MODS: I was unsure of where to place this please move this to a more appropriate board if necessary.
Ok guys, this is a draft for a persuasive speech I have coming up in my oral communications class at college. I wanted to do something that would
challenge my audiences way of thinking and so I decided to oppose Christmas (which 27 out of 29 of the students in my class said they celebrated
religiously). Please keep in mind that this is not a formal essay, but rather a quick sketch of what I plan to say that was put together as a
precursor to the outline i'll have in hand while presenting. Feel free to leave any comments/supportive criticism/suggests below. Thanks
Every year towards the end of December people everywhere hang wreaths and mistletoe, set up mangers, cut and decorate trees, watch classic cartoons
about Santa and elves, share gifts, and are in a generally happy mood as a collective whole. This time of the year is commonly referred to by
Christians as Christmas, but what exactly are you celebrating when you take part in this holiday? Many people would say that you're celebrating the
birth of their savior, Jesus Christ, but is there anything to back up the claim that he was actually born on that day? I am a Christian myself, but
after doing some research about this holiday, i've learned that nearly every aspect of Christmas can be attributed in some way, shape, or form to
pre-Christian pagan beliefs. 19 out of the 21 of you who participated in the in-class-survey said that you celebrated Christmas as a Christian
holiday, so I know in advance that i'm not likely to make any friends based on what I have to say today. Aside from that fact though, today I will
give you some history about the time period in which Christmas originated, explain where some of our traditions come from, and provide some scripture
to help support my claims in order to persuade you that Christmas as we know it couldn't be any further from the truth.
TRANSITION: First, i'd like to start with some history in order to explain why many pagan traditions that we hold onto today came to be Christianized
in the first place.
One of the main figures in Christianizing the pagan religion of the early first century was the Roman emeror Constantine. Constantine was born in the
year 272 and was first exposed to Christianity by his mother, Helena. Constantine was not a Christian from birth, however, but rather follower of
pagan sun worship (which was the norm during that time). After becoming emperor of Rome in the year 306, Constantine experienced a dramatic change in
his life. In the year 312, during the Battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine was said to have looked up to the sun before battle (looking for
guidance/support from the sun god) when he saw the sign of the cross above the sun. Upon the cross was inscribed the words "in hoc signo vinces", or
"in this sign you will be victorious". That night he had a dream which apparently confirmed his vision in which God told him to use the sign that he
had been given as a safeguard in his battles. After this dream, Constantine converted to Christianity and made the symbol of his savior's name the
new insignia of his army, outfitting it on his soldiers and flags. Constantine was victorious in the Battle of Milvian Bridge and he continued to use
the symbol of Christ from that day onward.
Until this point in history, Christians had been widely tormented. Now that Constantine had announced his Christianity, however, it meant that they
would be safe from persecution. Constantine's dedication also ensured that all of his subjects, Christian or non, would be exposed to this relatively
new religion. he even went as far as to make Sunday a Roman holiday so that more people would be able to attend church. He also made churches tax
Constantine was a firm believer that church and state should operate as closely together as possible. He was originally tolerant of paganism, given
his roots in the religion, but as with any nation, it becomes easier to rule a unified people. It is for this reason that Constantine soon began to
phase out paganism under the disguise of Christianity. One of the ways he did this was by allowing pagans to keep many of their traditions and
beliefs, but under the guise of new Christian holidays, or Holy-days. As a result, the Roman church was now full of pagans masquerading as Christians
in order to avoid persecution. In this way, Constantine used religion as a tool to unify his people, but lacked any form of true spirituality.
Before the date became Christianized, December 25th was originally the Natalis Solis Invicti, or the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. This holiday
which took place after the winter solstice, was in honor of the sun god, Mithras, who was originally a persian diety. Also, from December 17th to
24th, it was common for Romans to celebrate the ancient feast of Saturnalia, which was commemorative of Saturn, the god of the harvest. To pagan
religions at the time, December 25th was the birthday of the gods, the time of year when days begin to lengthen and when there is a regeneration of
nature (known to us as the winter solstice).
In the year 375 A.D., Pope Julius I announced that the birth of Jesus had been "discovered" to be on December 25th and it became accepted as such by
all those who proclaimed themselves "faithful" to the church. In order to make Christmas palatable to the pagans, the Roman Catholic Church simply
took the feast of Saturnalia and Christianized many of its symbols, customs, and traditions and reinterpretted them into acceptable Christian forms.
This allowed the celebrations of Mithras and Saturn to be conducted as a celebration of the birthday of Christ. It only mattered to the pagans that
they were allowed to worship their gods, not what they called them, and as a result many flocked to the Roman Catholic Church in order to abvoid
TRANSITION: Many of these symbols and customs of Saturnalia and the Natalis Solis Invicti that became Christianized during this time are some of the
very things that we still carry out today without even knowing their origins. The first tradition I will discuss is the displaying of nativity scenes.
