Is Christmas Pagan?
                                                                                                  What About Christmas Trees?          

The most commonly quoted verses used to condemn the decorating of a tree as pagan and evil are found in Jeremiah 10 and Isaiah 40.  A closer look at these verses, however, shows that this is not talking about putting a tree in their home and decorating it with ornaments.  This is talking about carved idols or poles that were overlaid with gold or silver, as was commonly done, and then sometimes fastened so that they would not topple.  Sometimes the idol would be tall or large, and they wouldn't want their 'god' to fall.  They would be prayed to, worshiped, asked things from and so on. 

Be a Berean. Don’t blindly believe what someone else writes - check the Bible out for yourself. Also, be careful not to take one or two verses out of context.  Check scripture with scripture and check biblical history.  (See my page, 'BEWARD FALSE RESEARCH') 

The following article gives an accurate representation of the origin of the Christmas tree:

     The first incarnation of the Christmas tree, as we now know it, occurred in 16th century Germany, where it was used to celebrate a 24 December holiday called "The Feast of Adam and Eve." These trees were called "paradise trees" and thought to be related to the Tree of Knowledge discussed in the book of Genesis. German immigrants brought the tree to America in the 17th century, and it became accepted as a Christmas decoration throughout the Western world only around 1850. President Franklin Pierce is credited with bringing the first Christmas tree into the White House around this time, and President Calvin Coolidge founded the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which takes place on the White House lawn, in 1923.  Decorating the Christmas tree is also a longstanding tradition. Although Pagans at the time of the Roman Empire did not cut down trees and bring them into the home, they were known to decorate **living trees with candles and metal decorations, some depicting the god Bacchus. Christmas trees have been decorated since their origin in the 16th century Europe, first with edible treats. Candles became popular sometime in the late 18th century, and they began to be replaced with electric lights around the turn of the 20th century. Blown glass Christmas tree ornaments first appeared as mainly Czech and Polish products around the end of the 19th century. Ironically, some people now object to the public display of a Christmas tree because of the Christian symbolism it has relatively recently come to represent.

**Living trees - These were trees outside the home.  Somewhat similar to hanging a decorated birdfeeder from your tree for spring.     

                                         Does the Bible Forbid Tree Decorating?

Here is the scripture most commonly used by those who teach that the Bible teaches against decorating a tree:

Jeremiah 10:3: 
For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.  They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.

Generally speaking, they use this verse alone, leaving out the rest of the chapter - which is very pertinent.  Remember, any scripture given about a subject must be considered in its context - the context of the chapter, the book (time period, who the book was written to, and the reason), and the rest of the  Bible.    Read on to see if these were actually live trees that were brought into the home and decorated, or if they were actually fashioned idols instead:

(This is the rest of the Jeremiah verse quoted in above paragraph.)    Jeremiah 10:2-10:   

Thus says the LORD: Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;
      Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,  
     For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.   
     For the customs of the peoples are futile;
      For one cuts a tree from the forest
,       The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
       They decorate it with silver and gold;
      They fasten it with nails and hammers
      So that it will not topple.
       They are upright, like a palm tree,
      And they cannot speak;
      They must be carried, (you don't carry a tree around places)
      Because they cannot go by themselves.
      Do not be afraid of them,
      For they cannot do evil,
      Nor can they do any good.”
       Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD
      (You are great, and Your name is great in might),
       Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
      For this is Your rightful due.
      For among all the wise men of the nations,
      And in all their kingdoms,
      There is none like You.
       But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish;
       A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.
       Silver is beaten into plates;
      It is brought from Tarshish,
      And gold from Uphaz,
      The work of the craftsman
      And of the hands of the metalsmith;
      Blue and purple are their clothing;
      They are all the work of skillful men.
        But the LORD is the true God;
      He is the living God and the everlasting King.
      At His wrath the earth will tremble,
      And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.

