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Does CHRISTMAS Celebrate Christ's Birthday?
Plain Truth Magazine
December 1962
Volume: Vol XXVII, No.12
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Does CHRISTMAS Celebrate Christ's Birthday?
Herman L Hoeh   
Church of God

Born: 1928
Died: November 24, 2004
Ambassador College: 1947
Ordained: December 20, 1952
Office: Evangelist

Did you know that Christmas was observed 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ? That neither the apostles nor the inspired New Testament Church observed it? Here are the astounding FACTS!

   WAS CHRIST really born on December 25th? Did Paul and the other apostles and the early New Testament Church celebrate Christmas? WHY is Christmas not so much as MENTIONED anywhere in the New Testament?
   What is the origin of the Christmas tree of "Santa Claus" of the mistletoe and the holly wreath?
   We grew up practicing these customs, taking them for granted, but never questioning WHY! It is time we learned the FACTS!

4000 Years of Christmas

   Christmas was celebrated by pagans 2000 years before Christ was born. Yet it was not celebrated in Jerusalem where Christ founded the inspired New Testament Church until 385 A.D., over three centuries after the true Church fled from Jerusalem!
   Did you know that the pagan Romans long before the birth of Christ celebrated the Christmas season? That they called December 25 Natalis Invicti Solis the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. For seven days from December 17 to 23 inclusive the Roman world took a holiday. On these days called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn Banks were closed, also the Schools, the Senate and the Law Courts. The Saturnalia was a legal holiday. On December 24 called "Christmas Eve" today the pagan Romans celebrated the Brumalia. And on December 25 the Birthday of the Sun God.
   Gifts were traded, greeting cards exchanged, feasting and games were indulged in by the whole pagan world during the Saturnalia..
   In the Hibbert Lectures for 1932 Dr. Robert Seymour Conway compares Christmas with the Saturnalia in them words: "You see at once in how man) ways the pagan Saturnalia resembles our Christmas greetings out of door: and indoors, great hospitality, feasting and games of make-believe... dolls candles and all sorts of presents, and greetings in verse."
   He continues: "Now what were the early Christians to do about it? The festival was linked with some of the pleasantest features of pagan life a; well as with a great deal of what was less desirable drunkenness, for example; you were thought to be a quite unsociable person if you were sober all through the Saturnalia!" (Ancient Ital) And Modern Religion, Cambridge University Press, 1933, pages 125-126)
   So common was gift-giving in the pagan world that the Roman poet Martial found it profitable to write an entire book containing over 120 little verses which could be put on gifts or sent as greeting cards with gifts for the Saturnalia holidays!

You Can KNOW the Facts

   Every one of these FACTS you can find in the leading encyclopedias, in your own public libraries!
   Though the Bible is silent about the exact birth date of Jesus Christ, or recording any observance of it by the apostles or the early true Church, it does have something to say about the season of the year when Jesus was born. It was not in the winter! You can have the answer in an astonishing article
   "WHEN WAS CHRIST BORN?" Its free.
   Just write for it.

What about the Christmas Tree?

   Probably you have supposed that the Christmas tree dates back to the New Testament Church.
   Did you know that the Christmas tree was also a modern revival of an old pagan custom? The Christmas tree was almost unknown until Martin Luther revived an old pagan Germanic custom. The Christmas tree "is a German creation, and even in Germany it attained its immense popularity only in the nineteenth century. The Christmas tree was introduced into France in 1840, when Princess Helene of Mecklenburg brought it to Paris," wrote Clement A. Miles in Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, pp. 263, 267. He adds:
   "In England it is alluded to in 1789, but its use did not become at all general until about the eighteen-forties. In 1840 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a Christmas tree, and the fashion spread until it became completely naturalized."
   But the Christmas tree is not really a new custom! In fact it is mentioned in the Bible nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ! (Jer. 10:1-5)
   You can read the astonishing origin and history of the Christmas tree how it crept into the churches how the custom of trading gifts with one another commenced, instead of giving gifts to Christ all these FACTS and many others in our FREE 16 page booklet, "The Plain Truth About CHRISTMAS!"
   No other booklet makes the truth about Christmas so simple, so plain, and so intriguingly interesting.
   Yes, it's time the mystery which surrounds the introduction of Christmas into the professing Christian world were unveiled.
   Notice the plain facts.

