All over the world, people celebrate different kinds of occasions for different kinds of reasons—from birthdays, anniversaries, memorials, religious and non-religious festivals, Valentine’s day, Halloween, and Christmas to New Year’s Day, and many others. The Bible also speaks of festivals that God made for His people to celebrate. In the Old Testament, you will find the seven festivals, three of which are major ones—Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks or Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles, Tents, or Booths). These festivals served as reminders of what God did for His people and the covenant He made with them. We can also find baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. They help us remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of all mankind. All these simply tell us that God loves to celebrate His relationship with us. In fact, Jesus even tells us that God celebrates in heaven for those who repent and return to God (Luke 15:7). He values His relationship with us more than anything in all creation.
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
(Luke 15:7 KJV)
A lot of our celebrations today have pagan or anti-Christian origins like Christmas and Easter. Christmas used to be a Roman pagan celebration called the Saturnalia and Sol Invictus. Christians later turned them into what we have now as the Mass of Christ or Christmas when Rome made Christianity the official religion in the Fourth Century. The sinful customs of the Roman festival were changed into traditions that celebrate the birth of Christ. Yet, we have to know that not all holidays have been changed into godly celebrations. To know more about the details of Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween, you may read our separate articles.
A lot of Christians may be uncomfortable or against celebrating these Christian holidays of pagan origins. We must remember that as our sinful and idolatrous lives have been made into a new creation through Christ, some of these celebrations, like Christmas and Easter, have also been redeemed and celebrated for the glory of God and for engaging those who are lost. As Christ has sent us to be sheep among wolves, we are called to be not only wise (like snakes) in reaching out to the lost world in ways that they could understand but also innocent as doves in maintaining spiritual integrity (Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.). Plainly said, we celebrate because we remember God’s goodness despite the darkness of the past.
But sadly sometimes, even Christians celebrate Christian holidays without the honor of God; just as when the Israelites’ feasts became detestable to God because they became empty rituals before Him (Isaiah 1:13-15). Christmas can become just the season of giving or about Santa Claus rather than the birth of Christ as God’s greatest gift to mankind. People can celebrate Easter without the heart of gratitude for the death and resurrection of Christ for our salvation but, instead, take joy only in Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts. Or birthdays and anniversaries can be about self instead of celebrating the faithfulness of God in our lives. God loves celebrating with His people and wants to be there with us. We must learn not to leave Him out but always include Him and bring Him glory in our most joyful and meaningful events in life. After all, He is the true source of all our blessings.
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)