America is a country built on a Mt. Everest of lies. The engine that runs the misinformation is business profit and profit at all costs.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, which has dramatically hurt profits for most businesses, closed others, left workers jobless, sick and even dead, there is a spiritual and economic need to tell the truth about Christmas.
The lie that Dec. 25 marks the birth of Jesus is an old one. It allows merchants and corporations to siphon millions of dollars out of the pockets of people who usually can’t afford it.
But what is the day called Christmas all about, where did it come from, and should you still celebrate it, especially in the age of Covid-19 and independent Black thought?
America needs to confess that Christmas has never been about the holy birth of the savior Jesus Christ. Instead, it appropriates European pagan holidays dating back centuries to exploit greed and avarice for profit.
According to the History Channel, “Christmas has its roots in ancient Scandinavia where the Norse celebrated the Yule log burning from Dec. 21, the winter solstice, through January. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig that would be born during the coming year.”
“Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice when the worst of the winter was behind them, and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.”
“In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far North, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down,” the History Channel noted.
“Pope Julius I chose December 25, and Christmas was born in 350 A.D. in Rome. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date to adopt and absorb the pagan Saturnalia festival’s traditions. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere like what takes place in New Orleans during their Mardi Gras celebration.”
Santa Claus entered the scene in America in the late 18th century in New York as St. Nicholas. Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of the death of “Sint Nikolaas” (Dutch for Saint Nicholas), or “Sinter Klaas” for “Santa Claus.”
In 1822, Episcopal minister Clement Clarke Moore wrote a Christmas poem called “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” more popularly known today by its first line: “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” The poem depicted Santa Claus as a jolly fat White man who flies from home to home on a sled driven by reindeer to deliver toys. The co-option of the birth of Jesus was final.
For Black people, the appeal of Christmas’s spirit with an emphasis on giving, hope, good cheer, love, understanding, helping, and goodwill towards men resonated to their very core. For the Europeans, it reeked of hypocrisy and pretense with things like Xmas trees, decorations, parties, alcohol, drugs, debauchery, and racism.
During the pagan celebration of Romans, the slave was made to pretend he was free. The Southern plantation owners employed this same strategy. Frederick Douglass wrote in 1822, “For Christmas, we were induced to drink, I among the rest, and when the holidays were over, we all staggered up from our filth and wallowing, took a long breath, and went away to our various fields of work, feeling, upon the whole, rather glad to go from that which our masters had artfully deceived us into the belief was freedom, back again to the arms of slavery.”
“When the slave was drunk, the slaveholders had no fear that he would plan an insurrection, or that he would escape to the North. It was the sober, thoughtful slave who was dangerous and needed the vigilance of his master to keep him a slave.”
The Nation of Islam researcher Alan Muhammad wrote, “Black people watch every year as Jesus’s gifts to humanity are bargained away in favor of the image of a morbidly obese White North Polean idol whose jollity is driven solely by credit card debt.”
“Christmas, as it is practiced in America, is a strange European tradition that has gone out of its way to exclude the Savior (Jesus) Himself, while generating a massive amount of Black consumer debt, and managing to add a few racist insults on the way. Is this anything that an awakened Black family ought to be involved in?” he asked.
In this year of pandemic, where reflection has become critical, it is time for Black people, especially leadership, to examine traditions that have nothing to do with us, that drain our wealth and create hardship. Black Christmas has morphed into a very present-centric holiday.
In the words of our youth, let’s keep it 100. As the Western world unravels, so must its holidays founded on lies and deceit. As much as Black people love and cherish them, they must go because truth must stand today.
Pastor Scott Ashley, a White clergyman with the United Church of God, wrote about the truth:
• Nowhere in the Bible is there any record of anyone observing Christmas or any hint that God the Father or Jesus Christ expects us to do so.
• The books of the New Testament cover 30+ years of Jesus Christ’s life, then another 30+ years of the early Church following His death and resurrection, but nowhere do we find any hint of a Christmas celebration or anything remotely like it.
• Why participate any longer in this charade where the focal point of worship has shifted from a babe in a manger to a babe in the Victoria’s Secret window? . . . No room in the inn has been replaced by no room in the mall parking lot.
• The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on December 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds to be out in the fields with their flocks then.
• God gives specific instruction about using pagan practices to worship Him—the exact thing Christmas does! Notice what He says in Deuteronomy 12:30-32: “… Do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way … Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (emphasis added throughout).
The Apostle Paul makes the same point in 2 Corinthians 6, where he addresses whether unbiblical religious customs and practices have any place in the worship of God’s people: “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial [the devil and/or demons]? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. . . .
“Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.’ Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1).
However, it’s impossible to “put Christ back in Christmas” since he never was in Christmas in the first place! He never so much as heard the word “Christmas” during his lifetime on earth, nor did His apostles after Him. You can search the Bible cover to cover. Still, you won’t find the words “Christmas,” “Christmas tree,” “mistletoe,” “holly,” “Santa Claus,” or “flying reindeer.”
In an interview with The Final Call, Philadelphia-based community activist Supreme Dow stated he felt the Black community should take a very sober approach to the Christmas season this year. “If any shopping is to be done, it should take place online and with Black business,” he stated. “No matter the truth about the holiday, it is so ingrained in the Black community that it is going to be celebrated, so we need to be vigilant. Right now, discipline and consistency in wearing our mask and avoiding crowds, following common-sense procedures to keep us safe. Now is not the time to get emotional and throw caution to the wind and on an emotional whim get negligent and loose. We should use this time for strength.”
“I will be celebrating Kwanzaa as I do every year. My family will participate through Zoom conference and share the love. I intend to double up on the educational gifts that I will give. Our children have taken a severe educational hit due to the virus,” he concluded.
“The best gift you could give on Christmas is you: Your heart, your love, for your family and your friends. Let’s make this Christmas a Christmas where Christ is back in the center of what we believe is his birth date. And now you know the slave master let the slaves get drunk; the slave master put it in the ‘holidays,’ and every single holiday, particularly Christmas, the liquor stores get our money: Let’s rid ourselves of the lust of wine and strong drink. Let’s keep that money in our pocket,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan during the Nation of Islam’s “Up With Jesus! Down With Santa!” campaign that started in 2015.
“With all the fantastic foolishness of jungle savages, they pretend to love worshipping the prophet on the 25th day of December. They stagger drunkenly all over the streets, campuses, and most of the homes and churches, with card games, dice and other games of chance and all kinds of whisky and beer—to celebrate that great prophet; with fighting and killing and eating swine flesh. Such is the day which they call the birthday of Jesus,” writes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, patriarch of the Nation of Islam, in his illuminating book, “Our Saviour Has Arrived,” published in 1974.
“Another false practice on the 25th day of December: the children between the ages of 3 and 12 think a Santa Claus is visiting them, making them believe they are getting presents from some foreign or strange person other than themselves (the parents).” He adds in the chapter called “Whose Christmas?”, “Jesus is garbed up and commercialized on by a world of evil and sin and you like this, my people—you love this now. You defy anyone, even God Himself, to try and remove your love of what is false. You cannot prove that the 25th day of December is the birthday of Jesus and you are preaching out of a Bible which does not carry any such history. It gives you an idea that He could not have been born on December 25 by these words ‘While the shepherd watched their flocks by night.’ If it had been in December, could they have been sitting out at night watching the flock eat good green grass? December is wintertime! Winter starts on the 21st day of December—you are four days into winter there. Of course, there are some parts of the earth where winter does not come and there is pasture for the sheep all year round. But it is not like that in Palestine—in the winter, especially at night.”
Final Call staff contributed to this report.