Comparative Religion

Christmas Celebration – Its History & Innovations

Abdul Hameed Essa


The word “Christmas” is derived from the combination of two words “Christ” and “Mass”. 

“Christ” denotes Jesus Christ.

“Mass” means “Celebrations” or “Feast” (In Arabic “Eid”).

“Christmas” therefore means “Christ’s Feast” (not birthday). Anyway, it is meant to be the feast of the birthday of Jesus Christ (Pbuh).

In the Oxford Dictionary we find the meaning of Christmas as
“Yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, 25 December.”
In the Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions (USA 1981) the meaning is:

“The festival commemorating the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, observed on December 25 (except by Armenians).”


The word Christmas is not found anywhere in any Bible (any version) nor is there any authentic record in the Christian sources to show that 25th December was the birthday of Jesus Christ (Pbuh) and no one is recorded to have celebrated or kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday.

It is only sinners like Pharaoh and Herod, who make great rejoicing over the day in which they were born in to the world.

In the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 Edition, published by the Roman Catholic Church under the heading “Christmas” it says:
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church….The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt….Pagan customs centering around the January calends (the 1st day of the ancient Roman month) gravitated to Christmas.”

In the same encyclopedia under the caption “Natal Day”, we find that the early Catholic Father, Origen acknowledged this truth.

2. The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1946 Edition, has this to report:

    “Christmas (the mass of Christ) was not among the earliest festivals of the Church.”It was not instituted by Christ or the apostles or by Bible authority, but from paganism.

3. The Encyclopedia Americana 1944 Edition says:

     “Christmas according to many authorities was not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian Church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons than their birth.” 

  It further states: “A feast was established in memory of this event (Christ’s birth) in the fourth century. In the fifth century, the western church ordered it to be celebrated forever, on the day of the Old Roman Feast of the birth of Sol, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.” “Sol” means, “Sun” not “Son.”

4. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge explains:

  “How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia (Dec 25), following the Saturnalia (Dec 17-24), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the ‘New Sun’ …cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influences….The pagan festival with it’s riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue it’s celebration with little change in spirit and manner.”

These recognized authorities show very clearly that Christmas was not observed by the Original Christians for the first three hundred years, a period longer than the entire history of United States as a nation! The historical records indicate that Christmas was originally a pagan and heathen celebration, later introduced in to Christianity. It had nothing to do with any Semitic religion. Of the major Christian festivals, Christmas is the most recent in origin. The name Christmas did not come in to use until the Middle Ages.

In it’s early history, the Church had an annual observance of honor on the death of Christ and many other early Martyrs. A festival on December 25th was established by Emperor  Aurelian in the 3rd century A.C. In the pre-Christian days, various midwinter festivals were held through out the Roman Empire in conjunction with the winter solstice, when the day becomes the shortest. The pagans had the superstitious belief that the sun would go down, with the day becoming shorter and shorter, and would never come back if something ritualistic was not done. So they had the worshipping of the ‘Sun god’ or the feast of unconquerable sun, and celebrated the beginning of the return of the sun. They had added the Persian god Mithras to the celebration, since he was said to have been born on 25th December.

When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, the Church could not suppress or stamp out the performance of these pagan festivals. As it is said, ‘If you cannot beat them, join them.’ They started joining the pagan and heathen celebrations in to Christianity. By the year 336 A.C, the festival was christianised by calling it as the birthday of ‘the Son of Righteousness.’ Thus, the ‘festival of the sun’ became the ‘festival of the Son.’ The Roman date fell with a season of rejoicing initiated with Saturnalia on December 17th, and the same merrymaking continued to characterize the Christian feast. It got in to the Western or Roman Church by the 4th century A.C, and the practice spread widely, so that most part of the Christian world observed the new festival by the end of the 4th century. It was adopted in Alexandria by about 430 A.C. In Jerusalem, it was still unknown in the 5th century A.C; but by that time the December feast had been already adopted elsewhere in the east.

