Numerous encyclopedias plainly state that Christ was not born on December 25th. The Catholic Encyclopedia directly confirms this. So then, what are the origins of Christmas?
The Roman festival of Saturnalia, Dec. 17-24, moved citizens to decorate their homes with greens and lights and give gifts to children and the poor. The Dec. 25 festival of natalis solis invicti, the birth of the unconquered sun, was decreed by the emperor Aurelian in A.D. 274 as a Winter Solstice celebration, and sometime (later)…was Christianized as a date to celebrate the birth of the Son of Light.
The early Romans were not celebrating Christmas but rather a pagan feast called the Saturnalia. It occurred each year around the beginning of winter, or the winter solstice. This was the time when the sun had taken its lowest path across the sky and the days were beginning to lengthen, thus assuring another season of growth.
If many of the trappings of the Saturnalia, however, seem to parallel what so many of us do today, we can see where we borrowed…our holiday traditions. And indeed, it has been suggested that while Christ was not born in late December, the early Christians—then still an outlawed sect—moved Christmas to the time of the Saturnalia to draw as little attention as possible to themselves while they celebrated their own holiday.
The Bibliotheca Sacra states, “The interchange of presents between friends is a like characteristic of Christmas and the Saturnalia, and must have been adopted by Christians from the pagans, as the admonition of Tertullian plainly shows” (Vol. 12, pp. 153-155).
Among the Druids the oak was sacred, among the Egyptians it was the palm, and in Rome it was the fir, which was decorated with red berries during the Saturnalia!” (Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 242). Frederick J. Haskin’s book Answers to Questions states, “The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to the Christian Era.” Did you know this—that the Christmas tree long preceded Christianity?
The Encyclopedia Americana states, “The holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log…are relics of pre-Christian times.” In other words, paganism! The Yule log was commonly used in a rite of Teutonic nature worship.
Remember, my friends, what it says in Jeremiah 10:2 - “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen…”