 **The word 'wooden idol' above is actually the word 'stock', which is used for
either a tree, a piece of wood, a plank, a stick, or any other wooden object.  There is usually no distinction between a tree or wooden item in the Old Testament for the use of the word  'stock'.  To limit it to a tree in this context is supposition. Doctrine cannot be made upon supposition.

Also read in Isaiah 40:18-20 regarding the same thing.  Note the bold print:

 To whom then will you liken God?
   Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
       The workman molds an image, (King James - 'Melteth a graven image')
      The goldsmith overspreads it with gold,
      And the silversmith casts silver chains.
        Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution
      Chooses a tree that will not rot;
      He seeks for himself a skillful workman
      To prepare a carved image that will not totter.

These verses, in context, are talking about pagans cutting down trees and using some of the wood for their own needs (fire) and using some for molded, shaped, (fashioned) graven idols.  These idols were many times overlaid with gold or silver.  Overlaid means gold or silver plated, similar to a gold or silver plated necklace or bracelet.  They were not hanging gold or silver balls on trees. They were not ‘fastening’ trees to their walls to stay put.  They would build idols that would have to be anchored so as not to fall.  This has absolutely nothing to do with decorating trees like people do the Christmas tree. 

Isaiah goes on even further in his explanation.  Again, note the bold print:

  Isaiah 44:9-20: 

Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
      And their precious things shall not profit;
      They are their own witnesses;
      They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.
        Who would form a god or mold an image  
     That profits him nothing?  
       Surely all his companions would be ashamed;
      And the workmen, they are mere men.
      Let them all be gathered together,
      Let them stand up;
      Yet they shall fear,
      They shall be ashamed together.
        The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals,
      Fashions it with hammers,
      And works it with the strength of his arms.
      Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails;
      He drinks no water and is faint.
       The craftsman stretches out his rule,
      He marks one out with chalk;  
     He fashions it with a plane,
      He marks it out with the compass,  
     And makes it like the figure of a man,  
     According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. (A cut down tree cannot 'remain' in the house for long.)
        He cuts down cedars for himself,
      And takes the cypress and the oak;  
     He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
      He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.
        Then it shall be for a man to burn,
      For he will take some of it and warm himself;  
     Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
      Indeed he makes a god and worships it;   
   He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
        He burns half of it in the fire;
      With this half he eats meat;  
     He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.   
    He even warms himself and says,  
     “ Ah! I am warm,     
  I have seen the fire.”    
     And the rest of it he makes into a god,  
     His carved image.
      He falls down before it and worships it, 
     Prays to it and says,  
     “ Deliver me, for you are my god!”
       They do not know nor understand;
      For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,   
    And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.  
   And no one considers in his heart,   
    Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,  
     “ I have burned half of it in the fire,    
   Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;   
    I have roasted meat and eaten it;  
    And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?
      Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”    
    He feeds on ashes;
      A deceived heart has turned him aside;    
   And he cannot deliver his soul,   
    Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”  

After reading the above bold print, it is easy to see that these verses do not correlate with Christmas trees.  These are carved idols.  Not only that, but note that they ‘fall down before it’, ‘worship it’, ‘pray to it’, ask it to ‘deliver’ and say that it is their god!  I do not know any Christian who honestly falls down before their Christmas tree, worships it, prays to it, asks it to deliver them, and says that it is their god.  Let us be careful how we judge others, and how we divide the word of God.  Our belief needs to be based on scripture, all of scripture, and in context.   

                                    OTHER RELIGIOUS/PAGAN PRACTICES:     

Now we know that the Bible itself does not specifically speak of decorating whole, live trees in homes in pagan worship.  We do, however, have record of different religions/groups using trees, tree parts, or vegetation in their worship or beliefs. 