Some Christian preachers of the west and near east protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ’s birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their western brethren of ‘idolatry and sun worship’, for adopting this pagan festival as Christian. English Puritans (the reformist groups discontented with the religious settlement of the Church of England), sought to curtail Christmas festivity by an act of parliament in 1644, but the feast again became popular and remained so to the present.


As mentioned earlier there is no evidence in the Bible or any authoritative Christian source to establish 25th December as the birthday of Jesus Christ (Pbuh).  Earlier the nativity was celebrated by the Eastern Church on January 6, often united to the celebration of Jesus Baptism. The Armenian Church celebrates the festival of the birth and baptism on January 6th.

The Dictionary of Living Religions reports:

“Speculation on the birth date of Jesus is as old as Clement of Alexandria…he suggested May 20. But the actual date remains unknown.”

There are evidences in the Holy Quran as well as the New Testament, which enables us to derive that Jesus Christ (Pbuh) was born in the Summer and not in the Winter.


وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَباً جَنِيّاً فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِي وَقَرِّي عَيْناً

“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.”

“So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye.”

Here Allah (SWT), tells Mary (Pbuh), close to the time of her delivering Jesus Christ (Pbuh), to have the ripe dates as food and we all know very well that ripe dates would be available on palm trees only in Summer and not in Winter.

Similarly in the New Testament in the book of Luke (2:8-11):

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Shepherds would not spend the nights in the open watching their sheep in the winter in an area like Palestine were Winter is too cold, so it has to be in Summer.

The WyCliffe Bible Commentary had this to say about the birth of Jesus Christ:

“The exact date of Jesus birth is unknown; the legendry (mythical) date of December 25 cannot be tracked back further than the fourth century.”


When Christianity spread northward in to Europe, the pagans had their great ‘Yule festival’. The pagan custom of the tree decorations were absorbed in to Christianity once again.

In the Bible, in Jeremiah (10:1-4): 

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 axe.

 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it, move not.

The above verses from the Christian Bible clearly indicates that the Christmas tree was earlier a pagan and heathen practice, later on accommodated in to Christianity. There are so many pagan stories and beliefs connected with this Christmas tree, and Santa Claus, which I do not want to elaborate here. You may find it in detail in the 2nd article named Christmas tree.


Here we have a character, who is believed to have come from the North pole and in one night he is able to personally distribute gifts to children all over the world. Children are informed by the Parents, that if they behave good, Santa Claus would reward them with a gift. How can Santa Claus know which child is good and which is bad. The quality of Almighty God is attributed to him- the Knowledge of the unseen. Only Almighty God know what is in people’s heart and mind. Hence this is clean SHIRK. Secondly Parents are lying to children by saying that the reward for being good is from Santa Claus and not from Almighty God. Children are taught to fear a fictious man instead of God.


The Muslims do not deny the right of Christians to have a festival.

As the Prophet (Pbuh) said:

“Every people has it’s festival, and this is our festival”. Further he said; “Allah has given you something better instead of them; Yawm al-Duhaa and Yawm al-Fitr.” (Reported by Abu Dawood).

However the Muslims have every right and reason to ask some simple questions to this.

1. How can you choose any day and celebrate as a ‘religious’ festival, if:

–          the date of Jesus’ birth itself is not known?

–          there is no evidence in the Bible for the practice of celebrating a birthday?

–          There is no evidence in the Bible that the celebration has any relation with Jesus?

If you believe that the Bible is the word of God and guidance from Him, then bring the evidence from this book, and prove that whatever you are doing has a sound basis or record.

2. Why do you celebrate Christmas when paganism or polytheism lies at the very root of Christmas? It is a well established fact that a popular feast of pagans, heathens, and polytheists was adopted and absorbed in Christianity.

