Why We Are Not Primitive Baptists (Part 3) - Pagan Holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween)Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, September 11, 2013.
VIII. Pagan holidays. 1. The pagan origin of Christmas. A. "In Roman times, the best-known winter festival was Saturnalia, which was popular throughout Italy. Saturnalia was a time of general relaxation, feasting, merry-making, and a cessation of formal rules. Holly was also considered the key symbolic plant of the god Saturn and festival. It included the making and giving of small presents (Saturnalia et Sigillaricia), including small dolls for children and candles for adults. During Saturnalia, business was postponed and even slaves feasted. There was drinking, gambling, and singing, and even public nudity. It was the "best of days," according to the poet Catullus. Saturnalia honored the god Saturn and began on December 17. The festival gradually lengthened until the late Republican period, when it was seven days (December 17-23). In imperial times, Saturnalia was shortened to five days ." (Wikipedia Article on Christmas) B. The Romans held a festival on December 25 called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun." The use of the title Sol Invictus allowed several solar deities to be worshipped collectively, including Elah-Gabal, a Syrian sun god; Sol, the god of Emperor Aurelian (AD 270-274); and Mithras, a soldiers' god of Persian origin. Emperor Elagabalus (218-222) introduced the festival, and it reached the height of its popularity under Aurelian, who promoted it as an empire-wide holiday. (Ibid) C. December 25 was also considered to be the date of the winter solstice, which the Romans called bruma. It was therefore the day the Sun proved itself to be "unconquered" despite the shortening of daylight hours. (When Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar in 45 BC, December 25 was approximately the date of the solstice. In modern times, the solstice falls on December 21 or 22.) The Sol Invictus festival has a "strong claim on the responsibility" for the date of Christmas, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Solar symbolism was popular with early Christian writers as Jesus was considered to be the "sun of righteousness." (Ibid) D. "How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia [Dec.25] following Saturnalia [Dec.17-24], and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the 'new sun' ....cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence....The pagan festival with its riot and merry making was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and in manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ's birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun-worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival." (New Schaff-Herzog Ency. of Religious Knowledge) E. "The well-known solar feast of Natalis Solis Invicti (Nativity of the Unconquered Sun) celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date." (Catholic Encyclopedia.) F. "In A.D. 354, Pope Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun. Christians honoured Christ, instead of Saturn, as the light of the world." (World Book Encyclopedia) 2. The pagan origin of Easter. A. Easter: “The name is derived from Eostre, the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox; her name shows that she was originally the dawn-goddess.” (Oxford English Dictionary) B. “Our name Easter comes from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess, originally of the dawn. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honor.” (Compton's Encyclopedia, 1978) C. “According to the Venerable Bede, the name Easter derived from the pagan spring festival of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre.” (Academic American Encyclopedia, 1982) D. “The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires....but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ...” (Catholic Encyclopedia, art. Easter) E. “The Easter hare came to Christianity from antiquity. The hare is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other peoples. Through the fact that the Egyptian word for hare, 'um,' means also 'open' and 'period,' the hare came to be associated with the idea of periodicity, both lunar and human, and with the beginning of new life in both the young man and young woman, and so a symbol of fertility and of the renewal of life.” (Encyclopedia Britannica) F. “The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia) G. “Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table of Easter Day, colored red to symbolize the Easter joy....The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring gravitated to Easter.” (Catholic Encyclopedia) H. “The custom of a sunrise service on Easter Sunday can be traced to ancient spring festivals that celebrated the rising sun.” (The New Book of Knowledge, 1978) (Eze 8:15-16) 3. The pagan origin of Halloween. A. "Halloween or All Hallows Eve, the name given to Oct. 31, as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints' Day, now chiefly known as the eve of the Christian festival. It long antedates Christianity. The two chief characteristics of ancient Halloween were the lighting of bonfires and the belief that this is the one night in the year during which ghosts and witches are most likely to wander abroad. History shows that the main celebrations of Halloween were purely Druidical, and this is further proved by the fact that in parts of Ireland Oct. 31 is still known as Oidhche Shamhna, "Vigil of Saman." This is directly connected with the Druidic belief in the calling together of certain wicked souls on Halloween by Saman, lord of death. On the Druidic ceremonies were grafted some of the characteristics of the Roman festival in honour of Pomona held about Nov. 1, in which nuts and apples, representing the winter store of fruits, played an important part. The custom of lighting Halloween fires survived until recently in the highlands of Scotland and Wales." (Ency. Brit.; 14th Edition, vol.11) B. "Druidism was the faith of the Celtic inhabitants of Gaul until the time of the Romanization of their country, and of the Celtic population of the British Isles up to the time of the Romanization of Britain, or, in parts remote from Roman influence, up to the period of the introduction of Christianity." (Ibid, vol.7) C. Halloween: The eve of All Hallows or All Saints, the last night of October. In the Old Celtic calendar, the year began on 1st November, so that the last evening of October was 'old-year's night', the night of all the witches, which the (Roman) Church transformed into the Eve of All Saints." (Oxford English Dictionary) 4. The Catholic practice of adopting pagan holidays and customs into Christianity. A. “Do not destroy the temples of the English gods; change them to Christian churches. Do not forbid the harmless customs which have been associated with the old religions; consecrate them to Christian uses.” (Pope Gregory to Augustine, 597 A.D.) B. “The most respectable bishops had persuaded themselves, that the ignorant rustics would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman Empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.” (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon) 5. The problem with adopting paganism into Christianity. A. God foresaw men's propensity to worship Him like the heathen do and prohibited it in the law of Moses (Deu 12:29-32). i. God specifically forbad Israel from serving Him like the nations whom they conquered served their gods (Deu 12:30). ii. They were to worship Him exactly how He commanded them and they were not to add to it or take from it (Deu 12:32). iii. God elsewhere forbids adding to His word (Pro 30:6; Rev 22:18-19). iv. We are to do all things whatsoever Jesus commanded us (Mat 28:20). a. If we do all things Jesus commands, we can't leave any out. b. If we do whatsoever he commands, we can't add anything extra. v. We are to keep the ordinances as delivered (1Co 11:2). B. God doesn't want His people to learn the way of the heathen (Jer 10:2-4). i. What does this sound like to you? A Christmas tree? ii. God says to be not dismayed at the signs of heaven: like seeing the sun die and be reborn at the winter solstice. iii. Worshipping under green trees is forbidden in the Bible (1Ki 14:23-24; 2Ki 16:4; 2Ki 17:10; Isa 57:5). iv. This includes artificial trees too (Isa 40:19-20). C. Not learning the way of the heathen is a NT precept too. i. We are not to be yoked with unbelievers nor their idolatrous religions (2Co 6:14-18). ii. The things that the Gentile sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God (1Co 10:20-21). iii. You can't have it both ways; it's either to devils or to God. D. God will severely judge those who mix elements of His religion with heathen religion and sin (Dan 5:1-6 c/w Dan 5:22-31). E. Do-it-yourself religion is not pleasing to God (1Ki 12:28-33). F. God warns us against the celebration of holydays (Col 2:14-17; Gal 4:8-10). G. Things which are highly esteemed among men are an abomination to God (Luk 16:15). H. We are supposed to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness, not incorporate them into God's religion (Eph 5:11). I. We are hypocrites if we condemn the idolatrous practices of other religions and at the same time incorporate them into our own (Rom 2:1; Rom 2:21-22).
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