by Patrick M. Herbert
For many years Christmas and other major holidays, such as Easter, Halloween, etc., have been portrayed as having a Christian origin. But is this true? Is it possible that we have been deceived into believing that pagan customs and traditions of the past have their roots in the Christian church? Is it possible that many well-known Christian holidays or so-called "holy days" have their origins in something or someone other than Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Are innocent believers giving life to ancient satanic practices? In other words, are many faithful but misinformed Christians paying homage to false gods by honoring pagan holidays and customs, but at the same time thinking that they are pleasing the true and living God?
As we continue in this publication, let us do so with open minds. While most Christian holidays have many advocates in support of them, surely this does not make them right or authentic. Again and again history has proven that even if the majority supports something, that does not necessarily make the thing right. On the contrary, time has shown that on most occasions the majority is wrong while the minority is right. Said Christ while still here on earth with His disciples:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13-14
As always, the true and sincere children of the Lord are required to be open-minded and humble under all circumstances, including instances like this where they may be brought in contact with views that may differ from their own. None of us can afford to be prejudiced or proud, but instead, in harmony with the instructions of our beloved Master, we should seek to always display the humility, faith, and willingness to learn "as little children." (Matthew 18:3).
Therefore, neither the overwhelming number of supporters nor the apparent sacredness of the holidays herein discussed are any real basis for them to be considered true and acceptable in the sight of God. The sacred writings declare that the beliefs, doctrines, principles, and practices upheld and promoted by the true followers of Jesus Christ must always find their origin and basis in the Word of God; otherwise they are not true but erroneous, and therefore cannot be pleasing and acceptable in God's sight.
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20
Important History About Ancient Babylon
After the great flood of biblical history, the children of God settled down in the region of "the mountains of Ararat" where the ark had "rested." (Genesis 8:4). With time, as the families of Noah multiplied, some sought other places to live. Many descendants of Noah who sought to avoid the company of the righteous decided to settle in Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. This location was chosen largely due to the obvious fertility of the land. As a result, Babylon, or modern-day Iraq, was built. And it is still recognized by many today as being one of the most ancient kingdoms established by man.
The Bible speaks of the ancient people of Babel ( the Babylonians) as having a great leader by the name of Nimrod. Nimrod was one of the ring-leaders, if not the main ring-leader, in the apostasy that led up to the building of the tower of Babel, which was eventually destroyed by God. Of this notorious man, the Scriptures declare:
"And Cush [one of Noah's grandsons] begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." Genesis 10:8-10
In light of the Hebrew word used in the original translation, the phrase "before the Lord," in reference to Nimrod in the above text, is really to be understood as meaning "against the Lord." In other words, Nimrod was not really a mighty hunter in God's favor or a friend of God, but instead this grandson of Ham was a proud and sinful man whose mighty prowess and skills enabled him to achieve great things. Regarding the biblical phrases, "a mighty one" and "before the Lord" we read:
"The expression [a mighty one] denotes a person renowned for bold and daring deeds. It may also include the connotation of 'tyrant'. . . The LXX renders this phrase [before the Lord] 'against the Lord.' Although the hunter Nimrod acted in defiance of God, his mighty deeds made him famous among his contemporaries, and in future generations as well." SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 1 p. 275.
Nimrod became more and more famous among the people. He was highly regarded by the people who separated themselves from the true God and settled in the plains of Shinar. There he later established many different kingdoms, including Babylon. Nimrod's accomplishments led him to choose his own will above that of God. Thus he became a great rebel "against" the Creator, even in a public or open manner.
This notorious leader, Nimrod, had a wife by the name of Semiramis. Semiramis was a beautiful woman, but she was very vile and evil-minded like her husband Nimrod. The influence of these two people (Nimrod and Semiramis) led many to turn away from the good example of Shem (one of the three sons of Noah). Thus many people fell into great apostasy.
As a result of this apostasy many pagan customs and traditions were introduced. In Babylon, temples called Ziggurats, were erected for idol worship. Through these means many pagan customs were nurtured and promoted far and wide. Some of these practices are still observed today, including the recognition of December 25 (Christmas) as a special day. Yet most of these practices date as far back as the time following the fall of the tower of Babel.
Who Was Really Born On December 25?
