The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association

Christian Holidays - Obscuring God’s Holy Day

by Jim Josephsen


When the phrase Christianity or Christian religion comes up, no doubt concepts of Jesus Christ, the 12 disciples, the Apostle Paul, perhaps the Protestant Reformation or the Catholic Inquisition are some of the thoughts that may come to mind. No doubt, the spectrum is wide, as a multitude of concepts pertinent to Christianity exist.  Concepts such as Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Sunday go to meetin’, cathedrals, crosses, statues, icons, crucifixes, TV Evangelism; mega-churches, differing denominations, priests, bishops, reverends, pastors, ministers may come to mind.


Now mention Christian holidays and what comes to mind? Christmas, Halloween, All Saints Day, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, perhaps even Pentecost. These days are the more common holidays, which are associated with and are unique to Christianity.


The word holiday derives from the Old English word haliddaeg, meaning halid (holy) daeg (day), indicating a day that is sanctified and consecrated, separate and different; observed as a day above and beyond normal; not to be treated as ordinary. However today, in substance and certainly in practice, most Christian holidays are no more holy than is a day in front of the television watching mud wrestling.      


Reaching back into history, consider the Holy Day called Pentecost. This day cries out significance and sanctification; for on this day a new institution, the Christian religion with the focal point being the Church of God, composed of followers of Christ (Greek christianos – Christians) came into being.  


In the second chapter of the book of Acts, we read, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit … (Acts 2:1-4 NIV). As the remainder of the narrative recorded in the second chapter of Acts reveals, the first great sermon preached by the Apostle Peter resulted in the repentance and baptism of some 3,000 people, all in one day.


Consider additional historical events pertinent to the Christian religion. Specific to the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ is the fact that Jesus died on the Passover day at the time the Passover lamb was sacrificed in the Temple by the High Priest that year. Jesus Christ was then placed in the tomb just shortly before the sunset, the evening of Passover Day, as that day was ending (also called the preparation day – in preparation to the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1)) and just prior to the commencement of the Holy Day (an high day) called the First Day of Unleavened Bread (cf. Mark 15:42, John 19:31, 42).


From the Scriptures, we learn that God designated certain days (seven in total) each year as holy, sanctified and set apart from all other days of the year. These seven days as delineated in Leviticus the 23rd chapter (and also Numbers 28 and 29), are defined as more than just holidays; they are Holy Days. They are sanctified, consecrated and set apart; considered just as important and set on equal footing as is the seventh day, Sabbath Day. Unique about the days God declared to be Holy is the fact that these days have distinctive historical, prophetic and spiritual significance. 


God’s Holy Days are as follows: the First and Last Day of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. These days are holy, consecrated and sanctified; each providing godly understanding and spiritual meaning. God’s Holy Days reveal God’s plan of salvation for mankind. God’s Holy Days express God’s desire to redeem His creation; His hope for them. God was not facetious in declaring His Holy Days, nor were these days declared frivolously as though some type of jovial, for the moment, pleasure producing, indulgent days. 


The 1st Century Church of God observed these seven annual Holy Days (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:8, Colossians 2:16). Jesus Christ observed and taught His church to observe these Holy Days. For the Church of God to observe God’s Holy Days, which were unique to the Jewish religion at that time was only natural, since the 1st Century Church of God was, at its inception, a cadre of people of Jewish and Israelitish heritage.


The term Judeo-Christian is extremely significant as it expresses the reality that the 1st Century Church had a necessary and imperative connection to the Jewish religion and way of life. The 1st Century Church of God remained faithful to God’s Holy Days until false doctrines and feigned teachers who possessed pagan philosophies and pagan religious practices began to sneak in, to infiltrate and eventually dominate the church (cf. Acts 20:28-30; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15; Galatians 1:6-8).


The true Church of God was consumed by pagan religious beliefs, practices and doctrines. Eventually, God’s Holy Days were eradicated and in their place was an amalgam of pagan religious practices with snippets of Bible stories that together became known as Christian holidays. By the Fourth Century AD, those individuals who remained faithful to the Scriptures, to the truth of God and to God’s Holy Days found themselves on the outs, driven away from the mainstream and the fast transforming Christian church.


History reveals significant information pertaining to the religious practices of the early church with regard to the observance of God’s Holy Days. Naturally connected to the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 was a calendar. The 1st Century Church of God acknowledged and utilized the Jewish calendar to regulate the observance of the Holy Days.


