Why I No Longer Celebrate Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, according to popular culture, but is it really? Surely you have heard, “Jesus is the reason for the season”. In reality though that is far from the truth. It could be more accurately stated as the holiday we justify using Jesus’ name in vain for capital gain.

Numerous years ago, before being Spirit-filled, much less led by the Spirit to go where He says to go, and to say what He says to say, I had been leary of Christmas and it’s ridiculous traditions, much of which are designed to commercialize the name of Jesus while promoting lies and pagan rituals. When my sons were small I refused to deceive them into thinking Santa brought them gifts for I could not understand why any parent or Christian would lie to their children only for them to be disappointed at a later age – not to mention learn not to trust their own parents. Such “traditions” directly contradict the simply stated commandment which reads, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices .” Colossians 3:9 (NIV) as well as many other Scriptures with similar sentiments. Nevertheless, I still proceeded with all the other typical traditions – mostly to go with the flow of everyone else.

Later, when I researched the origins of Christmas, I was not only surprised to learn it’s pagan history, but I was surprised to learn Christmas was illegal in early United States history for early settlers believed Christmas to be a Satanic, unholy custom:

Publick Notice

For the preventing of disorders, arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other communities, to the great dishonour of God and offense of others. It is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like — either by forbearing labour, feasting or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offense five shilling as a fine to the county. Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1659.

as well as a second notice, which reads:

Publick Notice

The observation of Christmas having been deemed a sacrilege, the exchanging of Gifts and Greetings, dressing in Fine Clothing, Feasting and similar Satanical Practices are hereby FORBIDDEN with the Offender liable to a Fine of Five Shillings.

In fact, did you know the origins of Christmas actually have nothing to do with the birth of Christ Jesus, but rather have everything to do with the Roman pagan festival known as ‘Saturnalia’? According to the History Channel’s History.com site,

“Saturnalia, held in mid-December, is an ancient Roman pagan festival honoring the agricultural god Saturn. Saturnalia celebrations are the source of many of the traditions we now associate with Christmas.

Saturnalia, the most popular holiday on the ancient Roman calendar, derived from older farming-related rituals of midwinter and the winter solstice, especially the practice of offering gifts or sacrifices to the gods during the winter sowing season.

The Christian holiday of Christmas, especially, owes many of its traditions to the ancient Roman festival, including the time of year Christmas is celebrated…by the fourth century A.D., Western Christian churches settled on celebrating Christmas on December 25, which allowed them to incorporate the holiday with Saturnalia and other popular pagan midwinter traditions. ” Saturnalia, History.com

Did you also know the pagan holiday known as Saturnalia has been described by other sources likened to Mardi Gras with no morals, drunkenness, orgies, and other lawless activities? Did you know the reason we give gifts during Christmas isn’t because of the wise men, but rather because gift-giving was a custom of Saturnalia where the Romans gave one another gifts representing human sacrifices originally given to the temple god, Saturn?

“On the last day of Saturnalia celebrations, known as the Sigillaria, many Romans gave their friends and loved ones small terracotta figurines known as signillaria, which may have referred back to older celebrations involving human sacrifice.” Saturnalia, History.com

I strongly encourage you to research the origins of Christmas and Saturnalia as article after article I read portrayed nothing but pagan practices later repackaged as ‘Christmas’.

I know what you may be thinking, perhaps you are thinking, ‘Well, that’s not what it means to me, Carrie. It’s just a nice tradition my family has been doing for years…’

A beach-themed Christmas tree dominates the lobby of Hampton Inn of Myrtle Beach, SC. (2017)

In my opinion, customs or traditions, which could also be known as doctrines of men, are acceptable so long as they do not violate certain parameters:

  1. The tradition or doctrine cannot contradict God’s word, His written voice and instructions for our lives.
  2. The tradition or doctrine cannot have pagan origins glorifying other gods or pagan practices that encourage violating God’s word.
  3. The tradition or doctrine cannot supercede God’s word.

While the beautiful lights decorating homes are alluring, in addition to singing famous Christmas songs, as well being bedazzled by Christmas trees of various creative themes, these practices are designed to delight our senses. These sensual festivities on the surface seem harmless, but the fact is, they violate all three of the parameters above. We’ve already discussed their pagan origins, now check out what God’s word says about participating in pagan, Gentile practices. The prophet, Jeremiah scribes in Jeremiah 10, what sure does sound like a Christmas tree, a wooden idol:

“Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel.

