What the Bible Says About Holidays

Posted on December 2, 2011 by

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It’s a fact that nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to celebrate Christmas. In fact, under the New Covenant, the Bible does not establish any holidays whatsoever. What that means is – and we need to be up-front about this – is that any celebration of any holiday is strictly optional. Some holidays, such as Easter (or Resurrection Sunday – but that’s ANOTHER blog series) or Thanksgiving have definite Biblical precedent established, but in each case we are commanded to always live mindful of the resurrection and to always be giving thanks in all things.

But if it does not command the celebration of holidays, the Bible does not condemn it either. Nowhere in Scripture are Christians commanded not to set aside certain days of extra man-determined meaning and significance in order to engage in additional worship, so long as we understand that no day is intrinsically more holy than the next. In other words, the celebration of holidays is not condemned by Scripture, but neither is it mandated.

Perhaps Paul says it best in Romans 14:5-6 –

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

In Galatians 4:9-11, Paul (speaking of the Jewish holy days specifically) tells believers to be careful of being in bondage to a particular day or celebration:

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Once again, echoing the sentiments of Romans, Paul tells us in Colossians 2:16-17 that whether or not particular holidays (again, speaking of the Jewish holy days specifically) are observed is neither an article of faith, nor is it a criteria upon which Christians should judge one another. The focus, Paul says, should be on Jesus:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

From these passages, and others like them, we can infer some important truths as to the celebration of holidays in general (not just Christmas):

  • Holidays are not condemned by Scripture, nor are they inherently ungodly as some (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses) believe.
  • Holidays are not commanded by Scripture, nor are they necessary to be obedient to Jesus or to show our love for God.
  • Whether or not other believers celebrate a certain holiday or practice certain holiday traditions should not be a source of offense or cause for judgment within the Body of Christ. This applies both to the “weaker brothers”, as well as to those whose exercise of freedom in Christ might be cause for another to stumble.
  • Our holidays and holiday traditions should point, in their symbolism and in their substance, to Jesus Christ. Holidays that fail to do this are beyond the scope of what Scripture permits.
  • Ultimately, no holiday or holiday tradition should be a source of bondage to a believer. If it is, then that believer has an incorrect understanding of what Scripture teaches on the subject.
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