I love holidays – Christmas, Advent, Thanksgiving, Easter, even Valentine’s Day. I’m not so big on Halloween, but otherwise, I’m delighted for any excuse to pause, celebrate my family and my God, and have some fun.
Do you know where the word holiday comes from? It means holy day, typically a day set apart and devoted to God.
Holidays represent a time for our families to come together and worship together. They provide opportunities for special traditions and memories. They give us rest.
But then, what do our traditional American holidays really have to do with God? We have Santa and presents at Christmas, a bunny and eggs and baskets at Easter. The Bible doesn’t make any mention of either Christmas or Easter (let alone the way we celebrate them today). Does that mean we should stop celebrating the way we do?
I say no, it does not.
In Leviticus 23, God explains all the holidays the people are to observe. There are many including the Feast of the Tabernacle, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover. There are numerous other instances where people in the Bible celebrated with dancing, praise, worship, food, and even wine. God intended His people to rest and find comfort and joy in family and tradition and celebration. I believe that, while our holidays have changed since Bible times, God’s intent is still the same – for us to rest, spend time with our families, and worship Him.
While it is true that Christmas and Easter are not mentioned in the Bible, their real and true Christian meaning is to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by celebrating His birth, life, death, and resurrection.
The Christ Mass started nearly 2,000 years ago with a mass of feasting, gift giving, and games. It was a celebration of the birth of Jesus, offered as an alternative to the pagan holiday of Mithra observed on December 23. While the traditions have evolved over the years to include the Christmas tree, Santa, and sometimes elaborate gift exchanges, the goal is the same, to praise and worship and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Easter is based on the Jewish holiday of the Passover which has been around for almost 4,000 years. It celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt. In the Bible, an angel of the Lord killed the firstborn son of every family and every animal in Egypt, but the Israelites had painted blood on their door posts, and the angel passed over each of their families.
There are many observances of Passover observances in the Bible, most notably the Last Supper where Jesus ate and drank with His disciples the night before he was murdered.
While Christ Mass was a feasting holiday, Easter is and always has been a fasting holiday which was preceded by the 40-day Lenten season during which Christians fasted and repented. Easter Sunday is the end of that season, a day of feasting and worship to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and Satan.
As you can see above, Christian holidays are about worshiping Jesus by resting, spending time with our families, and praising the God of the Bible. He intended us to enjoy our families and traditions and spend time reflecting on His goodness to us.
This question is also addressed in the new devotional, 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids. It’s a great book addressing questions real kids have about God, like “How do I know that God is real?” and “How can I know for sure that God loves me?” – all in the first week of the year. It would be a great springboard for some great conversations with your kids through the coming year.
Why do YOU celebrate special seasons and holidays, especially Christmas?