The Origins of Christmas—The Rest of the Story (just the facts, nothing more)

How and When Christmas Came Into the Church

Did you ever wonder how the non-biblical holiday called “Christmas” came into the mainstream Christians church? What follows is the backstory to Christmas—the rest of the story.

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Amodbius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods. (The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Christmas”)

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. (

Saturnalia may have influenced some of the customs associated with later celebrations in western Europe occurring in midwinter, particularly traditions associated with Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Epiphany. (ibid.)

The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, many of its customs were recast into or at least influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year. (ibid.)

According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, Christmas is not included in Irenaeus’s nor Tertullian’s list of Christian feasts, the earliest known lists of Christian feasts. The earliest evidence of celebration is from Alexandria, in about 200, when Clement of says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign not just the year but also the actual day of Christ’s birth as 25 Pachon (May 20) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus. By the time of the Council of Nicea in 325, the Alexandrian church had fixed a dies Nativitatis et Epiphaniae. The December feast reached Egypt in the fith century. In Jerusalem, the fourth century pilgrim Egeria from Bordeaux witnessed the Feast of the Presentation, forty days after January 6, which must have been the date of the Nativity there. At Antioch, probably in 386, St. John Chrysostom urged the community to unite in celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25, a part of the community having already kept it on that day for at least ten years. 

Some scholars maintain that December 25 was only adopted in the fourth century as a Christian holiday after Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity to encourage a common religious festival for both Christians and pagan. Perusal of historical records indicates that the first mention of such a feast in Constantinople was not until 379, under Gregory. In Rome, it can only be confirmed as being mentioned in a document from approximately 350 but without any mention of sanction by Emperor Constantine. (

Evidently, Christmas was birthed out of the infant baptism heresy that was gripping the church theologically in the fourth century. The precursor to Christmas was a reaction or counter-revolt against Marcionite the heretic who denied the birth of Yeshua claiming that the Messiah was not a person, but rather a phantom. By emphasizing the nativity of the literal birth of Yeshua this heresy was countered, and by placing Yeshua’s birth on December 25, Saturnalia, it was a way to woo the sun worshipping heathens into Christianity. Here is what the historians have to say on this subject:

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The Story of Uzza and the Christmas Tree

Once upon a time long, long ago, there was a Jewish man in the Bible named Uzza and a Christmas tree. Now wait just a moment, you are probably saying to yourself, something is wrong with this picture. What does an ancient Israelite man in the land of Israel have anything to do with a Christmas tree? Well, read on boys and girls, and I will tell you.

The Israelites, Elohim (God’s) chosen people, in their zeal at having the ark of the covenant (a symbol of the presence of YHVH Elohim) returned to Israel after it had been stolen by Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, they failed to inquire of YHVH as to how to properly transport the ark. Though well intentioned, the Israelites were misguided and they unwittingly repeated the sin of the Philistines by transporting it on an ox-drawn cart instead of the prescribed manner (1 Chron 13:1–13). 

In times past and as recorded in their laws, YHVH Elohim had instructed the Israelites on exactly how to carry the ark—a gold covered wooden box that contained the sacred symbols of Israel’s special covenantal relationship with Elohim. You see, he had specifically instructed that only the Levitical priests could carry the ark, and this had to be done on their shoulders with wooden poles (Num 4:2–15). Anyone who failed to follow these explicit instructions would be cursed by Elohim.

Sadly, Uzza failed to read the instructions. Although he was well-intentioned, he was neither a Levite nor were his fellow Israelites who failed to transport the ark in the prescribed manner. The ark was illegally being carried on an oxcart. So when the oxcart began to tip and the ark became unsteady, Uzza reached out to steady it and illegally touched the sacred wooden box that symbolized YHVH’s presence in Israel. As a result, Uzza was struck dead (1 Chron 13:7–9). The sin of not properly transporting the ark in the proscribed manner led to more sin and eventually led to the death of a man, who thought he was doing a good deed. 

So where is the Christmas tree in this story, you are probably now asking yourself? So glad you asked. 

