It is a widely accepted fact that Jesus was not actually born at Christmas but sometime in the September or October of our calendar. Although no one knows the exact date, a number of suggestions have been put forward, with seemingly good evidence, including this one for September 29th, 2 BC. We of course do not celebrate this date or any other in the autumn period and in our modern-day world December 25th is used to remember this vital event when God stepped into history.

Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas, or indeed any other date? Some make a big thing of the fact that the Bible does not tell us to celebrate this day, but this to me does not appear to be an issue, because nowhere in Scripture are we told NOT to celebrate it and thus at the very least it becomes a matter of conscience. We should also remember that various Scriptures (see for example Colossians 2:16 & Romans 14:5), give clear instructions that we are not to condemn each other over days that we keep.

If then, according to Scripture, it is a matter of conscience we need to investigate the facts around December 25 carefully and then make a decision as to whether we can celebrate it. There are two main objections for us doing this; first, that it is based on an occultic festival and second, that Christmas celebrations are worldly.

1. Christmas is based on an occultic festival.

Many articles have been written about this issue and they don’t all agree with each other. We therefore need to check out the facts, as best we can, and make some clear decisions. Is Christmas purposely based on an occultic festival to make it pagan, or were there other reasons for choosing this day? Let’s look at some of the history regarding this.

In summary, most believe that people had celebrated a mid-winter festival since pre-historic times; the Roman festival of Saturnalia lasted for several days. It also appears that Germanic tribes of Northern Europe celebrated the mid-winter with feasting, drinking and religious rituals. The actual date of December 25th appears to have been chosen, for the celebration of the birth of Christ, by Pope Julius I, in the 4th century 336 and 350 are both quoted with authority), in order to include a Christian element in the long-established mid-winter festivals.

Let’s look at some of these aspects in a little more detail. First, those that deny all connection to a pagan festival:

“… World Magazine has published an article entitled ‘Why December 25? – The origin of Christmas had nothing to do with paganism’ by Gene Edward Veith which argues that December 25 was not an adoption of the pagan winter solstice, but rather the pagan winter solstice was trying to ride the coattails of the western Christians celebration of the birth of Jesus.

“William J. Tighe (see the next quote**), a history professor at Muhlenberg College, gives a different account in his article ‘Calculating Christmas,’ published in the December 2003 Touchstone Magazine. He points out that the ancient Roman religions had no winter solstice festival.

“True, the Emperor Aurelian, in the five short years of his reign, tried to start one, ‘The Birth of the Unconquered Sun,’ on Dec. 25, 274… But Aurelian’s new festival was instituted after Christians had already been associating that day with the birth of Christ… Christians were not imitating the pagans. The pagans were imitating the Christians.” – Website

I have not been able to substantiate this claim, that the pagans followed the Christians not the other way round. In most cases where this is mentioned, normally the source article quoted is by ** William J. Tighe, a Catholic and Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania:

“The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many ‘paganizations’ of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many ‘degenerations’ that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

“In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him…

“As things actually happened, Aurelian, who ruled from 270 until his assassination in 275, was hostile to Christianity and appears to have promoted the establishment of the festival of the ‘Birth of the Unconquered Sun’ as a device to unify the various pagan cults of the Roman Empire around a commemoration of the annual “rebirth” of the sun…

“In creating the new feast, he intended the beginning of the lengthening of the daylight, and the arresting of the lengthening of darkness, on December 25th to be a symbol of the hoped-for “rebirth,” or perpetual rejuvenation, of the Roman Empire… If it co-opted the Christian celebration, so much the better.” –  Website

“For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble. – 1 Corinthians 8: 4-13

This is an interesting insight into the pagan world in which Paul lived. He had no problem in eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols because they were of man’s making and the God he served was greater than all that. However, he would refrain if doing such things would stumble any weaker Christians around.

If Paul would actually eat meat that had been used in a pagan ceremony there is obviously no problem in worshipping the Lord on a day that at one time may have been used for pagan rites. However, we should also take notice of the reason Paul would refrain and be aware that some things we do on this day might stumble others and we would need to seek God as to what we should do about this.

Paul goes on later in the same letter to underline something else that is helpful for us to understand:

“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-26

All things are lawful but not all things are profitable or will build up; therefore Paul will not just do something because he is free to do it but will make sure that it is first profitable and then for edification. Notice, too, that all this is again within the context of others.

