Origins of Christmas and Why we don’t lie to kids about Santa

The very foundation of the Christmas holiday is a lie. The Messiah was not born December 25th. He did not ask us to celebrate his birthday. He did not say to set up a tree in our house and decorate it and our houses with anything. Santa Claus does not exist. He doesn’t have reindeer that fly and he isn’t going to come down anyone’s chimney on December 25th and leave any gifts. Everything is a lie. Is Yahweh the originator of this holiday? Or is it the father of lies? Jesus condemned the leaders of that generation for teaching lies:

John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the “truth, because there is no “truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

It’s high time that we forsake these lies and abide in the ” “truth! Let’s forsake this foolish practice of yoking the Messiah (who said “I am the TRUTH”) together with lies, for He has nothing to do with lies.

Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

5 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

If we want to practice a lie, we need only celebrate Christmas and we will be doing just that. But if we want to abide in the “truth, we will avoid all lies.

The book of Revelation also predicts a future time when those who hate Yahweh rejoice at the death of His two witnesses, for they will make merry and have a gift exchange:

Revelation 11:91010 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Sound familiar? I don’t know for sure, but it sounds a lot like one day the two witnesses will die and the whole world will rejoice that they can keep Christmas again. I think it’s time we make sure we are on the side of “truth and righteousness.

‪How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

  1. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25.  During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration.  The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.”  Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week.  At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

‪B.    The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time.  In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

‪C.    In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it.  Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

‪D.    The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

‪E.      Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia.  As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.”  The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

‪F.      The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.” Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

‪G.    Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city.  An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators.  They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”

‪H.     As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.” On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country.  In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped.  Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.

‪III.     The Origins of Christmas Customs

‪A.     The Origin of Christmas Tree
Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”. Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

‪B.     The Origin of Mistletoe
Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna.  Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim. The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.

‪C.     The Origin of Christmas Presents
In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January).  Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace.  The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas (see below).

‪D.     The Origin of Santa Claus

‪a.       Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra.  He died in 345 CE on December 6th.  He was only named a saint in the 19th century.

‪b.      Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament.  The text they produced portrayed Jews as “the children of the devil” who sentenced Jesus to death.

‪c.       In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy.  There Nicholas supplanted a female boon-giving deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children’s stockings with her gifts.  The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the center of the Nicholas cult.  Members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, December 6.

‪d.      The Nicholas cult spread north until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans.  These groups worshipped a pantheon led by Woden –their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw.  Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn.  When Nicholas merged with Woden, he shed his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and donned heavy winter clothing.

‪e.       In a bid for pagan adherents in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.

‪f.        In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (most famous his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History.  The satire refers several times to the white bearded, flying-horse riding Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

‪g.       Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, read Knickerbocker History, and in 1822 he published a poem based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…”  Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

‪h.       The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus.  From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper’s Weekly.  Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock.  Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world.  All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

‪i.         In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa.  Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face.  The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red.  And Santa was born – a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.

4 reasons to not tell your kids about Santa, Very few people deny the historic reality of Jesus; and though millions of children affirm the existence of Santa, we know well that the minds of children are not capable of differentiating between fantasy and reality–particularly when the parents they are trusting tell them Santa is real.

  1. Santa promotes works righteousness. That might sound harsh, but keep in mind the aforementioned goal. The heart of the gospel is the glorious trade of our sin for Christ’s righteousness. It is a difficult concept to teach because kids are legalistic by nature. It takes a lot of time, prayer, and thoughtful conversations to help them understand that God loves us because of Christ’s good works, not ours.

Then along comes Santa.

He’s jolly, sparkly, magical, and he promises gifts to children who are good.

  1. Santa blurs the lines between fact and fantasy. So precious are the moments when the kids climb onto our laps for a Bible story. We talk about Jesus and how He lived a perfect life and died for our sins. We talk about the mighty power of God who created the world, parted the Red Sea, and closed the mouths of lions. They listen intently.

And they believe what we tell them

They trust us implicitly. We must want so dearly lead them in the truth.” If we throw Santa into the mix of “true” stories, what will they think later when they find out Santa is not real? How about Noah’s ark? How about the ten plagues? How about that Jesus guy who was kind of like a religious magician? We want the categories of true and fantasy to be clearly divided. Characters don’t get to jump back and forth from one category to the other.

  1. Santa is a type of god. think about it. He is omnipotent (all powerful – makes toys, rides a magical sleigh, goes up and down chimneys). He is omnipresent (everywhere at once – how else could he deliver the presents?). He is omniscient (all knowing – he knows who is bad and who is good). He is eternal. He is perfect. He is the whole package. I can’t think of another mythical creature that encapsulates so many characteristics reserved for God alone. When we describe God to our kids I don’t want them thinking, “Oh yeah, kind of like Santa.” No. God is not like anybody. We want to keep it that way.
  1. It’s hard to compete with Santa. Who cares about a baby in a manger when there’s a huge man in a shiny red coat throwing presents and candy around like it’s going out of style? Kids spend the entire Christmas season looking for signs of Santa. They write him letters. They bake him cookies. And that’s just the kids. Playing make-believe takes a lot of work for us grown-ups. We are on the other end of it trying to hide the evidence and figure out how to field all of their questions. All the time and energy we put into keeping up the Santa myth could be spent focusing on Christ’s birth.

