The Origin Of Christmas
Most people assume that Christmas had its origin in the events surrounding the birth of Messiah and was established in the early Church(Assembly) as a memorial of these things to honor the Son of God who came down to earth to save the world and was instituted as such by His early followers.
119 MINISTRIES ARE A GREAT RESOURCE OF SCRIPTURES AND HISTORY.
The fact is that there is no direct instruction in scripture to remember His birth and not any record of the early believers doing so. Nor is there any historical record of any official celebration of Christmas until after 300 AD when the emperor Constantine made Christianity a State 'religion' and gave the pagan celebrations of the period a "Christian" face.
The Roman Empire's religion was one of sun-worship (Mithraism), a pagan deity whose religious influence became widespread in the Roman Empire during the first few centuries A.D.. Mithra was related to the Semitic sun-god, Shamash, and his worship spread throughout Asia to Europe where he was called Deus Sol Invictus Mithras. Rome was well-known for absorbing the pagan religions and rituals of its widespread empire. As such, Rome converted this pagan legacy to a celebration of the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god during the winter solstice period. The winter holiday became known as Saturnalia and began the week prior to December 25th. The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing, drinking and downright debauchery, as the priests of Saturn carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the Roman temples.
The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 223: “December 25 was the date of the Roman pagan festival inaugurated in 274 as the birthday of the unconquered sun which at the winter solstice begins again to show an increase in light. Sometime before 336 the Church in Rome [under Constantine's control], unable to stamp out this pagan festival, spiritualised it as the Feast of the Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness.” Hislop observes, “That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin,” The Two Babylons, p. 93.
Constantine enforced this blended form of Christianity and Mithraism on the empire. He out-lawed the true Sabbath, and enforced Sun-day worship under penalty of death. He established Catholicism (Latin meaning: Universalism) by setting the dates for observing the weekly "sabbath" as Sun-day, and Easter for the empire. (Easter was already one of several vital Pagan observances, originally "Ishtar", commemorating the impregnation of the Earth-Mother nine months prior to the winter solstice!).
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume II (1943-1973), under Christmas, we find: “In the Roman world, the Saturnalia was a time of merrymaking and exchanging of gifts. December 25th was also regarded as the birthdate of the Iranian Mystery god, Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness.” Mithra, according to ancient legend (pre the birth of Yeshua the Messiah), was born on December 25, of a virgin. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and magicians [magi]. Mithra raised the dead and healed the sick and cast out demons. He returned to heaven at the spring equinox (northern hemisphere) and before doing so had a last supper with his 12 disciples (representing the 12 signs of the zodiac), eating mizd, a piece of bread marked with a cross (an almost universal symbol of the sun).
(Such is the counterfeit "Christ" of he who would assume to be like the Most High God)
So it was not difficult to have the pagans of that period accept the name "Christmas" (Christ's -Mass) for their celebration of their "Sun of righteousness", the savior/redeemer Mithra, understanding that there was no change in the customs or the traditions.
The Religious powers of the day fabricated and proclaimed that Yeshua (Jesus) was born on December 25 and the festival of Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra were now going to be celebrated as the birthday of "Christ" and it became a State holiday ("holy-day").
With the publication of a standardised text of the writings of the apostles the Messiah's name had also undergone a change. His Hebrew name was Yehoshua (God's salvation), in usage shortened to Y'shua. When translating from Hebrew into Greek, the Greek name "IOSOUS" (the name of the Greek god of healing) was chosen to replace His Hebrew name, further paganising His image and making Him 'acceptable' to the pagan masses of the Roman/Greek-speaking peoples. Zeus was the Greek god of the day and the thought was they would be able to bring more into the fold by relating Yeshua to Zeus. This name was later changed to JESUS in Latin.
The true Messiah was not born in December. Shepherds could not have been in the fields in the northern hemisphere mid-winter. It can be calculated when he was born from the records given in scripture of the priestly cycle, the details surrounding His birth, the historical records of King Herod death and the astronomical calculations and records of eclipses and star sightings of the time.
WHEN WAS YESHUA'S BIRTHDAY? DO WE KNOW?
YES! THE BIBLE TELLS US!
Two main scriptures: LUKE 1 and 1 Chronicles 24.
In Luke 1 the first thing we notice is Zachariah is of the Abijah sect of priests. 1 Chronicles 24 explains about the Abijah sect and how David grouped everyone by family. It was set in place long before Yeshua's birth and had been in place with meticulous records on who served when for centuries. Most glaze on by this but this is extremely significant. Why? Because this alone tells us:
1. When Zachariah would have been in the Temple.
2. When Elizebeth basically got pregnant with John the Baptist.
3. Why we need to calculate from these dates because they are a matter of historical record and fact.
The angel later on in Luke 1 tells us that Elizebeth is 6 months pregnant at the time Mary is told about her Miraculous Conception. "Immediately" she goes to see her cousin and is already pregnant upon arrival. WHEN ELIZABETH IS 6 MONTHS PREGNANT.