In this light I would like to mention a number of issues, some more important than others, that maybe we need to consider in a new light and just maybe they are hindrances to true worship.

Normal Christmas Story

The first thing that I believe is in error is the crib scene that is displayed in many churches. It is not Biblical! The magi were not there that first night at the stable, Matthew 2:11 shows that they came into the house – not the stable – and there is no record of anyone else being there at the time. However, even the stable itself is probably a wrong concept:

“The text of Luke 2 notes there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the ‘inn.’ Unfortunately, the Greek term translated inn (kataluma) had multiple meanings… Used only one other time in the New Testament (Luke 22:11 and the parallel passage, Mark 14:14), it was the place where Jesus observed the Last Supper with His disciples. Here, Dr. Luke gave additional information… He said it was a furnished large upper storey room within a private Jerusalem house…

“We suggest the kataluma of Jesus’ first night was a similar room in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph came into town with Mary ready to deliver. Arriving at Joseph’s ancestral home, they found it already full of other family members… So that is when Mary and Joseph went to the barn, right? Not exactly. The Biblical account mentions neither barn nor cave – it is assumed because of the manger. Mangers are animal feeding troughs, and barns are where one would expect to find them. But in the ancient world, as well as in primitive modern cultures, mangers are also found within the house itself. Animals are regularly kept in homes at night.

“A small number of flock animals were housed not in attached exterior sheds, but inside the house in one of the ground floor rooms… Excavations in Israel have uncovered numerous installations within domestic structures which probably represent ancient mangers. Some are carved, but most are stone built. Wooden mangers, of course, have not survived in the archaeological record.

“Consequently, Mary and Joseph did not find space in the living quarters of the ancestral family home. Instead, they stayed downstairs in the domestic stable, still within the ancestral home, where a manger or two was located.”  – Website

“True, the Emperor Aurelian, in the five short years of his reign, tried to start one, ‘The Birth of the Unconquered Sun,’ on Dec. 25, 274… But Aurelian’s new festival was instituted after Christians had already been associating that day with the birth of Christ… Christians were not imitating the pagans. The pagans were imitating the Christians.” – Website

I have not been able to substantiate this claim, that the pagans followed the Christians not the other way round. In most cases where this is mentioned, normally the source article quoted is by ** William J. Tighe, a Catholic and Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania:

This claim does seem to run in the face of all the other evidence and indeed the original writer of the article (BK a male teacher and former attorney from New Mexico) who quoted William Tighe was inundated with comments and questions that caused him to write this further explanation:

“The general tone of the objection was… ‘In fact the Roman midwinter festival, starting on December 17 and going on for up to two weeks, was called Saturnalia.’

“While it is certainly true that Saturnalia was celebrated by the Romans at least as early as the First Century A.D… the fact that an ancient Roman festival existed at about the same time as the later Christmas holiday does not mean that the latter is based on the former.

“First, the real question that needs to be asked is whether the Christians who arrived at the date of the birth of Jesus had an independent reason for choosing to celebrate Christmas on December 25. If they did, then the fact that the date may have coincided with another festival celebrated by other pagan cultures becomes merely coincidental. I think that Professor Tighe has done an admirable job of demonstrating that the December 25 date was chosen for reasons completely independent of any festivals…

“Second, the question arises whether Saturnalia was, in fact, celebrated on December 25? Every source I checked on Saturnalia had the celebration commencing on December 17… Exactly how long did the celebration of Saturnalia continue? The sources conflict on the length… Circle Sanctuary, a pagan resource, also claims that Saturnalia was celebrated from December 17 to December 23.’s article… agrees… originally celebrated only on December 17 but was later extended for ‘a week, despite Augustus’ efforts to reduce it to three days, and Caligula’s, to five.” Of course, a week is only seven days which would have ended the celebration on December 23…

“The only source I found that extended Saturnalia beyond December 25 was the History Channel’s page on Saturnalia which said that the celebration extended for a month…

“Thus, it appears that Christmas’ association with December 25 had nothing at all to do with Saturnalia. The date was chosen for reasons independent of Saturnalia…I, for one, am very satisfied that the case is quite strong that the choice of December 25 for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord had nothing to do with Saturnalia.”  Website

Although the writer arrives at the same conclusion, the goalposts have moved. In the first article, “ancient Roman religions had no winter solstice festival”; but in the second they do but it just does not extend to 25 December.

