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Christmas and Christ's Birthday
Plain Truth Magazine
December 1976
Volume: Vol XLI, No.11
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Christmas and Christ's Birthday
Garner Ted Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: February 9, 1930
Died: September 15, 2003
Member Since: 1930
Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1955
Office: Evangelist

"Peace on earth, good will toward men" may sound trite and hollow this year. But, in spite of terrifying world troubles the traditional, commercial, chief of the "Christian" holidays looms on the horizon once again. Yet, chances are, you would flunk miserably in a simple test about the origins of Christmas. Go ahead, take a chance and find out:

True or False

1. Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ
2. Santa Claus was one of the three wise men
3. The holly wreath is chosen because of its red and green color, and everyone knows red and green are traditional Christmas colors.
4. The Christmas tree is an ancient pagan symbol.
5. Kissing under the mistletoe comes to us from an early American custom.
6. The "Christmas spirit of giving" comes to us from the example of the wise men at Christ's manger birthplace.
7. The Yule log is only a strange name attached to a log our forefathers used to drag in to be burned in the fireplace.
8. We don't "wassail" anymore, because people can't hear us "wassailing" over their television sets.
9. There are more murders in the 24-hour period including Christmas Eve and Christmas day than during any other comparable period in the year.
10. We observe Christmas because of the Bible example.


1. False. Scholars know Jesus was not born on or anywhere near December 25th. The Romans anciently observed their "Brumalia" on that date. It was the "Saturnalia" season when the pagan Romans petitioned their imagined "sun-god" to begin his annual journey into northerly latitudes once more.
2. False. The Bible nowhere states there were three. Some historical evidence indicates there may have been twelve. "Santa Claus" is a figment of man's imagination.
3. False. The holly berries were used as ancient sex symbols, representing the propagation of life, fertility.
4. True. The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long before the Christian era. This custom, like many elements of ancient religion, may have been handed down through several civilizations in variously modified forms. Since Babylon predates Egypt, it would probably be safe to assume that this particular custom either developed independently in both cultures or was passed down to the Egyptians from Babylon.
5. False. Mistletoe is a parasite and was formerly a Celtic fertility symbol. Kissing under it was to "come under its spell." It was used by the heathen in sex rites and in worship of fertility.
6. False in two ways. The wise men gave their gifts to Jesus Christ. Modern people never seem to do this. They exchange gifts among themselves. Furthermore, the wise men never saw Christ in the manger. He was already in a house by the time they arrived, when he was several weeks of age (Matt. 2:11).
7. False. It was a symbol of fertility in the ancient Germanic religion.
8. You may be right either way. Wassailing could get you mugged, robbed or raped and people don't generally appreciate neighborhood singing anyway.
9. True. The "spirit of Christmas" in bottle form has been a direct contributor to this shocking fact from police blotters.
10. False. The Bible nowhere identifies the exact date of Jesus' birth, it even conceals his age by saying he was about 30 at the beginning of his ministry. Rather, the Bible condemns learning pagan, heathen customs and then using them to celebrate events concerning the life of the true God. (Read Deut. 12:30-32).
   Score yourself "Excellent" for 9 or more correct. "Good for 7-8 correct. "Fair" for 5-6 correct. "Poor" for 2-4 correct, and a "Utter Flunkout" for having one correct, which could have been answered either way.
   Millions in the Western world will take temporary time out from their usual activities to become submerged in the flood tide of annual Christmas shopping, traffic jams, parties, and exchanging of gifts.
   Somehow all the clamor, noise, confusion, and commercialism are supposed to have something to do with Christ's birthday.
   But does it, really?

Plain Facts About Christmas

   Ever wonder what "wassailing" had to do with wise men, mistletoe, with the Magi, martinis with Mary, Santa with saints?
   First, let's admit some widely known facts. Christmas is never mentioned in the Bible. The wise men arrive at Christ's place of birth long after (numerous scholars admit as much as several weeks) he was born. Scholars freely admit he was not born on or anywhere near December 25. (Read the proof in our free article " When Was Jesus Born?") The Magi gave their gifts directly to Christ and didn't exchange them among themselves.

Christmas Antedates Christianity!

   Christmas, says all the authorities, long antedate Christianity. Its origins go back to pagan Babylon, Greece, Rome and Egypt.
   There, in various guises, similar customs were observed by these ancient pagans on the birthday of their god the god of the sun. They observed his fanciful birthday at the time of the "Saturnalia," which took place at the time of the lowest ebbing of the sun toward the south (in the northern hemisphere) and the beginning of its journey back toward spring and summer.
   They had various symbols. Symbols stand for things. The symbols associated with the "Saturnalia" stood for a wide variety of pagan superstitions involving the source of life and fertility. They had a little tree, which was supposed to have grown up overnight out of an old dead log. The tree was a precursor of the modern-day Christmas tree.
   They had wreaths of holly, because it was one of the rare plants still producing little round berries even in the snowy north. They used mistletoe because it was a fertility symbol.

What is the Difference?

   But so what? Aren't these facts more or less common knowledge?
   Sure they are. They are published in religious newspapers and cheerfully admitted by religious editors each year. Then does it make any difference?
   Not if there isn't any God.
   But what if there is?
   Then it would make a lot of difference, especially if that God says a great deal about these very same customs in his Word!
   And God says it does make a great deal of difference!
   You'll be positively amazed, shocked, when you read The Plain Truth About Christmas! In this free booklet are facts you simply can't afford to be without - yet it costs you absolutely nothing. It is free of charge!
   Here, revealed directly from authentic historical sources and from your own Bible is the story of Christmas and what you don't know about it.
   It's the biggest holiday of the year, but you've probably never looked into its meaning! In this booklet you'll read the incredible truth about all the accompanying paraphernalia of this season. You'll be challenged. You'll be shocked!
   So, before you forget it, read the booklet right now!

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Plain Truth MagazineDecember 1976Vol XLI, No.11
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