When Nimrod, the founder of Babylon, died, Semiramis told the people that her husband's spirit had taken possession of the sun. She encouraged the people to pay homage to her husband by worshipping the sun. Thus began the evil practice of sun worship. Later on when Semiramis gave birth to a son by the name of Tammuz, she hid her licentious for of living by lying to the people. She told them that she was miraculously overshadowed by the spirit of her dead husband, Nimrod, and it was in this way she was able to bring forth this so-called "son of god."
Semiramis also declared that her son, Tammuz, was in actuality the return or rebirth of her husband, Nimrod. Hence through this teaching, the doctrine of reincarnation was born. And since Tammuz was born on December 25, this day was highly honored and recognized by Nimrod's supporters. Note, therefore, that this date (December 25) was observed in the honor of the birth of Tammuz long before Christianity existed, and that it was not until many centuries later this pagan custom was "Christianized" as being the birthday of Christ (or Christmas day).
The similarity between some of the ancient pagan beliefs and the truth is notable. Those who existed after the flood knew the true prophecies of God very well because the Creator had made His plans known unto all the descendants of Adam and Eve. Therefore, it was not difficult for Satan to counterfeit the truth with erroneous applications. The notable writer Alexander Hislop tells us:
"If there was one who was more deeply concerned in the tragic death of Nimrod than another, it was his wife Semiramis, who, from an originally humble position, had been raised to share with him the throne of Babylon. . . In life her husband had been honored as a hero; in death she will have him worshipped as a god, yea, as the woman's promised seed, 'Zeroashta,' who was destined to bruise the serpent's head, and who, in doing so, was to have his own heel bruised." The Two Babylons, p. 58-59.
Of course, because of the deifying of her husband, it was not long before Nimrod's followers began to also worship Semiramis. And her son Tammuz (Zero-ashta) was worshipped as well. More and more Semiramis was revered by the people and was viewed by many as a priestess and goddess. Later on she also became known as "the queen of heaven." Thus began the awful practice of exalting human deities. These false beliefs have led up to the many different forms of idolatry that are still practiced by different people today. Yes, it was through the introduction of these satanic evils and the many sacrilegious practices of ancient Babylon that witchcraft, priestcraft, spiritualism, and other forms of paganism were born. Says the well-known author Ellen G. White:
"The doctrine of man's consciousness in death, especially the belief that spirits of the dead return to minister to the living, has prepared the way for modern spiritualism." The Great Controversy, p. 551.
Are Christmas Day and Halloween Related to Sun Worship?
The worship of Nimrod became widespread when the builders of the tower of Babel were scattered throughout the earth. Along with them, the people carried all the satanic beliefs and practices that were introduced to them while dwelling on the plains of Shinar. With time, these views were remodeled to suit the different civilizations that peopled the earth; nevertheless, they all basically stemmed from the religious views started on the plains of Shinar. Thus we read:
"The Chaldean Mysteries can be traced up to the days of Semiramis, who lived only a few centuries after the flood, and who is known to have impressed upon them the image of her own depraved and polluted mind." The Two Babylons, p. 5.
In Egypt, although there were many gods, the three main deities were Osiris, Isis, and Horus. These were simply substitute names for Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz. In Rome they were known as Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter. While in Greece they were known as Kronos, Rhea, and Zeus. In other lands, such as in India and China, they were also known and worshipped under different names. Thus we see that following the fall of the tower of Babel, the religion of Babylon continued to live on under many different disguises.
In many places, these original Babylonish practices were reintroduced and preserved through the historical records, myths, and religious teachings or customs of the people. So much so that even the first day of the week, Sunday, continued to be recognized as the day of the sun. Hence, in Rome, when Emperor Constantine issued his famous Sunday law of March 7, 321 AD, he clearly and distinctly referred to Sunday as "the venerable Day of the Sun."
Following the scattering of the builders of the tower of Babel, many people throughout the earth were worshippers of the sun. In Britain, a religious sect called the Druids were greatly feared by the people. They too, were known to worship the sun. The Druid priests were also known to offer human sacrifices to their god and they performed many supernatural feats. They were known to worship in small woods or groups of trees called groves.
In ancient times the Druids celebrated a festival in honor of their sun god, which today we call Halloween. The night of October 31, was a special night for them. But their idea of "trick or treat," as well as the use of the "jack o' lantern," was definitely not the very same as it is now. Gruesome and satanic activities were involved in these observances in ancient times. Yet, we now see these things as innocent, even though in the past they were all associated with pagan and spiritualistic rituals. Certainly there is nothing Christian whatsoever about little children dressing up like witches and warlocks. God's command unto the faithful is:
"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God." Deuteronomy 18:10-13.
