Scripture does not record for us the exact date nor the time of the year of Christ’s birth. Nor did the Apostles or the early Church celebrate the birth of Christ. It was the Romish Church, already apostatizing in the early part of the fourth century, A.D., which affixed Christ’s birthday on the twenty-fifth day of December, the exact date of an annual pagan Roman feast, in order to pacify the heathen, and to swell the numbers of the nominal adherents of Christianity. Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostacy went on, till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under pagan superstition, which is so true also in our present age. Even in the Colonial period of U.S. history, many of the New England colonies outlawed Christmas celebrations and even declared the twenty-fifth of December as an ordinary work day.
That Christmas was originally a pagan festival is beyond all doubt. The time of the year and the traditions with which it is still celebrated in our day, prove its origin. At the time of the winter solstice the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans held huge feasts to their pagan idols. Also, the worshippers of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, held a feast honoring the completion of the sun’s yearly course, and the beginning of a new cycle. The Christmas tree, so common nowadays, was equally common in pagan Rome and in pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm, denoting the Pagan Messiah as Baal lamas. In Rome, it was the fir tree referring to him as Baal Beaith. The mother of Adonis, the Sun God and great mediatorial divinity of the Greeks and Phoenicians, was mystically said to have been changed into a tree, and when in that state, to have brought forth her divine son. If the mother was a tree, the son must have been recognized as the “Man, the branch.” And this entirely accounts for the putting of the Yule Log into the fire on Christmas Eve. This is also the reason that Christmas is commonly called Yuletide. Yule is the Chaldee word for “infant” or “little child.” Likewise, the Christmas candles (electric lights in recent years) were equally lighted by the Pagans on the eve of their festival of the Babylonian god to do honor to him. Also, the traditional Christmas Boar and Goose stems from the ancient Babylonians. They merely offered these creatures and sacrifices to their pagan idols. The wassailing bowl and the mistletoe bough, and many other of the traditions still observed in the twentieth century, came from the Babylonian pagans. Even Jeremiah 10:1-5 sheds some light on this matter.
The giving and receiving of gifts dates way back to 747 B.C. when the Romans exchanged greetings and gifts to their kinsfolk and acquaintances in honor of their heathen god, Janus. The early Anglo-Saxons of Europe observed a similar custom in the early centuries A.D., and that custom is still continued to this very day. The custom of sending Christmas cards to one’s friends originated in England in 1846; however, it was not until eighteen years later that the custom became popular.
Santa Claus is a German corruption of the name St. Nicholas – who lived in the fourth century A.D. St. Nicholas learned that three young women had no suitors, as their father was too poor to provide them with a dowry. So one night he filled three bags with gold and threw them into the windows of the rooms occupied by the girls, and they were soon happily married. Unexpected gifts were thereafter said to come from St. Nicholas. His feast day occurs on December 6 and not on December 25, the celebration of Christ’s birthday, in Germany and Europe in general. In the course of time, St. Nicholas came to be described as the giver of Christmas gifts.
The myth that Santa Claus descends the chimney to fill the stockings comes from the Norsemen. They believed that at the winter solstice, the goddess Hertha appeared in the fireplaces in their great halls and brought with her happiness and good fortune. The Santa Claus myth was popularized in America in 1822, by Dr. Clement Clark Moore, a professor in the General Theological Seminary in New York, who wrote the well-known poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” He, by means of this poem, added the sleigh and reindeer (from which the more recent “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is derived) to the Santa Claus myth. It was also through the instrumentality of this professor (?) that Santa Claus is said to deliver the gifts on December 25 instead of December 6.
Thus, the very customs observed at Christmas time cast a surprising light on the efforts of Satan and his emissaries (including especially the false church throughout the ages) to materialize, carnalize, degrade, and annul the celebration of the birth of Christ. And let us, as Protestant Reformed Young People, not be swept away by the ever-increasing tide of pagan Christmas traditions; but rather go in faith to Bethlehem, as did the shepherds of old, “to see that wonder which the Lord hath made known unto us.”