I wish all our listeners a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 2023 has been an exciting year from a prophetic viewpoint and I feel next year is going to be very special, for many reasons. In this broadcast, Carl shares the cultural origins of Christmas Day and how some of our traditions came about. Was Jesus really born in December? If not, when was the likely biblical time-frame? Who chose December 25th to celebrate our Saviors birth? Did the Early Church Fathers celebrate Christmas? These are some of the burning questions, answered in this broadcast, so grab ‘a cup of cheer’ and lets sleigh bell our way into next year!…Happy Birthday Jesus!
Here is a complete transcript of the podcast (below)…
I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!…Oh it is Christmas Day today friend and I bid you glad tidings as you tune in. I can hear the sound of Christmas carolers and Tiny Tim running down the street, Santa is coming down the chimney and Old Scrooge’s office is dimly lit as he counts his pennies. We are so entrenched in the ambience of Christmas these days, that we often forget the ‘reason for the season.’
When I was growing up as a child, back in Wales in the UK, my parents really did make the effort to make Christmas magical for us and I am eternally grateful to them for that. Most years we would go to the local Anglican Church, of St Issell’s, in Saundersfoot, a wonderful church, founded the same year as Columbus sailed to the Americas in 1492. We often attended the Christmas Eve service there and reminding ourselves of ‘the reason for the season,’ namely the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I remember as a young kid, rising as early as five or six a.m., or sometimes even four o’clock, on Christmas morning, to see if Santa had eaten the mince pies, me and my brother had put out for him. I ran and tore off the wrappers of the presents under the tree, to find perhaps a Scalextric set or an evil Knievel racing bike, much to my excitement.
You know one year when I was around eight years of age, I really desired a motorcycle. Basically, I wanted an off-road scrambler or motocross bike. I sat down one day and wrote Father Christmas a very formal letter describing very clearly the specific motorcycle I wanted under the tree on Christmas. Yet when I gave my mom the letter to send to Father Christmas, she wasn’t so accommodating and said, “Well you know Father Christmas might not get to this request in time, and mountain bikes are really in demand this year.” Huh ?!…Excuse me, wait a minute, I was most upset at this point and made it very clear to my mom, that if Father Christmas was worth his salt and keenly aware of his duties providing merriment and seasonal cheer, then He is aware of my request and will do everything within His power to ensure, that I will receive my motorcycle in a timely fashion.
Of course, my mom was breaking it to me gently (ha ha) there was no way whatsoever that her ambitious eight-year-old was going to get an adult motorcycle and she used Santa’s busy schedule as an excuse to save my life…yet again. Friend, I have to confess that embarrassingly, and due to my gullible and naive nature, that I actually believed in the existence of Santa Claus, right up until I was 32 years of age…nah I’m just messing friend, but I really believed in dear old Santa until almost my teens, because I trusted the word of my parent’s emphatically and low and behold inevitably each child must go through the threshold of being lied to by their parents. And for you Christian parents out there, that’s a decision you’re going to have to make regarding the existence of Santa in the eyes of your children.
Do not get me wrong I loved it as a child but when I find out Old Saint Nick wasn’t real there was a little scar on my heart, just as there is for every child when they find out this jolly and supposedly omniscient character is mere fantasy and that my parents were in collusion with him the whole time. But the tradition of giving gifts around Christmas should always center upon the gift that was given to mankind and that was of course, Christ himself. In honor of the gift that we cannot repay, we too exchange gifts with others as a reminder each year of the gift to the world.
It should be noted that concerning the origins of the Christmas festival, the early Church fathers introduced the celebration of our savior under numerous dates. Some dates suggested were March 25th, April 2nd, May 20th, Nov 8th, Dec 25th and finally Jan 6th. It was finally agreed upon that Dec 25th was the most suitable because it supposedly coincided with the winter solstice on the Julian calendar, marking the beginning of the victory of light over the darkness after the year’s longest night. Clement of Alexandria pointed out that because Jesus is called the Sun of righteousness…that’s sun S-U-N in Malachi 4:2, then Dec 25th is the most pertinent of all potential dates for this annual celebration.
Now In most European countries gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, in keeping with the notion that the baby Jesus was born on the night of the 24th, which if course is a myth and I will expound upon this more shortly. The morning of December 25, however, has become the time for the exchange of gifts in North America. In 17th and 18th century Europe the modest exchange of gifts took place in the early hours of the 25th when the family returned home from the Christmas mass, which like I said earlier our church back in the UK would do this each year.
I like what the President said recently, on October 13th. He said he wants to put a stop to the cold attacks on Judeo-Christian values and as part of that halt, he wants people to say Merry Christmas again. He claimed many departments stores, use red decorations citing Happy New Year or Happy holidays but no mention of Christmas whatsoever as to not offend anyone. Well kudos to the president for that, thank you, sir for taking a stand and speaking the truth about these department stores. So where does this term Christmas come from exactly?
Well, it’s comprised of two words… Christ and mass and it began with the Roman Catholics. But according to the Lexham Bible Dictionary, beginning in the ninth century AD, however—possibly as the result of the coronation of the German Emperor Charlemagne on Christmas Day in ad 800—the celebration of Christmas became a more prominent, and distinguished public affair in Western Society. Much of what has today become common Christmas imagery (e.g., Santa Claus, Christmas trees, wreaths etc.) originated as late as the 19th century.
