Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses not celebrate Christmas? The complete answer lies in a talk that I, Richard H. Barber, gave on December 12, 1928. The talk was subsequently published in The Golden Age Volume 10 No. 241 dated December 12, 1928.
Most Jehovah’s Witnesses living today would not have read or heard my talk. Yet, it’s this talk that formed most Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interest in the book The Two Babylons by Alexander Hyslop.
What is worth noting in my talk is the argument I make that Satan has authored Christmas so that the people will forget about the importance of Jesus’ death. What I fail to point out is that no Christian religion has ever forgotten about Jesus’ death or its importance, despite celebrating Christmas. While this argument has some plausibility with Jehovah’s Witnesses who only celebrate Jesus’ death once a year, it carries no water when one considers that most Christian religions celebrate Jesus’ death on a continual basis throughout the year.
You’ll notice too that I give another date for the birth of Jesus and I present it as being “true”. This you should find interesting considering that it is no longer true.
You might also observe my somewhat “scrooge-like” tactics for criticizing Christmas, including how I falsely associate a child’s negative development with the fabled stories we create for children to allow them to enjoy the magic of Santa Claus. I falsely claim that Santa Claus is the Devil.
I also believe that Jesus died on a cross. You may even spot that even though I argue the point that Christmas has no Biblical basis, I present the argument that Satan used Nimrod’s son to create a false Messiah; an argument that has absolutely no biblical support whatsoever! What’s more, I say that “the branch” is of Babylonic origin and thus, a pagan term used by Satan to deceive the masses. Yet, we use that term to refer to our structural divisions throughout the world.
The arguments I used for the origins of the Christmas tree and December 25th are no longer accepted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, we carefully avoid any mention of Nimrod in our reasons for not celebrating Christmas today. You won’t find any reference in the Watchtower Library that Nimrod was a counterfeit Messiah.
I talk about the “mother and son” idea as if such an idea could not have been conceived prior to the creation of Judaism.
There are many other “truths” I present that we no longer accept. “Truth” is conveniently adaptable when you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other religions just don’t have such license. I even throw in the odd logical fallacy. See if you can spot them.
Here is my talk printed in its entirety, without any editing (spelling mistakes included). You’ll quickly begin to understand why it is referred to numerous times in our literature but never quoted.
Christmas, Its Origin and Purpose
Without doubt, a very few have ever taken the time to investigate the origin and purpose of the day which we call Christmas. Nearly everybody takes the easy course, and takes everything for granted without taking the trouble to investigate. As a result nearly everybody is convinced that Christmas is the most notable day in history because they think it celebrates the birth of our Saviour.Until about a year ago, I had never investigated this subject myself. Like everybody else, I had taken it for granted that it was a religious festival and that the Bible authorized the observance of the same.
I had concluded that it was proper to observe the day for the following reasons: It was claimed that it was associated with the birth of our Savior; it was backed up by many centuries of popularity; it was a day of good cheer and festivity; millions of people seemed to get so much enjoyment out of it; and the giving of gifts at this particular time seemed to emulate the example of our Savior, who has given so many gifts to the children of men, and who said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
A Proper Subject of Inquiry
The Scriptures, however, tell us to “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good”. They also urge the Christian to “be ready always to give to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you”; and they warn us that a true Christian should not be carried away by every wind of doctrine, but that he should be able to give a “Thus saith the Lord” for what he believes and teaches.
Many others have investigated this subject before I have, and it is to them that I am indebted for such a mass of evidence that it is impossible to doubt its origin and purpose. Both Webster’s and the Standard Dictionary tell us that Christmas day is or pagan origin. So do all the encyclopedias. In its issue of December 26, 1927, the New York World carried a full-page article on Christmas, which showed beyond a doubt that the day was observed by various heathen nations for many centuries before the birth of Christ. On the same date, the Chicago Tribune, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the St. Paul Daily News carried shorter articles proving the heathen origin of the day. So did some of the larger magazines of the country. Should any one desire to investigate the subject further, after reading this article, I would recommend a perusal of the following four books: Kitto’s Illustrated Commentary; Wilkinson’s Egyptians; History of Medieval Drama, by Robinson; and The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hyslop, an English clergman. The last-named book is specially interesting in its revelations, not only on the subject of Christmas, but also on other holidays and feast days now so popular.
