Where did man’s popular holidays come from? What are their roots? Most people never reflect on—or investigate—why they believe and practice what they do. In a world filled with customs and traditions, few seek to understand—to research—the origin of things. Most accept common practices without question, choosing to do what everyone else does because it is easy—and fashionable. Most follow along as they have been taught, assuming what they believe and do is right. They take their beliefs for granted and never take time to prove them.
Nowhere is this more true than in the observance of Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, among other supposed Christian holidays. Millions keep these days without knowing why—or where they originated. Most suppose they are “found in the Bible”—that God backs them—because they see so many professing Christians observing them. Surely hundreds of millions cannot be wrong.
Or can they? What does the Bible—and history—really teach? You will be shocked!
To find the truth of a biblical matter—any biblical matter—you must be willing to open your Bible and honestly accept what it says. The majority of people stoutly defend what they have merely assumed is right or biblical. They read with prejudice anything that contradicts cherished beliefs.
If you are going to take the time to read this Personal, should you not at least read it with an open mind—without bias? The Bible is “profitable for correction” (II Tim. 3:16) for all who are willing to accept it—for all who truly want to serve and please God. The Bible also states, “Prove all things” (I Thes. 5:21). Ask God to guide you—to help you prove what He says in His Word.
No matter how comfortable a lifelong practice may be, should you not base it on proof—hard evidence, and of what God says—instead of assumptions?
In this Personal, we will examine certain of men’s holidays, and their origins. What follows is but the barest beginning of all that could be shown.
First is Christmas. This worldwide tradition is thought to be a wonderful time, focused on giving, family, beautiful music and decorations, special foods and singing traditional carols. All this is supposedly centered around the worship of Jesus Christ, and His birth on December 25th.
But where did Christmas come from? What is the origin of Santa Claus?—mistletoe?—Christmas trees?—holly wreaths?—Yule logs?—and exchanging gifts?
There is no mistaking the source of the modern Christmas celebration. Nearly all aspects of it have their roots in Roman custom and religion. The Encyclopedia Americana reveals, “Christmas…was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…a feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western church ordered the feast to be celebrated on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the Saturnalia, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”
Now the Encyclopaedia Britannica, under “Christmas”: “In the Roman world the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchanging of gifts. December 25 was also regarded as the birth date of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness. On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. To these observances were added the German and Celtic Yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into Gaul, Britain, and central Europe. Food and good fellowship, the Yule log and Yule cakes, greenery and fir trees, gifts and greetings all commemorated different aspects of this festive season. Fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, have always been associated with the winter festival, both pagan and Christian.”
What could be plainer?
Where did the Christmas tree come from? Notice: “The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to the Christian Era” (Frederic Jennings Haskin, Answers to Questions). How many know the Christmas tree long preceded Christianity?
Most aspects of Christmas are not referred to in the Bible. Of course, the reason is that they are not from God—they are not part of the way He wants people to worship Him. The Christmas tree, however, is mentioned in the Bible!
We know what men think about it. Here is what God says, “Thus says the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven [the stars]; for the heathen are dismayed at them [millions ignore this plain statement of God and read their horoscopes daily]. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree…” (Jer. 10:2-5).
This description is obvious. God directly refers to the Christmas tree as “the way of the heathen.” Just as directly, He commands, “Learn not the way of the heathen,” calling these customs “vain.”
The most common justification one will hear regarding this holiday is that people have replaced old pagan intents and customs by asserting they are now “Christian.” For instance, many say they are “honoring Christ” in their Christmas-keeping. The problem is God does not say that keeping this tradition is acceptable to Him! In fact, He plainly commands against it! Christmas-keeping dishonors Christ! You will see God considers everything about it to be an abomination.
Many additional sources and scriptures could be cited. Read our booklet, The True Origin of Christmas. Facts from history and Scripture, when placed together, paint a powerful picture!
What about Easter? Since hundreds of millions keep it, supposedly in honor of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, then surely the Bible must have much to say about it. Many verses must mention rabbits, eggs, baskets of candy, hot cross buns, Lent, Good Friday and sunrise services—not to mention Easter itself.
There is also no mystery about where Easter came from: “On this greatest of Christian festivals, several survivals occur of ancient heathen ceremonies. To begin with, the name itself is not Christian but pagan. ‘Ostara’ was the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring” (Ethel L. Urlin, Festival, Holy Days, and Saints Days, p. 73).