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,
Because they cannot go by themselves.
Do not be afraid of them,
For they cannot do evil,
Nor can they do any good.’

6 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.
10 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….

25 Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You ..”

Whether you realized it or not, the custom of dragging a dead tree in your home is establishing a wooden idol and participating in pagan practices. I have heard others preach you are even offering sacrifices/gifts to it when you kneel down and place them under the tree, unknowingly.

According to an article titled ‘All about the Christmas Tree: Pagan Origins, Christian Adaptation, and Secular Status’ on religioustolerance.org, “During the Roman celebration of the feast of Saturnalia, Pagans did decorate their houses with clippings of evergreen shrubs. They also decorated living trees with bits of metal and replicas of their god, Bacchus.”

In numerous passages, the LORD says to not adopt the traditions or customs of the pagan Gentiles. As believers in Jesus, or Yeshua, in His Hebrew original name, we are apart of Israel spiritually, regardless of your physical DNA, according to Scripture, a type of adopted Israelite (Galatians 3:26-29; Romans 11), no longer identified as a Gentile, but having been born-again, having crossed-over, which is what ‘Hebrew’ means, we are a new creation in Him…no longer a pagan Gentile. To learn more, read https://flipflopfellowship.com/2019/04/23/walk-like-an-egyptian/

  • “And you shall know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in My statutes nor executed My judgments, but have done according to the customs of the Gentiles which are all around you.” Ezekiel 12:12 (NKJV)
  • “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. ” Ephesians 4:17-24

For me, in recent years, I avoid any resemblance of participating in the typical Christmas traditions like exchanging gifts, decorating trees, etc. for I now understand they violate God’s word, His call to be set-apart, and similar to Halloween, have pagan origins. But I welcome opportunities to spend time with family and friends such as sharing a meal similar to Thanksgiving around or on Christmas Day (unless exchanging of gifts will be present – pun intended). 😉 Even so, my parents still give me something for Christmas, but they would be highly offended if I refused to graciously receive them. So I have discerned for the sake of love, to pick and choose my battles. Being set-apart is designed to make you be a light to the world, not an explosive bomb, although it will most likely shake things up!

Being set-apart is designed to make you be a light to the world, not an explosive bomb, although it will most likely shake things up!

Furthermore, throughout the year, I celebrate God’s holy holidays prescribed in the Bible (see Leviticus 23, as one passage discussing them), since they are commanded, prophetic, and centered on our Messiah, Jesus/Yeshua. It is believed, but not proven, based off clues found in Scripture, Jesus may actually have been born during the ‘Feast of Tabernacles’, the final Fall feast known in Hebrew as ‘Sukkot’. It also is speculated for those same reasons, Jesus most likely was conceived during or near Hanukkah. In addition to God’s holy holidays, I also celebrate the tradition of Hanukkah since it meets the parameters discussed above, though that holiday is not commanded to celebrate like the others. However, even Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication (see John 10:22-23).

Keep in mind, coming to such observances was a long process of cooperating with the Spirit of Holiness dwelling within me for He specializes in removing the unholy and replacing it with holy, hence, God labeling His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. I respect your decision to celebrate Christmas even if you still choose to do so now knowing it’s pagan origins and what I believe are contradictions to God’s word. I hope you too can respect me as I choose to no longer celebrate Christmas.

To learn more about God’s holidays, Hanukkah, and my perspective regarding other holidays, click on the following links for various articles or videos I have published.

Holy Holidays: Why I Celebrate The Feasts of the LORD

Mom, Why Don’t You Say Happy Easter Anymore?

Halloween: Just Don’t Do It

Why I Am Celebrating Hanukkah

Regardless if you agree or disagree with my faith, I love you still.