Look, the bottom line is this friend we need to celebrate the birth of our savior the Lord Jesus Christ and pick a date. If it is not Dec 25th for you, then pick another date but celebrate the birth of our savior regardless! Now there are some Christians out there who simply won’t celebrate Christmas because they claim it’s rooted in pagan tradition and I partly see your point, but when are you going to celebrate Christmas, if not the 25th of December? And yes, there is no biblical precedent for some of our celebrations I understand that, for example Santa Claus is supposed to be a Dutch tradition, the Christmas trees, a German tradition, the Nativity scene, an Italian tradition, and chimney stockings, an English and finally American tradition.
Whatever tradition you have in your home, have fun with it. Make sure it is a time of sharing joy and love with others and for heaven’s sake make sure you help mom do the dishes after she’s slaved away in the kitchen, for hours preparing the ham, turkey, goose or whatever else she has poured over. You can make it fun with the kids too, I remember back in the day, getting up with my dad at two or three in the morning to turn the oven on when we had to cook a 25-pound turkey, I took it as my personal responsibility or there would be no Christmas dinner!
But Christmas friend, can be a depressing time for some people. An article written by a director of the California Department of Mental Hygiene warns: “The Christmas season is marked by greater emotional stress and more acts of violence than any other time of the year.” Some people hate Christmas because it makes them feel lonely. According to statistics, more suicides take place during the Christmas season than at any other time. This is partly because of memories that haunt lonely people and we Christians should beware of that by reaching out to people who are living alone during this festive season. It’s not all about the immediate family but looking out for others.
Christmas is also an excuse for people to get drunk, to get something, to give a little, to leave work, get out of school, spend lots of money, overeat, and all kinds of other excesses. But, for us the church Christmas is the time we exalt Jesus Christ and we must never forget that. It is our special time of the year and we should treasure it. In contrast Muslims largely resent Christmas because according to them God has not son.
If given control over a nation through universal Sharia law, they would abolish it altogether. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas either because they refuse to call Jesus God and resent the teaching that we are saved by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. But the inevitable question then becomes, ‘When was Jesus born exactly?’…Well several scholars posit that September, not December is the most accurate month of Jesus birth and there are significant reasons for this. I believe there are three reasons why I personally believe in September as the true month for Jesus’ birth and the most significant reason lies within the very text of the Bible.
Firstly, when Christ the Savior was born, the Bible says in Luke 2:8, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Now, it is a well-known fact that shepherds throughout the region of Judea would typically move between the Jordan Valley in the winter to avoid the cold and then move out to the Judean hills in the spring and summer time when the fields begin to get green. So if these shepherds were still in he fields then evidently Jesus birth would have fallen in the summer of early fall but certainly not the winter months.
The Bible clearly states that the Shepherds were staying awake at night when the Angels appeared. Now there is such a thing as the Lambing Season in the Holy land especially. The “lambing season” is the time of mating. This only occurs naturally in the sheep world with the declining day light in the autumn which starts for us in September. During this mating season, the shepherds are out at night keeping watch over their flock, not only to protect them from the wolves or other predators, but also to separate the females that have already been mated from the rest of the male lambs. After the mating period, the Shepherd’s will slowly make their trek back down into the Jordan Valley to camp out for the winter at the lower elevations, as I mentioned earlier. So, if the shepherds are watching their flocks when Jesus was born, once again this statement points to the fall or autumn time-frame, not the winter months.
Secondly, when Herod called for a census and Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem because Joseph was of the lineage of David, that census would unlikely be carried out in the winter months because cold temperatures and poor road conditions would not warrant the safe passage of travelers making their journeys back to their homesteads or an accurate census to begin with.
The third reason and maybe the most significant of all pointing to Jesus born in September depends on the timing of John the Baptist’s birth. Now John’s father was a priest named Zechariah, serving in the temple when the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, would conceive a son.
After Zechariah returned home, his wife conceived, just as the angel had said. But we know that Zechariah “belonged to the priestly division of Abijah” (Luke 1:5). So, knowing this key piece of information the priests in the Abijah division served from June 13th—19th. So, if we do the math, assuming that Elizabeth conceived shortly after Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah, her sixth month—the month that Gabriel visits Mary— this would be would be December or January. Then assuming Mary conceived shortly after Gabriel’s announcement to her, Jesus would have been born nine months later in either August or September.
Friend, the first time Jesus came, he came veiled in the form of a child. The next time he comes, and I believe it will be soon, he will come unveiled, and clear to all the world just who he really is. The first time he came, a star marked his arrival. The next time he comes, the whole heavens will roll up like a scroll, and all the stars will fall out of the sky, and he himself will light it. The first time he came, only a few attended his arrival—some shepherds and some wise men. The next time he comes, every eye shall see him. The first time he came as a baby. Soon he will come as Sovereign King and Lord.Friend, I wish you and yours, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
FYI – The president mentioned in this broadcast refers to President Trump, not Joe Biden. The original broadcast was aired in 2017.
Eric Vanden Eykel, “Christmas,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
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