pagan customs and celebrations:

"December 25 was already a major festival in the pagan Roman world, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, or `Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,' a feast honoring the renewal of the sun at the winter solstice. Pagan celebrations on December 25 had included feasting, dancing, lighting bonfires, decorating homes with greens, and giving gifts. So when this became a Christian [?] festival, the customs continued, but with a Christian [?] meaning imparted to them." - p. 414, Vol. 4, Encyclopedia International, Grolier, Inc., 1966.

"Most of the Christmas customs now prevailing in Europe [and America] ... are not genuine Christian customs, but heathen customs which have been absorbed or tolerated by the Church... The Saturnalia in Rome provided the model for most of the merry customs of the Christmas time.... Christmas inherited the general merriment in a more restrained form (excessive only in eating and drinking) [but see 1 Pet. 4:3, 4]: games, giving of gifts (especially to children), abundance of sweet meats and, as more ceremonious elements, burning of candles..." - Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Hastings, Vol. III, pp. 608, 609.

Concerning Christmas trees:

"It is believed that the custom is a survival of the tree worship of ancient German tribes." -- "Tree worship was common in Scandinavian countries.... When the pagans of Northern Europe became Christians [?], they made their sacred evergreen trees part of the Christian festival, and decorated the trees with gilded nuts, candles (a carry-over from sun worship), and apples to stand for the stars, moon, and sun." - pp. 1429, 1425, The World Book Encyclopedia, 1958 ed.
Additional Reading:
Christmas - It's Origins and Associations
(Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
Christmas Customs - Are They Christian?
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Avoid Pagan Customs?

If pagan ceremonies, customs, god names, etc. are really mixed in with ceremonies, customs, etc. that we use today, they are not merely unacceptable - - - they are detestable to God. We must completely get away from these unclean things and not even "touch" them. (2 Cor. 6:17) Notice how exclusive the worship of God must be: "Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips." - Exodus 23:13, NIVSB.

But some may still wonder why Jehovah's Witnesses consider customs that have pagan origins to be so bad. "After all," they may ask, "aren't there many things which originated, or are associated with paganism - pharmacies, calendars, etc.?"

Consider the two examples concerning Luke and Paul. When Luke wrote in Acts mentioning the Areopagus ('Ares Hill' - Ares is the Greek god of war; 'Mars' is the Latin god of war), he didn't feel the need to change its already established name to something no one would recognize. Furthermore, Paul actually went to this place devoted to a pagan god and preached. And Paul accepted the Areopagite, Dionysius (Greek name for 'god of wine') and had him join him - Acts 17:19-34. Luke and Paul certainly did not become participants in something associated with pagan origins.

So these necessary things are not a celebration of pagan gods. But it would be wrong to incorporate anything used for pagan worship, into our worship or related activities. Holidays, for example, are "Holy Days" and are a part of "worship", by their very name.

While we today have no practical option but to use things like the Gregorian calendar (which uses the names of pagan Roman gods), we do have a choice whether or not to participate in customs which were originally devoted to honoring these gods. And according to Scripture, we should take advantage of that choice.

Additional Reading: 
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Gregorian Calendar
(Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
Can the Pagan Customs of Christmas Really Be MADE Acceptable to God?
(Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
Can a Pagan Holiday Be Made Christian?
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

Christmas is Based on Falsehoods

First, consider what is regarded as the basis for the Christmas celebration. Was Jesus really born on December 25th? No, it's a total falsehood:

"Neither scripture nor secular history records the date of Jesus' birth. .... In A. D. 350 Pope Julius I formally designated December 25 as Christmas. He chose that date because it coincided with important pagan festivals. These, in turn, were linked with the winter solstice [the shortest day of the year]." - How it Started, p. 54.

