Paganism, Holidays and X-Mas. Tis the Season for Angry Christians.

by Dan Barnes on December 9, 2013 · 25 comments

I love the Christmas season, joy and cheer for everyone except those who are upset by everything they see.  Yes, Christmas has become big business and it can be all about the “stuff” but we can’t let the joy of the season be overshadowed by the anger we shouldn’t be expression so loudly, especially when we focus on what the hubbub is all about.  It seems every year the Christians are upset about something, and making a point to share their anger.  I remember a call to boycott Hallmark one year because they didn’t have Jesus on the Christmas cards.  Let’s look at a few things we have seen fusses about.

One year, a pastor came into our church, visiting from another local church, and was shocked and appalled, looking at our Christmas tree, he pointed out the angel that adorned the top.  It was a female angel, which he informed us was pagan and shouldn’t be in the church.  There are no female angels in the Bible, and his opinion was it was wrong.  I then pointed out the tree is pagan, used long before Christianity by pagans during the winter solstice, which is ironically why we celebrate Christmas in December.  The gifts under it began as a pagan traditional, Romans giving gifts to the emperor during the Solstice.  The angel, the tree, the gifts, the date, all pagan.  Oh, and the wedding ring he had on, that was pagan too, and I asked him if he was married in the church.  The conversation was pretty much over at that point.  Let’s face it, lots about Christmas is from pagan origins, but throwing a fit, getting mad and berating someone’s barbie doll angel isn’t going to help.  Just makes us seem. . . scrooge like.

If we aren’t mad about Santa, pagan angels and Hallmark, we are railing about “Happy Holidays”.  Well, let’s face it people, there are lots of holidays this time of year, and not everyone is Christian.  More than that, what does Holiday mean?  Holiday is basically a variation of Holy Day.  Holy is something that is set apart for the service of God, so a Holy Day is a day set apart to worship God.  It’s just as meaningful to say Holiday as Christmas.  A Happy Holiday is a joyful day set apart for the Lord, so when someone says “Happy Holidays” you can smile and know it’s a great day to worship the Lord.

Finally, we like to get mad and yell that they have taken Christ out of Christmas, replacing it was an X.  This one is less common, since Christmas has been replaced with Holidays, but I still here it sometimes.  Mostly Facebook posts that say “keep the Christ in Christmas”.  I have news for you friend, pagans have no idea that Christ is in Christmas.  They don’t know what Christ- Mas means, and frankly they don’t care.  Who came up with X-Mas?  Guys who has to hand write everything.  X is the Greek letter Chi, which is the beginning of Christ in Greek.  This practice dates back to the 6th century, it’s not a new idea thought up by atheists and the Grinch.  Christians came up with it, and then forgot what it meant and they got mad when they saw it used.

This Christmas, X-mas and Holiday, let’s spread joy and cheer and the hope we have in Christ.  It’s a great time of year, and if we can avoid being angry, it would be a great time of year for everyone.  Please let’s not shout and yell at the poor Wal-Mart greeter if they say Holiday, they are just trying to be nice.  Those of us with Jesus in our hearts should be able to do the same.  Don’t you agree?

1 Dave Miller December 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

There is a lot about our celebration of Christmas that bothers me. But there is no need for Christians to be grumpy in public about stuff.

2 Rich Starnes December 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Let’s not back down now, especially since I just learned “Christmas warriors” now have their own Christmas song! My brother-in-law received this link from a church member (unironically). At first I thought it was satire, then I hoped it was satire, then I really just wanted it to be satire even though I knew it wasn’t. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln01p1M2cH0

3 David Rogers December 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Wow, I wonder how many lost souls that video will draw into the Kingdom?

It may well be a good recruitment video for Future Pharisees of America, though.

4 Dave Miller December 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I died just a little bit watching that.

5 David R. Brumbelow December 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Holiday may have at its root, “Holy Day,” but I doubt one in a 100 would think of that. Rather, it is often a secular substitute for the Christian celebration of Christmas.

X may be an abbreviation for “Christ,” though very few would know it. It is also an abbreviation for the “unknown.” X is a brief, convenient way of disposing with that uncomfortable Name that is above every name. I doubt if many preachers speak of Jesus X; Jesus Christ sounds a whole lot better and is much more accurate.

I have no problem with also saying Happy Hanukah and Happy Kwanza. But if the world can do that, seems they could also pay the American majority a little respect and occasionally say Merry “Christmas.”

But hey, I’m not angry. I’m having a good time this Christmas Season.
David R. Brumbelow

6 Tarheel December 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Bah Humbug!

I despise angry Christians at Christmas…LOL

Seriously, I have church members and relatives who refuse to shop at certain places because they dare say “happy holidays” or, perhaps worse do not say “Merry Christmas” to everyone who enters the door….or at the least to everyone who checks out.

I will point out that these individuals will shop there during the year…just not a Christmas….boy what a strong message, eh???