And notice: “But the name Easter comes to us from Ostera or Eostre…for whom a spring festival was held annually, and it is from this pagan festival that some of our Easter customs have come” (Mary Emogene Hazeltine, Anniversaries and Holidays: A Calendar of Days and How to Observe Them, p. 53).
Colored eggs have long been associated with the Easter celebration. Nearly every culture in the world does this. Notice: “The origin of the Easter egg is based on the fertility lore of the Indo-European races…The egg to them became a symbol of spring…In Christian times the egg had bestowed upon it a religious interpretation, becoming a symbol of the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged to the new life of His resurrection” (Francis X. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, p. 233). This is a classic example of how pagan symbols and customs are “Christianized”—with Christian-sounding names pasted over pagan customs. Due to this, people feel better about following a custom not found in the Bible.
God never authorized any kind of eggs for religious use—yet people have followed this practice for millennia!
Where did the “Easter bunny” come from?: “The Easter bunny had its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore…[It] has never had religious symbolism bestowed on its festive usage…However, the bunny has acquired a cherished role in the celebration of Easter as the legendary producer of Easter eggs for children in many countries” (James Bonwick, Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought, p. 236).
But this does not stop people from decorating their lawns and houses with Easter bunnies every spring. Even in modern times, rabbits have remained common symbols of fertility. While their rapid rate of reproduction is well-known, there is a problem—rabbits do not lay eggs! While both are fertility symbols, there is no logical way to connect them. In a world filled with pagan tradition, truth and logic are lost. There is nothing Christian about fertility symbols. Merging sex symbols with Christianity makes an already idolatrous practice worse.
The true history of rabbits and eggs is completely unknown to unsuspecting, trusting little children who are easily led to think these things are special.
It may seem beautiful, religious, and deeply moving to participants, but God has forbidden His people from devising their own religious customs and ideas. He is not interested in what people may personally feel or think is right. He is interested in who cares what He thinks is right! As far as God is concerned, ancient sun worship, dressed up in Easter finery and bonnets, is just modern packaging of a very old, idolatrous pagan custom.
Is it a “light thing” to God that many millions keep Easter?
Jesus, who is God, made a stunning statement—but how many believe it? Notice: “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). Christmas, Easter and other holidays are not commands of God, but rather traditions—“commandments”—of men.
Much additional proof—biblical and historical—exists proving Easter is not permitted by God. To learn about the customs surrounding this holiday, read our booklet, The True Origin of Easter. You may also wish to read another booklet—Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday. It explains how and why the incorrect—unbiblical—“Sunday Resurrection” idea came into use as a means of subtly endorsing Sunday-keeping in place of keeping God’s Sabbath.
Next, let’s examine Valentine’s Day, known as the world’s “holiday of love.” Surely, celebrating a festive holiday like Valentine’s is harmless. Surely the God who gives us life, food, drink and the ability to think for ourselves, approves of the holiday for lovers to exchange gifts. Let’s see.
Innocent and harmless as Valentine’s Day may appear, its traditions and customs originate from two of the most sexually perverted pagan festivals of ancient history: Lupercalia and the feast day of Juno Februata. To the Romans, February was sacred to Juno Februata, the goddess of febris (or “fever”) of love—and of women and marriage. On February 14, billets—which were small pieces of paper with the name of a teen-aged girl written on it—were put into a container. Boys would then choose one billet at random. The boy and the girl whose name was drawn would become a “couple,” joining in erotic games at feasts and parties celebrated throughout Rome. After the festival, they would remain sexual partners for the rest of the year. This custom was observed in the Roman Empire for centuries.
Valentine’s Day—from this Satan-influenced world—is designed to appeal to fleshly, carnal desires—or, as the Bible calls them, the works of the flesh. (Read Galatians 5:19-21.)
Does God want His people partaking of candy and cards, or any customs associated with this day? Does He approve of this? Notice how specific was His warning to ancient Israel—and why His warning! “When the Lord your God shall cut off the nations from before you…and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them…and that you enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. You shall not do so unto the Lord your God: for every abomination to the Lord, which He hates, have they done unto their gods…” (Deut. 12:29-31).
Read and reread this passage until it sinks in.
Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s are all attempts to “whitewash” customs and observances of pagan gods and idols by “Christianizing” them. For more, read our thorough article “The Truth Behind St. Valentine’s Day.”
Now let’s examine New Year’s. What could be wrong with celebrating the start of the upcoming year? What’s wrong with “ringing out the old and bringing in the new”? The truth will surprise you!
The Bible reveals, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” (I Cor. 14:33). The Greek word used for “confusion” also means instability, disorder, commotion and tumult—words that perfectly describe New Year’s history, which is as confusing and chaotic as the holiday itself. For thousands of years, men kept changing the beginning of their New Year from spring to fall—from March 1 to January 1—and in some cases, December 25—back to March 25—then to January 1 again! Notice: “January 1 was restored as New Year’s Day by the Gregorian calendar (AD 1582), immediately adopted by Roman Catholic countries. Other countries slowly followed suit: Scotland, 1660; Germany and Denmark, about 1700; England, 1752; Sweden, 1753; and Russia, 1918” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Even today, nations cannot agree on this date. Notice: “Chinese New Year is celebrated officially for a month beginning in late January or early February” (ibid.). Also notice this quote: “The Muslim New Year falls on the first day of the month of Muharram and commemorates the date of the Hegira (July 16, 622, on the Gregorian calendar)…Since the Muslim year is a lunar one consisting of only 354 days, the commencement of the new year fluctuates widely by the Western calendar” (Encyclopedia Americana).
This is what happens when people rely on their own judgment rather than simply believing God. Great numbers lose inhibition on New Year’s. They make noise, get drunk, overeat, and often have illicit sex, sometimes with strangers. Common sense can disappear in pursuit of outright sin.
The God of the Bible said this to ancient Israel about the false gods they would encounter in the land He gave them: “You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works…lest they make you sin against Me…their gods…will surely be a snare unto you” (Ex. 23:24, 33). This certainly pictures New Year’s and other holidays we have seen.
Nowhere does God in His Word command the New Year’s celebration. To learn why true Christians do not get caught up in this day, read our eye-opening article “Why Christians Don’t Celebrate New Year’s.”
Then there is Halloween. Americans spend $2.5 billion every year on this second-largest holiday, besides Christmas. Is this just a harmless, happy childhood activity—or something very different? Its traditions, customs and practices are rooted in a past much darker, more sinister and more demonic than you know.
On the night of October 31, the ancient Celts, after harvesting and storing their crops for the winter, began their annual fall festival. The Encyclopaedia Britannica reveals, “Samhain (Celtic: ‘End of Summer’), one of the most important and sinister calendar festivals of the Celtic year. At Samhain, held on November 1, the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to mankind, and the gods played many tricks on their mortal worshipers; it was a time fraught with danger, charged with fear, and full of supernatural episodes. Sacrifices and propitiations of every kind were thought to be vital, for without them the Celts believed they could not prevail over the perils of the season or counteract the activities of the deities. Samhain was an important precursor to Halloween.”
The Celts observed the festival of Samhain in various forms. The Catholic church took note. Throughout the church’s early history, Catholic worshippers observed special anniversaries for martyrs who had been executed for their beliefs. Soon there were not enough days in the calendar year to dedicate a specific day for each martyr. So the Roman Catholic church chose one feast day—“All Saints’ Day!”—for its martyrs. In the early ninth century, Pope Gregory IV sought to paste over this pagan practice by moving All Saints’ Day from May 13 to November 1—the same day as Samhain! This officially extended the festival to the entire church. Later, All Saints’ Day became known as All Hallows Day, while October 31 became All Hallows Eve. You know this carefully chosen heathen practice as Halloween!
Halloween is brim full and running over with pagan customs, masquerading as Christian traditions! God bluntly labels any practice of such customs to be sin. Israel was commanded to destroy the gods and nations around them. Why? “That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20:18).
Every parent should consider. Halloween teaches children that it is acceptable to beg for something instead of earning it through work. Think. It also teaches them to extort candy, because “trick or treat” means “give me a treat or I’ll play a trick on you!” Halloween’s ghoulish costumes, spooky jack-o-lanterns, festive parades, and prankish tricks—often translated vandalism!—may appear to be innocent fun. But our article “‘Trick? or Treat?’ – Unmasking Halloween” reveals the truth about this rotten holiday.