The Bible never mentioned that Jesus nor his followers ever celebrated his birth. In fact, the early Christians and Jews of Bible times did not celebrate birthdays at all:

"Christians of the first century did not celebrate the festival honoring the birth of Jesus - for the same reason they honored no other birthday anniversary. It was the feeling at that time by ALL Christians that the celebration of all birthdays (even the Lord's) was a custom of the PAGANS." - The Christian Book of Why, by Dr. John C. McCollister, Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1983, p. 205.
Additional Reading:
The Date of Jesus' Birth
(Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Many of the details of Jesus' birth that are widely accepted as heartwarming facts are untrue and are actually sinister in nature. For instance, when Joseph, Mary, and Jesus received an unexpected visit from a number of foreigners, the Bible writer Matthew does not specify how many of these men came, nor does he call them "wise men," much less "three kings." He uses the Greek word ma'goi, which means "astrologers." This alone should give us a clue that something evil is at work here, for astrology is an art that God's Word condemns and that faithful Jews scrupulously avoided. (Deut. 18:10-12; Isaiah 47:13, 14)

And the "star" that these astrologers followed? It first drew them to Jerusalem and to Herod the Great who had great motive to harm young Jesus. Disturbed to hear of the birth of a future "king of the Jews," he dispatches the astrologers to find that One. The "star" then lead these pagan worshipers right to Jesus. The unwitting astrologers likely would have reported back to Herod, leading to Jesus' destruction. But God intervenes through a dream and sends them back home by another route. - Matthew 2:9-12.
Additional Reading:
The Truth About Christmas
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

And what about the popular myth that so many parents intentionally tell their children? Many adults feed children dishonesties and distortions which eventually may lead to atheism. The anticipation of a mythical gift-giver ends up taking on much more importance to young ones than Jesus Christ. And when children eventually realize that they have been lied to, they very well could also conclude: "Since Santa is a myth, why couldn't Christ be also?"

"But," some may ask, "why should it matter if not all of the details are correct?"

Because if true Christians really wished to celebrate an occasion in honor of Jesus Christ, matters should be presented truthfully. Jesus said at John 4:23 that true worshipers shall worship "in spirit and truth". So anything to which Christ's name is attached should therefore be factual. Christmas really does not measure up to this primary identification of Christ's teachings and true Christians.

Those who honestly wish to be true worshippers of God would do well to consider - Would the "God of truth" (Ps. 31:5) really appreciate having people worshiping Him with so many lies and distortions?
Additional Reading:
Christmas Customs - Are They Christian?
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

Christmas Promotes Idolatry

Regardless of what the motivation may be, participating in Christmas customs perpetuates practices rooted in ancient idolatry, something that is also forbidden in the Bible. (1 John 5:21) Santa, stars, solar worship, birthdays of Gods, tree worship... they are all idols that were and are still used by non-Christian worshipers. Many of these are still used by Satan worshipers today. (1 Cor. 11:14)

The celebration of Christmas has also promoted the worship of Jesus in place of his Father, Jehovah God. This is another form of idolatry since the glorified Lord Jesus Christ never claimed to be God Almighty. Instead Jesus declared: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) He directed all worship to his Father, saying: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matthew 4:10)
Additional Reading:
Worship That God Approves
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)
Is Jesus Almighty God?
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)
Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Not Use Images in Their Worship?
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

How Should "True Worshippers" Respond When Learning The Truth About Christmas?

There are many who, before becoming Jehovah's Witnesses, celebrated Christmas at one time in their lives. They fully understand how enjoyable and sentimental this time of year can be. However, after they learned the truth about Christmas they acted upon what they knew. (Eph. 5:10, 11) They accepted God's word over the desires of their hearts and the traditions of men. By rejecting the pagan associations, idolatry and falsehoods that Christmas has to offer and modeling themselves after the first-century disciples of Jesus who observed no such holiday, they can aspire to be counted among the "true worshippers" that Jesus said worship "in spirit and truth". (John 14:23)

Additional Reading:
The Truth About Christmas
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

Take Your Stand For True Worship
(Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses)

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To those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses, please remember that if you are looking for the authoritative information on Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs and practices you should look to the source at http://www.jw.org/en.

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