What do others say about this pagan festival?

“The Dies Natalis [Solis] Invicti [birth of the unconquered son] was probably first celebrated in Rome by order of the Emperor Aurelian (270-5), an ardent worshipper of the Syrian sun-god Baal. With the Sol Invictus was identified the figure of Mithra, that strange eastern god whose cult resembled in so many ways the worship of Jesus, and who was at one time a serious rival of the Christ in the minds of thoughtful men…

“What more natural than that the Church should choose this day to celebrate the rising of her Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings, that she should strive thus to draw away to His worship some adorers of the god whose symbol and representative was the earthly sun! There is no direct evidence of deliberate substitution, but at all events ecclesiastical writers soon after the foundation of Christmas made good use of the idea that the birthday of the Savior had replaced the birthday of the sun.

“This is the explanation adopted by most scholars. Duchesne suggests as an explanation of the choice of December 25 the fact that a tradition fixed the Passion of Christ on March 25. The same date, he thinks, would have been assigned to His Conception in order to make the years of His life complete, and the Birth would come naturally nine months after the Conception. He, however, ‘would not venture to say, in regard to the 25th of December, that the coincidence of the Sol novus exercised no direct or indirect influence on the ecclesiastical decision arrived at in regard to the matter.’ Professor Lake also, in his article in Hastings’s ‘Encyclopedia,’ seeks to account for the selection of December 25 without any deliberate competition with the Natalis Invicti. He points out that the Birth of Christ was fixed at the vernal equinox by certain early chronologists, on the strength of an elaborate and fantastic calculation based on Scriptural data, and connecting the Incarnation with the Creation, and that when the Incarnation came to be viewed as beginning at the Conception instead of the Birth, the latter would naturally be placed nine months later.” Website

Yes, there was a pagan festival around this time, but many would not see it as a direct substitution.

“Why did the Catholic Church choose December 25 for the birth date of Christ? It was chosen in order to compete with the pagan winter solstice festivals. It was not chosen because it is the correct historical date for the birth of Jesus…

“December 25th was sacred, not only to the pagan Romans, but to the religion from Persia, Mithraism, whose followers worshipped the sun and celebrated its return to strength on that day. Mithras had attained such popularity and favor in the eyes of the emperors that Aurelian proclaimed the cult of Sol Invictus the Roman Empire’s official state religion. December 25 fell between the week long feast of the Saturnalia and the Kalends of January, and it coincided more or less closely with all those mid-winter festivals at which the primitive peoples of Europe and Asia had celebrated, from time immemorial, the sun’s rebirth at the Winter Solstice.

“To the pagans, the Saturnalia were fun. To the ‘Christians’ the Saturnalia were an abomination in homage to a disreputable god who had no existence anyway. The ‘Christians’ were now dedicated to the slow task of converting the pagan Romans… But how did the Catholic Church convert the pagans with their December 25th sun-worship festival? It became the policy of the church to ‘transform’ pagan festivals wherever possible instead of trying to abolish them and give the ancient practices a ‘Christian’ significance. It definitely was a clever trick…

“The Catholic Church chose this date to celebrate the rising of the sun of Righteousness that she should thus strive to draw away to His worship the adorers of the god whose symbol and representative was the earthly sun!. The Church Fathers sought to point the pagan festival in worship of the sun toward the ‘Christian’ Sun of Righteousness…

“By choosing December 25th, the indications are, that the Catholic Church grasped the opportunity to turn the people away from a purely pagan observance of the winter solstice to a day of adoration of Christ the Lord.” Website

This gives what the writers see as the ‘gruesome’ details of the pagan festival but whatever actually happened at the pagan festival there is first some real dispute as to whether Saturnalia was really the forerunner of Christmas. The evidence seems to be in dispute and much of the language is, “seems to be” and “closely resembles”, which does not appear conclusive to me. However, having looked at this evidence, is it really important to decide exactly what happened?