Blessings & Shalom,

Carrie R. Tuner

12.8.19

Holy Holidays: Why I Celebrate The Feasts of the LORD

While most Americans celebrate Christmas and Easter, even if they are not particularly religious, I have slowly transitioned away from celebrating the common holidays of our society to celebrating God’s holy holidays known as the ‘Feasts of the LORD’. The catalyst in doing so was albeit a slow one…

How I Came To Celebrate God’s Holy Holidays

I remember as a young girl hearing about someone who didn’t celebrate Christmas or other holidays because they were Jehovah’s Witness, but never gave it much thought other than, “Humm, that’s weird.”  Close to twenty years later though, when my boys were small in the early 2000’s, I was careful never to deceive them into believing in a fictional character that stalks children named Santa Claus. After all, Jesus was the reason for the season – or so I thought. Moreover, now that I had kids, I felt like I should be able to explain why we do what we do even though they weren’t asking just yet!

Being a nerd at heart, I went digging on the world wide web for answers. While I was surprised to learn many of the holidays’ had pagan origins, nothing particularly struck me as evil or caused me to think I really shouldn’t celebrate these, rather it just added to my overall unexplainable Scrooge like perspective on most holidays – except Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for no apparent reason other than the great food and company and of course, the general concept of being thankful! Much later in my life, I learned the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving Feast was replicating the Feasts of Tabernacles…No wonder I love Thanksgiving! 😉 Whereas, it was obvious to me that most other holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas were just great marketing ploys to further the economy and cause people to go unnecessarily into debt!

One particular day though, while visiting my mom (and waiting on her before we went somewhere), I was thumbing through a Bible when I stumbled upon Jeremiah 10, which certainly grabbed my attention.

“Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O Israel. Thus says the LORD, ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles..For the customs of the people are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest..they decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so it will not topple..’ ” Jeremiah 10:1-4

I felt pricked in the heart and even showed the passage to my mom. “Mom, doesn’t this sound like a Christmas tree?” She agreed it did sound like that, but neither of us knew how to reconcile our common and well-accepted tradition to this peculiar truth. Naturally, like most Christians, we brushed it off and went about our day. Tradition trumped truth because we simply didn’t know better.

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If you want to download your own, click here: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/gods-holy-day-plan-the-promise-of-hope-for-all-mankind

Later, sometime in 2010-2011 time frame, I interviewed for a Property Manager job in Philadelphia, about 2 hours from home at that time. The apartment community was owned and managed by Orthodox Jews so they informed me due to their religious holidays (the Feasts of the LORD) there are many days the company and leasing offices are closed typically in September as well as other days throughout the year. Due to deciding not to relocate to Philadelphia, I turned down the job. Nevertheless, the testimony of those faithful Jews inspired me all these years later to also honor Abba Father by not working and not having my subcontractors work on God’s Holy Holidays either (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14).

In 2011 somehow a YouTube TV show popped up on my laptop called ‘Beyond Today’, a program produced by United Church of God. I watched the program in its entirety and it was then I was introduced to the “Feasts of the LORD”. I even downloaded a free packet published by the group and printed it on my color printer. To this day, I reference that packet usually around the prescribed feast days as there is still so much to absorb.

Meanwhile, I had previously attended a charismatic church where a Jewish man and his wife, who believed in Jesus as the Messiah, attended. Through him, I saw a shofar as he introduced it to the church as well a prayer shawl. He and his wife even orchestrated the church’s first seder dinner, all of which I found fascinating. I kept the Seder Haggadah that was handed out to each of us attending for I found it enriching and interesting. The Haggadah basically means “telling” the Passover story. 20190503_123427 It, like the ‘Feast of the LORD’ packet, went into a special “spiritual ” container bin where I kept various notes from sermons, encouraging cards given to me, and anything meaningful and religious in nature. Over the years, I would on occasion read through these materials casually pondering these mysterious feasts.

You may recall, in 2014, the Blood Red Moons were all the rage in the media and especially certain Evangelical circles because they corresponded with the “Jewish Feasts” and seemed prophetic in nature. It was around this time, I was introduced to Jim Staley’s teachings on YouTube. Again, somehow his videos just manifested. Consequently, I found myself listening to eye opening and puzzling teachings over and over again trying to decipher all the foreign, yet oddly familiar or comforting, concepts he would share. I enjoyed listening to his teachings as not only is he an excellent teacher, which I admired as one who had formerly taught computers, but what he so passionately shared with his audience brought a peculiar peace, a settling shalom to my vexed soul (another story for another time). While I hadn’t particularly changed my normal Christian lifestyle to be anything Hebrew or Jewish related at the time, the truths he shared most definitely got me seeking the word and God in pursuit of truth and understanding. In my humble opinion, anyone who causes me to seek the Father’s heart by digging more in His word for myself is a winner!

