This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When Did Christmas Festivities Originate?

QUESTION: I find nothing in the Bible about Christmas festivities. When and where did they originate?

ANSWER: Augustine (A. D. 354-430) considered the fast of Good Friday and the festivals Easter, Ascension and Whitsuntide (Pentecost) as the only holy days which had an apostolic origin. Christmas, he deemed to be of later origin and of less authority. This was because the day of Christ's birth was unknown. Neither did the Jews nor the great pagan nations make any record of the birth in a stable of a humble peasant babe. The various guesses were the 6th of January, the 20th of May, and the 20th or 21st of April. The 25th of December was conventionally chosen, I am sorry to say, because it was nearest to the pagan saturnalia to which the converts had been accustomed while heathens. Hence the purity of the day became sullied almost at the first by the revelry and unrestrained license of that period of seven days. The remedy is in joyful worship and in impressing upon the children especially, and all other receivers of gifts, that they are designed to remind them of God's great and unspeakable gift, of the world's Savior. If the gifts are of books, they should be such as relate to Christ. In this way the day may be rescued from follies and frivolities.

Steele's Answers p. 145, 146.