Luke 1 also tells us:
4. Exactly when Mary conceived around the Feast of Dedication/Lights/Chanukkah.
5. John the Baptist is Elijah vs17 and in Matthew 17:10-15. Yeshua says so!
We can conclude that John the Baptist was born on Passover and Yeshua was born during Sukkot in the Fall(Sept/Oct of that year).
Below are more details and nuggets we found as we were researching.
The Bible-believing "Christians" of the time regarded the "Christmas" and "Easter" celebrations which were introduced as blasphemous and refused to endorse them. Origen proclaimed it heathenish to celebrate 'Christ's birthday' as if He were merely a temporal ruler when His spiritual nature should be the main concern and Clement of Alexandria and Epiphanius said it was pagan. :(Encyclopedia Britannica 15th edition Vol.4 p.499).
Up till this time the only holy days which the followers of the true Messiah had kept were the Passover, the Feast of SHAVUOT/ Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacle in Sept/Oct.. When early Christians celebrated a specific day for a person, it was associated with their death, usually as a martyr, and was an epitaph to their life's service to God. Only pagans celebrated birth-days.
All of the customs of Christmas pre-date the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. It was noted by the pre-Christian Romans and other pagans, that daylight was at its lowest point prior to December 22nd when they assumed that the sun god died, and began to increase after that date. These ancients believed that the sun god rose from the dead three days later as the new-born and venerable sun. Thus, they figured that to be the reason for increasing daylight.
This was a cause for much wild excitement and celebration. Gift giving and merriment filled the temples of ancient Rome, as sacred priests of Saturn, called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession. In Germany, the evergreen tree was used in worship and celebration of the yule god, also in observance of the resurrected sun god.
The evergreen tree (Christmas tree) was a symbol of the essence of life and was regarded as a phallic symbol in fertility worship. Witches and other pagans regarded the red holly as a symbol of the menstrual blood of the queen of heaven, also known as Diana. The holly wood was used by witches to make wands. The white berries of mistletoe were believed by pagans to represent droplets of the semen of the sun god. Both holly and mistletoe were hung in doorways of temples and homes to invoke powers of fertility in those who stood beneath and kissed, causing the spirits of the god and goddess to enter them.
These customs transcended the borders of Rome and Germany to the far reaches of the known world at that time.People gave gifts to each other and prepared special foods. They decorated their homes with green branches. Everywhere, people stopped work to join in the celebration. The merrymaking, exchanging of gifts, etc. (from the festival of Saturnalia ) and the date, December 25, was an adaptation of the birthday of Mithra (the sun god).
In England, as the authorized Bible became available to the common people by the decree of King James II in 1611, people began to discover the pagan roots of Christmas, which are clearly revealed in Scripture. The Puritans in England, and later in Massachusetts Colony in 1647, outlawed this holiday as witchcraft.
Yahweh God said to His people "take heed to yourselves that you are not ensnared to follow them, ..(the people of the nations) .. and that you do not enquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I will also do likewise. You shall not worship Yahweh your God in that way .. .. .. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." Deut.12:30-32
The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the ancient Middle Eastern practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them, "Thus saith Yahweh, learn not the way of the nations/heathen; and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven. For the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are futile. For one cuts a tree out of the forest. The work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They decorate it with silver and with gold. They fasten it with nails and with hammers that it will not topple.. .. .." Jeremiah 10: 2-4
Ezekiel 8:14-18 condemns ancient Israel for adopting worship of Tammuz (the legendary son and re-incarnation of Nimrod), which included sun worship and the asherah (phallic symbols using trees and poles). Tammuz is the Phoenician counterpart of Mithra.
The nation of Israel was constantly being disciplined by God for incorporating into their form of worship toward Him, the customs of the other nations - the pagans round about them. He did not accept them following the traditions of their day.
We are to cast off the works of darkness (Rom.13:12) knowing that no one who engages in idolatrous practices is acceptable with God and we are told as new covenant believers to keep ourselves from things to do with idols (Acts 21:25; 1 John 5:21; 1 Cor.10:14).
"Live as children of light .. and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness" Eph 5: 8-11
WE WERE THERE! WE DID THESE THINGS THINKING THEY WERE FOR YEHOVAH, FOR YESHUA!
Ignorantly, those engaging in the customs and traditions associated with Christmas are participating in pagan worship directed toward the god Mithra (as he was known to the Romans) who is the counterfeit saviour of the world. We know from past examples in the scriptures that although the general masses of the people followed false traditions in ignorance, He still held them accountable for their sin in turning away from the way of worship which He had revealed, and He corrected them.
Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah said that the true worshipers must worship God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Doing it our own way is not acceptable!
That is being DISOBEDIENT to what He has decreed and established as the way to approach Him. He is God! - the whole universe functions on the laws which He has established.
"There is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death" Proverbs 14:12
"But now, overlooking the times of ignorance, God is telling everyone everywhere that they must repent, because He has fixed a day when He shall judge the world in righteousness by that man He has appointed. " Acts 17:30-31