I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt labouring people.

Christmas day is really a boon to us, particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus. We do not wish to be classed with those

Who with more care keep holiday
The wrong, than others the right way.

The old Puritans made a parade of work on Christmas day, just to show that they protested against the observance of it. But we believe they entered that protest so completely, that we are willing, as their descendants, to take the good accidentally conferred by the day, and leave its superstitions to the superstitious.

C. H. Spurgeon,
No. 57, Dec 23, 1855, New Park Street Pulpit

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Have you ever heard someone say: ‘Christmas grew out of the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia, and is actually a pagan celebration’?

Did it?

The Saturnalia Festival in honour of Saturn was held on December 17 each year and continued for about a week. Normal life was overturned for a brief season of revelry.

And Christians did begin to celebrate Christmas during the Saturnalia holiday. But to say that Christmas is a pagan celebration is as sensible as saying that a Christian who goes to church on Sunday worships the Sun god!

In fact the celebration of Christmas began as a gospel antidote to Saturnalia. It was a way for Christians to point to a true, good, and lasting reason for celebration — not licence to sin but salvation from it through Jesus who was born to ‘save his people from their sins’ (Matt. 1:21). They wanted to emphasise that the source of real celebration is found only in Jesus Christ.

The New Testament does not oblige Christians to celebrate Christmas, or for that matter Easter. But the wisdom of the church throughout the ages suggests that if we do not celebrate the incarnation of Christ deliberately at some point in the year we may be in danger of doing it all too rarely and, perhaps, not at all.

Sinclair B. Ferguson,
Child in the Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas

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I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. There are many persons who, when they talk about keeping Christmas, mean by that the cutting of the bands of their religion for one day in the year, as if Christ were the Lord of misrule, as if the birth of Christ should be celebrated like the orgies of Bacchus. There are some very religious people, that on Christmas would never forget to go to church in the morning; they believe Christmas to be nearly as holy as Sunday, for they reverence the tradition of the elders. Yet their way of spending the rest of the day is very remarkable; for if they see their way straight up stairs to their bed at night, it must be by accident. They would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner, if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness. They are many who think Christmas cannot possibly be kept, except there be a great shout of merriment and mirth in the house, and added to that the boisterousness of sin. Now, my brethren, although we, as successors of the Puritans, will not keep the day in any religious sense whatever, attaching nothing more to it than to any other day: believing that every day may be a Christmas for ought we know, and wishing to make every day Christmas, if we can, yet we must try to set an example to others how to behave on that day; and especially since the angels gave glory to God: let us do the same.

C. H. Spurgeon,
No. 168, Dec. 20, 1857, New Park Street Pulpit

This article was first published in the December 2015 edition of the Banner of Truth magazine.