Let’s take a look at a few of them:

1. Dionysos: From: ‘Dionysos is a strange god. Although he is best known as the god of wine, he is also a vegetation deity, a god of the liquid element, a death god, a god who comes into and changes, often irrevocably, the normal community life, and lastly the god of the theatre’.  ‘His role as vegetation deity is obvious; he introduced the grapevine and taught the secrets of its cultivation and of fermenting wine. Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 19. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :"[Amongst the scenes depicted on the chest of Kypselos dedicated at Olympia :] Dionysos is lying down in a cave, a bearded figure holding a golden cup, and clad in a tunic reaching to the feet. Around him are vines, apple-trees and pomegranate-trees’. From -‘Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his thyrsus linked him to Cybele, and the pomegranate linked him to Demeter. The Dionysia and Lenaia festivals in Athens were dedicated to Dionysus’. ‘(On Isis and Osiris, 34) Dionysos' image was found inside of a plane tree which had been split asunder in Magnesia, and the Corinthians were given an oracle by Apollo at Delphi to worship the pine tree "as the God" whereupon they had a statue of Dionysos carved out of its wood’.  

2. The Yule Log: From -‘Hence "Yule" (from the Teutonic word "hoel" or "wheel") was the outstanding festival of the ancestors of the French and Germans, the English and Scandinavians. The sun was born, and fires ("Yule logs," still traditionally symbols of Christmas, though usually in the form of a chocolate cake) flamed in the forest villages, the huts were decorated with holly and evergreens, Yule trees were laden with presents, and stores of solid food and strong drink were lavishly opened. This lasted until Twelfth Day, now Epiphany. The Scandinavians celebrated the 25th of December as the birth day of their god Freyr, the son of their supreme god of the heavens, Odin’.

3. Santa Clause: From - John Silber, Boston Herald:‘The non-religious nature of Christmas trees can be seen in the fact they are embraced by people who enthusiastically celebrate Xmas but believe in neither Christianity nor any other religion. If many of those who celebrate Xmas do not believe in Christianity, one must ask what they are celebrating’. My quote: (Since Clemente Moore’s ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’, the celebration of Christmas as  Christ’s birth has been nearly overtaken by the celebration of a new secular ‘winter holiday’, including a fake fat man in a red suit who gives gifts to all the children of the world.) 

4. Saturnalia:  ‘In ancient Rome, a mid-winter festival celebrated from 17 to 19 December. Held at the darkest time of year, it was celebrated with the lighting of candles and torches, with feasting and drinking, and the giving of presents’.

5. Druidism: From -"The Druids (so they call their wise men) hold nothing in greater reverence than the misletoe, and the tree on which it grows, so that it be an oak. They choose forests of oaks, for the sake of the tree itself, and perform no sacred rites without oak leaves; so that one might fancy they had even been called for this reason, turning the word into Greek, Druids. But whatever grows upon these trees, they hold to have been sent from heaven, and to be a sign that the Deity Himself has chosen the tree for his own. The thing, however, is very rarely found, and when found is gathered with much ceremony; and above all, on the sixth day of the moon, by which these men reckon the beginnings of their months and years, and of their cycle of thirty years, because the moon has then sufficient power, yet has not reached half its size. Addressing it in their own language by the epithet of all healing, after duly preparing sacrifices and banquets under the tree, they bring to the spot two white bulls, the horns of which are then for the first time garlanded. The priest clothed in a white dress ascends the tree, and cuts the misletoe with a golden knife; it is caught in a white cloak. Thereupon they slay the victims, with a prayer that the Deity may prosper His own gift to them…’.    

So what do we do about their use of trees, vegetation, and plant life in their religious rituals?  (Keep in mind, the main point is that we do not want to worship a false god or pray to a dead, inanimate object instead of the one true God. That is the point that God makes in the verses in Isaiah 40 and 44. They were worshiping and praying to their carved idols.)    

Let me answer this question with a few musings: If we are to say that decorating a tree in celebration of Christ’s birth is wrong because it is similar to one particular pagan group long, long ago who hung metal bits on trees, then we must – by that same argument – accept the extreme assumption that the ornamentation of any tree for any purpose is wrong. : 

1. Then we must not hang birdhouses or hanging flower baskets on the trees in our yards, as this is decorating a tree.

2. Then we must not put ceramic lawn ornaments, bricks, ornamental mulch, or rocks around the base of any trees on our property, as this would be decorating a tree. 

