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Popular Religious Holidays

Where They Really Came From

Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Lent—so many of the world’s holidays and traditions are universally observed. But where do these customs come from? How did they originate?

Learn the why behind the headlines.

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You were born into a world filled with holiday customs and traditions. And, like most people, you probably grew up practicing them. But have you ever questioned why?

Why do people observe Easter, with its hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies, and Easter eggs? Why do they keep Christmas—with Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, gift trading, the Yule log, and mistletoe?

The question could be asked: Did these holidays come from the Bible? If not, then where did they come from, and how did they come to be so universally accepted and celebrated today?

The First-Century Church

Traditional Christianity is divided into varying denominations, sects and churches around the world, all teaching and believing differing doctrines.

Yet, on Pentecost, A.D. 31, when the Church of God first came into being, it “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine [teaching] and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). The first-century Christians “believed...together” (vs. 44) and “continued daily with one accord” (vs. 46). They all believed and taught the same thing. The Church that Christ built was never divided. As a result, it continually grew (vs. 47).

Most assume that these early Christians worshipped on Sunday and kept Christmas, Lent, Easter and other holidays observed by professing Christians today. Believe it or not, the first-century Church observed the same Sabbath, holy days and laws that the Jews kept. This can be proven from the Bible.

Most have been taught and believe that Christ came to “do away” with God’s Law and anything else having to do with the Old Testament. But Christ actually said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). After His death and Resurrection, He commanded His disciples to “teach all nations...to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (28:19-20).

The Bible clearly shows that Jesus kept the Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and other holy days and feasts found in the Old Testament.

Christians are those who follow Christ’s example (I Pet. 2:21)—that includes keeping God’s holy days and practicing the traditions that accompany them. Regarding Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians—who were primarily Gentiles, not Jews—that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:7-8).

Concerning the Sabbath, Paul wrote, “There remains therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). The Greek word used for “rest” is sabbatismo—meaning “a Sabbath-rest” or more properly “a keeping of the Sabbath.”

The “Lost Century”

Following His example, the Church that Christ built observed the same Sabbath, holy days, laws and traditions that the Jews kept. So, in the eyes of the Roman authorities, Christianity was considered to be just another Jewish sect.

But eventually, the Church suffered severe persecution from within and without.

Before his death, Paul warned the Ephesian elders: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

The apostle Peter also warned of false prophets and teachers, “who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (II Pet. 2:1-3).

By the end of the first century, all of the original apostles had died. This vacuum was quickly filled by false leaders, who taught that God’s laws were “nailed to the cross” and that Christians were now solely under grace. All one needed to do was simply “believe.” Works (Commandment keeping) were no longer required. Thus, grace was turned into a license to sin—to break God’s Law (I John 3:4).

A false church had arisen. Its followers looked and sounded like the Church of God, but in reality they were far from it! This counterfeit church, led by the teachings of a Samaritan sorcerer named Simon Magus (Acts 8:5-25), largely destroyed the visible true Church.

Because of fierce Roman persecution, consisting of imprisonment, torture, and even death, most people gave up, departing from the truth and the true Church. By the turn of the second century, there were thousands of professing Christians—but only a tiny few held fast to what they had been taught by the original apostles.

This period is often referred to as “The Lost Century.”

For approximately the next 100 years, church writings became scarce. When such writings resumed, a very different church dominated the historical landscape. This church worshipped on Sunday instead of the Sabbath. It observed Easter and Lent in place of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. This church kept the same holidays and traditions that the world keeps today.

The Church that Christ built—the one to which He promised “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18)—was a tiny flock, barely noticeable on the historical radar screen. During the many centuries between then and now, these true Christians were referred to as Nazarenes, Ebionites or Quatrodecimani. However, God’s people always named themselves the Church of God—they still do today.

Nimrod and the City of Babel

This new “Christianity” altered and rejected the true teachings of the Bible and embraced many pagan traditions and customs. Over the centuries, this counterfeit church grew enormously large, dwarfing the true Church.