Body Part II
Nearly all pagan worship descended from Babylonian religions, which focus primarily on the mother goddess and the birth of her child. This was late
adapted into Mary-Jesus worship, which easily accomodated the many pagans who "converted" to the Catholic church. Anyone who erected statues of the
mother and son by themselves would have been called idolaters, but now, under the disguise of Christmas, pagans were free to worship their gods.
Another tradition we have is the decorating of a Christmas tree. Evergreen trees have long symbolized immortality and fertility because of their
ability to (as their name suggests) remain green throughout the winter season when all other forms of plant life lie dormant. Evergreen would be
brought into the home during the winter as magic symbols of luck for a fruitful year to come. Also the star which tops these trees may not just be
attributed to the star that guided the wisemen, but rather the stars to which ancient Chaldean astronomers looked to for guidance. Decorating of
evergreens was first done in honor the the god Adonis who, after being killed, was brought back to life by the serpent Aesculapius (another sign of
This symbolic use of the evergreen doesn't stop at just Christmas trees, however. Christmas wreaths were also made from evergreens and symbolized
eternal life. These wreaths were usually round and symbolized the sun (the same way as halos do in modern art). As such, the wreath stood for an
eternal, or undying sun (just as the sun was renewed at the winter solstice). Christians were initially hostile towards the wreath because of its
reference to sun worship, but soon Christianized it as well saying that it could also represent the crown of thorns of Christ and the berries
represent his blood.
Another staple of the Christmas season, Santa Claus, was brought into being during this period as well. A twist on the Dutch Saint Nicholas, Santa
Claus wore red because that was the color that Catholic bishops and cardinals wore in Italy. The concept of Santa likely came from the Egyptian god,
Bes, who was a rotund, gnome-like character and was the patron of children. Bes was likewise said to have lived at the North Pole where he worked
year-round to produce toys for children who had been obedient to their parents. Santa Claus was also given blasphemous god-like abilities such as
being an all knowing, omnipresent being. Santa Claus also displaced Jesus as the supposed figure-head of Christmas to the children.
Even the Christmas ham can be attributed to earlier pagan beliefs. Hogs were slaughtered and served as one of the central festivities of the
Saturnalia festival. Each man in attendance would offer a pig as a sacrifice due to the belief that a boar had killed the sun diety, Adonis
TRANSITION: Many people however ignore the truth about these traditions and say that its still okay to celebrate because they aren't taking part in
it as a pagan holiday. Its okay as long as your focus is on Christ, right? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible tells us to
neither add to nor take away from what is instucted to us, and to add Christ into a pagan holiday (even if you aren't celebrating its pagan origins)
as a form of worship directly opposses that command.
Body Part III
One part of scripture that supports this idea is Leviticus 10, where Nadab and Abihu offer strange fire before the Lord. The verses read as such:
"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the
Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to
Aaron, This is what the Lord has said, Among those who are near me I will be sanctified and before all the people I will be glorified." Strange fire,
in this instance is usually interpretted literally, but it can also be a metaphor for anything that is presented to God as worship but is contrary to
his commands. Is celebrating the birth of Christ with no justification or reason the same as offering strange fire? We're instructed to remember the
death of Christ by which we are saved, but never are we instructed to celebrate His birth, and to do so is offering a "strange fire" before God.
Another supporting part of scripture is Deuteronomy 12:29-32 which reads: "When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to
dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you not be ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before
you, and that you do not inquire about their gods saying, How did these nations serve their gods? - that I also may do the same. You shall not worship
the Lord your God in that way, for every abominablle thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their
daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take away from it." In
this scripture, God told his people that when they invaded other nations, that they were to destroy all traces of pagan worship that they found. God
wanted to prevent his people from being enticed by false worship, but he also did not want his people to worship him in the same way that the pagans
worshipped their gods. In this respect, Christmas is nothing more than an adaptation of pagan religion and ceremony that has been Christianized to
offer false service to God.
One final part of scripture that I would like to share today is 1 Kings 18:21 which reads: "And Elijah came near to all the people and said, How long
will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, then follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not
answer." In this scripture Elijah opposes the prophets or Baal and warns them about mingling religions. As Christians we must be careful they we
neither add or take away from scripture, but whenever we celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday or as a form of worship, we're injecting pagan
traditions into what God has commanded. We must not limp between religions as the pagans under the rule of Constantine did.
As I have shown with these examples, Christmas is no more than a fabricated holiday that was used in the first century to unite all Romans under
Christianity. There is no scriptural basis for its celebration, and as Christians we must not be or feel obligated to partake in it. So what do we do
about this problem? I'm not here to say that we shouldn't celebrate Christ's birth, but to do so as a form of worship, there must be Biblical
precedent. It is for this reason that I not only challenge you to remove the name of Christ from this holiday when observing it, but to also teach
others the truth, to question what we're taught and to read the Bible on your own to find the truth rather than having someone else translate for
you. Christmas is a holiday about love, sharing, and togetherness and as long as we only celebrate it as such then there can be no question about our
correctness in worshipping God. There are 365 days in a year to remember Christ and to learn about his teachings, it would be a shame if we followed
the vast majority of the world and only limited it to one.