Be Not Offended at Truth
I fully realise that what I shall say will not please some. However, I assure you that I have no desire to offend any one, nor to be unkind to any one. I am speaking from no other motive than to help you each and all to be better servants of the Lord. I do not with to offer destructive criticism, but it is my desire to offer that which will be constructive; something that will help you to understand that Jehovah God has a subtle, wicked and vindictive enemy; and that this enemy is God’s enemy and your enemy and the enemy of all who are trying to do the Lord’s will, and also the enemy of all righteousness.
This enemy has but one purpose, viz., to mock God, to slander His name and to deceive those who are trying to serve God, by hiding the truth from them. To do this, this enemy sets up false doctrines and deceives the people into believing that these doctrines are taught in the Bible, and thus brings reproach upon God and His Word. Millions of intelligent people despise God, and doubt the reliability of the Scriptures, because they are led to believe that the false doctrines of eternal torment, trinity, immortal soul, the divine right of kings, and the divine right of the clergy are taught therein.
The Fountain of all Error
All false doctrines come from the Devil. The apostle (1 Tim. 4:1) warns us against false doctrines in the last days, our days. I quote: “[This know,] that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
This enemy also foists, upon the people many rites, forms, ceremonies, feast days, and makes the people believe that these are commanded of the Lord; then he makes these appear attractive by surrounding them with a glamour or piety, sanctity, and sentimentality, in order to further his deceptions and keep the people in bondage to ignorance and superstition, so that he may the better control them.
This enemy will be at once recognized as the Devil. The Bible tells us that the Devil comes as an angel of light; which means that he uses religion as a cover to conceal his deceptions, for it is well known that deceptions put forth in the name of religion have greater influence than any other form of deception. The Devil assumes to be a friend of mankind, when in reality he is man’s worst enemy. He tempted mother Eve in Eden, by professing to be her friend. I want to reveal this enemy in all his hideousness, so that none of my readers will encourage or support his wicked designs in the future.
If I can show that Christmas day is a fraud, and an injury to people in general: that it promotes selfishness, dishonesty and falsehood; that the Devil is its originator, and that his purpose was, and is, to hide some of the most important and beautiful truths of the Bible, then I shall be a blessing to you. If Satan is the author of the day, and his purpose was to deceive, then we should expect that no good thing could be said about it, because Jesus said of the Devil, “There is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.” – John 8:44.
Practical Objections to Christmas
Before giving the Scriptural presentations, I wish to enumerate some practical arguments against the observance of Christmas.
Because of the unusual demands upon the people’s time and purse, at this season, and the unusual amount of work involved in purchasing gifts and arranging festivities, it is always a time of nervous tension and worry. Thus it has become a real burden to the people, and many times do we hear people say, “I shall be glad when Christmas is over.”
Again, there is no command to observe the day to be found in the Bible, but we are commanded to observe the memorial of our Lord’s death. Satan, however, has taught the people to give more prominence to the birth of the babe Jesus than to the death of the man Jesus, in order to hide the importance of the ransom, the chief doctrine in the Christian religion. Satan knows full well that if he can cast a halo about the babe Jesus, and get people to feast and fast and work and worry to celebrate His birth, they will, to a large extent, overlook and forget that it was the death of the man Jesus “which taketh away the sin of the world”, and that without the shedding of the blood of the MAN Jesus, there could be no remission of sins.
With this purpose of keeping the ransom work of Jesus in the background, the Devil has caused the world to be flooded with cards, poems, sermons and pictures of the babe Jesus and His mother, until they are worshiped and reverenced far more than the risen Lord. Satan does not want the people to know about the value and necessity of the death of the man Jesus and of his resurrection.