Consider the following:  “In the days of the Temple the calendar used to be announced by the Sanhedrin. Later it was announced by the Patriarchs and the Beth Din. The people did not have access to the chronometric tables by which they could calculate the seasons and dates. They were guided by these official announcements, which the Patriarchs would transmit through emissaries dispatched through every part of the Diaspora. There were however a considerable number of Christians who also waited for the Patriarchs calendrical information. For a great many Christians still observed the holidays common to Judaism and Christianity, especially Passover, at the same time as the Jews, just as many of them observed the Jewish Sabbath rather than the Christian Sunday. This dependence on Judaism irked some Christian clergy and about the middle of the fourth century they prevailed upon the Roman government to forbid the Patriarchs to send emissaries with such information.” Quoted from “A History of the Jews” By: Solomon Grayzel Page 217-218


By the end of the Fourth Century AD, the once precious, simple and genuine truths of God’s Holy Days as taught by His church were overthrown by a counterfeit and deceptive Christian religion, which promoted new holidays. At the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) bold strides were undertaken to remove all Jewish elements from the church, including Sabbath (the seventh day – Saturday) keeping and the observance of the Holy Days.


A simple Google search or reading any encyclopedia, including the Catholic Encyclopedia will obviously reveal how the Catholic Church banned the keeping and observance of the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) and in its place, forced the keeping of the first day of the week (Sunday). No longer were members of the Church of God allowed to worship on the Sabbath. Those who remained faithful did so covertly, and at great risk.  

History reveals that in the early centuries AD during the time of the early Christian Church, the cult of Mithraism or sun-worship was the official religion of the Roman Empire. It stood as the greatest competitor to the nascent Church of God. This pagan cult would be just one of many at that time, which would inspire Paul to write to the Church: “formerly when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods (Galatians 4:8). Likewise Paul taught “remember that at one time you were separated from Christ, being aliens from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenant of promise and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). Paul and the 1st Century Church of God understood what the prophet Jeremiah wrote: learn not the way of the heathen and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven … for the customs of the people are vain (Jeremiah 10:2-3).

Mithraism had its own organization, temples, priesthood, and doctrines. Its official day of worship was dedicated to the sun. That day, called “The Venerable Day of the Sun,” was (and is) the first day of the week, today called Sunday. When Constantine required his pagan citizens to convert to the Christian church, they did so reluctantly, on their own terms and unconverted. Roman citizens demanded continuance of their religious worship on the day of the sun (god). Sunday was their holy day. Constantine coalesced Sunday worship with Christological ideology and the clergy followed suit. In so doing, the counterfeit Christian church removed the Sabbath day from true Christian worship. The Sabbath (Saturday) was observed by Jesus and His disciples and by the Church of God. That is until paganism completely eclipsed the truth of God’s Sabbath and His Holy Days.


More than a Sunday substitution for the Sabbath, paganized Christianity, in its effort to attract as many gentiles and pagans to the faith, appropriated other pagan religious holy days, sprinkling Jesus stories and Biblical narratives to those days and creating what are now today simply “misunderstood” as genuine Christian holidays. Truly, what Christians today (Catholic and Protestant alike) celebrate are Christian holidays and by no means are they God’s Holy Days.


Rather than promoting the simple, easy to be understood and easy to be observed seven annual Holy Days which God ordained, Christianity promotes fictitious, mysterious, obfuscated paganized holidays. Holidays, which have little Biblical significance, and even less spiritually edifying and intellectually enlightening meaning. Today’s Christian holidays do nothing to bring one closer to God. Christian holidays excite the senses, while dulling one’s intelligence.


Notice several of the Christian holidays observed today, which are the traditions and teaching of men; not found in the Scriptures. Doctrines surrounding these holidays fit well the words of Jesus Christ. “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain; teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Matthew 15:8-9).


Back on February 17, 2015, Christians of the Catholic persuasion (and no doubt many a Protestant) celebrated Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the English translation of the French term Mardi Gras. No doubt, you are familiar with those words and that holiday.  Does New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro ring a bell?


Mardi Gras is the last day of Carnival. Carnival commences on Epiphany (or called Three King’s Day, Theophany, Twelfth Night). The Feast of Epiphany, celebrated on the 6th of January, marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, a feast commemorating the visit of the Wise Men who bore gifts to baby Jesus. That sounds plausible, if indeed Jesus was actually born on December 25th. However, the truth of the matter is simple - He was not.


What do we know about Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras bears a resemblance to ancient pagan rituals, particularly Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Saturnalia honored the god Saturn, an agricultural deity, and was marked by gift-giving, revelry and gambling. Lupercalia was conducted in mid-February to honor Faunus, the god of fertility, which involved feasting, drinking and debauched (sexually oriented) behavior.  


When Rome was Christianized, a transformed Christian church adapted popular pagan holidays into the new faith. Mardi Gras was offered to the masses as the last chance to engage in hedonism before the 40 days (plus six uncounted Sundays for a total of 46 days) of Lent. Mardi Gras, which in reality is a pre-Lenten festival, continues even today marked by drinking, dancing and feasting on fatty foods containing meat, eggs, milk and cheese – ingredients that are restricted during Lent. Mardi Gras, an orgy-like celebration with raucous festivity has absolutely no connection to the Bible or any association with God’s declared Holy Days.


