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What should you know about Christmas?

All over the world, many people look forward to Christmas for a variety of reasons. Some because it gives them the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. For others it is a time to dedicate to God or to do something for the poor and needy. In themselves, these things are really something good. But this festival of lights holds a dark secret.

First, many people think that they celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. However, historians widely agree that Jesus' date of birth is not known at all. And what did the first Christians think about celebrating Jesus' birthday? The Protestant Church Dictionary (1959) states: "The church of the martyr period rejected such a birthday celebration with indignation in view of the pagan birthday celebrations of the gods and their cults" (vol. 3, sp. 1742). Moreover, there is no indication in the Bible that Jesus would have celebrated his own or any other birthday. (Luke 22:19) Rather, he wanted his followers to hold a memorial service for his death.

Second, many textbooks agree that most Christmas traditions are based on pagan, non-Christian customs-for example, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree-as well as wreaths, burning candles, mistletoe, gifts, the Julklotz, and door-to-door singing. About some of these customs, the book The External Forms of the Catholic Church writes: "When we give or receive Christmas gifts, and when we use the green Christmas tree or laurel and mistletoe branches in the house and church for decoration, surely few think of the fact that they allow old pagan customs to live on.

"When we give or receive Christmas presents, and when we use the green Christmas tree or laurel and mistletoe branches in the house and church for decoration, few people think that they are allowing old pagan customs to live on" (The External Forms of the Catholic Church)

But, aren't such traditions completely harmless? There is a third point to consider: It is not right for God to let pagan customs be included in his worship. Here is an example from the past. Through the prophet Amos, God said to Israelites who had been unfaithful to him: "I hate your festivals, I detest them ... Away with the noise of your songs!" (Amos 5:21, 23, Uniform translation, text marking by us).

Why such harsh words? At that time, God had actually provided for the temple in Jerusalem, and He wanted the people there to worship it. But Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, erected golden calf statues in the cities of Dan and Bethel and made the people worship them. He also introduced celebrations and appointed his own priests to lead the celebrations (1 Kings 12:26-33).

It looked as if all this was for God and was done for his glory. But did God see it that way? The sharp words that Jehovah communicated through Amos and other prophets make his disgust very clear. And he said through the prophet Malachi: "I am Jehovah; I have not changed." (Malachi 3:6) Is this not a clear indication of how the "Merry Christmas everywhere" touches him today?

For many, these points were the reason why they no longer celebrate Christmas. They enjoy it all year round, whenever they feel like spending time with family and friends, and it makes them content to help those in need at any time.

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The National Bank in Paris is burning brightly

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