Sun worship became popular world-wide. Even among the children of Israel the sun god Baal was worshipped. Such a practice was condemned by Jehovah, and drastic consequences were outlined by Him to all offenders.
"Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim." Jeremiah 7:8-15
"He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed." Exodus 22:20
In ancient Rome, the god Saturn was worshipped, and along with this idolatry the winter solstice was highly regarded. A week long winter festival called Saturnalia was celebrated by them in honor of the re-appearance of the sun in the northern hemisphere. The final day of this festival, Brumalia, fell on December 25. This was regarded as the day of "the invincible sun." During these festivals there was much gaiety, feasting, and even the exchanging of gifts, very similar to the manner in which Christmas is celebrated today. Yet all of these customs existed many years before the birth of Jesus Christ, and as we can see they were all in honor of false gods.
Surely, the activities involved in these ancient Roman festivals give us a good example of what obviously predominated the celebration of Tammuz's birth anciently. Thus we see that the date, December 25 was a day of pagan origin in honor of the sun god. (It is also interesting to note that the name Saturn, from which Saturnalia derives, was another name for Nimrod.)
What About Santa Claus and Christmas Trees?
The name Santa Claus is indispensable connected to Christmas, and especially with the practice of giving gifts on that day. Some believe that Santa Claus originated with a man known as St. Nicholas. He was a bishop in Asia Minor during the fourth century who di many charitable deeds in his time.
On the other hand, some are of the opinion that the name Santa Claus originated way back in the time of Nimrod. In some ancient drawings depicting this Babylonish ruler, he is shown wearing a long beard, carrying a spotted fawn or deer, and holding a fir tree in his hand (all symbols now employed in one way or another with Christmas and Santa Claus today).
Nevertheless, regardless of which origin of the name Santa Claus one chooses to believe, the concept of Santa Claus on a whole is totally fictitious. To tell children that Santa Claus is a man that lives in the north pole, rides a sled pulled by (one of which is called Rudolph who is known for his red nose), and that he, Santa is responsible for bringing all the presents that are received on Christmas day, is totally untrue and should not be encouraged by true Christian parents.
All who desire to follow the example of our beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will always seek to live and speak only the truth. They will also earnestly seek to uphold the following words in their own lives and in the lives of their children:
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." John 4:24
(It is interesting to note that when the letters of the name, Santa, are rearranged, they spell the word — Satan. Surely this is not by chance!)
As to the origin of the Christmas tree, the Bible declares:
"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 ax. 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." Jeremiah 10:1-5
Surely, none can deny that this decorated tree made mention of by Jeremiah the prophet answers to what is known today as the Christmas tree. Of course the trees of modern times are no longer decked only "with silver and wil gold," but instead multicolored electric bulbs, tinsel, and various other objects. What we see today would certainly outdo the decorated trees of Jeremiah's day. Also, instead of the trees being fastened down "with nails and hammers," people now use many different kinds of sophisticated wooden stands, special pots, and metal holders. Nevertheless, despite these technological changes the very same custom is still being followed in modern times. Therefore, despite these modifications, God's original position regarding the observance of this "apparently innocent" practice is still very clear: "Thus saith the Lord, learn not the way of the heathen . . . for the customs of the people are vain [of no value]" (Jeremiah 10:2-3).
In many ancient civilizations trees were worshipped as gods. Sometimes people even carved trees into strange looking images which they bowed down to and worshipped as their deities. But the question is appropriately asked, "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" Isaiah 40:18. When these things are really considered, we can better understand why God prohibited His people from associating themselves with any practices that related whatsoever with pagan customs involving the use of trees, including decorating trees as it is still done today at Christmas time. Concerning the folly in using trees in this manner, the prophet Isaiah rightly declares:
"He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. "Isaiah 40:20, 25.
Was Christ Really a Winter Baby?
Many honest and faithful believers often ask, How could anyone say that it is wrong for Christians who love their blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to celebrate the glorious birth of their Master?
