Christimas and the Winter Solstice

Some people think they are making a clever critique of Christmas — and therefore of Christianity — by pointing out that December 25 has nothing to do with the birth of Christ: It is instead a date chosen because it was the culmination of a several day pagan celebration of the winter solstice.

Seems to me they are being quite silly. Of course we do not know just when Jesus was born (April is a common guess) and arbitrarily set the winter solstice as the time to celebrate that birth. It does mean that Christmas is a recycled pagan holiday. That hardly means we are being pagan by celebrating Christmas in December. It just means that Christianity understands two profound and important realities.

First, Jesus Christ is Lord of all. No one else can say they have “first dibs” on this day or that, this idea or that. We use standard building techniques in our church buildings. Does that make our buildings secular rather than sacred? We use secular music in our hymns, such as Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, based on a beer drinking song. Does that mean we’re pagans when we sing Luther or Beethoven or Brahms or Sibelius?

We’re all recycled! We all begin as non-believers, some of us as outright enemies of God. Does that background invalidate our new birth, our transformation, our faith? Hardly. God is in the business of redemption and is very good at it. So he redeems the solstice — What is the problem? Since I am the recipient of God’s redeeming grace, I’m certainly not going to complain when God redeems a pagan holiday.

Atheists have to resort to the silliest and most juvenile are arguments to find something wrong with God and Christianity. A little growing up would help.


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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