Also, while I am at it…another pet peeve…

Xmas is NOT taking Christ out of Christmas…it, in its real meaning, is actually accentuating Christ, as most on here already know.

7 Jim Pemberton December 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm

“Happy Holidays” has actually been around for some time and “X”-mas even longer. Given the lack of ability of people in our culture today to absorb their history lessons, I’m sure most don’t know and don’t care or they would be baffled as to why we only just started railing on these things in the last couple of decades.

I would observe, however, that precisely the people who would use these as an excuse to politely dismiss Christ as central (or even necessary) to the celebration are the ones who most need to hear the gospel. Namely, that the manger lay in the shadow of the cross, that Jesus took on human flesh only for that flesh to die and be resurrected, and that we needed him to do that – not only those who say “Happy Holidays” and write “X-mas”, but also those of us who can do little more than crossly say that people shouldn’t do that.

8 Nick Migliacci December 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I have to politely disagree with you, my dear brethren. Christ in the name “Christian Science” is not a reference to the real Christ. Christ in the title, “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” is not a reference to the real Christ. Jehovah in the name, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is not a reference to the real Jehovah (YHWH). The problem with Christmas is those three little letters that follow Christ, and we all know that those three little letters are an abbreviated form of Mass, meaning, the Roman Catholic Mass. Thus, Christmas has nothing to do with the real Christ, and everything to do with the christ of Roman Catholicism and their blasphemous mass. I know Christians have been trying to redefine Christmas, because of this dilemma, but that’s an uphill battle (and for what?) so long as Roman Catholics still “own the rights” to the term.
Sola Scriptura!

9 Christiane December 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I would never miss a Roman Catholic Midnight Mass at Christmastime unless I was not well. It’s absolutely beautiful.

10 Ben Coleman December 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm
11 Bill Morgan December 10, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Thanks, Ben Coleman for the C.S. Lewis material!

12 Dave Miller December 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Read CS Lewis’ article many years ago. Good stuff.

13 Ben Coleman December 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm

And someone has done an “updated” version: http://preacherwin.wordpress.com/tag/herodotus/

14 Allen Calkins December 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm

We would do better to reflect the humility of Christ and the servant nature of Jesus in our celebration of Christmas than to demand that everyone else honor Christ at Christmas like we want them to.
I believe we will advance the gospel far better at Christmas time and do far more good for the Kingdom and be far more influential this way than protesting and boycotting those we disagree with.

15 Christiane December 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm

AMEN

16 Adam G. in NC December 10, 2013 at 1:25 am

I never was one to get in a huff over “happy holidays” and “x-mas” and all of that. I am just sickened (grrr, angry) over the rank materialism that it truly represents.

I’m sure most of us have been in church all our lives, but how many of us can recall as children being excited about baby Jesus a month out from December 25th? Sleepless nights over the incarnation? Is it any different for our kids?

17 Christiane December 10, 2013 at 7:06 am

. . . it helps to watch some of the lovely Hallmark Christmas programs that have faith and family themes . . . (just don’t watch the stupid commercials during the show)

if you really want to ‘keep Christmas’, try connecting up with the Advent scriptures for the weeks preceding St. Luke’s nativity narrative . . . the ‘excitement’ you are thinking of was present long ago when people longed for the Messiah to come, and now a part of the Advent theme also reflects our longing for the return of Christ on the Day of the Lord.
I don’t know if ‘excitement’ is the word I would use . . . more likely something like ‘waiting in quiet anticipation’ or ‘waiting in quiet expectation’

if scriptures and candles are not your thing . . . take a quiet walk out into the woods . . . pick some red berries and holly to decorate your mantle . . . . try your hand at baking something good in the oven, if nothing more than apples roasted with butter and sugar and cinnamon . . .
put on some REAL Christmas music from a time when people kept Christmas well before our crazy materialism began . . . fix a log fire, and roast marshmallows with the kids . . .

one thing good for the children . . . let them each pick out a special gift and wrap it themselves and donate it for a needy family . . . THAT is special for them, and they won’t forget doing it when they are grown

take some cookies over to your neighbors, and stay for a short visit

if you’re handy, carve a little manger scene for under the tree or for the mantel . . .

even if you’re not a ‘candle person’, it is always nice to light a candle and put it in the window on Christmas Eve . . . I could tell you all the old customs and legends, but there is just something beautiful about a house with a candle in the window on that special night . . .

Read St. Luke’s nativity narrative to your children and make them some hot cocoa before bedtime . . . they will have a little trouble getting to sleep and the warm milk helps them settle down for the night

Enjoy the beauty of the Season, if you can . . . and if your Church is open . . . go and celebrate the true Reason for why we keep Christmas :)

18 Nick Migliacci December 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Christiane, those are all great traditions, so long as they’re not viewed in any way whatsoever as an aid to worship.