All Bible students agree that Jesus (the source of light and truth) spent His whole life seeking to uphold truth, and truth alone. He Himself said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. Certainly, if it was the Saviour's will that His birthday be upheld by His followers from generation to generation, He would have indicated this somehow. However, He did not do so. In fact Jesus Christ never gave the slightest impression that He wanted His true followers to recognize and celebrate, as His birthday, a day that finds its basis and origin in the darkness and errors of paganism.
Actually, there is nowhere in the sacred Scriptures that Christ declared or indicated to His followers that He wanted them to celebrate His birthday at all. The truth of the matter is, no one knows for certain the exact day of Christ's birth, and it is the belief of many true Bible-believing Christians that God deliberately left this date unknown to man for many reasons. One reason is that He knew it would be treated as a time for excessive feasting, frolicking, commercialism, and worldly display (things that Christ Himself shunned and taught His disciples to avoid). Over the years these very things have marked the celebration of Christmas, and we still see the very same kind of revelry today.
Contrary to the popular belief, Jesus Christ could not have been born during the winter season. The gospel writer Luke wrote about the events surrounding Christ's birth:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." Luke 2:8
Many tourists who visit the Middle East during the winter months are usually unprepared for the cold weather they often encounter. Today, as in ancient times, Jerusalem is a cold place during the winter season. Hence Jeremiah the prophet speaks about "the snow of Lebanon" (Jeremiah 18:14), and Jesus warned His followers in Judaea, "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Matthew 24:20.
Surely, Christ's birthday could not be on December 25 or on any day during the month of December whatsoever. One does not have to be born genius to conclude that shepherds, in their right senses, would not be found outside with their flocks on a cold winter night. The truth of the matter is, it has long been a practice among the shepherds of Judaea to secure their flocks by removing them from the fields no later than around the end of October.
When Was Christ Really Born?
The gospel of Luke tells us that at the time of Christ's birth "there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed" (Luke 2:1). However, there is no record showing that the time of taxing took place in the month of December, or during any of the other winter months. It is more logical to conclude that this particular taxing period occurred sometime in the autumn. Since the final harvest of the year took place in the fall, this would have been a most convenient time for the Jews to be able to pay their taxes. And the decree to pay taxes, would cause a great influx of travelers and visitors into Jerusalem, the holy city, and the surrounding towns, such as Bethlehem. This would explain why it was that "there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7) when Mary and Joseph sought a place to stay on that notable night of Christ's birth.
Just as it is illogical for shepherds to be watching their flocks out in the fields on a cold winter night, certainly it is illogical to conclude that Mary and Joseph and all the other travelers would have made their way to the city on a cold winter night. Many of the travelers may have had to journey from very long distances to get to the city, and it is unlikely that they would have done so in the cold of winter. It is also unlikely that the Roman ruler, who would have been more concerned about receiving the taxes, would have taken the risk of trying to get all the Jews to make their way to their "own city" (Luke 2:4) during the winter season.
Therefore, we can safely conclude that Mary and Joseph were not refused lodging at the inn on a cold night in the month of December, as some may want us to believe, but instead sometime during the autumn season when many were assembled in the city for the payment of taxes.
There was a very good reason that the Most High allowed Caesar Augustus to issue his taxation decree around the autumn, which was the very season God had ordained, many years in advance, that His people should gather their final harvest and come together for the final feast of the year. Both of these occasions fell within the comfortable climate of the autumn season. thus our heavenly Father made it possible for all of Israel to be present for the birth of our Lord, if they so desired. But sad to say, the majority were blind to the sacred event and glorious opportunity.
Certainly if Many and Joseph had a choice as to when their child should be born, they would not have chosen December or any other month within the winter season. They would have settled for a more suitable time, especially if they had to travel. If man is wise enough to consider these matters in light of his own convenience and what would be best overall, then certainly the Great I Am definitely took all of these things into consideration centuries ahead of time.
The time of Jesus' birth can be greatly determined by the following events surrounding His life. Since it is widely known and accepted that our Saviour died in the spring during the time of the Passover ( John 18:39), and since it is also known that He labored for three and a half years before He died, then it is clear that Jesus' baptism in the river of Jordan (three and a half years prior to His death) took place in the fall or autumn. The Bible also teaches that Christ's baptism and work began when He turned thirty years of age (Luke 3:23). Therefore, since Christ was baptized (in autumn) exactly thirty years after His birth, we can safely conclude that Christ was definitely born in the autumn and not in the winter.