But where did this counterfeit church get its teachings? How did it come to embrace Christmas trees, hot cross buns, Easter eggs, Yule logs and mistletoe? To get a clear understanding, we must go back in time thousands of years to the foundation of this world’s religions. We find this described in the book of Genesis. There we find a man named Nimrod. He was “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen. 10:9), which is more accurately translated “in opposition to,” or “in place of,” the Lord.

Josephus, a prominent Jewish historian, stated, “it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God...he also changed the government into tyranny” (Book of the Antiquities, bk. I, ch. IV, pt. 2).

Nimrod, born after the Flood, claimed to be the “savior” of mankind—supposedly saving them from God! After God scattered the nations at Babel (Gen. 11:8) and after the death of Nimrod, his followers continued their rebellion in secret. They developed an intricate system called “the mysteries.” In order to deceive the people, the priests of Nimrod began calling their customs by names that appeared to honor God!

Nimrod took the name “Baal,” which when translated into English means “lord,” and into Greek, “Adonis.”

Nimrod was so evil, it was later said by the Egyptians that he married his own mother, Semiramis. After Nimrod’s death, his mother-wife declared that Nimrod had survived as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree “sprang up” overnight from a dead stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth—December 25th—she claimed that Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. Millions are unaware that this is the real origin of the Christmas tree!

Nimrod’s mother-wife, Semiramis, took the title of the “mother of god,” and was worshipped as “Ishtar,” the mother goddess of dawn or light. Although the spelling differs, her new name was pronounced the same way as the word Easter! She was worshipped in the spring on her feast day—a ritual of fertility!

In this Babylonish system, the “mother and child” (Semiramis, and Nimrod reborn) became chief objects of worship. This worship of “mother and child” spread all over the world.

Their names varied in different countries and languages. One name for Nimrod was “Santa,” commonly used throughout Asia Minor (Langer’s Encyclopedia of World History, p. 37). The followers of “St. Nicholas” are termed “Nicolaitanes” in the New Testament. Nicolas was merely the Greek word for Nimrod. “Santa Claus” is a shortened form of St. Nicholas. All of these names were a direct attempt to disguise their true identity, and promote the “mystery.”

Time and time again, the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4) has sought to overwhelm God’s servants, attempting to pull them away from the true God and into embracing pagan customs and gods. Is Satan—as “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2)—still active in broadcasting this deception?

Christmas, New Years and Easter customs were celebrated in Rome long before the birth of Christ! This Babylonian mystery system is an economic and religious system reaching all parts of the world! Let’s first look at Christmas.

Origins of Christmas Customs

Near the end of December, the Romans set aside several days to celebrate the winter solstice (when the sun reached the lowest point in the heavens and the days were shortest). The high point of this solar festival was the “Saturnalia.”           

Notice: “In private the day [Saturnalia] began with the sacrifice of a young pig...all ranks devoted themselves to feasting and mirth, presents were interchanged among friends, and crowds thronged the streets, shouting ‘lo Saturnalia!’” (“Oscilla,” Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 3rd ed., vol. 2).

Figurines and masks, called “oscilla,” were hung on the tree, similar to Christmas decorations today. The practice of commemorating the winter solstice is not limited to ancient Rome. Nearly every pagan nation has observed a “counterpart” to modern Christmas customs.

Notice what God says about the Christmas tree: “Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven [signs of the skies, winter solstice]; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.” (Jer. 10:2-4).

So, when and how did ancient Rome begin to call these pagan customs “Christian”? The Encyclopedia Britannica holds the answers: “Christmas observance started at Rome about A.D. 336. In Roman times, festivals of Isis or Osiris [of Egypt] were held on December 25. In the religion of Sol [sun god of Babylon] festivals were determined by astronomy. The greatest festival was held on December 24-25, the time of the winter solstice; it was regarded as the day of the rebirth of the sun, and the renovation of life.

“In the time of Emperor Constantine, Rome’s policy was to ‘absorb’ the pagan observances to gain nominal adherents to the church. In the B.C. Roman world, the Saturnalia was a time of ‘merry making’ and ‘exchanging gifts’” (“History of Christmas,” www.britannica.com).

As can be seen, this festival dates back to the time of ancient Babylon. But some may think that gift-giving is scriptural—as it began with the wise men.