Some parents call the Santa myth a lie while others call it pretending. I’m going to call it a huge deception. Kids ask questions all the time and we should answer them truthfully.

So where does that leave us with Santa? He’s everywhere we go. We can’t exactly hide from him. And we don’t want to. We treat Santa like any other part of life. We explain him. We use him as an opportunity to teach our kids how to think. We don’t want them to run and hide in fear or to venture out on their own to find the answers their parents wouldn’t give them. We have open and honest conversations about it.

What difference does it make?

The Bible gives us no reason—and certainly no instruction—to support the myths and fables of Christmas and Santa Claus. They are tied to the ways of this world and contrary to the ways of Christ and His holy truth. “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles,” God tells us (Jeremiah:10:1 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O Israel! This is what the Lord says:“Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars.Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them.Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over.).

Professing Christians should examine the background of the Christmas holiday symbols and stop telling their children that Santa Claus and his elves, reindeer and Christmas gift-giving are connected with Jesus Christ. Emphatically they are not!

God hates lying! “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16 The Lord hates six things;in fact, seven are detestable to Him:17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil,19 a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.).

Christ reveals that Satan the devil is the father of lies (John:8:44

44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.)

Parents should tell their children the truth about God and this world’s contrary and confusing ways. If we don’t, we only perpetuate the notion that it is acceptable for parents to lie to their children!

Can a Christian promote a pagan holiday and its symbols as something that God or Christ has approved? Let’s see what God thinks about people using customs and practices rooted in false religion to worship Him and His Son. We find His views clearly expressed in both the Old and New Testament.

God specifically commands His people not to do what early church leaders did when they incorporated idolatrous practices and relabeled them Christian. Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God gave them a stern warning: Deuteronomy:12:29 “When the Lord your God annihilates the nations before you, which you are entering to take possession of, and you drive them out and live in their land, 30 be careful not to be ensnared by their ways after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, asking, ‘How did these nations worship their gods? I’ll also do the same.’ 31 You must not do the same to the Lord your God, because they practice every detestable thing, which the Lord hates, for their gods. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.

Many centuries later the apostle Paul traveled to and raised up churches in many gentile cities. To the members of the Church of God in Corinth, a city steeped in idolatry, Paul wrote: “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?

“For you are the temple of the living God . . . Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’ . . . Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols? For we are the sanctuary of the living God, as God said: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.17 Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you.18 I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty; 7:1 Therefore, dear friends, since we have such promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification[a] in the fear of God.).

Instead of allowing members to rename and celebrate customs associated with false gods, Paul’s instructions were clear: They were to have nothing to do with them. He similarly told Athenians who were steeped in idolatry, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts:17:30 “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent,).

God clearly forbids adopting pagan worship days and customs to worship Him. Jesus Christ plainly tells us that “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.).
We cannot honor God in truth with false practices adopted from the worship of nonexistent gods.

Jesus said: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark:7:6-7He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.They worship Me in vain,teaching as doctrines the commands of men. Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.” He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition!). With God no substitutes are acceptable! It makes no difference that Christians mean well when they observe Christmas. God is not pleased.

Almighty God, who made us, preserves us and gives us eternal life, has made His will in this matter known to you through His Word, the Bible. Will you honor God or follow the traditions of


One thought on “Origins of Christmas and Why we don’t lie to kids about Santa

  1. This was interesting, because it half-reflects my thoughts. I hated Christmas as a child and into my teen and young adult years. It was full of greed, meaningless traditions, and lies.
    But I’ve been reconsidering my thoughts these past few years. To my husband, Christmas never meant more than a time his parents made an extra effort to love, children got stuff they didn’t deserve, and things were happy and peaceful. The children’s home he eventually ended up living at made fun things happen around Christmas and every kid got something. There were special dinners and Christmas morning was a big giant fun time. I was there once for one of their Christmas celebrations. It’s pretty epic to see 40 kids of all shapes and sizes, from sometimes very hurt backgrounds, unwrap surprises, sometimes gifts from former parent-figures, and more relevant gifts from people who were invested in their lives now.
    Okay, rambling aside. Christmas doesn’t mean pagan worship anymore. Most people don’t even know what it means. Trees aren’t worshiped. It’s a pretty thing that smells good, another something meaningless that’s just passed down and has come to remind us of home and family.
    I live in a country right now where there are a lot of religious festivals. And most of them are idol-worshiping. They parade an idol up and down the streets on poles. They shout. They offer it flowers and sacrifices. That’s a pagan holiday. But some of those holidays are starting to depart from their religiousness. And celebrating them or not gets fuzzy. In this instance, I like to go with the precedent that Jesus set down in the Bible about eating meat offered to idols. If it stumbles someone, don’t do it. If celebrating a pagan holiday makes your neighbors think you are “playing both sides” and worshiping a pagan god, than don’t do it.
    But Christmas, for most, isn’t a pagan holiday. Even for me, it’s become nothing more than an excuse to show my husband and friends a little love, and to remember the AMAZING and epic sacrifice God made for us (regardless of the technicalities of when he made it). It’s like communion, I guess, for me. A time to remember Jesus in a special way.
    Now, lying to kids about Santa Claus is a different story. I think it’s dumb. They can know the story, but I’m not going to try to convince them he’s real.. :p

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