Why do Christians celebrate Christmas?

(103 Posts)
MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 16:42:28

Most people seem to know that Christmas has it's roots in the pagan Solstice celebration, that 25th December was not Jesus' birthday and there is no mention of Jesus celebrating his own birthday in the Bible?

Many people ask me about my beliefs (I'm a JW) but thought I would turn the tables as I am genuinely interested.

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 16:52:42

do you mean why personally or why did it start being celebrated on the 25th in this country?

desmond morris' book- 'christmas watching' is great at explaining why things are as they are. he talks about things like why christmas is done differently in different christian countries, it's pagan routes in this country, why we have christmas trees, why we eat mince pies etc etc.

LorinaLovesSprouts Tue 19-Dec-06 16:54:38

I dont think it matters if Jesus celebrated his own birthday or not. My cat doesnt celebrate his either, but we all make a big fuss of him because we love him

KTreePee Tue 19-Dec-06 16:55:37

Well many Christian festivals are at the same time as pagan ones - they were hijacked by the early Christians who thought it would be easier to "sell" the new religion if the people could still have their parties at the same time as usual!

I read somewhere once that the whole thing about Bethlehem etc was very likely invented to tie in with something in the OT that predicted that that is where the new Messiah would be born, etc. There is no historical record of a census being taken that would tie in, etc (and no reason why people would have to travel away from their home town even if there was...).I think the Christmas story doesn't feature in every book of the bible either.

Personally it doesn't really bother me if the story is true or not, still nice to have a season of goodwill....

sunnysideup Tue 19-Dec-06 16:55:39

Because they needed to root the christian faith into the community and getting in on the good times like the festivals was a good way to ensure a level of interest in the christian calendar, among the great unwashed masses?

SantaGotStuckUpTheGreensleeve Tue 19-Dec-06 17:00:49

Perhaps it's because it's a beautiful, inclusive, uplifting tradition which has acquired so many layers of cultural and spiritual meaning and significance over the centuries, and brings such huge joy to millions of people - unless you're going out of your way to be pedantically joyless, or have a committed religious/spiritual reason not to, I can't imagine why you wouldn't celebrate it, in whatever way you feel appropriate. I don't think it matters whether or not Jesus celebrated his own birthday (he didn't celebrate his own crucufixion/resurrection either) or whether the actual date is historically accurate. Jesus certainly wasn't against the idea of a symbolic commemoration ritual, as demonstrated in The Last Supper.

MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 17:10:38

Dizzy, I mean why personally. So many on here have declared it's pagan roots and I have been thinking about it and wondered (from really an outsider's point of view) why so much effort goes into celebrating it.

Greensleeve, I suppose this is where this discussion is complicated "he didn't celebrate his own crucufixion/resurrection either", well yes so why celebrate Easter? why not just commemorate Jesus death the way the apostles did and the way we were asked to on Nisan 14?

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:16:05

but a lot of people aren't celebrating the birth of christ at christmas or his resurrection at easter. easter is often viewed as a celebration of new life, spring time etc, hence bunnies and eggs and so on. it also coincidently works with christ being re born and possibly the egg shaped stone across his tomb. it doesn't matter really does it? the majority of people like an excuse to celebrate and have a good time.

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:19:17

unless of course you are perhaps meaning christians in the sense of christians who go to church at least once a week? rather than just people in general IYSWIM.

i can very easily look at things from a variety of angles, my dad being muslim and my mother being catholic

MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 17:20:38

LOL Dizzy, yes I do mean Christians who go to Church.

Pruni Tue 19-Dec-06 17:23:47

Message withdrawn

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:25:11

ah, then that's a slightly different kettle of fish!

poinsettydog Tue 19-Dec-06 17:26:50

You might as well ask why do Christians go to church.

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:26:57

desmond morris says it's cos pope julius the 1st in the 4th century decided, on looking at all the evidence, that that would be the official date. he looked at when the census would have been, when the brightest star would have been etc etc. that's just what he decided and that was that.

Pruni Tue 19-Dec-06 17:29:09

Message withdrawn

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 17:31:19

tis a very interesting read.

MrsSpoon Tue 19-Dec-06 17:55:31

Why does Pope Julius decide?

Tommy Tue 19-Dec-06 18:01:58

most religions have some sort of festival of light in the mid winter and of course, the Christian festival is based on the pagan solstice thing. I don't really see why that is aproblem.

Also, just because it doesn't say that Jesus didn't celebrate his birthday (and there are stories of his birth which might suggest it was important enough to remember and include) it doesn't mean he didn't!

KTreePee Tue 19-Dec-06 18:08:59

I think apart form the religious connections, Christmas has become a "traditional" time of celebration in this country and many others, mainly because this was once a predominantly Christian country. Many people celebrate Christmas who do not consider themselves Christians. I also know of several Christian sects who do not celebrate it (don't know if JW's do or not btw, not getting in a dig).

DizzyBinterWonderland Tue 19-Dec-06 19:10:19

pope julius decided. and everyone's followed it on. it's just tradition. i'm sure jesus doesn't really mind that it quite probably isn't his birthday.

ParanoidSurreyHousewife Tue 19-Dec-06 19:33:47

For me it is a reminder that God loved the world so much that he gave the ultimate gift - his own son to live amongst us, and to show us the way to salvation, and of course ultimately his sacrifical death and resurrection from the dead. It is less about it being Jesus' birthday, and more about marking this great gift - God's very presence. And reading/watching the nativity brings out so many of the great truths of our faith - God didn't choose to appear to the religious rules of the day, he wasn't born as a prince, but he came humbly amongst us. During Advent I remember the time of waiting for the promised Messiah, and it is a time of preparation as we celebrate the fact of the Lord's presence amongst us through the Holy Spirit.

As for why it is December 25 - frankly I'm not that bothered. I could mark it on any day of the year, and in some respect the facts behind the day are true all the year round. I don't think that it is in any way a spiritual requirement to celebrate it, but as with any religious celebration it helps marks out seasons etc and brightens our world.

Whizzz Tue 19-Dec-06 19:40:30
Jbck Tue 19-Dec-06 22:51:14

Mrsspoon is reminding me of an inquisitive toddler I'd never heard of Nisan 14, thought it must have been an old car or something. Spot the big heathen!

MrsSpoon Wed 20-Dec-06 13:45:28

Jbck, you could call me an inquisitive toddler but TBH the more years that go past that I don't celebrate Christmas and the more I learn about it's roots and origins the more I want to ask why Christians do celebrate it.

I suppose we have to agree to disagree but it has been interesting (and probably not a question I could ask the Mums at the School gates without getting a clout ).

After reading Whizz's link I'm even more convinced not celebrating is the right thing to do. I knew about the origins of the tree and the mistletoe but don't think I had realised the significance of the holly.

uwila Wed 20-Dec-06 14:36:55

Why do people who aren't Christians celebrate Christmas?

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