A couple of years later, in 2016, God spoke to me through a dream and directly to my husband (in his mind/heart), the same day informing us we were to sell our home of 10 years, give away or sell most of our belongings, and go where He says to go and do whatever He says to do. Much like the Israelites did when they left Egypt, we were leaving proverbial “Egypt”. We understood we would be mobile and dependent on Him following His proverbial cloud and fire. Although a seemingly unusual call at the time, Abba (Father God) confirmed it to us through another unknowing soul. At the church we “randomly” attended that day, a pastor was preaching, looked at us directly, and almost verbatim said what the Lord spoke to us earlier that morning! Shortly after getting the message from the Spirit we were to relocate, although we had no idea where to at the time,  I heard God whisper to me in my being that we need to list the house during the Feast of Tabernacles that year. Honestly, I was like, “What? The Feast of Tabernacles? When is that? And Why then?”20190503_123446 So I went to my super “spiritual” bin to dig out that packet I printed 5 years earlier to look up the Feast of Tabernacles. It even had a chart outlining the various dates of the feasts for years to come. So at that point in my life, I could see the Feast of Tabernacles would be rapidly approaching as it was only a couple of weeks away according to my saved packet. I verified the dates on the internet and then presented this weird word to my husband, who amazingly, was like, “OK, let’s do it!” After we indeed listed the house on the last day of Feast of Tabernacles, which I didn’t know then is the “8th day” of the feast and means “New Beginnings”, I got another word from the LORD telling me the house will sell in April, but write it down in my journal (I journal often) so I wouldn’t doubt hearing Him. Sure enough the house sold in April of 2017.

Little did I know then, what I know now about the Feast of Tabernacles and the other Feasts nor how much He would incorporate that particular feast into our journey (see our story ‘Walk His Way’). Although, if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is this: There is always more to learn in Yahweh – after all, it’s not my way, but Yah’s way!

yahways

Here are Three Reasons Why I Celebrate The Feasts of Yahweh:

1. Not Just Jewish

With all that said, first, I have learned that these feasts described in various passages of the Old and New Testament are NOT just “Jewish feasts”, but rather, like Leviticus 23:1 says they are “The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” In other words, this isn’t something the Jewish people invented nor are these holy holidays just for the Jewish people, but they are for all who believe in the One True God. (To learn more about that subject, check out the article I penned called ‘One Law For All’). We even celebrate the Feasts, God’s appointed times, in the millenium reign of Christ (Ezekiel 45:18-25; 46:9,11; Zechariah 14:16-21). To learn more about the Feasts of the LORD, here are a few passages to read: Leviticus 23; Exodus 23:14-19; Deuteronomy 16; 2 Chronicles 29-30; Nehemiah 8-10; Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 26:2,17-30; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 4:45; John 7; John 10:22-23 {refers to Hanukkah, not a prescribed Feast of YHVH, but one even Jesus celebrated, evidently}; John 12:1, 12-13, 20 {notice Greeks worshiped at the Feast of Passover too} Acts 2; 18:21; 1 Corinthians 5:7.

http___www.messianictrust.org.uk_kids-pesach_images_TheAfikomen
The unleavened bread is wrapped in the afikomen (linen) just as Jesus / Yeshua’s sinless body was wrapped in linen in His burial.

2. Prophetic In Nature

Secondly, each of the seven feasts are prophetic in nature and reveal profound truths about the Messiah and God’s ultimate true love story. The Spring Feasts being Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits were fulfilled when Jesus, or Yeshua in His actual Hebrew name, became the Passover Lamb slaughtered on actual Passover, His unleavened (sinless) body broken and buried in the tomb during Unleavened Bread like the seder dinner tradition of the afikomen, where the unleavened bread is wrapped in linen just as Jesus was, and He rose again on the feast of Firstfruits, which is why the Apostle Paul refers to Jesus as a type of firstfruits being the first to be resurrected (I Corinthians 15:20). Yahsome, right?!

