SOME CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS
SOME CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS
Many Christmas customs derive from centuries old non-Christian sources, resulting in
Christian/pagan syncretism. The trappings of Christmas, including reference to the Yule season
(historically December and January), the Yule log, mistletoe, holly, red and green decorations,
placing orbs on a tree, and exchanging gifts are all traced directly to pagan customs.
Many ask what harm could it be if new meanings are attributed to these customs, or if
some are practiced just for fun. If God did not care, it would certainly seem fine. However, the
Lord, in Deuteronomy 12:29-32, clearly condemns the incorporation of pagan customs in the
worship of the true God, "…do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve
their gods? I also will do likewise'... Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall
not add to it nor take away from it." And Christ confirmed that our method of worship should not
be our own invention, stating in Mark 7:7, "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the
commandments of men." These scriptures suggest that we should err on the side of avoiding
customs of worship derived from paganism - invented by men.
Santa Claus is an invention of men that is linked to the Christmas season. He effectively
steals the limelight from any role that Christ is purported to have. Of course Santa has a large bag
of toys and other gifts that divert the attention of children away from Christ. The attributes and
powers of Santa Claus position him as a clear counterfeit rival of Christ. Some say it is no accident
that 'Santa' is an anagram of Satan. Some characteristics of Santa Claus are said to have derived
from such figures as the Norse god Odin (or Woden), and the Greek god Thor. (The days
Wednesday and Thursday derive from these names).
Odin lived in the north in Valhalla. He had a long white beard. He rode through the sky
on an 8-legged horse named Sleipnir, and gave gifts to those who gathered around his sacred fir
tree. Thor, on the other hand, traveled through the sky in a chariot drawn by two flying goats
named Cracker and Gnasher. Thor lived in the north among icebergs. Like Odin, he also had a
long white beard. Thor would visit fireplaces, which were sacred to him, by way of the chimney.
Some key traits of the mythical Santa clearly derive from these mythical gods Odin and Thor.
At one time, Santa's image had become that of a small elf. But he was upgraded to a jolly
fat man, thanks to the illustration by Thomas Nast, published in Harpers Weekly on January 3, 1863.
Earlier, Santa's character was embellished in Dr. Clement Clarke Moore's claimed poem "Twas' the
Night Before Christmas", which was published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823. That poem gave us
names for eight flying reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh. The tradition of a Saint Nicholas, from
whom some claim Santa originated, was popular during the Middle Ages. He is said to have
thrown gold through a window to a poor family. But in 1969, Pope Paul VI removed St. Nicholas
and 40 other saints from the Roman Catholic calendar because of "doubt that they ever existe