In actual fact, the wise men did not present gifts to Christ because it was his birthday. Rather, they came to present gifts to a King. People from the east never approached the presence of a king without a gift (Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 5, p. 46). Nowhere in Scripture is there an endorsement to celebrate Christ’s birth.

All of these pagan traditions collided with Christianity, during the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, when hundreds of thousands of Romans were “accepting Christianity.” Their old pagan customs and beliefs were blended into this developing “Christianity,” and such concepts as the “Madonna” and “mother and child” idea, not to mention the decorating of a tree, became very popular at Christmas time.

Origins of Easter Sunday

Like Christmas, the origins of Easter are deeply rooted in pagan customs. It was A.D. 325 when Easter displaced the Passover. Many think that Christ’s sacrifice removed the need to keep the Passover. However, Christ actually commanded us to keep the Passover, albeit with different symbols (Luke 22:13-20).

During the early fourth century, there was much prejudice between Jewish and Gentile Christians. The Jewish Christians kept separate from the Gentile Christians because Gentiles only accepted Christianity when the Roman church and Emperor agreed to also accept pagan ideas.

While Emperor Constantine was not a Christian, he saw the advantage of merging Christianity with the worship of the sun god. The intensity of this battle grew to a feverish pitch when Emperor Constantine made Easter the “official” day—replacing Passover. Notice his statement at the Council of Nicea: “We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews [Jewish Christians]...we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews” (Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib. iii., 18-20).

Encyclopedia Britannica goes on to state that “Rome’s policy was to absorb the pagan observances in order to gain followers” (www.britannica.com).

Also, note the statement regarding the tradition of the Easter bunny: “The Easter Bunny is a symbol of the pagan rite of fertility...Hot cross buns and colored eggs are traced back to the Chaldean rites of Babylonish worship” (Ibid.).

There are some other interesting facts surrounding the Easter and Lenten season. Notice: “In Babylon, a 40-day fast was observed as an important preliminary of the “great feast” held in commemoration of the “death and resurrection of Tammuz [Nimrod]...Lent is borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian queen of heaven [Semiramis]” (Ibid.).

As you can see, the links between ancient pagan festivals and Easter are undeniable. Long before Christ, Satan prepared to deceive mankind about Christ’s Resurrection. By creating the stories of Nimrod millennia ago, Satan has been able to deceive this world into believing that we should celebrate Christ’s Resurrection with Easter eggs, bunnies, and hot cross buns.

Any encyclopedia shows that Christmas, New Year’s, Lent and Easter (and, for that matter, Halloween and St. Valentine’s Day) are pagan festivals long predating Christianity.

Christ’s Warning

Christ warned his disciples, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name [Christ’s name and authority], saying that I am Christ, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). As we have seen, this has happened!

But does God consider these modern practices wrong? Should you celebrate Easter or Christmas, but focus on Christ as you do it?

God has continually warned His people not to pollute His name by applying it to pagan worship (Ezek. 20:39). He has also warned about false ministers who validate these pagan holidays: “Which think to cause My people to forget My name...as their fathers have forgotten My name for Baal” (Jer. 23:27).

Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, St. Valentine’s Day, etc., are also very commercialized seasons! They are sponsored and supported by heavy retail advertising campaigns throughout the year. Newspapers sell ads and print flowery editorials exalting these seasons and their “spirit.” Why?—because these holidays make money (Rev. 18:3)! Many simply do not want to know the truth of their origin. They do not want to know that these pagan days do not honor Christ—but, in fact, honor Satan!

Like Satan himself, these holidays appear wholesome and pure, as an “angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14). They are designed to appear good and appeal to the masses. Billions of dollars are spent throughout the year in these merchandising sprees, while the real purpose of Christ and the knowledge of the true gospel are being buried by pagan customs.

This system of Babylon still has a grip on the world through religion and economics!

Throughout the centuries, those whom God has called have had to face the pull of this world—and had to overcome it. If you understand the lessons of history and squarely face the facts, you too can achieve victory over Satan!

But this battle will soon come to an end. This Babylonian Mystery religion and its economic, political, and military powers will be destroyed forever at Christ’s Return! And finally, God’s Sabbath and Holy Days will be observed by the whole world!


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