Then, too, scholars are agreed that December 25 is not the date of the birth of Jesus. December is a winter month in Palestine, and no shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks at that time of the year, as the flocks are not in the fields then. The true date of our Lord’s birth is about October 1. (See Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, pages 54-62).
Profiteering and Misrepresentation
Then again, everybody is well aware of the fact that the profiteers rob the people during the Christmas season; that the spirit of rivalry and competition enters into the giving of gifts; that the poor people give more than they can afford; that often honest debts are never paid because people spend so much at Christmas time that they can not pay their debts; that millions of useless presents are given, which only waste money, but at just so much junk in the homes, and a few days later find their way into the waste basket. Chief among these are the Christmas cards on which the profiteers make a profit of from 500 to 1000 percent.
Often a gift places the one who receives it under an obligation to the giver, a very unpleasant feeling if one does not have the money to make a gift in return. Ofttimes gifts are given for the selfish purpose of receiving gifts in return. Still again, Christmas trees are laden with expensive gifts for the children of the rich, while the children of the poor go home from the Christmas entertainments with aching hearts, with an orange or five cents’ worth of candy or peanuts as a sort of sop.
One of the worst features in connection with Christmas is the habit which parents have of telling lies to their children about Santa Claus’ coming down the chimney and filling their stockings; and then in later years they wonder why the children tell them lies. These lies may be little fibs at first, but the result is a wicked habit formed by the bad example of the parents. The parents are reaping what they have sown.
No Honor to Jehovah God
Still again, every one is aware of the spirit of frivolity, debauchery, drunkenness and revelry so prevalent during the Christmas season, and the propensity to overeat, with the resultant sick-headaches the next day. Surely none of these things bring honor either to Jehovah God or His Son, our Lord Jesus. Every one knows that they are a disgrace, and yet the Christmas season is prolific of all these excesses.
These reasons alone are sufficient to condemn all Christmas festivities, but these reasons are secondary. There are other vastly more important reasons found in the Bible.
According to Genesis 3:15, God told the Devil that the seed of the woman would eventually bruise the serpent’s head. In plain words, God said that a future seed of the woman would eventually destroy the Devil.
In Hebrews 2:14 we read an emphatic statement that Jesus is to destroy “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil”. The man Jesus who died on the cross, and whom God raised from the dead on the third day, and who now has “all power in heaven and in earth”, is the One who is to destroy the Devil. The babe Jesus will have nothing to do with destroying the Devil.
What Satan Would Like to Do
When God told Satan that a “seed of the woman” would destroy him eventually, the words “seed of the woman” would suggest to the mind of Satan the thought of a mother and a son, and that the son would be the one who would destroy him. Consequently, that son would be the mortal enemy of Satan. Satan, however, at that time, did not know who the seed was to be, nor when the seed would appear, now when he (Satan) would be destroyed. Paul shows us that the “seed of the woman” who is to destroy Satan, is Christ, the Messiah,.
The test already quoted (Hebrews 2:14) says that Jesus became a man and died “that He might destroy the Devil’. All true Christians know that Jesus had to die and be resurrected to the divine plane of being in order to get “all power in heaven and in earth”, so that He would have both the power and the authority to destroy the Devil. Somehow Satan seemed to grasp the thought that the one who was to be the Messiah must die and be glorified, and so he determined to make a counterfeit Messiah, a counterfeit, “seed of the woman” for the purpose of deception, and also in order to confirm that first lie uttered in Eden, when he told mother Eve that she would not surely die. Let us see how he did this.