Now for birthday celebrations. In every culture and nation on Earth, nothing is as universally celebrated. But is this practice biblical? Does God agree with it? Solomon wrote, “…better [is] the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecc. 7:1). We would all agree that the day of one’s death is not exactly his best day. Yet, God says that it is better than the day of his birth.
Here is the briefest look at the history of birthday celebrations: “The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born…The Romans also subscribed to this idea…This notion was carried down in human belief and is reflected in the guardian angel, the fairy godmother and the patron saint…The custom of lighted candles on the cakes started with the Greeks…honey cakes round as the moon and lit with tapers [candles] were placed on the temple altars of [the goddess Artemis]…Birthday candles, in folk belief, are endowed with special magic for granting wishes…Lighted tapers and sacrificial fires have had a special mystic significance ever since man first set up altars to his gods. The birthday candles are thus an honor and tribute to the birthday child and bring good fortune” (Ralph and Adelin Linton, The Lore of Birthdays).
Birthday celebrations are mentioned in the Bible on three separate occasions and in each, terrible things occurred. Read our article “Are Birthday Celebrations Christian?” to learn much more of the truth about birthday-keeping.
What about April Fools’ Day, also known as All Fools’ Day? Every April 1, millions participate in pranks, practical jokes and even outright lies—in the name of “innocent fun.” Our article “A Foolish Holiday” explains the origin of this day, and whether one should observe it.
Finally, you may now be wondering about Thanksgiving Day. In fact, this is one of the few holidays not steeped in pagan tradition. Thanksgiving is set aside to show appreciation to Almighty God for the many blessings America has received—but has today so tragically forgotten. For more, read our article “Should You Celebrate Thanksgiving Day?”
Men want to observe their own holidays in place of God’s seven annual Holy Days—outlined and commanded in His Word—and then tell themselves they are pleasing and worshipping the true God. I repeat Jesus’ statement: “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). He also said this: “Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (vs. 9). Every year, around the world, hundreds of millions reject God’s Word and keep men’s holidays! No wonder Jesus asked, “Why call you Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
God told Israel: “You shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them…And you shall be holy unto Me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be Mine” (Lev. 20:23, 26).
In the Second Commandment—forbidding all forms of idolatry—and in other passages, God declares He is a jealous God. He wants His people doing what He commands, not the practices of false gods!
We saw God plainly instructs, “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jer. 10:2). But most people do not fear God—they do not care what He says—and He allows them to make their own decisions. Human beings are free moral agents—free to learn or not learn what God commands—free to obey or disobey Him!
But woe to those who ignore the plain Word of the Bible, believing men can overrule God!
People can worship in ways that represent things far different from what they sincerely believe or intend. When they have observed a practice for a long time they come to identify with it, as though it were their own. They become vested in it. When one tries to tell them the truth—even presenting facts, evidence and proof—many become hostile—angry!—that one would dare violate sacred personal beliefs.
The proof is overwhelming that men’s holidays are “traditions” and “commandments of men”—condemned by God! Yet, vast millions keep them anyway!
God makes absolutely clear He does not want us to mix His ways with any false ways. He says, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deut. 12:32). In other words, do exactly what I say—nothing more, nothing less!
Worldwide disobedience comes with a terrible price. National punishment now lies just ahead for the greatest nations—the ones who have been custodians of the Bible and who should—and could—have known the truth you now know.
Be careful of being angry that I am “taking away your holidays.” Your anger is in fact directed at God. I merely told you what He says. Direct your anger at ministers you trusted, but who deceived you.
So then, am I bad-mouthing cherished Christmas and Easter—and other holidays—or reporting the truth? Don’t shoot the messenger! The message comes from GOD.
God declares He hates the customs associated with pagan celebrations. We saw His plain words to all who say they can mix the horrible customs of outright paganism with a supposed “focus on Jesus.”
End the stress. Save your money before Christmas. Do not be lulled or intimidated by the sheep instinct of others around you who spend money they do not have for things they do not need—thus going into debt disobeying God. And tell your children the truth about Santa Claus—and all the other lies associated with this abominable holiday, which has always focused away from the true Jesus Christ of the Bible.
You face two choices: listen to confused, deceived ministers, and go along with the masses and their traditions. Or, open your mind—and your Bible—listen to God, and seek the TRUTH about these days.