Some Christians may say: Is there anything wrong with giving gifts, or with good will, pleasant feelings, cheerfulness, and enjoyment of a nice family holiday and talk about Jesus Christ at Christmas? It is worth to quote Mr. Joseph W. Tkach, the Editor-in-Chief of a world renowned Christian Magazine “The Plain Truth”(in the Nov/Dec 1991 issue), who says that apparently there is nothing wrong in it, but as he writes:

   “A pagan festival and the worship of the true God do not mix. The prophets constantly warned ancient Israel against polytheistic practices and for good reason. God is the sovereign and supreme Lord of all creation. The gods of the nations were not. To mix polytheistic practices with the worship of God is the highest disrespect and dishonor to Him. Why? Because it lowers God to the level of the weak, worthless and false.”

“Some say, ‘Let’s get Christ back in to Christmas.’ I understand their point and definitely respect their motives. Yet shouldn’t we rather be saying: ‘Let’s get Christ out of Christmas’?”

“Would any of us choose a pagan temple as the ideal place to worship god? Yet we have chosen to worship Christ on the very day and festival the pagans worshipped some of their gods. It was originally chosen because so many pagans were worshipping their gods on it- and the pagan trimmings persist to this day. It is time that Christians seriously reconsider the yearly practice that taints the worship of Christ with the pagan birthday of the ‘invincible sun.’”

He concludes with verses from the Bible to defend his argument:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,

 In the Islamic concept, any deficiency in the pure monotheistic attitude is called SHIRK, and it is the greatest and unpardonable sin. So Muslims can never join paganism, and therefore to take part in such celebration is completely unacceptable and forbidden (HARAM) in Islam as we are commemorating and joining hands with them in committing Shirk when we congratulate them, greet them, or take part in their celebrations.

Therefore congratulating (greeting) them for Christmas or any other religious occasion is considered by all Muslim Scholars to be HARAM (unlawful and sinful) because it is a sign of approval and acceptance of their belief and practice which is nothing but KUFR AND SHIRK. As a true Muslim you would not do what displeases Allah (SWT), and would not approve of Shirk or Kufr or give any sign of approval for any of it’s practices. Hence a Muslim should not congratulate Christians on Christmas or any of their religious occasions. Muslims should refrain from facilitating or selling any goods or services intended for such use.



إِن تَكْفُرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنكُمْ وَلَا يَرْضَى لِعِبَادِهِ الْكُفْرَ وَإِن تَشْكُرُوا يَرْضَهُ لَكُمْ

“If you blaspheme (reject or deny Allah), truly Allah hath no need of you; but He liketh not ingratitude from his servants: If ye are grateful, He is pleased with you.


وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

“Cooperate with one another in righteous and piety (in what is good and pious), but cooperate ye not in sin and rancor (in what is sinful and wicked).”

Moreover Umar ibn al-Khattab said:

“Avoid the enemies of Allah on their festivals. Do not enter upoun their churches or take part in their celebrations on their feast days, for the WRATH of ALLAH is descending on them.”

It was also reported with a saheeh isnad from Abu Usaamah: Awn told us from Abdullah ibn- Amr;

“Whoever lives in the land of non-Arabs and celebrates their New Year and festivals, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.”

Some Christians may say that this celebration is nothing but an expression of devotion and love for Jesus. They may be reminded of what Jesus himself is reported to have explained about the meaning of ‘belief in him’ and ‘love for him.’


John (14:12): Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also.


John (14:21):

He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me; and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him.   ….

John (15:10):

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide by my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.


Mathew (7:21-23)

Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work inequity.


ALLAH (SWT) says in the Glorious Quran (5:3):

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالْدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ

“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which any other names besides Allah hath been invoked.”

In the above verse Allah has forbidden to us in food; dead meat, blood, flesh of swine and any food on which any other names besides Allah is invoked.

Here the delicious Christmas cake falls on the fourth category which is forbidden in higher level than the rest three, meaning that it is worse than having dead meat, blood and flesh of swine.

    May Allah(SWT) guide us all on the straight path. Amen.

Its High Time You take this oppurtunity to learn about your religion…Is it not Shocking that the church or the pastor did not inform you of this??Is it just a coincidence that they dont know?? How can something so wrong be practiced over the years…??Can you trust your beliefs after this??Is there more that we are not aware of….??

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