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I was just curious if holiday celebrations like Christmas and Easter were written in the Bible, not merely mentioned but specifically indicating that people should celebrate them. It seems to me that celebrations like Christmas and Easter come from older, pagan traditions like Yule and the vernal equinox. For Easter, for example, Wikipedia states:

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many European languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are etymologically related or homonymous.

It occurred to me that our holidays may be nothing more than pre-Christan pagan traditions (not that such is a bad thing). However, I did a little research and it seemed to me that God of the bible, at least in some ways, thinks that our Christmas celebrations are largely worthless. At the very least, he made it clear that it's not useful to have Christmas trees:

Jeremiah 10 NIV

1 Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is > what the LORD says:

Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.

3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.

5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.

While the above passage doesn't actually mention Christmas, it mentions a common thing done on Christmas. Some people think that the passage does not mention Christmas trees, but rather idols. This only partially true. It is quite clear that the passage describes a Christmas tree, but it's referring to the worship of this tree as an idol as a worthless thing, not necessarily the tree itself as being worthless[1][2]. So it's OK to have Christmas trees—just don't worship them! There is some debate about this, but that is for another question. :) I just included the passage to show the Bible does possibly mention this aspect of how many people currently celebrate Christmas.

My question is really just asking for a bit more than a "sidelong mention" of Christmas trees. Specifically:

Are there other passages which specifically mention Christmas (or some close equivalent, like "Christ's Birthday", etc.), Easter, and other Christian holidays, and which also indicate that we should celebrate them?

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Good question, by the way. –  David Stratton Nov 23 '11 at 1:55
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The passage is of course talking about idols treated as gods, not about Christmas trees used in celebration. But apart from that, good question. –  DJClayworth Nov 23 '11 at 3:30
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This question spurred another at BH.SE. It's good to stop and consider some of our unspoken assumptions once in a while. –  Jon Ericson Nov 23 '11 at 21:51
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Of course, being a "pre-Christian pagan tradition" needn't be as bad as it sounds. Certainly some traditions may been pre-Christian and have had a pagan origin, but their being carried over to the Christian holiday suggests that the pagan religious sense was not still felt enough to prevent its being carried over -- the traditions may have passed, so to speak, out of the rites of a religion and into the non-religious customs of a culture. They could have been thought on a par, one could say, with fireworks on the 4th of July or a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. –  Muke Tever Nov 24 '11 at 0:01
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@Muke (On the contrary side, while 'meat offered to idols' may still be meat, it has also still been offered to idols.) –  Muke Tever Nov 24 '11 at 0:04
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4 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Neither Easter, nor Christmas, nor any other Christian holidays that I am aware of are mentioned in the Bible. Many of the traditions we adhere today are, indeed, pagan in origin.

There's plenty of material on the web to support this.

ChristianAnswers.Net discusses the origin of the name Easter, as well as the Easter Hare (the original Easter Bunny), and Easter Eggs.

You've already covered Christmas trees, and it's already been covered in this question.

However, this doesn't mean that it's wrong to celebrate them.

Christianity isn't about strict observance of rituals. Celebration is a gift given by God. What could be more natural than to celebrate the Savior that gave His all for us?

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+1 A great answer, thanks! :) –  stoicfury Nov 23 '11 at 18:44
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Pentecost is one Hebrew holy day mentioned in the Bible that most Christians keep, 50 days after Easter, 10 days after Ascension Thursday. Although, I'd imagine this would be an instance of keeping the name while having a completely different meaning behind the holiday. –  Peter Turner Nov 23 '11 at 19:29
    
Great answer. "celebrate the Savior", however, is done every time we take the Lord's Supper. Actually, I think I just realized why I never quite cared for either Easter or Christman (except for the gifts on Christmas, but I cared for the gifts, not for the celebration) –  Jürgen A. Erhard Nov 25 '11 at 22:56
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Taking a step back from Christmas and Easter holiday celebrations in particular, it should be noted that there were several celebratory feasts (and trust me, as a former Baptist, feasts are crucial to Baptists too) that the Jews undertook.

In fact Deuteronomy 14 records an obligatory feast in which Jews were required to take a tenth of their possessions, and have a great celebratory feast:

22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice

Seeing as this would occur in families and villages, this could be likened to the practice of giving gifts at Christmas.

Likewise, amongst the Jews, the Feats of Booths, the Pentecost (the first fruits of harvest), the Day of Atonement, and other holidays were set out by decree. Additionally, some holidays were instituted to commemorate important graces of God - Passover is an obvious example, where God's miraclous release of the slaves in Egypt commemorates important things God has done. Likewise, Purim celebrates God's saving of the Jews from Haman. Purim is an excellent example, because while God never commands the holy day, it still has a clear religious purpose of commemoration, much like Easter and Christmas do.

One could go into great detail about the main feasts, but the point is this - God definately wanted holy days to be celebrated. Whether or not he intended the Christ-mass to honor his Son's incarnation, or for a Resurrection Sunday is unclear. What is clear, however is that God likes a good time, and he wants us to be a part of it too.

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Welcome to 10k! –  Caleb Mar 15 '12 at 13:49
    
The question is about christian holidays or rather, holy days. And compared to the jewish feasts, which were explicitly (and in great detail) decreed by God himself, the christian holidays never were. Sure God likes having a great time... but why should I need a man-made/set arbitrary date for it? That's similar to saying that to have fun you have to drink alcohol. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 29 '12 at 22:06
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The passage you cited is from the Old Testament, and was, therefore, received by the nation of Israel and pertained to God's covenant with them. Israel certainly had their own holidays, including the Feasts of Tabernacles, First Fruits, Atonement, Trumpets, and Unleavened Bread, as well as Passover.

The Jewish people who first became Christians (or completed Jews) continued to celebrate these holidays.

So, there seems to be nothing wrong with holidays in general. And the prohibition to become like the nations was to Israel--not Gentiles.

The New Testament covenant is not one of law and prohibitions, but of grace and mercy.

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Although as many others go through life's celebrations etc... so do I but this is my mindadventure on this subject. , Ephesians 6:10 example

A central theme to this letter is that God's purpose is to bring together from many nations all people under the universal church of Jesus Christ. Christianity.

I feel that paganism is not what is good in Gods eyes. Therefore, would it not make sense as Nations being brought together under one Christ to follow in his footsteps? Even Jesus and the disciples were ever mentioned celebrating holidays. Actually mentions a type of superstition that was attached to the day of birth. More importantly, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, the early Christians “considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.” The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21) Birthday celebrations were also held in honor of pagan deities. For example, on May 24 the Romans celebrated the birthday of the goddess Diana. On the following day, they observed the birthday of their sun-god, Apollo. Hence, birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity. Sometimes I think the only thing pure enough to celebrate is the death of Jesus ND HIS RESURECTION. personally, that's the ultimate celebration of love and selflessness, and as it is furthest from impurity. On another note I have often thought of this and asked myself a strange question... So many say the holidays are for the kids, blah blah so on... when do we first teach our kids that's its okay to lie? as long as its just for fun!? Santa will leave presents and the Easter bunny leaves eggs, and you will get money from the tooth fairy.....lies. I guess that's for another time. Thanks for listening.

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Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our about and specifically How we are different than other sites. As it stands, this is an okay answer - it's basically saying, "No, holidays are pagan" but it doesn't really evaluate possible counter claims to the thesis. Additionally, it would be helpful to source the denomination for which this speaks. –  Affable Geek Sep 22 '13 at 23:56
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