3. Then we must not put ornamental scalloped edging around plants, bushes, shrubs, or flowers beds, because this is decorating plant life, which could be seen as similar to decorating a tree. 

4. Then we must be careful not to hang decorative wreaths – any time of year- if they are made with tree parts, as this would be using a tree as ornamentation. 

5. Then we must be careful not to hang photos or images of trees in our home, office, or workplace, as this would be causing our focus to be on a tree as a worshipful thing, just like the pagans’ focusing on the beauty of their decorated trees.    

6. The false god Dionysos always had ivy associated with him, so we mustn’t use ivy wallpaper, wall boarders, or imitation ivy leaves in our home as decorum.

On that same token:  

1. Goths wear black, so we must never wear black or we would be associated with them.

2. Black cats are a source of pagan superstition and were worshiped by the Egyptians, so we shouldn’t own a black cat.   

3. Since the pagans overlaid their gods with gold or silver, than we must not have anything in our homes that is overlaid with gold or silver, because it may appear to be idolatrous.

4. The sun, moon, and stars are included in pagan worship.  They are literally worshiped.  Therefore, we must make sure we have no pictures of any of these on our walls at home, as we would be doing the same thing as them.  We must throw away any plates or dishes with these on them.  We had better pull the verses out of the Bible that talk about the wise men following the star to find Jesus, as this is a little iffy...possibly star worship.

5. We had better stop having sex with our spouse, because pagans have orgies.

6. We should probably even throw out our Bibles, because many distort it and use it to teach false doctrine.  

7. Jesus shouldn't have turned water into wine, because people use it to get drunk.

8. We should not decorate our house with anything for birthday parties, because the shape, color, or style of any one decoration may have similarities to decorations used in pagan holiday. 


                              Should Christians Celebrate Christmas'?:

      Answers and Considerations: If we use this argument as a legitimate reason for discarding the entire celebration of Christ's birth at Christmas, it would follow that we would end up having to throw out everything--even our Bibles and our wives or husbands. Why? Because Satan and man distort and ruins everything in life--the Bible, sex, marriage, the church, food--everything. Name one thing that Satan doesn't ruin. We don't throw things out just because the world misuses or distorts them. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22 Paul says, "abstain from every form of evil" (NASB). Because of the translation of the KJV, "every appearance of evil," some have taken this to apply to anything that even looks like it might be evil. As the NASB translation make clear, however, Paul's meaning is "to abstain from every genuine form of evil," not what might simply appear to be evil. We are to abstain from what is genuinely evil or wrong according to the index of the Word of God. To abstain from the mere appearance of evil would seem to contradict what the Apostle says in the second passage important to this discussion. In Titus 1:15 the Apostle also warns against those who see evil in almost anything and condemn it. For these people, a lot of things have the appearance of evil, but purity is first of all a matter of the mind and conscience, not merely the external. "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (NASB).

     Just because the world distorts something, that does not make it evil if we avoid the distortions and use it as God intended or in a way that does not go contrary to God's character and holiness. A good illustration is the beauty of sexual love within the bonds of marriage. (1) The pagan associations were lost long ago The names of the days of our week also had their origin in pagan beliefs. Thursday originally stood for the Germanic god of the sky or of thunder. Tuesday stood for Tiw, the god of war. And Wednesday is derived from Woden, the chief god in Germanic mythology. Sunday and Monday were related somehow to the worship of the sun and the moon. Saturday is from Saturnus, or Saturn, and Friday comes from Fria, the goddess of love. All of these ancient meanings with their beliefs and associations were lost long ago. When Friday roles around we don't think about Fria, the goddess of love. On Saturday we don't think about it as Saturn's day, but as our day off! The same applies to the traditions of Christmas. If one observed the days of the week or the Christmas season with their ancient associations in mind, certainly it would be wrong. But many of these things, as with our Sunday, have been given Christian connotations.

