Christmas magic, as it’s called, always felt like something people chased rather than what I felt like was, in my mind, the true and original meaning of Christmas.
I saw even devout Christians getting more excited about lights, trees, and gifts than the immeasurable gift that was the perfect lamb of God sent to earth to become atonement for our sins. Often I saw even those “doing it right” getting caught up in consumerism if only to keep their children from somehow missing out.
I think in my early twenties, I took on the mentality that we should put Christ back in Christmas even if I never spoke the slogan and I tried to transform our home and how we approached the holidays.
Before that, I remember having a moment in high school where I stopped dead in my tracks thinking about the imagery of Santa and how it seemed to be such an anti-Gospel message. Despite my best efforts to explain my thoughts and feelings to friends about how a list of naughty and nice did not equate to sanctification and atonement, or that society was replacing our Redeemer clothed in robes of righteousness and his disciples with a robust man robed in red and his flying reindeer, I gained no traction and thought that maybe I was grasping at straws.
But the feelings stuck with me.
4-5 children and over 15 years later, it kept churning within me that something wasn’t right about Christmas.
For years, I tried to find joy and contentment in Christmas that wasn’t there. It was always hustle and bustle, consumerism, failed expectations, and a tacking on of the Christ birth story as if to wave a magic wand and say that it was somehow all about and for our Heavenly Father.
It felt wrong.
And the feeling gnawed at me.
Was I chasing the feeling of so-called “Christmas” magic to fulfill me instead of the redeeming nature of the Holy Spirit?
Was I trading the true gift of the whole holy word of God for the fleeting happiness of man-derived gifts?
Was I just trying to make it make sense, when really the Bible gave me a better framework?
Emphatically, yes, yes, and yes.
We’re entering our 3rd year of finally saying no to Christmas and I have zero regrets. I was trying to fit a square peg in a circle hole and my heart was finally convicted.
I have had well-meaning Christians tell me that I am convinced we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas with the implication that someone out there was nefariously luring me away from my faith.
I wasn’t convinced by anyone, rather I simply read my Bible and felt a strong calling to live it all out, the way our Heavenly father instructed us to. It put a new view on the world, life, faith… and yes, Christmas.
One of the first things I say to anyone who questions why I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore is that Christmas Simply isn’t in the Bible.
Ok, well some then say “But Jesus’ birth is.”
Of course! But there are two things that go along with this. First we’re never told to celebrate his birth (though I do because of some implications we’ll discuss shortly) and second, what if we celebrated the birth of our Messiah and the Death/Resurrection of him using the Bible and only the Bible?
If our God is immutable, meaning unchanging then he truly is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Therefore 2 Timothy 3:16 holds true that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
Side note: yes, we don’t celebrate Easter either, but another commentary for another time and really all the same reasons apply.
One of the first Biblical examples I like to give is the book of Joshua. Joshua is the one who gets to usher the people into the Promised Land. In doing this, there is this phrase repeated over and over “do not turn from it to the left or the right” and that’s the path that Yahweh was setting before them. He didn’t want them taking on the gods of the people they were conquering or assimilating their customs. He wanted the people to be holy (set-apart) and to worship and serve him in a righteous way that He himself prescribed.
“Be very strong, and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. Instead, remain faithful to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” Joshua 23:6-8
To summarize the whole book, Yahweh basically said “burn it down, destroy anything that’s not me. Don’t be drawn to it. Don’t worship me the way they worship their gods”. This stirred all sorts of emotions within me as I started to see my own life and my own habits of trying to fit worldly ideas and customs into my faith walk instead of making my own faith and the Bible the foundation without turning to the left or to the right and brought to mind a very important verse in Deuteronomy.
“…and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. Deuteronomy 12:30-31
What’s interesting here is that even in High School we were taught that many of the holidays in the modern world were simply old holidays, Pagan if you will, that were adopted by the church and Christianized.
As a kid I was ok with this. I understood the explanation and went along with it. But it clearly goes completely against what the Bible says. In fact, no words are minced: “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way”.
And I think that one cut me the deepest.
It hurt knowing that what I was taught vs what was Biblically irrefutable were opposing each other. But even beyond this. Even if they weren’t pagan first, we were told that we are to worship and remain faithful.
Of course this got my wheels turning knowing that there had to be an answer. If we were sent a Messiah then that’s the most amazing gift we could ever have been given and if Yahweh is unchangeable then what he prescribes must have meaning.
Then it sunk in.
He does prescribe not just what righteousness is or how to celebrate but because He is unchanging and His word always holds true, His feasts were more than just the original celebrations.
Colossians 2 tells us that the festivals and the Sabbath were the shadow of things to come and that the substance belongs to Christ. So every feast from Sabbath to Passover to The Feast of Tabernacles… all of them outlined in Leviticus 23 are valid and will also show us our Messiah.
The Lord spoke to Moses:
“Speak to the Israelites and tell them: These are My appointed times, the times of the Lord that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies.
“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, a sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; it is a Sabbath to the Lord wherever you live.
“These are the Lord’s appointed times, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times
The Passover to the Lord comes in the first month, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month.
The Festival of Unleavened Bread to the Lord is on the fifteenth day of the same month. For seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
On the first day you are to hold a sacred assembly; you are not to do any daily work.
You are to present a fire offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day there will be a sacred assembly; you must not do any daily work.”
The Lord spoke to Moses:
“Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you and reap its harvest, you are to bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest.
He will wave the sheaf before the Lord so that you may be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.