Nimrod and Semiramis
Shortly after the flood lived Nimrod, a great-grandson of Noah, and a very wicked and licentious man. He married his own mother, whose name was Semiramis. These two together engaged in hunting and drunken debauchery. Finally, Nimrod was slain, and the Devil used the wicked and cunning mother to foist the false Messiah on the world. The Devil instigated the plot and used Semiramis as his dupe. She announced that her son and husband had been resurrected, and was now a god, and invisible spirit god, and succeeded in making the people believe this lie. Semiramis was a wicked, shrewd and unscrupulous woman, and wanted some glory for herself; so she boldly put forth the claim that she was the “woman”, and that her resurrected son was the “seed of the woman” mentioned by Jehovah God in Eden, and that the resurrected Nimrod was the one who was to destroy the serpent. Here was the beginning of the “mother and son” idea which has been perpetuated in all the heathen religions of earth, and which has been adopted into the so-called Christian religions of earth, and still exists in our day.
Urged on by Satan, this wicked woman designed a symbol of all this deception, as follows: The dead Nimrod was pictured by the dead stump of a tree. Semiramis claimed that an evergreen tree grew up out of this dead stump in one night, and that this ever green tree pictured Nimrod risen and glorified. Semiramis also gave her son the titles, “the father of the gods” and “the branch”, and adopted the titles, “another of God” and the “queen of heaven”, for herself. These titles are found in all heathen religions, and still persist in some of the so-called Christian religions of our day.
Belittling our Savior
Now notice that a title applied to Jesus, in the Bible, is “the Branch”. Notice, also, that evergreen is a Bible symbol of everlasting life, but that Semiramis used it to teach that Nimrod was the possessor of everlasting life. Nimrod, before his death, founded the Babylonian Empire, and built the Tower of Babel. On the stone tablets, recently dug up in the vicinity of ancient Babylon. Nimrod is pictured with a mace crushing a serpent’s head; in other words, he is represented as doing just what Jesus is soon to do, viz., destroy the Devil. Thus Nimrod became a false Messiah, and Satan succeeded in getting the Babylonian Empire to accept his fraudulent and counterfeit Messiah.
The Scriptures declare of the true Messiah that He would give gifts unto men, and the Scriptures show that those gifts consist of a resurrection of all the dead, and the further gifts of liberty, peace, happiness and everlasting life for all who obey and do the will of the Lord. Now please notice the miserable counterfeit of these gifts which the Devil instituted.
Our present-day Christmas tree had its origin in that evergreen tree said to have grown up out of the dead stump. Semiramis claimed that the tree was laden with gifts every year on the anniversary of Nimrod, and that Nimrod placed these gifts there.
And now comes the explanation of the 25th of December being chosen as the birthday of our Lord. The truth is that December 25 was Nimrod’s birthday, and that all through the centuries people have been celebrating this date. Here, then, is where the Christmas tree idea originated. However, the day was not called Christmas, nor the tree a Christmas tree, until the heathen custom was adopted into the Christian religion, some time in the fourth century after Christ.
The Counterfeit Messiah
This false system, the counterfeit Messiah, called in the Scriptures the “mystery of iniquity”, is in direct contrast to the “mystery of God”, the true Messiah. This counterfeit system gradually extended to all other heathen nations by the help of Satan, who has led all the world captive at his will. With hardly an exception, all the nations have had the same “mother and son” idea, with the evergreen tree and the giving of gifts in connection therewith; and nearly all of them adopted a date corresponding with the 25th of December, as the date of the birth of the son. Candles were always placed on the trees on these occasions.
In Egypt the “mother and son” were called Isis and Osiris; in India (to this day) they are called Isis and Iswara; in Asia, Cybele and Deoius; In Pagan Rome, Fortuna and the boy Jupiter; in Greece, Ceres with the babe at her breast, or Irene with the boy Plutus in her arms; in China, Ching Moo, the holy mother, with a child in her arms.
In Japan, Scandinavia, Thibet and Mexico, we find the same “mother and son” idea, and also among the North American Indians.
