There are many holidays that the people of America celebrate each year.    Unerringly, at specified times of the year, each year, a specific holiday is celebrated.    These holidays may be on a specific day, such as Independence Day, which is July 4th, or Halloween, which is October 31st; or they may be like Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday of November, or Father's Day, which is the third Sunday of June.     Regardless of which pattern the holiday follows; each legal holiday on the calendar, in the United States, is celebrated for one of several available reasons.

Holidays such as Martin Luther King's Birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, and Thanksgiving are celebrated to honor and thank certain people or events in American History.    These holidays are generally unique to the United States of America; or if other countries celebrate them, they do it on different days, in different ways, and often for different reasons.    They are what is called 'legal holidays.'

Then there are holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, Columbus Day and Kwanzaa, which celebrate the various ethnic cultures in the "Great Melting Pot" known as America.    Americans of Irish, Italian, and African descent honor and celebrate their respective native cultures on these days.

Finally, there are holidays such as Purim, Passover, Easter, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, Halloween, Chanukah, and Christmas, which are known as religious holidays because they are celebrated for reasons of various religious beliefs.    It is these holidays which are the topic of this article in The Bible Probe.

First, let us look at Ramadan.     This is a Moslem holiday lasting several weeks; a period of sunrise-to-sunset fasting, prayer, meditation, and atonement.    Moslem holidays, however, have their origin in times well after the Bible was written, and thus are distinct from Jewish and Christian holidays.   Therefore, the Bible Probe does not have any place discussing them, for they follow a largely different faith.

Now let us look at Halloween.     As most people know, this is a holiday with pagan origin, in which people believed that evil spirits were free to walk the earth; therefore, they wore costumes and scary masks to try and frighten them away.    Halloween soon evolved into a largely commercialized holiday for children, where they play various games at parties, and 'trick-or-treat' for candy.    There is no discussion of Halloween in the Bible, as it is derived from paganistic spiritualism which God consistently and always condemns.

Now, as surprising as it may sound, let us look at Easter and Christmas, which are also of pagan origin.   Before you angrily leave this website and condemn the authors for making this statement, allow us to show you Biblical proof of what we are stating.    That Christmas and Easter started as pagan holidays is a very little-known fact.    However, any good Roman Catholic encyclopedia will give ample proof of this, as will the Bible itself.

The Christmas Tree dates back far before the time of Christ, all the way to Nimrod, a grandson of Noah's son Ham.     Ancient Babylonian texts mention that Nimrod was married to his mother, and that she planted an evergreen tree on his grave, which she reported to have grown overnight.

Jeremiah warns against this tree most definitively:

Jeremiah 10:1-5
1    Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel.
2    This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.
3    For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4    They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.
5    Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."  (NIV)

This sounds remarkably like a Christmas tree, doesn't it?

December 25th itself became a holiday when the Romans instituted the Saturnalia, a winter festival designed as a time of thanksgiving.    December 21st is the Winter Solstice, the shortest amount of daylight of any day in the calendar year.    Immediately after this day, the amount of daylight in a day begins to grow noticeably longer.    The Romans gave thanks for this phenomena and for the harvests they had in the fall.      Eventually, however, the true meaning of the festival was forgotten and it became a time of general merry-making and debauchery.    During the Saturnalia, the rigid caste system of Rome was set aside, and slaves were waited upon by their masters.

The Catholic Church, seeking to spread Christianity to the pagans, needed to develop holidays based on concepts the pagans could understand.    So they instituted December 25th as the birthday of Christ, and used things like the pagan decorated tree, a symbol of new life, as symbols of the holiday.

Christmas was actually illegal in many countries in Europe until the 1800's, when the poem 'The Night Before Christmas' was published.    The King of England began a Christmas celebration based on the poem, and Christmas soon became the commercialized holiday it is today.     Devout Catholics remember the religious meaning of the holiday, and celebrate a Midnight Mass every year on the Midnight that turns December 24th into December 25th.   Yet, look up 'mass' in a Concordance and you will not find it.

As for the birth of Christ being on December 25th, well... simple geography will utterly refute this claim.   First, note this passage in Luke:

Luke 2:8-14
8    Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9    And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10    Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11    "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12    "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
13    And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14    "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (NKJ)

Notice that verse 8 says that the Shepherds were out in the fields, tending their flocks.    Now pick up your atlas and you will notice that Israel is approximately at 35 degrees North Latitude- almost as far north as New York City.     You will also note that it is a largely arid country on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Knowledge of geography will demonstrate conclusively that Shepherds would not stand outside in the fields, tending their flocks, at midnight in a desert country on a marine coast, at that latitude, on December 24th- especially wearing the thin linen robes and undergarments that people of that time period wore.    It is *far too cold!*    When the sun set, they all went inside their homes and in front of a crackling fire.