How Heathen Customs Crept into Christianity

   No one knows the exact date on which Jesus was born. It has been hidden because God didn't intend His church to celebrate the birthday of Christ.
   Only pagans, during the days of the early church, were celebrating December 25 in honor of Sol, the sun god.
   In most any public library you can get proof of this in a book entitled 4000 Years of Christmas, by Earl Wendel Count. The very name of this book proves that the Christmas holiday isn't Christian. It was celebrated 2000 years before the birth of Christ in honor of pagan gods! Therefore it was, and is, IDOLATRY!
   Notice what God does say about the Christmas holiday season and other customs by which the heathen served their gods: "Take heed... that you do not enquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? that I also may do likewise.' You SHALL NOT DO SO TO THE ETERNAL YOUR GOD; FOR EVERY ABOMINABLE THING WHICH THE ETERNAL HATES THEY HAVE DONE FOR THEIR GODS" (Deut. 12:30-31).
   The Christian-professing world today rejects this commandment of God so it can hold the traditions of men.
   Jesus commands us not to worship Him by pagan holidays like Christmas.
   Even though gift-giving during the Christmas season did come from paganism, you ask, "Isn't giving gifts at Christmas still scriptural? Didn't the wise men give gifts at the birth of Christ?"

Does Bible Teach Exchanging Gifts?

   Just where did the Christmas SHOPPING spirit really originate?
   Here's a surprise! "The custom of giving presents was a feature of the Romans during their winter festival the Saturnalia," says John Then, in his book, Christmas, page 91. Professing "Christians made presents to their children on Christmas morning, under the pretense that they were the gift of the Christ child... this age-old custom can be traced to the dawn of history" to paganism!
   Did trading gifts at Christmas come from Scripture? No! It came from pagan tradition and was falsely labeled "Christian" a deception to fool little children. And millions using the name of Christ are practicing this lie today.
   Millions of sincere, deceived people spend precious dollars to give gifts to friends on a day that doesn't honor Christ. How silly to claim to honor Christ, when giving gifts to one another on a day that isn't His birthday at all.
   The wise men didn't give gifts to one another! Notice what they did: "Then, opening their treasures, they offered HIM gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (Mat. 2:1-11).
   WHY were the wise men giving gifts to the Christ child? Was this his birthday? No!
   Jesus had been born many days before! Then why did they give gifts to HIM? Because Jesus was born "KING of the Jews."
   The wise men were not coming on Jesus' birthday as an example for us. Instead they came to worship Jesus and present Him gifts because he was KING.
   Since Christmas isn't the birthday of Jesus and was not observed by the early true Christians, how did it get into the churches?

The Astounding Answer

   Following the death of the apostle Paul, false teachers began to lead away many from the truth. Paul wrote Timothy: "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths" (II Tim. 4:3-4).
   Notice it! People would reject the truth and begin to follow myths. Instead of continuing to observe the days God sanctified, as the first Christians did, the many turned aside to follow false teachers who crept into the true Church in order to get hold of the name of Christ in order to label their pagan customs "Christian!"
   These fifth-columnists as soon as they had created a mass following left the Church and carried the name of Christ with them. They stamped the pagan Saturnalia, the Brumalia and the Natalis Invicti Solis with the name "Christian," falsely calling December 25 Christ's birthday! In the Bible these fifth-column teachers of the Babylonish Mysteries are condemned as "Nicolaitanes" in Revelation 2:6 and 15. It is time you understood the connection between the Nicolaitanes and St. Nicolas of the Christmas season.