**So, in essence, if you believe that by setting up a decorated tree, you are following a pagan practice, and thus you are doing evil, then you need to reconsider tossing the calendar on your wall.  You can't reject one without the other.  We better not worship God on 'Sunday, either, because that name is of pagan origin.



Hopefully you get the point by now.  But is there anything in the word of God that talks about whether or not it is wrong to have anything to do with something because it was used in paganry?  Yes!  God’s word gives us a very pertinent example.  There were some Christians who believed that it was wrong to knowingly buy meat at the market that was leftover from pagan worship.  Other Christians did not believe it was wrong, because they were not involving themselves in pagan worship, but just eating.  There were also those who believed that you could not eat meat at a non-believer’s house because it may have been offered to an idol.  Others, again, did not feel a conviction that this was sin.  (As a side note, in Revelation Jesus rebukes churches for eating the meat sacrificed to idols, but in the same breath He uses the word 'and' and connects it to the fact that they were commiting sexual immorality.  So they were  not just innocently buying meat at the marketplace, they were actually involving themselves in the idolaltry and sexual immorality that went along with it.)  Paul makes it very clear that we are not under law, and that it was not a sin to eat or buy meat offered to an idol, nor to eat meat offered to you at someone’s house if we did not ask about it.  He did, however, warn that we should not take this liberty too far, and cause another Believer to stumble by our liberty to eat that meat that was offered to an idol. 

“So,” you may say, “doesn’t that mean that since we know that trees were decorated by pagans, we should not do so ourselves, for conscience sake?”  Remember, the practice of hanging metal bits of Dionysis on trees ended long ago, and we are not purchasing or decorating a tree left over from Dionysis worship. Just like buying a piece of meat at the grocery store today should not involve breach of conscience because long ago some pagans offered meat to idols.  Along those same lines, God told Peter to eat meat that used to be considered unclean. How does this apply to Christmas?  Just because trees were decorated by a few pagans long ago for pagan worship, does not mean that we can’t in any way, shape, or form decorate a tree for any reason.  If you or I decorate a tree because of its beauty and because it causes us to think on Christ and His coming into the world to save us, or even Heaven’s beauty and wonder (in Heaven there are many gems, gold, etc…God is into beautiful decorations), we are not breaking a law or sinning, as we are not under law, but under grace.  However, that being said, we must be very careful not to purposefully push it on others.

 (NOTE: Celebrating Halloween is wrong, because Halloween is still currently a pagan holiday with pagan worship and human sacrifice. However, buying Halloween candy that is on sale in the days following Halloween would be almost exactly like the meat offered to idols - some can buy it with a clean conscience because they did not celebrate Halloween personally, but just want the candy for other uses, and others may not want to purchase post-Halloween candy because of its use for a pagan holiday.  I personally do not buy Halloween candy afterwards because I don't want to contribute to the companies/stores Halloween profits.  I do not judge those who do purchase it, however.)

The following portion of scripture is commonly used by some to teach that if pagans decorated trees, and we do the same, we are doing evil:

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.  I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.  Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?  What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?  Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.  Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

However, keeping in context…read on: 

1 Corinthians 10:25 

 'Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;  for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.'[e] 

'The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness'…in other words, the meat itself, or the eating of it is not sinful, so our conscience cannot be weakened just because it is offered to an idol - (just like a tree).  This would mean that the above verses (vv. 14-22), that appear to be saying, ‘eating meat offered to idols makes you an idolater’, cannot be what Paul is saying.  He can’t say two different things. 

Read on and note the bold text:

1 Corinthians 10:27-30

 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake.  But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness. “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?  But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?

If one decorates a tree with ornaments with thanksgiving and worship to the Lord, why is evil spoken of him, when it is his liberty to do so?  Let me just end with some more of what He has to say on the subject.  Remember, we need to be careful what we believe and how we judge:

Romans 14

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.  Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.  But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.[c]  For it is written:       “ As I live, says the LORD,      Every knee shall bow to Me,      And every tongue shall confess to God.”' So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way'.

I say, “Amen, Lord”.                         
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