"I HATE CHRISTMAS," said one department-store manager in California. "I hate the hypocrisy, the one-day Christianity of Christmas. I hate the commercialism — and I'm part of it. People don't even know WHY they're giving." What a paradox. At Christmas time, millions of families are drawn closer together while simultaneously more people are depressed, deep in debt, discouraged, drunken, and dying than during any other month of the year. Acts of charity — and acts of violence — reach their yearly peak, while "birthday gifts" to Christ, as represented by total church contributions, drastically decline. The season has been both lauded and lampooned, blessed and blasted, loved and loathed by peoples of every major nation on earth. Sentimentalists sing its glory, while social scientists, psychiatrists, other specialists — and statistics — chronicle its dismal failure to live up to the platitudes accorded by the sentimentalists. Here is what some of these authorities say: The FBI says, "The peak monthly rate [for murder and manslaughter] almost invariably occurs in December. This may have something to do with the approach of Christmas, which leads to an unusually large number of family rows and holdups. 'Peace on earth,' we say. But it looks very doubtful that we really mean it at Christmas. Not when families are suffering such heavy crime statistics." A seasoned divorce lawyer wrote, "Lawyers usually see an influx of new divorce clients immediately following the Christmas and New Year holidays. Too much holiday cheer touches off the smoldering conflicts that have been under control all year." A large chemical company wrote, "On a week-for-week basis, more people commit suicide during the holiday season than any other period of the year." A policeman wrote, "I have been an officer for over 19 years... We get more calls from neighbors to go out and settle family fights on Christmas Eve than on, any other night of the year, including New Year. You walk into a house that is gaily decorated, the tree is aglow, beautifully wrapped gifts are under the tree and the husband and wife are throwing things at each other. The kids are crouched in the corners scared out of their wits." A psychiatrist says, "At Christmas, the lonely begin feeling lonelier, the tension-prone tighten up as pressures mount and the illusion appears of ecstatic happiness for all just around the corner. Christmas is the worst season of the year for the mentally ill." A leading neurologist says, "There are certainly more depressions, suicidal gestures and cries for help at Christmas than any other time." Four sociologists have described instances of Christmas-induced "overeating, hives, crying jags, dishonesty, sexual deviation, and just plain orneriness.... The commonest of all Christmas symptoms is reactive depression." That's the "everybody's happy but I'm not" type of pouting many indulge in at Christmas. A famous physician says the Santa Claus myth is a fantastic web of lies which can cause your child — when he "finds out" — confusion of mind, possible schizoid splits in his personality, or even physical ailments resulting from the emotional letdown of "losing" so close a friend (Santa). One psychology professor even laid part of the blame for the generation gap and emerging hippie sub-culture onto the Santa Claus myth. The Better Business Bureau says it is the season to be wary of seasonal shysters, shoplifters and sidewalk salesmen. They say any charity should be investigated before a donation is made. A Los Angeles psychiatrist summed it all up: "What we really need is a new kind of holiday!" You could quote some authorities who would praise certain aspects of Christmas, but lately many authorities have shown much convincing evidence, based on scientific studies, that there is precious little "Joy to the World" at Christmastime. Of course, you can take or leave the facts and opinions offered by the authorities quoted above. But there is one more authority left for us to quote — one from which there should be no argument. That authority, if you have taken the time to prove it to be so, is your Bible! Almighty God reveals much about the keeping of days, seasons, and customs in His instruction book to mankind. "Listen to the word of the Eternal for you, O house of Israel; here is what the Eternal says: "Never learn to live like pagans, dismayed at portents in the sky; pagans are dismayed at them [this refers to the fear pagans had as the winter solstice approached. Each December 17-25 they held frantic rites to the sun god to coax it "back to life". "But their rites are inane. Here is a tree felled from the forest, trimmed by a woodman's axe, decked out with silver and with gold... then propped with nails and hammer, to keep it from falling! Idols [notice God calls this obvious reference to a Christmas tree an idol]... cannot hurt you — no, nor help you!" (Jeremiah 10:1-5, Moffatt translation) Some will answer, "But I don't worship the Christmas tree. It's not an idol to me." Don't make the mistake of assuming that God says idols are only carved images toward which ignorant religious savages pray. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey..." (Romans 6:16). In this case, if you claim to observe Christmas "to Christ," you are saying that Christ requires you to keep it. If you see that God condemns it, yet you continue keeping it, the object of your devotion is Christmas, not God. For many people, Christmas is such an idol. We should ask, "What is the source of our religion?" Religion is the obedience, service, and adoration rendered to the object of one's worship — a system of faith and devotion to a superior authority — the profession, practice and observance of whatsoever belief and practice is required by that superior authority. Can you observe pagan customs "to Christ"? Here is God's frank answer: "Beware of letting yourselves be beguiled into copying [pagan peoples],... beware of resorting to their gods, asking yourselves, 'How did these nations worship their gods? — that I may do the same.' You must NOT worship the Eternal your God thus; for they offered their gods all that is abominable and hateful to the Eternal..." (Deuteronomy 12:30-31, Moffatt translation). The 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica makes clear the origin of Christmas. "During the later periods of Roman history sun worship gained in importance and ultimately led to what has been called a 'solar monotheism.' Influence from Oriental [Babylonian) sun cults contributed to an already existing tendency," wrote the Britannica under the article "Sun Worship." "Both Christ and Mithra acquired the traits of solar deities. The feast of Sol invictus (unconquered sun) on December 25 was celebrated with great joy, and eventually this date was taken over by the Christians as Christmas, the birthday of Christ." But Christ was not born on, or anywhere near, December 25! [Request the article, "When Was Christ Born?"] The Bible nowhere commands keeping of Christ's birthday. The New Testament Church never kept it. Not until over 300 years after Christ's death did pagan Romans force the religious authorities to accept their festive Saturnalia and stamp Christ's name on it. Notice further what the Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about Saturnalia. "Saturnalia became associated with all forms of license... moral restrictions were eased. The streets were infected with a Mardi Gras madness... the seasonal greeting to Saturnalia was heard everywhere; presents were freely exchanged... houses were decorated with greenery and lights... keeping the feasts was required by patriotism." Does any of this seem to represent the traditional "Christmas spirit"? For further proof of the pagan origin of the long-cherished days of so-called Christianity, write for our free booklets on Easter and Christmas.