Who Were the Nicolaitanes?

   Here are the facts. The word "Nicolaitane" has nothing to do with the deacon Nicolas (Acts. 6:5), or a later bishop, Nicolas of Myra, as some have assumed.
   The original Greek word "Nicolaitane" means one who is "a follower of Nicolas." Who was that Nicolas of whom these fifth-column conspirators were followers? The God of Heaven declares He hates the doctrine of that man Nicolas (Rev. 2:15).
   The answer is found in the meaning of the name "Nicolas."
   "Nicolas" comes from two Greek words nikos and laos. Nikos means "conqueror" or "destroyer" and laos means "people." The original Nicolas was the conqueror or destroyer of the people! That was merely the Greek word for Nimrod the original arch-rebel who conquered the people and founded man-made civilization within two centuries after the flood! (Genesis 10:8-10).

Nimrod Deified as "Saint Nicholas"

   While Nimrod was alive, by his dictatorial rule he put himself in the place of God. And when he died, his admirers CONTINUED TO WORSHIP HIM AS A DIVINE HERO as the SUN GOD. The Phoenicians CALLED HIM "BAAL," a name found throughout the Old Testament. "Baal" means "master" or "lord." It was only natural that Nimrod should bear that name, for he put himself in place of the true Lord or Master of all the universe. But "Baal" was not Nimrod's only other NAME! HE HAD MANY others. One of these names was "Santa," commonly used throughout Asia Minor. This name of Nimrod may be found in Lempriere's Classical Dictionary, article "Sanctus."
   Now you might ask, "Is there any connection between Nimrod, who was called 'Santa,' and 'Santa Claus' "?
   "SANTA CLAUS" is but a shortened form of "Santa Nicholas" or "Saint Nicholas." Nimrod was the original Santa Claus!
   Today, on what date is "St. Nicholas" or Nimrod especially HONORED? Is it December 25? Yes! But Why?
   The Romans used to celebrate December 25 as the birthday of the sun god. Nimrod was the original sun-god. The Romans called him Sol. So the celebration of December 25 is in fact the old Roman celebration of Nimrod's birthday at the winter solstice. And is it any wonder that December 25, Nimrod's purported birthday, is STILL CELEBRATED IN HONOR OF "NICHOLAS" NIMROD THE FIRST GREAT DESPOT?
   Yes, Santa Claus just a shortened form of Nicolas, the Greek name for Nimrod is Nimrod deified. It is he and not Jesus Christ whom the world honors at Christmas!

Christmas Not Originally Celebrated on December 25

   Did you realize that Christmas was not originally celebrated on December 25? Shocking? But it is true!
   Even the church at Rome for nearly two centuries OBSERVED JANUARY 6 as the supposed date of Christ's birth! This festival was called Epiphany. (Bingham's Antiquities, Book xx, chapter iv)
   The celebration of January 6 was anciently introduced in Babylon as the birthday of Nimrod before 2000 B.C. when the winter solstice the shortest day of the year occurred on that date. (See page 35 of The Evolution of the Christian Year by A. Allan McArthur) But the winter solstice did not continue to fall on January 6 because the pagan calendar was not accurate. When the birthday of Nimrod was first celebrated in Rome, the winter solstice had dropped back to December 25. But the Babylonian priests in Rome continued to celebrate January 6.
   Then, how did December 25 the Roman festival in honor of Nimrod's birth finally become the traditional date of Christ's birth in place of the earlier Babylonian tradition of January 6?
   Bishops in the West, and especially at Rome, saw that by allowing converts to retain their pagan Roman holidays, they could induce many thousands to enter the church. Tertullian lamented this trend when he said in 230 A.D.:
   "By us who are strangers to Sabbaths, and new moons, and [God's] festivals, once acceptable to God, the Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia [December 24], the Matronalia, are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year's day presents are made with din, and sports and banquets are celebrated with uproar" (from De Idolatria, chapter 14).
   In less than two centuries after Christ's death, professing Christians were following their former pagan practices including December 25, the birthday of Sol the sun god.
   Tertullian's testimony is one of the earliest indications that Christians were mislabeling the birthday of the physical s-u-n as the birthday of the S-o-n of God.
   This adoption of idolatrous heathen festivals proceeded very slowly UNTIL CATHOLICISM BECAME THE STATE RELIGION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE UNDER EMPEROR CONSTANTINE.
   Almost immediately, the pagans flocked to the churches bringing their customs with them. Within forty years the celebration of the 25th of December became so widespread that a sudden change took place in Rome.
   The last record of Pope Liberius' celebration of the nativity on January 6 occurred in 353 A.D. In the very next year he celebrated it on December 25! This is fully explained in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings, article "Christmas." Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that Christmas celebrations officially began by this year 354 A.D.
   And that is how the Roman date December 25 came to replace the old Babylonian date of January 6.