When the children of Israel went into idolatry they served Baal and Ashtaroth, a mother and son, the spurious woman and her seed. (Judg. 2:10-13) No wonder Jehovah God was angry with the Israelites when His own loving plans were so miserably counterfeited and misrepresented, and His name thus slandered, and His beloved Son thus mocked. The very word “devil” means slanderer. See Ezekiel 36:20-23; Judges 8:33.
Other Idolatries of Mother and Son
Other names given to the son, the false seed of the woman, in different languages, are, Bacchus, Saturn, Molech, Adonis, Cupid, Tammuz, Achilles and Teotle; while other names given to the mother are, Rhea, Juno, Venus, Minerva and Diana of the Ephesians. The mother is always called “the mother of God” and “the queen of heaven”, while the son is called “the father of gods” and “the branch”. All the heathen religions of earth are based on the miserable counterfeit instituted by Satan through his dupe Semiramis. It is the same general idea, although some of the nations have adopted different customs, feasts and rites with advancing centuries.
In connection with this idolatrous worship of the mother and son in all the heathen countries of earth, there were held numerous feast days and holidays. These were celebrated with the wildest orgies, licentiousness, debauchery and drunkenness. This fact is doubtless the basis for the Scriptural remark in Revelation 17:4,5 which reads: “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
Santa Clause the Devil
In the Bible the true church is called a woman, a virgin; and the false church also is called a woman, but a harlot. This false system of ecclesiasticism, originated in Nimrod’s day, is also called “the mystery of iniquity”, because it is the most iniquitous thing that ever cursed the earth. It was originated by the great deceiver of the whole world, the slanderer of Jehovah God, viz., the Devil.
To help you get an idea of how successfully Satan has deceived the whole world, I want to call your attention to the fact that the name and title “jolly old St. Nicholas” is a deception, for any unabridged dictionary or encyclopedia tells you that St. Nicholas is the name of the Devil. In the English language, we do not use the words St. Nicholas, but use Santa Claus instead, and Santa Claus and St. Nichols are the same words in different languages.
The Magi and Their Gifts
The Bible also tells the story of how this wicked creature called the Devil and Satan tried to kill the real seed of the woman, the real Messiah. In the second chapter of Matthew there is a story of how certain “wise men” from the East (that is, from Persia), came to Jerusalem to locate the babe Jesus. The words “wise men” are a translation of the word “magi”, which means magicians, who are men under the control of demons, and all through the Old Testament, magicians, star-gazers, astrologers, necromancers, and those having familiar spirits are condemned by Jehovah God, and God commanded that they should be killed by stoning. – Lev. 20:27.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but Satan set a false light in the sky, which sentimental people call “the star of Bethlehem”, and by using this false light led the magicians to Jerusalem instead, to the palace of the wicked king Herod. Satan knew that Herod would try to kill Jesus, and the record shows that Herod, with devilish fiendishness, caused all the male children under two years of age to be killed so that Jesus could not escape. However, God protected His beloved Son against the machinations of the Devil.
The Devil directed those magicians, but the angel of the Lord announced to the shepherds the birth of the Babe who was to become the true Messiah. It is interesting to note that the Devil’s messengers bestowed gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh on the babe Jesus, but the shepherds, God’s representatives, bestowed no gifts but went out and announced the fact that the Messiah was born, a thing which the Devil’s representatives did not do.
Let us Live the Truth
There could be no objection to the proper observance of the birthday of our Lord, an observance which would be an honor to His name, and especially if it were held on the anniversary of His birth, and in no way connected with the miserable counterfeit of Satan, an observance which would be befitting to sanctified common sense and which would in no way be a deception, nor be made a source of profit by the profiteers.
When our Lord was on the earth, 1900 years ago, He established the true church. This church continued faithful to the Lord during the lifetime of the apostles; but in his day the Apostle Paul said, “The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” (2 Thess. 2:7) Yes, there had already begun an apostasy from the true faith. This apostasy consisted of an effort on the part of certain godless men to adopt all the heathen customs into the true church, and thus increase their membership by making it easy for the heathen to join the church.
