Why do we do some of the curious things we do? Why pretend that a jolly man in a red suit gives toys made by elves to children on one night a year? Why pretend that rabbits lay eggs? And why do it in the name of religion?
We pride ourselves on being rational, thinking people. We think of ourselves as up-to-date in our thoughts and actions. We try to have good reasons for everything we do.
Why, then, do we do some of the things we do?
Consider, for example, Christmas. Why do we pretend that a jolly old man in a red suit who lives at the north pole rides around in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and drops down chimneys to leave toys (made by elves) for good boys and girls on one night of the year?
Then, at Easter, why do we pretend that rabbits lay brightly colored eggs?
Ask yourself: Do these myths and customs make any sense? Yet we persist in perpetuating them to our children. Oddly enough, we also attach great religious significance to some of these practices. Many are integral parts of celebrating the most sacred days of traditional Christianity.
Why do so many professing Christians, seeking to follow the One who said "I am the light of the world" and "He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness" (John 8:12), perpetuate such strange customs whose origins come not from the Bible but from the dark, dim mists of antiquity?
It's not that the origins of such customs cannot be determined. Often, around the time of these holidays, newspapers and television shows describe the origins of some of these practices. Encyclopedias and other books often help paint a picture of the passing of these customs down to us from ancient cultures.
All too often the picture isn't a pretty one.
After all, what do a bearded man in a red suit, brightly decorated trees, mistletoe, holly and candles have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? Why is December 25 assumed to be the day of His birth when the Bible itself nowhere gives the actual date and, in fact, gives many good reasons to show Jesus could not have been born at that time of year?
These are crucial questions.
The true worship of God
Worshipping God is the most honorable endeavor any human being can undertake. Some 3,000 years ago King David of Israel, on the joyous occasion of bringing the ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, wrote a psalm of praise and instruction for his people. His words included: "Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!" (1 Chronicles 16:29).
David gave this instruction because God alone embodies perfect holiness (Psalm 99:5, 9; Revelation 15:4). Part of the reason for our existence is to worship Him forever (Psalm 22:27; 86:9). The Bible reveals no future for people who refuse to honor their Creator. Indeed, He says that eventually "all flesh shall come to worship before Me" (Isaiah 66:23).
Jesus Christ adds that "true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24, emphasis added throughout). He warns that some will worship God in vain, because their practices are rooted in mankind's traditions and edicts rather than biblical truth. He labels such worship unacceptable and hypocritical, saying such people "draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me" (Matthew 15:7-9; Mark 7:6-9).
Given these biblical statements and instructions, does it matter which days we observe? Our world is filled with religious celebrations. Among the most popular are Christmas and Easter. Christmas is so popular that it forms the basis for a significant portion of the worldwide economy. Easter is often considered to be just as important as Christmas, if not more so.
But where did Christmas and Easter really come from? The Bible doesn't tell us to celebrate these festivals, yet they are an integral part of the Christian mainstream. Why are these celebrations so popular?
What does God think?
Most important, what does God say about such customs? Does He want us to worship Him however we see fit? Does the Bible tell us whether God expects Christians to worship Him on specific days and at specific times? What can we learn from the example of Jesus Christ, in whose footsteps God expects us to follow? (1 John 2:6; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
In contrast to the popularly celebrated holidays, the Bible informs us of specific days of worship —God's annual "feasts" (Leviticus 23:1-2) —that are unknown to most people. Why have these celebrations been replaced?
In the pages that follow, we will compare these various observances with the instructions about worship found in the Bible.
These are crucial matters with far-reaching implications for our relationship with our Creator. Join us as we embark on a historical and biblical journey to discover the truth about holidays and Holy Days. The facts documented here will open up a much greater opportunity for true worship than you ever thought possible.
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