why do we celebrate christmas day on december 25
When was the Savior s real birthday? Was it December 25? And since the Bible doesn t tell us to commemorate Christ s birth, why do we celebrate Christmas? The date of Christ s actual birth is unknown. It is not recorded in the Bible. However, Christians of all
and faith groups, aside from the Church of Armenia, celebrate the on December 25. Historians tell us that the first were originally grouped together with, one of the earliest feasts of the Christian church observed on January 6. This holiday recognized the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles by remembering the visit of the ( ) to and, in some traditions, the and his miracle of turning. Today the feast of Epiphany is observed predominately in liturgical denominations such as, and. Even as far back as the second and third centuries, we know church leaders disagreed about the appropriateness of any celebrations within the Christian church. Some men like Origen felt birthdays were pagan rituals for pagan gods. And since the date of Christ s actual birth had not been recorded, these early leaders speculated and argued about the date. Some sources report that Theophilus of Antioch (circa 171-183) was the first to identify December 25 as the birth date of Christ. Others say that (circa 170-236) was the first to claim that Jesus was born on December 25. A strong theory suggests that this date was eventually chosen by the church because it aligned closely with a major pagan festival, dies natalis solis invicti (birth of the invincible sun god), thus allowing the church to claim a new celebration for Christianity. Ultimately, December 25 was chosen, perhaps as early as A. D. 273.
By 336 A. D. , the Roman church calendar definitively records a by Western Christians on this date. Eastern churches maintained the January 6 commemoration together with Epiphany until sometime in the fifth or sixth centuries when the 25th day of December became the widely accepted holiday. Only the Armenian church held to the original celebration of Christ s birth with Epiphany on January 6. The term Christmas appeared in Old English as early as 1038 A. D. as Cristes Maesse, and later as Cristes-messe in A. D. 1131. It means the Mass of Christ. This name was established by the Christian church to disconnect the holiday and its customs from its pagan origins. As one fourth century theologian penned, We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it. Why Do We Celebrate Christmas? It s a valid question. The Bible does not command us to commemorate Christ s birth, but rather, his death. Although it is true that many find their origins in pagan practices, these ancient and forgotten associations are far removed from the hearts of Christian worshipers today at Christmastime. If the focus of Christmas is and his gift of eternal life, then what harm can come from such a celebration? Moreover, Christian churches see Christmas as an occasion to spread the good news of the gospel at a time when many unbelievers pause to consider Christ. Here are few more questions to consider: Why do we celebrate a child s birthday? Why do we celebrate a loved one s birthday?
Is it not to remember and cherish the significance of the event? What other event throughout all time is more significant than the? It marks the arrival of, the Word Become Flesh, the Savior of the WorldБhis is the most significant birth ever. It is the central event in all of history. Time chronicles backward and forward from this moment. How can we fail to remember this day with great joy and reverence? for signing up. How can we not celebrate Christmas? (1714-1770), Anglican minister and one of the founders of Methodism, offered this convincing reason for believers to celebrate Christmas:. it was free love that brought the Lord Jesus Christ into our world about 1700 years ago. What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus? Shall we yearly celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had chiefly in remembrance, be quite forgotten? God forbid! No, my dear brethren, let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church, with joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this SaviorБs love never be forgotten! Whitefield, G. (1999). Selected Sermons of George Whitefield. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. Roger A. Hendrix, a member of the Palos Verdes East Ward, Palos Verdes California Stake, is serving as president of the Chile Santiago South Mission. The simple answer to the question is that, regardless of whether or not April 6 is ChristБs birthdate, there is no compelling reason for Church members to go against a well-established holiday unless the Lord requires it of us.
And there are at least three good reasons why we can feel comfortable observing the traditional date. First, apparently approved of the growing religious significance of the December 25 holiday. Despite Puritan attempts to ban Christmas celebrations in early New England, Christmas in Joseph SmithБs day continued to evolve from a time of Бfolksy convivialityБ into a religious event. Although Nauvoo school records indicate that Latter-day Saint children there in the early 1840s went to school on December 25, by midcentury Christmas in America and in Europe had taken on a deeper meaning. For example, on 25 December 1843, the Prophet recorded that he had been awakened about 1:00 A. M. by carolers. The serenade of Бheavenly musicБ caused him Бa thrill of pleasure,Б and he thanked God for the visit and Бblessed them in the name of the Lord. Б That evening, the Prophet enjoyed other festivities as well. His favorable response to Christmas celebrations suggests that he saw nothing objectionable about the holiday taking on religious significance. Second, Latter-day Saints have not been inclined to take extreme positions on matters not essential to the message of the Restoration. Of great importance is oneБs testimony of the SaviorБs divine birth and mission and oneБs decision toward a dedicated discipleship. In view of that emphasis, it is not surprising that as Christmas became more of a religious holiday after the Civil War, Church leaders felt no need to counter it by promoting the rival date of April 6.
Third, it is not uncommon for historical events to be celebrated on a day other than when they occurred. For example, few people care that the signing of the Declaration of Independence is celebrated in the United States on July 4 instead of on July 2, the actual date of the signing. The governing principle in such situations is one of intent. The thought is what counts most, not necessarily the precise date or the traditional trappings surrounding it. A precedent is found in, where the Lord says that it does not matter what we use for sacramental emblemsБas long as we Бdo it with an eye single to my gloryБremembering Б my body Б and my blood. Б It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Lord would make a similar allowance in celebrating his birth. Elder Bruce R. McConkie amplified that idea: БApparently Christ was born on the day corresponding to April 6 ( ), but the saints nevertheless join in the wholesome portions of the Christmas celebration. Christmas becomes to them an ideal opportunity to renew their search for the true spirit of Christ and to center their attentions again on the true doctrine of his birth as the Son of an Immortal Father. Б What really matters, then, is that we celebrate the birth of the Savior and that our devotion is clear. If revelation were to tell us that intent must be matched with the right date, we would gladly do it. Until that occurs, however, it appears that celebrating the traditional Christian Christmas is acceptable to the Lord. The Nativity, by Robert T. Barrett
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