The day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday. In 2015, that Wednesday was February 18th. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. Once again, snippets of Biblical truth are misappropriated from the Word of God and infused with pagan traditions to concoct this holiday, which finds no origin in the Bible or association with God’s Holy Days. Next comes Lent.


This Christian holy period finds its origins in pagan and heathenish practices, which date back to the second millennia BC.  Lent was never observed by the 1st Century Church of God nor ever taught by the Apostles. Lent finds no origin in the Bible or association with God’s Holy Days. The Catholic Church officially sanctioned the observance of Lent in 360 AD at the Council of Laodicea.  Lenten fasting for forty days was associated with honoring the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and an annual festival commemorating the death and resurrection of Tammuz. Which brings us to Easter.


Easter, another Christian holiday, finds no origin in the Bible or association with God’s Holy Days, other than the fact that snippets of Biblical narratives surrounding the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ were once again misappropriated. That Jesus Christ died on Good Friday is unscriptural and a blatant lie. That Jesus Christ was resurrected on a Sunday (first day of the week) is unscriptural, illogical and a blatant lie. The doctrine of Easter as a Christian holiday was established in order to obscure the truth and observance of God’s Holy Days. Since the 1st Century Church of God observed the same Holy Days as did the Jews, the Catholic Church made every attempt to eradicate those days. Easter promotes the lie that Christ was resurrected on the first day of the week. Easter distracts from the truth that Jesus Christ is the wave sheaf offering. Easter explicitly promotes pagan Sun (god) worship, which is the obvious reason why Easter will only and always fall on Sunday. Henceforth the expression “Easter Sunrise Service.” Do you get the connection?


To completely obscure and completely remove the truth of Passover, the Lord’s Supper, the High Holy Days of Unleavened Bread and of a Wednesday/Passover Day death and burial of Jesus Christ and of a Saturday resurrection of Jesus Christ was the paramount objective of the transformed now paganized Christian church. To remove these truths was necessary, since these truths were deeply associated with God’s Holy Days.


Quoted from the book The Two Babylons, on page 103, we read: “Then look at Easter. What is the meaning of the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was identical with the now common use in this country. The name as found by Layard (cf. Nineveh and Babylon, Page 629) on Assyrian Monuments is Ishtar.”


Although much more is available for one to read concerning the origins of Easter and its overriding deception, notice this, as quoted from Babylon Mystery Religion – Ancient and Modern by Ralf Woodrow. “How then, we ask, did the custom [of Easter] come to be associated with Christianity? Its adoption into the Romish ‘church’ is but further evidence of the great compromise that was made with paganism – a compromise to gain popularity with both sides! As when other rites were adopted by the ‘church’, apostate leaders attempted to find some similarity between the pagan rite and some Christian event; so in this case it was suggested that as the chick comes out of the egg, so Christ came out of the tomb! Thus the fallen leaders – void of God’s Holy Spirit – told the people that the egg was a symbol of the resurrected Christ.”


More could be said about Christmas, Halloween and other Christian holidays. Suffice it to say, today’s Christian holidays are associated with and find their origins in ancient pagan religious customs and practice. Although there are misappropriated snippets of Biblical narratives associated with all Christian holidays, not one Christian holiday was authorized by or given sanctification by God. None of today’s Christian holidays are God’s Holy Days, which He commands are to be observed.


God commanded seven Holy Days to be observed and kept holy. Nothing more and nothing less. Christian holidays are all loaded with pagan ritual and practice.  God’s Holy Days are logical and easy to observe, filled with liberty and truth. What will you choose to observe? Pagan/Christian holidays or God’s Holy Days?


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Further reading:
Booklet: Believe It or Not--The Resurrection was Not on Sunday!
Booklet: Christmas...The Untold Story
Booklet: Halloween Is Pagan!
Booklet: How Seasonal Holy Days Reveal God's Plan

Booklet: Should Christians Observe Easter or the Passover?
Booklet: The Miracle of Pentecost
Booklet: The Passover - Is It For Christians?

Booklet: When is Pentecost?
Booklet: Where in the Bible Does It Say, "Thou Shalt Keep Sunday"?
Booklet: Why God Commands Our Presence At His Feast
Booklet: Why "Keep Saturday For Sunday"?

Photos: ...from the left
Photo 1: Depiction of nativity with Christmas tree backdrop.  Author: Jeff  Weese.  Source Flickr: Nativity
Photo 2: Jack-o'-Lantern.  Author: Toby Ord
Photo 3: The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs - Created 15th Century.  Author: Fra Angelico
Photo 4: Kilbennan St. Benin's Church Window St. Patrick.  Author: Andreas F. Borchert
Photo 5: Ash Wednesday - Ashes imposed on forehead of a Christian.  Author: Jennifer Balaska
Photo 6: Easter eggs - straw decoration  Author: Jan Kameníček