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“Should Christians do Christmas?”

ED: CHRISTMAS IS the orthodox church’s festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s generally observed on 25th December.

Jesus never instructed his followers to observe his birthday, and there is no hint in the Bible that they ever did. Besides, we don’t know when it was. Based on indications in the Gospels, the consensus among scholars is that Christ was born around the time of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles in the late summer. We can be certain that it was not 25th December: history shows that the festival of Christmas actually originates in the church’s attempt to Christianise the pagan winter solstice festival. (There is an irony here: in the modern western world people sometimes bemoan how Christmas is becoming so hideously commercialised—that it seems to be simply an opportunity for self- indulgence, with very little thought for Christ. The fact is, the festival is simply reverting to its ancient origins!)

Understandably, some followers of Christ will not have anything to do with Christmas. Others however use it as an opportunity to think about the wonder of Christ’s birth, teach the story to their children, and preach about it to a world which, for this brief

time of year, may be more willing to listen. Which approach is right?

In Romans chapter 14 the Apostle Paul is discussing matters of conscience in relation to everyday life:

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him… One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honour of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honour of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honour of the Lord and gives thanks to God (vs. 2–6).

So in matters such as these where there is no definite Bible instruction, the guiding principles are to arrive at your decision with a good conscience, and to respect other people’s consciences. The indicator of whether or not your conscience is good is that you can give thanks to God and honour Him in what you do.

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