The Bible records this apostasy in Matthew 13:24-28, where it tells us that Jesus sowed good seed, and an enemy came and sowed tares. In verses 37-39 of the same chapter Jesus explained the parable in these words: “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man: the field is the world: the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one: the enemy that sowed them is the devil.”
The culmination of this apostasy was reached in the fourth century, when the tares had become so numerous in the true church that they could outvote the true saints, and adopted, in their entirety, all the customs of heathen idolatry and gave to these the name Christian. What a slander upon Jehovah God to have all the Devil’s deceptions and frauds called after the name of His Son, Christian!
Easter a Heathen Festival
The “mother and son” idea was adopted into the so-called Christian church, and now we have “the Madonna and her child”. The evergreen tree which symbolized the birth of Nimrod, with its festivities, drunkenness and debauchery, was also brought over into the professing Christian church, but for the first time it was now called the Christmas tree. It is significant, too, that the word “Christmas” means “Christ’s mass”.
The prominent heathen festival of Easter was also brought over and engrafted into the so-called Christian church. “Easter” is derived from the name of the heathen goddess, Astarte, which is only another name for Ashtaroth, the mother of Baal. Easter and its festivals are supposed to be in honor of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But I am at a loss to know how the pomp and pride, the selfishness and vain-glory, the extravagance and splendor, the bunny rabbits and the hot-cross buns, the colored eggs and the cheap and poisoned candies displayed at Easter time, can honor the great King of kings and Lord of lords.
Away with Pagan Humbugs
Thus the so-called Christian church has been thoroughly paganized, and has become thoroughly heathen. The Devil has now succeeded in grafting his counterfeit festivals, feast days, fast days and holy days upon the church, and making it pander to all the pride and vanity and selfishness in the human family. Right here I want to quote a witness of highest authority at this point. Cardinal Newman, of the Roman Catholic church, in a book entitled “Development” (pages 359, 360), speaking of the adoption of these heathen customs into the church, says: “These are the very instruments and appendages of demon worship, but they are sanctified by adoption into the church.”
Here, then is the indisputable evidence that these customs are of the Devil and were adopted into the so called church, knowingly. The Devil has succeeded in getting the people to adopt all his wicked schemes and to give them the name Christian, in order that thus he might mock the great Jehovah God.
For centuries the people have been humbugged with the worship of images, dead saints, relics, holy candles, holy water, Ash Wednesdays, Christmas trees with their mythological nonsense and falsehoods about Santa Claus and his reindeer; with eternal torment; trinity nonsense; with the immortal soul idea; signs of the zodiac; birth months and birth stars; with beads, crosses, forms, rites and ceremonies, all of which have been and are God-dishonoring, foolish and childish.
Away with Demon Worship
Cardinal Newman was right when he said that “these are the very instruments and appendages of demon worship”, but he was wrong when he said they were “sanctified by adoption into the Christian church”. The very opposite is true, viz., the Christian church was degraded and rapidly became filled with tares, children of the wicked one, so that in our day the church is reaping what it has sown, a church whose membership is made up of bootleggers, thieves, murderers, liars, adulterers, profiteers and grafters. God has been dishonored and blasphemed and His truth has been trailed in the mud.
How glad we are to know that very soon now all the wicked schemes of the Devil are to be exposed and the Devil himself is to be bound for a thousand years, so that he may deceive the nations no more. After the thousand years he is to be loosed for a little season and then east into “the lake of fire”, which means his everlasting destruction.
The Bible encourages the giving of gifts, and in most explicit language tells us when to make the recipients of our gifts. There are no scriptures warranting us in giving gifts to those who do not need them. Let me quote: “Whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion, … how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
The Bible further advises that in giving gifts, we do not let our right hand know what our left hand does; but the way of so-called Christians is to hang the gift on a tree or publish the name and announce it in the newspaper so that everybody will know about it.