Christmas Celebration Spreads Rapidly

   From Rome in the West, the celebration of Christmas quickly engulfed the whole empire. But many preachers in the East still clung to January 6 as the traditional nativity. As late as 373 Ephraim Syrus said: "On the tenth day (of March) was His Conception and on the sixth day (of January) was His Nativity" (Assemani Bibl. Or. ii. 169).
   Here is what Chrysostom said about December 25 in his Homily on the Birth of Christ, written in Antioch about 380 A.D.: "It is not yet ten years since this day was made known to us."
   Christmas didn't come from the apostles. It came to Antioch, the city where Paul preached, three hundred years after the apostle died! It came from an apostate Rome, not from Jesus Christ.
   Notice what Chrysostom continues to say about Christmas: "I know well that many even yet dispute with one another about it, some finding fault with it and others defending it." He admitted it was "new, in that it has recently been made known to us..."
   The bishops at Rome claimed to have accurate knowledge of Christ's birth because they possessed the census papers of Jesus' family. Just why they kept this hidden for over three centuries they never say.
   They forged many records in an effort to show that preceding popes celebrated Christmas on December 25. If this were really true, they would not have needed to forge these spurious records.

Forbidden in New Testament

   The celebration of December 25 in Constantinople, near where Paul preached in Asia Minor, first took place between 378 and 381. And if this isn't enough evidence against the apostolic origin of Christmas, there is proof that December 25 was not celebrated in Jerusalem before 385. Yet Jerusalem was the site of the mother church in the very beginning.
   The Catholic Bishop Chrysostom, who lived in the fourth century, admits that the superstitious "times," which Paul forbids in Galatians 4:10 were pagan Christmas customs practiced by "Christians" in his day, as by the pagans in the days of old. He says: "Many were superstitiously addicted to divination... upon them... In the celebration of these times [they] set up lamps in the marketplace, and crown their doors with garlands" as is done at Christmas time today! (From Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church, pp. 1123, 1124).
   Christmas became a universal practice in all but the Armenian Church by the fifth century. Hundreds of traditions and customs began to develop about Christmas in every land. In the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, you can read this about Christmas: "Yet the festival rapidly gained acceptance and became at last so firmly established that even the Protestant revolution of the sixteenth century was not able to dislodge it." Protestants didn't get Christmas from the Bible. They got it from their mother church Rome; and Rome got it from pagan sun-worship!

HOW to Honor Christ

   Most people are dishonoring yes, robbing Christ at every Christmas season and they don't know it!
   Many of you have been robbing Him of His tithes and offerings by spending God's own money in Christmas gifts instead of giving Him what is due. Our people have turned aside from Him, our hearts have gone after pagan festivals Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter.
   The way to return to God is to obey Him to pay Him your tithes and offerings. Why? "For where your treasure is there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).
   That is how you can really honor Him.

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Plain Truth MagazineDecember 1962Vol XXVII, No.12
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