The Bible makes no mention of even an approximation of the time of the birth of Jesus. Historians believe it to be some time in September, though they are only hazarding guesses. The fact that the birthdate of Jesus is not recorded in the Bible should be taken by a Christian that God and His Son considered this date to be of little importance; for if they wanted it to be important, they surely would have seen to it that the date were scribed into one of the four books of the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and likely, all four.

Easter is based on a springtime pagan holiday, which was developed in Asia Minor near Ephesus.    Ephesus, being a Greek city, worshipped several gods and goddesses, including Artemis, the goddess of the hunt but also the patron of pregnant women and new mothers.    In the regions outside Greece proper, Artemis eventually evolved into Astarte, a fertility goddess depicted in sculptures as a woman with a dozen breasts.    In time, the pagans developed a fertility festival which they celebrated about the time of the Spring Equinox.    Astarte was the patroness of this holiday, and the priestesses of Astarte conducted the rituals performed during the holiday.     They also slept with those who donated the most wealth to the temple during the festival; the high priestess would sleep with the person who donated the most wealth of all.    Yes, the priestesses of Astarte were prostitutes, and actually practiced prostitution as part of their duties.    Quite a deviation from the original concept of Artemis, but all pagan deities tended to 'evolve' somewhat over time as new converts to the religions put their own twist or ideas into them.

As it happened, the festival occurred at about the same time as Passover.    The disciples of Christ, seeking to spread Christianity to the pagans, turned the resurrection of Christ into a holiday based on new life- a concept that the pagans understood.   They took the egg, a symbol of fertility, and the rabbit, a symbol of life, and incorporated them into the new holiday.    They even named the new holiday Easter, after Astarte, and the name stuck.

Now read the Four Gospels in the Bible, and the book of Acts, and look for any mention of Easter.    You won't find it.    Celebrating the resurrection of Christ was not an event which God commanded the people to do once per year.    Indeed, He should not need to, for when one is studying the Bible, and developing a relationship with God as His son or daughter, and walking the road to the Kingdom-- one would habitually come to regard *every* day as a celebration of the resurrection of Christ.    Each and every day, one is thankful and joyous that death was conquered by the sacrifice of Christ- or, at least, one should be.

This leaves us with the three elder holidays- Purim, Passover, and Chanukah- and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.     Well, the sacrifice of Christ as a permanent means of atonement and forgiveness supercedes Yom Kippur and the need for the older atonement rituals.     In fact, the coming of Christ produced a new Covenant between God and man.   All the laws given to man are the same; just streamlined into two all-purpose laws which encompass all the old ones.   The covenant, however, is a new one, which supercedes the old and nullifies the need for all the rituals that were practiced around the year by the Jews.    In fact, Chanukah was instituted by the Jews well after the death of Christ- the Jews who had not accepted Him as Lord and Savior.   God did not command the Jews to celebrate this event.

So if the new Covenant supercedes all the old Jewish Holidays, are there any holidays which God or Christ did want and command the people to commemorate? Are there any religious holidays which have true meaning in the eyes of God? The answer is yes- but how many such holidays are there?     Only ONE.    God actually does not care for all the elaborate and careful rituals which people have made a habit of performing in His honor over the year.    He said so well before Christ was sent to earth.

Isaiah 1:10-20
10    Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11    To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12    When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13    Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14    Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15    And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
16    Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17    Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19    If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20    But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The one event which Christ, with the authority of His Father, commanded man to observe, is the Lord's evening meal, a remembrance of the Last Supper.

1 Corinthians 11:24-26
24    and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
25    In the same way {He took} the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink {it,} in remembrance of Me."
26    For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (NAS)

The King James version says, "Keep doing this in remembrance of me."    The message is the same though, to remember Christ by observing the Lord's Evening Meal.    There is a strong connection between food and drink, and the body and blood of Christ.     Not a physical connection, of course, for Christ surely did not condone cannibalism.    There is a spiritual connection.

John 6:55-57
55    "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56    "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57    "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. (NAS)

The Bible, the Word of God, has long been called "Spiritual food."    It is called this because it nourishes the soul, just as physical food nourishes the body.    Christ has often been connected with the Word of God, since He spoke it repeatedly and regularly both to His Disciples and to the multitudes- and because of John 1:1 in the Bible.

Holidays are important to many people for various reasons.     Children love the ones that give them the day off from school.   The word, "holiday," however, has been shown to be something of an inaccuracy.   There are no truly 'holy' days in the calendar year, in the eyes of God.    God has commanded man to observe the Lord's Evening Meal, but the only day he made holy was the Sabbath, which became superceded by the new Covenant between God and man.    What word is good to replace the word 'holiday' is something the authors of the Bible Probe will leave to conjecture.

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