(A careful examination of the experience of Mary's cousin Elizabeth, as well as the time her husband officiated as a priest in the Jewish temple, provide additional proof to the theory of Christ's autumn birth. Study Luke 1:5-38; 2 Chronicles 23:8; 1 Chronicles 24:10).
Surely God took everything into consideration before sending His Son into the world. our heavenly Father and all the inhabitants of heaven were, from the very beginning of time, looking forward to the appearance of the Son of God on earth as man's glorious deliverer and Messiah. Therefore, the most appropriate time and season was divinely appointed by our heavenly Father for such a momentous occasion involving the birth of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
How Many Wise Men Visited Christ?
The Bible tells us that after the birth of Christ there came "wise men from the east" (Matthew 2:1) to visit Him. We have been led to believe that this caravan of wise men consisted of three individuals. But history shows that these wise men or magi never traveled very long distances in small groups because of the dangers they could encounter along the way. In addition, the magi were philosophers, rulers, or men of great nobility. Whenever men of such high rank made long journeys, they took their servants and many soldiers along with them, especially when they were carrying precious gifts of jewelry or wealth.
It is therefore inconceivable that there were only three individuals in this caravan who visited Christ following His birth. Many adhere to this false belief simply because the Bible states that the gifts presented to Christ were "gold, and frankincense and myrrh" (Matthew 2:11).
Furthermore, if only three individuals had made the long journey to visit the Kings of kings, surely the appearance of three individuals in Jerusalem would not have been unusual enough to attract the attention of Herod, the king, as well as the inhabitants of Jerusalem. However, "he [Herod] was troubled and all Jerusalem with him" (Matthew 2:3).
Normally the impression is given that both the shepherds and the wise men visited Jesus at the very same time (supposedly Christmas day). However, these wise men did not visit Jesus Christ on the very same day that the shepherds found him in a stable "wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" ( Luke 2:12). No, indeed, it was some time after this that the wise men visited the Son of God. Hence the reason that the Scriptures do not indicate in any way that the shepherds were present when the wise men found Him. Furthermore, the Scriptures declare that Jesus was not found by the magi in a stable, as is often intimated, but instead we are told that "when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother" (Matthew 2:11).
As you can see dear readers, many inconsistencies exist between the popular concepts of the birth of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the Truth. Yet, all of these inconsistencies seem to be upheld only in an effort to promote the pagan festival of Christmas day. How say, how very sad this is indeed! Shouldn't God's true and faithful children just settle for the truth instead of tradition? And has not this always been God's holy will?
What About Celebrating Easter?
Even the practice of celebrating Easter, as it is done today, consists of many similarities to certain ancient pagan customs. While many make reference to the word "Easter," as found in Acts 12:4, it is important to note that this text is not speaking of the time of the resurrection of Christ as some seek to interpret it.
The word "Easter" in this text is specifically referring tot he time of the Jewish Passover. This can be easily observed when viewed in its proper context. The previous verse states: "Then were the days of unleavened bread" (Acts 12:3). Careful Biblical research will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is speaking about the time of the Passover. (See Leviticus 23:5-6; Exodus 12:11, 17-18; 23:15; 34:18).
Christ never told His disciples to observe His death or resurrection on any particular day. Instead, the holy Scriptures make reference to how Christians are to observe the death and resurrection of Christ; and that is by showing everyone's need to go into the watery grave of baptism and resurrect into a new life, a sinless life, through the grace and power of Christ. (Read: Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:10-12).
Furthermore, modern-day Easter falls right after the observance of the forty days of Lent. In ancient Babylon when Tammuz died, the followers of Semiramis joined her in mourning over the death of her son, Tammuz, for forty days. Thus the practice of mourning for the loss of this so-called "son of god" was adopted by many for centuries thereafter. This act was later "Christianized" under the name of Lent. But long before Christianity came into existence, even the children of Israel became victims of this pagan practice of mourning for Tammuz, Hence we read:
"Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz." Ezekiel 8:14
By following this pagan practice anciently, God's chosen people invoked the displeasure of the Almighty. Therefore, why should this practice be even considered by Christians today? And why should Lent be preceded by the revelry involved in Carnival, which is still observed in some cultures today? Can Christians afford to uphold practices other than that which the Bible condones, especially when they are so directly linked with things that God did not want His people to recognize in any way?
