by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din
The Light (Pakistan), 1st January 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 2–3)
In the Christendom there are three most important festivals, Epiphany, Christmas, and Easter. The origin of these feasts and festivals not being known to most of the Christians, much less to Non-Christians, it will be of interest to explain what these feasts and festivals are. As we are writing in Christmas days, we shall confine our remarks mostly to the origin of this festival and reserve the treatment of others for other suitable occasions.
These festivals never existed in the time of Jesus or his apostles; nor is there any indication of the observance of Easter, or Epiphany or Christmas in the New Testament or in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. The ecclesiastical historian Socrates states that neither the Lord nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of any festival.
“The Apostles had no thought,”
“of appointing festival days.”
The early Christians of orthodox ideas held that such feasts were not in accord with their faith.
Christmas, or the Mass of Christ, is the festival in commemoration of the nativity of Jesus. As pointed out above it was not observed in the time of the Holy Prophet Jesus or his Apostles, or early Fathers. In fact, they abhorred and condemned the idea of such feasts which seemed to them hardly better than earthly enjoyments. As late as 245, Origen, in his eighth homily [short sermon] on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Jesus Christ
“As if he were a King Pharaoh.”
The festival of Christmas, which cannot boast its origin in Christ or in the New Testament, is an invention of latter times. For centuries there have been speculations even about the date of Christ’s birth; and according to Encyclopaedia Britannica
“before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on the 6th of January, or the 25th of March, or the 25th of December.”
These three were selected out of several dates, which had been condemned as spurious element of Alexandria, who himself set the birth on the 17th of November 3 B.C.
One of the votaries set it on the 28th of March. For he maintained that
“the world was created perfect, flowers in bloom, and trees in leaf, therefore in spring; also, at the equinox, and when the moon just created was full. The 28th of March suits all these considerations. Christ, therefore, being the Sun of Righteousness, was born on the 28th of March.”
The same symbolical reasoning led certain Romans to transfer his birthday from the 6th January to the 25th December, which was according to their ideas the birthday of the unconquered Sun. While on the other hand, those Syrians and Armenians who clung fast to the 6th of January rightly charged the Romans with sun-worship and idolatry. The idolatrous conception of this date of the 25th December originated in the West, regardless of reality and of general belief in the East. It, is an irony of fate that a wrong and ridiculous day has been adopted throughout the Christendom for the observance of Christmas.
There being no religious directions as to the keeping of Christmas, the West has not only dictated the date, but also the manner in which the festival should be celebrated. The celebration is no less heathen [pagan] in origin than the idea underlying the fixing of its date. It is in fact a survival of the old Teutonic mythology. The words yule-log and yule-tide bearing it out. Father Santa Clause who fills the stockings hanging in the chimneys of English children on the Christmas night with gifts, the carol-singers, and the indulgence of kissing young ladies who happen to pass through doorways cunningly hung by young men with the lucky mistletoe, all point to the superstitious and heathen origin of the festival, ill-appropriated by Christianity.
“In Britain the 25th of December was a festival long before its conversion to Christianity. In 1644 the English Puritans forbade any merriment or religious services by act of parliament, on the ground that it was a heathen festival, and ordered it to be kept as a fast. Charles II revived the feast, but the Scots adhered to the Puritan view,” (Encyclopaedia Britannica [11th edition, 1910, Vol. 6, pp. 293, 294])
In a word, the festivities that attend Christmas are as foreign to Christianity as the celebration of the birthday of Jesus itself. The early Scripture-writers like Mark, do not attach any importance to the incident of the birth of Jesus, and in consequence have not taken any notice of it. In their opinion, Jesus rose to ecclesiastical importance when he was baptized. It is therefore with Epiphany, i.e., the presentation of the babe Jesus to the Temple, that their scriptures open. We see then that there was as little room for Christmas in the original scriptures as is left for it just now in the world, that has been distracted by Christian potentates [monarchs or rulers] in adoration of the goddess of Lust and Avarice.