19 Christiane December 12, 2013 at 7:49 am

Hi NICK,
your comment recalled me to the nature of ‘worship’ and I thought of these words in David’s Psalm:

” O God, Thou art my God;
early will I seek Thee:
my soul thirsteth for Thee,
my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land,
where no water is’

NICK,
I suppose ‘worship’ is defined in many ways,
but seeking the Face of the Lord seems to be something that is anchored very deeply in who we are as ‘made in the image of God’
. . . we humans cannot disregard the need of our own longing for God, and any expression of that deep longing involves the Holy Spirit’s action within us to turn again towards the Source of our life.
Augustine has said ‘we are made for Him and our hearts are restless until they rest in Him’
. . . so I think we humans carry the need to seek connection to God in prayer within us in a transcendent way, unlimited by time and circumstances . . . so much of what people do in this world is a search for meaning and beauty which only God can fulfill;
. . . even at the times when we are unable to pray, the Holy Spirit will intervene and speak for us in our need

your thoughts about the nature of ‘worship’ ?

20 Nick Migliacci December 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I was reading along just fine until I got to, “any expression.” I’m not sure if you really meant “any expression,” but I would say that some expressions arise from our sinful nature and are illegitimate forms of worship (temple prostitution comes to mind).

As to the nature of worship, I rely heavily on John 4:24. Worship must be in spirit and in truth. Anything which is contrary to that, is unacceptable for worship. I oppose the use of any prop, aid, image, icon, statue, gesture, sign, symbol, rosary bead, candle, prayer book (not talking about Psalms), repetitious chant, or what-have-you, as a means of drawing close to God. That’s how the heathen worship their gods. God will not be worshipped that way. The only thing that can come between God and us is Jesus, not a candle or tree or nativity scene, etc. There’s a difference between a seasonal decoration or tradition, and an aid to worship. That’s my point.

21 SVMuschany December 15, 2013 at 7:21 am

Nick…Does your church have an order of worship? I bet you do, even if you do not call it such. Your church does things in a set order, and any change to that would likely cause the little old ladies in the pews to gather pitchforks and hot tar for use on whoever allowed that change. Does your church have some type of alter? I bet it does. I would wager it has an old looking bible opened up to a “theme” bible verse for your church. THEN on Lord’s supper days, you cover it with a white cloth (has to be white) and that is where you place the bread and “grape juice”. Speaking of that, let me guess, only the deacons can help serve communion. Regular ushers won’t work, you have to be a Deacon in the church to pass the bread and juice around right? Tell me do you have an actual pulpit? Wood or plexiglass or whatever? What would happen if your pastor switched to using a wooden stool and a metal music stand to deliver the sermons? How would that effect the “worship” in your church?

I could bring out a dozen more “traditions”, that “Baptists”, and “protestants” have that are just as extra biblical as many Catholic practice are. Just as many “Christmas” holiday traditions are.

I think the attitude of John of Damascus during the iconoclast movements of the 7th and 8th centuries is really the best. His argument is that yes, we should worship God first, for most, and only. BUT, whatever tools have, that allows us to focus on and worship God, should not be rejected but welcomed. Some people worship differently, just as people learn differently, just as people develop differently. Who are you, or any of us to say that, biblically sound modern praise band songs are right or wrong, or that traditional hymns are right or wrong? Shoot, most “traditional” hymns are less than 200 years old! Guess what, they were “rejected” when they were new! Styles change, means of worship change, God does not! We need to stop being so judgmental on how other people worship, and rather focus on worshiping God! People can worship in different ways and STILL worship the same God!

I personally won’t use “Santa” with my kids, but I will teach them about the historical origins of St. Nicholas, and how he represents some of the aspects of Christ Jesus in his love, kindness, and Charity. But I won’t condemn those who do use “santa” on their kids. How I worship during the Christmas season will be between me, my future wife (whoever she may be), and our Lord and Savior. And I will have a loving, respectful spirit towards those who might see Christmas differently than I do. I will make Christ the center of Christmas, and I will not be stopped from doing so. I will resist any such prevention with every ounce of my being.

But I am trying to get my heart to the point when I see atheists and non-Christians trying to remove Christ from the season, I pray for them that in their hatred they might be convicted and find Christ as their savior. When I see Christians trying to “gut” Christmas because it does not match their predetermined theological eisegiesis, I should be praying for them that they realize the true meaning of the birth of the Messiah, and that their petty agendas really do not matter in the grand scheme of things.

22 Allen Calkins December 10, 2013 at 7:07 am

As a pastor I have tried to address the materialism aspect of the season i9n a positive way by advocating that your biggest Christmas present go to Jesus (whose birthday we are celebrating) via the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. No family member should get a larger present than what you give to the cause of International Missions. If you want to buy a BMW for your wife. Fine! Just give Lottie more. I know it has caused some individuals to modify their Christmas giving.

23 John Fariss December 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Well said, Dan.

John

24 Christiane December 11, 2013 at 8:01 pm

some good advice:

“THE SEASON of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.”

(Jan L. Richardson)

25 Debbie Kaufman December 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

Amen Christiane.

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