Some say that the name Easter comes from the name "Eostre" (the Saxon goddess), while others believe that it is derived from the name "Ishtar" or "Astarte" (the Assyrian counterpart for Semiramis). Nonetheless, it is quite evident that in both of these views the origin of the name Easter comes from a pagan deity that can easily be identifiable with the wife of Nimrod.
The practice of using dyed eggs (Easter eggs) and buns (hot cross buns) during this festival was observed in certain pagan festivities of antiquity as well. In different ancient pagan rituals these items were offered up unto false gods. In China dyed or painted eggs are used during sacred festivals, and the Druids of Britain used an egg as the sacred emblem of their order.
As far as the buns are concerned, in Ancient Greece on the festival of Astarte, buns were offered unto the queen of heaven. But the Biblical record shows that Jehovah was sore displeased with His people, Israel, when they sought to follow this apparently innocent practice of the heathens in their day. In this regard we read:
"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger." Jeremiah 7:18
None of these practices were endorsed by Jesus Christ, and were not therefore adopted by the early Christian church. But today many of these pagan practices have become so widespread that they are now accepted with open arms by many in the Christian faith. Yes, Easter has now been changed from the Passover celebration in the Bible usage of the word, and in its place the new application of the word Easter has given rise to a revival of many ancient pagan customs in a Christian setting.
What Should We Do Now?
In light of all that has been considered, it should be quite clear to the true children of God what their stand should be in the face of all the "Christianized" pagan customs and practices observed today. All should be able to answer such questions as, Why can't we celebrate the birth of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on December 25, or on any other day that is set aside to honor Him? How could it be wrong for me or my children to celebrate Halloween, Easter, or any other pagan custom, since today it may not be done for the very same reason that others celebrated it anciently? And why should anyone deprive themselves of their children from having "innocent" fun?
First of all, the origin and basic principle underlying all false worship needs to be understood. In order to identify this we need to remember the history surrounding Cain and Abel, the first two children of Adam and Eve.
When Cain and Abel were required to offer a sacrifice unto their Creator they were both fully aware of God's holy will. It was up to each of them to choose his own or God's will in this matter, and so they did. Concerning their eventual choices it is written:
"And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." Genesis 4:4-5
It is easy to understand why Christians consider Abel as being good and faithful, but Cain as being evil and unfaithful. Although both of these brothers offered up sacrifices unto God, only one was respected and accepted. Abel's offering was in harmony with God's will, but Cain's was not.
Cain's offering was really unto Satan and not unto God, for he knowingly offered up his sacrifice in direct opposition to God's will; and as a result, God could not accept Cain's offering. Thus Cain introduced false worship to the human race, but Nimrod's wife, Semiramis, introduced pagan customs and traditions, none of which could be accepted by God because they were all contrary to His will. In like manner today, those who do as Cain or Semiramis did are really presenting their offerings unto Satan instead of unto God. We are told:
James 4:17 "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
"As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.
Thus the worshipping of Nimrod, the leader of the rebellion in Babel, was in actuality the worshipping of Satan, the leader of the rebellion in heaven, for Satan was really the mastermind behind all these things. Satan not only inspired the minds of the Babylonians with all their false doctrines, but he also helped to promote their erroneous views by giving his satanic support to the magical feasts and spiritualistic rituals of the priests and worshippers of the sun. This he still does in behalf of false teachers today through miracles and supernatural manifestations. We are therefore admonished:
"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:19-20
Christ's prayer to His Father in behalf of His children is: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17
God's true children cannot afford to follow after false teachings and practices, but instead only the principles found in God's Word. Both in Christ's and the disciples day, all were warned against following the customs and traditions of men, and today the true children of God are warned against this same danger in its present and varied forms.
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:8-9
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8 (Read also: 1 Timothy 4:1, 7, 16).
Yes, dear reader, we should realize that just as in the case of Cain and Abel, God will not honor or accept offerings that are contrary to His holy will (which is clearly outlined in His inspired Word). He is always seeking to promote truth instead of men's ideas, customs, or traditions. Thus, through the prophet Malachi He declares, "For I am the Lord, I change not." Malachi 3:6.
Therefore, even if men's offerings or forms of worship appear to be innocent or even if they provide great joy and pleasure to men, women, and children, it is God's will that His true followers always seek after truth, for it is only truth that sanctifies the soul. Error never sanctifies but instead defiles. Like the Psalmist David, we too, therefore, must always be able to declare unto the Lord God:
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psalms 138:2