On the day you wave the sheaf, you are to offer a year-old male lamb without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord.
Its grain offering is to be four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a fire offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, and its drink offering will be one quart of wine.
You must not eat bread, roasted grain, or [any] new grain until this very day, and you have brought the offering of your God. This is to be a permanent statute throughout your generations wherever you live.
“You are to count seven complete weeks starting from the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the presentation offering.
You are to count 50 days until the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.
Bring two loaves of bread from your settlements as a presentation offering, each of them made from four quarts of fine flour, baked with yeast, as firstfruits to the Lord.
You are to present with the bread seven unblemished male lambs a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offerings and drink offerings, a fire offering of a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
You are also to prepare one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a fellowship sacrifice
The priest will wave the lambs with the bread of firstfruits as a presentation offering before the Lord; the bread and the two lambs will be holy to the Lord for the priest.
On that same day you are to make a proclamation and hold a sacred assembly. You are not to do any daily work. This is to be a permanent statute wherever you live throughout your generations
When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap all the way to the edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am the Lord your God.”
The Lord spoke to Moses:
“Tell the Israelites: In the seventh month, on the first [day] of the month, you are to have a day of complete rest, commemoration and jubilation-a sacred assembly.
You must not do any daily work, but you must present a fire offering to the Lord.”
The Lord again spoke to Moses:
“The tenth [day] of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly and practice self-denial; you are to present a fire offering to the Lord.
On this particular day you are not to do any work, for it is a Day of Atonement to make atonement for yourselves before the Lord your God.
If any person does not practice self-denial on this particular day, he must be cut off from his people.
I will destroy among his people anyone who does any work on this same day.
You are not to do any work. This is a permanent statute throughout your generations wherever you live.
It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial. You are to observe your Sabbath from the evening of the ninth [day] of the month until the [following] evening.”
The Lord spoke to Moses:
“Tell the Israelites: The Festival of Booths to the Lord begins on the fifteenth day of this seventh month and continues for seven days.
There is to be a sacred assembly on the first day; you are not to do any daily work.
You are to present a fire offering to the Lord for seven days. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and present a fire offering to the Lord. It is a solemn gathering; you are not to do any daily work.
“These are the Lord’s appointed times that you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for presenting fire offerings to the Lord, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its [designated] day.
These are in addition to the offerings for the Lord’s Sabbaths, your gifts, all your vow offerings, and all your freewill offerings that you give to the Lord.
“You are to celebrate the Lord’s festival on the fifteenth day of the seventh month for seven days after you have gathered the produce of the land. There will be complete rest on the first day and complete rest on the eighth day.
On the first day you are to take the product of majestic trees-palm fronds, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook-and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
You are to celebrate it as a festival to the Lord seven days each year. This is a permanent statute for you throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month.
You are to live in booths for seven days. All the native-born of Israel must live in booths,
so that your generations may know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
So Moses declared the Lord’s appointed times to the Israelites.
- Sabbath shows us rest in Messiah.
- The Passover shows us Messiah as our Passover Lamb.
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us of Christ as our sinless (unleavened) Messiah
- First Fruits reminds us of our Messiah as our First Fruits offering before the Lord
- Pentacost reminds of of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- The Feast of trumpets is said to be a reminder of Messiah’s return and the blowing of the horn
- The day of Atonement is a reminder of Messiah’s Atonement for our sins
- The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us that Messiah was sent to tabernacle or dwell with us and that he will again physically live and reign over all things.
I find it all too meaningful to see how perfect the Word of God is and how we are gifted such a precise and meaningful guide to worship and celebrate since we are told that each of the feasts “… shall be a permanent statute throughout your generations”.
When I analyze things like wreaths, stockings, Christmas trees, and more, I don’t see a Biblical justification for them. I could give Bible verses that I have seen thrown around for how the Christmas tree was long warned to be a pagan abomination or how wreaths are related to witchcraft. But that’s not where I am now in my walk or how I am felt called to share why we stopped celebrating Christmas. I don’t want to outline for myself and my children why something is wrong, but rather what makes something right.
Yeshua/Jesus countered the question of the Pharisees about divorce with an answer about marriage. He focused on the righteousness and not the sin. So when we approach the topic of Christmas , I don’t want to raise my kids to focus on what others might be doing and perceive it as wrong, I want them to see what we are doing as a family now and understand how it fits into the bigger picture of the Bible.
I also want them to understand that someone celebrating Christmas might just not know how beautiful the feasts are like we once didn’t. If we walk a path aiming towards righteousness instead of focusing on the plank or splinter, then what good is it to take on the feasts and ditch Christmas?
It’s because I wasn’t always here. I have videos of my oldest chasing one of our dogs near a Christmas tree and a cute “very toddler Christmas” photo of three of my kids behind a baby gate with a tiny tree. There was a time I tried to make things as Christ-focused as I could to make Christmas a wholesome celebration.
But in the end I couldn’t do it.
Hanging a nail on a Christmas tree didn’t make that tree somehow significant.
Exchanging 3 gifts like the wisemen didn’t erase the consumerism.
Putting up a nativity scene instead of a naughty elf didn’t suddenly make everything set-apart and holy.
It missed the mark.
And I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.
Christ was never in Christmas. Maybe the name, sure. But the decorations and celebrations? The traditions of man? The consumerism? He wasn’t in any of it. But he sure is woven through the feasts. So let us keep the feasts!
Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:8
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!