Halloween, Christmas, Santa…Oh My!
I’m a PK — Preacher’s Kid. And growing up as a PK, church is your life. Church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesdays, each and every event, etc. It’s no wonder so many PKs rebel — sometimes the pressure of being a preacher’s kid can become a bit too much. But that’s not what this post is about.
I want to talk about our pagan holidays – Halloween and Christmas. My point of bringing up my background is that my family celebrated both holidays, including Satan Claus…Santa Claus.
Every October, I hear a lot of fellow Christians start talking about how Christians shouldn’t celebrate Halloween. And then every December, I start to hear about the dangers of Satan Claus — I mean Santa Claus…sorry.
We all know the roots of Halloween as being pagan. From the jack-o-lantern to trick-or-treating to wearing costumes. All of this has some sort of origin within paganism – Druids, witches, Celts, etc. Halloween absolutely has its origins with paganism. No doubt.
So does that mean a Christian should join in on the trick-or-treating? If you feel God leading you that you shouldn’t, then that’s perfectly fine. If you feel like God isn’t telling you one way or the other, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong. When my kids go out on Halloween, they aren’t wearing costumes that are pagan in origins – this year Caleb was Luigi from Mario Bros and Zoe was Brave from the Disney movie Brave. They aren’t out there celebrating witches and paganism. They are out having fun, and I think God gives us a little leeway here. We aren’t conjuring spirits or doing anything spiritually immoral. Now, if the kids go around casting spells and beginning to conjure spirits, we have a different issue.
But here’s the rub. How many of you who don’t celebrate Halloween because of the pagan origins, don’t also celebrate Christmas? Hmmmmmm??????
The argument I hear is that Christians took over Christmas as a pagan holiday and made it okay. Really? Are you sure? Is it really holy?
First, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. He was probably born in the Fall or Spring (this is based upon the information we get about John the Baptist’s birth and other nuggets of the story). But December 25 was chosen. Why?
We have to go all the way back to the early Catholic Church. After Constantine’s conversion, he started forcing Pagan Priests to become Christians. But they had a hard time bringing regular ol’ Pagans into the Christian fold. So the priests started to combine Pagan worship with Christian worship. It made the transition easier from Pagan to Christianity. And along with that came Pagan practices. In the 4th Century, in an effort to get people to become Christians, Christian leaders converted pagans by promising they could celebrate the Pagan Saturnalia Festival along with Christmas — technically combining the holidays!
So let’s stop here….Christmas has two origins now. We have a Nativity origin and we have a Pagan origin. The creation of Christmas was intended to force conversion through the mask of a Pagan Holiday. So because of that, is it okay to celebrate Christmas because of the Pagan origin? If we use the same Halloween arguments of Halloween having a Pagan origin, then based solely on that argument, then no, we as Christians shouldn’t celebrate Christmas because of it’s Pagan origins.
Let’s continue….so what is similar between Christmas and Saturnalia?
The ancient Greek writer poet Lucian talks about The Saturnalia festival in which people went from house to house singing —– NUDE. This sounds a lot like caroling, but with clothes on. So it’s okay to carol door to door with clothes (a Pagan festivity), but not okay to ask for candy door to door (also Pagan)?
During Saturnalia, people would feast on good food and drink. We do the same today with a large platter of food after the gift-giving. And some use Christmas as a time to get drunk. So by eating a large dinner, are we celebrating a Pagan holiday? Particularly if you eat ham. The more affluent Pagans would have a baby pig sacrificed during the festival. Better cancel that order from Honeybaked Hams.
Candles were often lit during the festival. They were lit to represent the new solar year. Today, we light candles…..why? I think I’ve heard two reasons “Just because” and “it represents the light of Jesus.” No, my fellow Christians, it has origins in a pagan ritual of celebrating a new solar year. If you don’t celebrate Halloween, quit lighting those candles.
During Saturnalia, people would give gifts. Do you give gifts on Christmas morning? I’ve heard it represents what God did for us – He gave Jesus as a gift. It represents salvation. It represents the gifts that Jesus and his family were given by the Wise Men. Nope — again, it’s a Pagan tradition. So return those gifts and explain that to your 5 year-old.
Holly was given and exchanged during the holiday and homes were decorated with it.
The Christmas Tree was a 17th Century idea from Germany, but its roots are Pagan. Pagans would go outside and decorate trees with gold and silver metals and candles to honor the sun god. Do you have a Christmas tree covered with ornaments and lights? Take it down.
That sure is a lot of Pagan practices rolled up into Christmas tradition today.
And let’s not forget the big jolly one….Satan Claus — I mean Santa Claus. Santa is a mixture of people and ideas put together. Santa has its origins dating back to before Christianity came into European Germany region. The people at the time believed that the spirit world woke up during this time and there was a spiritual procession through the sky. It was led by the god Odin. Odin was known to hang around animals and traditionally had a long beard. Combine Odin with St. Nicholas and Father Christmas, and you got our modern day Satan…Santa Claus.
It doesn’t take much to see the Pagan underpinnings of Christmas. Christians have shaped and reshaped these Pagan traditions into something different but their origins are still Pagan in nature.
I write all this because I really like it when we are consistent with our beliefs. It’s important to be consistent — not just for ourselves but for people watching us. And I don’t think most people know how Pagan modern day Christmas really is but will damn Halloween until the cows come home. Yes, yes, we’ve attempted to cover up the Pagan-ism with Christian slants, but we can’t ignore the truth. And I’m amazed by how so many Christians will bemoan Halloween but embrace all (or most) of the Christmas Pagan tradition without a second thought.
I get why a lot of Christians don’t do the whole Satan…Santa Claus thing. I really do. It takes away from the reason for Christmas. It puts Jesus in the background and Satan in the front — Santa.
But let’s stop for a moment. MOST of us grew up believing in Santa at some point in our lives. Did we scream and holler when we found out the truth? Did we really no longer trust our parents about what was true and what wasn’t? Really?! I grew up believing in Santa but my parents never said that Santa was real. When I asked, they would say, “what do you think?” and that allowed me to come to my own conclusion. It’s the same thing with the Easter Bunny, the monster in the closet, the monster under the bed who will grab your foot if you don’t cover your feet, the Leprechaun, and Zombies. Parents, relax……..you aren’t going to scar your kids. We do more damage to our kids through the years as they grow up through our own actions than Santa will ever do to them. Shoot, we probably do more damage to our kids by taking them to that soccer game for 4 months in a row on Sunday rather than taking them to church.
So that brings me back to Christmas and Halloween. Both are pagan in origin and traditions. Yes, Christians have highjacked Christmas from the Pagans and have made it a better holiday than Halloween. I agree. So if we as Christians highjacked Halloween and made it more Christian, then would that be okay? Should our kids start dressing up as Joseph, Mary, Moses, an angel? Instead of “trick or treat” should we say “Peace to you! I want some candy, please?” Instead of a jack-o-lantern, should we put out a large hollow Bible on our doorstep with a candle in it?
But if we as Christians are going to bemoan Halloween and not partake in its festivities because of its pagan origins, then maybe we should do the same with Christmas?
Or maybe just maybe…..we just need to relax a little bit, and enjoy Halloween, Christmas, and yes, Santa Claus.