The day, which we know as 25 December has always existed. Interestingly we are told:

“But for the first 300 years of Christianity, it wasn’t so. When was Christmas first celebrated? In an old list of Roman bishops, compiled in A. D. 354 these words appear for A.D. 336: ’25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae.’ December 25th, Christ born in Bethlehem, Judea. This day, December 25, 336, is the first recorded celebration of Christmas.” – Website

The day had always been there, people had lived their lives quite happily on that day. Those where there was no ‘pagan festival’ treated it like any other day and it was no more ‘evil’ than any other day. The day and the date are neither good nor evil. If someone decided to celebrate a pagan festival on that day, the day was not made occult but the hours in the day were used in such a fashion. Therefore, to choose to do something else with the day is not coloured by what others are doing but by what I am doing. There may be a witch’s coven meeting on the Sabbath, does that either make the coven Christian or the local church gathering evil? Of course not. If I go shopping on that day, would all the goods I buy be tainted by evil? Of course not. It is not what others have done or are doing with that day, it is what I am doing – and if I am truly worshipping Christ then it is not evil in any way.

In other words, they were not simply trying to ‘Christianise a pagan festival’ – the way they went about it was totally different – nor were they just taking all the customs and pretending they were Christian. It was using a day, that was already there, but seeking to make the Lord Jesus the centre of attention; that He was the one who was to be the “sun rising” – Malachi 4:2.

I therefore believe that this objection, whatever the true history, is a red herring; celebrating Christ on this day does not make true worship wrong.

In an article in our Quarterly entitled, Guilty by Association, I wrote,

“The classic example that is often put before me is Christmas. This day is pagan and so all Christians that celebrate Christmas must be in some way ‘of the Devil’. However, let us look at this a little more carefully. If I am saying that 25 December is pagan then so is every day of the week. How about Saturn day or Sun Day? The day itself is not pagan but what we do is. If I am celebrating the coming into this world of the Lord Jesus Christ – that is not pagan but is glorifying to God. Clear distinctions do need to be drawn and not associations jumped upon.

“What is also important in this argument is that the pagan festival was not just December 25 but was much longer than that and so to say that December 25 was specifically chosen because it was the pagan day is not true.

“The Roman’s celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of “Jo Saturnalia!” the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).

“The fact that Christians today can misuse December 25, I do not disagree but then they can misuse much of what God has told us to do – see the first letter to the Corinthians – but providing I am celebrating the remembrance of God stepping into this world I believe it is acceptable for Christians to do that. Indeed, I believe it is shown to be acceptable in Colossians 2:16 and that we are not to judge one another over this issue.”

This leads us to the next question which I believe is relevant to all Christians – it is not the fact that we worship on that day but how we worship and celebrate that is the issue. Is what we are giving to the Lord, true and wholesome worship, or are there areas where the world has taken over?

2. Christmas celebrations are worldly

Celebrating in spirit and truth the Saviour’s entry into this world cannot be occultic, worldly or wrong. Indeed, without His birth there would be no death; without a miraculous birth that has never been seen before or since deserves celebrating; celebrating Christmas, so marked by the prophets of old is doing justice to the event heralded throughout the Old Testament.

If we are worshiping the Lord and giving glory to Him; if we are joining with the angels in celebrating a Saviour born, then we are in line with the revelation of Scripture. The day, as we have seen, is not the issue; it is the style and content of worship and if that is genuine and acceptable to the Lord. However, there are some pitfalls here and we do need to be aware of them and make up our own minds before the Lord as to what we can and what we cannot do.

This indeed is the way that Paul dealt with idol issues in his day.

Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.

Whatever way we picture the scene, it is important that it is as true as possible to the Biblical record.

Christmas Tree

The history of the Christmas tree is like the history of the day. There are indications of pagans using trees but there appears little, if any, evidence of a direct correlation.

“The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life… The modern custom, however, although likely related, cannot be proven to be directly descended from pagan tradition. It can be traced to 16th century Germany; Ingeborg Weber-Keller (Marburg professor of European ethnology) identified as the earliest reference a Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 which reports how a small fir was decorated with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers, and erected in the guild-house, for the benefit of the guild members’ children, who collected the dainties on Christmas day…” Website

“Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They [are] upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also [is it] in them to do good. Forasmuch as [there is] none like unto thee, O LORD; thou [art] great, and thy name [is] great in might.” – Jeremiah 10:1-6, KJV.