The final Spring/Summer feast, is Shavuot also known as the ‘Feast of Weeks’ or Pentecost. It’s been said in Jewish interpretation or tradition that the the law of God was given on Mount Sinai, and we know later, on the same day, the Holy Spirit was given (see Acts 2). As a side note, reconcile the possibility that both the law or Torah of God AND the Spirit were given to His people the same day just centuries apart. Why? Because the Spirit writes the Torah on our hearts eventually causing us to walk it out, or live that lifestyle, just as the Living Torah, Jesus lived (see Hebrews 8:8-10; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:27). The Holy Spirit or put another way, the Spirit of Holiness was given as a gift of grace to pay the debt for not obeying Torah while helping us be able to do so..to overcome sin and death, the consequence of breaking Torah (I John 3; Romans 3:23; 6:23)…not to earn our salvation, but BECAUSE He first loved us, we will want to love Him and others the way He defines love and holiness in His Torah, the ultimate love letter. Isn’t God genius?!

Lastly, the final 3 feasts being Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, and Feast of Tabernacles that occur each Fall are yet to be fulfilled. Many believe, including myself, that these Fall feasts will be fulfilled at our Messiah’s second coming when He returns as a ferocious mighty Lion verses the gentle, servantly Lamb He cames as the first time here on Earth.

3. Required & Set Apart

http___www.thejoshlink.com_7Feasts2Thirdly, I celebrate the Feasts because I understand as a believer of the One True God, YHVH, and His Son, Yeshua, the Messiah, I am apart of Israel…I am an Israelite, a child of God called to be a light and set apart from the world (Isaiah 49:6; Matthew 5:14; John 8:12; Psalm 119:105-106; Ephesians 5:7-14) and consequently, I recognize and want to submit to God’s authority. Because my Abba Father commands, not suggests, we celebrate His Holy Holidays, the Feasts, as His kid, I’m going to comply to His household rules or put another way as a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel, I’m going to comply to His nation’s or kingdom’s laws. Such concepts of believers actually being either native-Israelites and others grafted-in Israelites, formerly known as rebellious wayward Gentiles, may be a foreign way to be identified, but alas, it is ‘The Way” and important you understand your true identity in Him. To learn more about your identity and responsibilities as a believer, read ‘‘Walk Like An Egyptian?’ and ‘One Law For All’.

http___i.ytimg.com_vi_T1qTfrtATvA_maxresdefaultFurthermore, it’s no coincidence we have witnessed in our nation, and world in general, people are experiencing an identity crisis, identity theft, the confusion of genders, meanwhile, the issues of illegal immigrants as well as we hear of or read in the news about all the ‘lawlessness’ going on for it all speaks! Remember the Broward County Florida school shooting in 2018? The media kept saying ‘lawlessness’ while ‘the law’ was Sheriff Israel! Can the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit make it anymore obvious?

The body of Messiah, the church, is experiencing all of the above, the confusion and lawlessness, but could produce fruit that won’t burn up like hay and straw (1 Corinthians 3:12-17) when we not only start to understand who we are, but when we start being worshipers of Spirit (John 3:3-6) and truth (Psalm 119:142,151) like Jesus / Yeshua sought and taught (John 4:23-24) and the Apostles and Messianic Israelites demonstrated in the early days! Watch my brief video teaching ‘Serving The Ekklesia | Don’t Be Afraid’, where I discuss how some Christians are all about the law, but afraid of the Spirit, while others are all about the Spirit, but rebellious towards the law.  When we allow the Spirit to guide us like a GPS while still abiding by the laws of the road, we can finally reach our destination in one accord (Not the Honda! Ha ha!).

torahonourhearts

In closing, the feasts are for the most part, joyous celebrations, that we will want to obey upon the Spirit being written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:8-10; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:26-27). Ultimately, by celebrating the feasts, we are reflecting on our Messiah and striving to honor our Abba Father; moreover, we are being like Jesus, like Yeshua, the word, the Torah in the flesh for all the world to read. Hopefully, in doing so, the world will also want to come out of the dark and into His marvelous light too!

“They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they were appointed. But you are a chosen generation , a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light!” 1 Peter 2:8-9 (NKJV)