If somebody genuinely feels that the Lord speaks to them through these verses and tells them not to have a Christmas Tree, that is between them and the Lord and I will not argue. However, if these verse are taken in context and especially compared with Isaiah 40:19 and 44:9-10, it is clear that this is talking about making an idol and worshipping it, not having a decorated tree in your house. The people would cut down a tree and engrave an image in it. This would be to them an idol to be feared and worshipped. The only similarities between this and a Christmas tree, seems to be that both are made of wood and both are decorated.

Once again we are back to the reason we do it. To make the house look nice – fine. To worship the tree as some sort of spiritual symbol is idol worship and should not be part of the Christian’s Christmas celebrations. Here is an interesting and practical article on the Christmas tree from someone whose stock in trade is trees.

Other Decorations

Other decorations such as the Yule Log and Mistletoe definitely do have pagan roots. Yule was the winter solstice celebration of the Germanic pagans and a special log was chosen on the eve of Yule, for the holiday fire. A small piece from last year’s log was used to light the fire, which was a festive family event, to hurry the return of the sun. Charred pieces from the fire would be kept to protect the house through the coming year. Today, eating a chocolate covered sponge Yule log is not likely to lead you in to paganism but it is good to know the origin of words we use.

Whereas the roots of kissing under the mistletoe are not clear it does seem to be linked with the fertility aspects of mistletoe, and the Druids view that it brought peace.

Santa Claus

Fictional characters are not wrong and many children learn from their favourite characters, which is why parents want to expose their children to wholesome stories with good morals. One wonders however, what we teach our kids though the invention of Santa Claus.

First, we are encouraged to ask for as many things as we want on the basis that we will receive all that I ask for. Not only does this often lead to disappointment but it can also produce an attitude of greed in the child’s life and an expectation that whatever they ask for they get.

Second, we have a superhuman character that we can trust implicitly and that knows all about us, whether we have been good or bad. He will reward or punish us according to our actions.

Third, it doesn’t matter how many lies we tell the children about him but we must not lie to him and of course the rest of the year we will be encouraging our children not to lie.

No wonder many children today grow up believing more in Santa Claus than in Jesus; in most homes I guess even at Christmas time there is more said about Santa than there is about the Saviour. But just look at the difference in character.

First, Jesus will listen carefully to all that we ask Him, but He will only give us what, He in His sovereign wisdom, knows what is best for us.

Second, He is truly eternal not having superhuman powers on one night only; He knows all about us but still loves us just the same and will forgive our wrong doings as we ask Him to. He, of course, is the only One who can truly forgive them all.

Third, we can trust Him fully because it is not that He just chooses always to tell the truth, but He is truth.

Which one should really be at the centre of our thinking at Christmas?

Over Indulgence

There is nothing wrong with being blessed with money and nothing wrong with enjoying good food; it is our attitude towards them that cause the problems. Scripture tells us that it is the love of money that is the root of evil and it also tells us that we should do all things in moderation. Enjoying a nice meal together and giving each other presents is neither pagan nor to be avoided but our attitude is important.

We should not go into debt over buying presents or food and we should not give with either an attitude of wanting to receive back or that we are so good to be giving what we do.

These are all areas that can ruin the worship of the Christ and move Him away from the centre of Christmas. I do not believe there is anything wrong or pagan about remembering the birth of our Saviour on 25 December but how and what we do is very important.

As each one, as an individual and in fellowship with close family, will need to decide whether or not they should celebrate Christmas but do be clear as to why you believe it is wrong because you could be depriving the Lord of His true worship.

We trust that this article will be liberating rather than detrimental and that we will be able to enjoy this Christmastime with family gatherings, fellowship with the church, enjoying meals and presents within moderation, giving and receiving peace and goodwill from all but, above all this knowing that Christ is the centre of our celebrations.

Once again there is no evidence that Christmas Trees come from pagan traditions. However, in the Bible there are some Scriptures that seem, apart from any history, to forbid the use of Christmas Trees.

Here we have the picture of choosing a date that “fell between” rather than on, Saturnalia or Kalends, and it, “coincided more or less closely with all those mid-winter festivals”. A suitable day with a totally different meaning.

A website subtitled, “Judaism Online” gives us these details:

“How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25? “A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25… 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 …

“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 carolling), etc.”