There is a lesson for us in this story about Uzza and it absolutely has to do with the Christmas tree that so many well-meaning Christian erect in their homes, churches and places of business each year in December to supposedly honor the birth of the Messiah—Jesus Christ. 

YHVH has prescribed manners in which he is to be approached, ministered to, honored, worshipped or “touched”, if you will. We fool ourselves if we think that we can approach him in any manner we like, much less in the same manner as the ungodly heathens do. You see, the ignorant Philistines after suffering Elohim’s wrathful judgment for illegally stealing the ark of the covenant from the Israelites, returned the ark to Israel by placing the ark on an oxcart and sending it back where it had come from (1 Sam 5:1–12; 6:1–12). The Philistines were ignorant of the proper protocols for transporting the ark and did not know any better. The Israelites, on the other, possessed the laws of Elohim, which stipulated how he wanted the ark to be carried and by whom. So when the ark came back into Israel, they should have called for the priest to carry it properly. Instead, they adopted the pagan customs and transported the ark that represented Elohim’s presence in the pagan manner. Can you now begin to see where I am going with this story and what it has to do with a Christmas tree?

If we dare to approach our Creator in a non-prescribed (or illegal) manner, especially when we claim to be Bible followers, though Elohim is gracious, we may also suffer his angry judgments because we have failed to respect or fear his presence properly and follow his commandments. Often, we, just like the Israelites, adopt pagan practices in our worship of him. We fail to consult the Word of Elohim as to how he desires to be approached or worshipped. Instead, we make up our own customs and fail to follow the law so Elohium. For example, we fabricate holidays (like Christmas and Easter) and assemble on days that he has not sanctified (e.g., Sunday and Christian holidays), and we fail to meet with him on the days that he has sanctified (the Sabbath and his biblical feasts), we eat abominable and unclean meats that he has forbidden (e.g., pork and shellfish), and we erect Christmas trees (a pagan symbol representing the male sex organ) in our homes and church sanctuaries—a practice he refers to as heathen and instructs his people not to do (Jer 10:1–5). 

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25 Reasons I Don’t Celebrate Christmas

Please do not be put off by the title and incorrectly assume that I do not believe in Yeshua the Messiah (aka Jesus Christ). Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with this blog (not to mention the other public aspects of our ministry knows that there is no greater promoter of Yeshua than me. Moreover, you do not need to go any further than to look at the tags column on the right side of the front page of this blog that lists the top subjects that I write about. What is the most prominent tag? YESHUA!!! Yes! I invite you to click on that tag and you will discover dozens if not hundreds of articles that I have written promoting Yeshua and the gospel message. Enough said.

Now to my article on why I do not celebrate Christmas even though I am passionate believer and disciple of Yeshua the Messiah, my Master and Savior. — Natan

1—Christmas is not the day on which Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was born. He was likely born in the autumn during the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. In ancient times, December 25 was considered the birthday of the demon-sun god by many heathen religions. This was definitely not the birthday of Yeshua!

2—There’s no biblical command to celebrate Christmas.

3—Christmas has become a pagan substitution for YHVH’s true biblical holidays or festivals, which are listed in Leviticus 23. These are the same biblical festivals that Yeshua and his apostles celebrated. They never celebrated the Messiah’s birth.

4—Christmas is the Christianization of various ancient pagan sun god, sex-worship rituals having to do with the winter solstice. “Cleaning up” a pagan custom is contrary to the biblical truth of turning away from the practices of the heathen and having nothing to do with them after one chooses to follow Elohim and his Word as found in the Bible.

5—Christmas is laced with heathen and Satanic rituals and traditions. These are things the saints should have nothing to do with!

6—The Bible forbids placing any trees or tree-like objects near an altar (or in a church building), since this is a heathen practice (Deut 16:21).  Most Christians violate this command when they place Christmas trees in their church sanctuaries near their altars every year at Christmas.

7—The Bible forbids the heathen practice of incorporating trees into any religious service (Deut 12:1–4). Elohim hates pagan religious practices that happen under trees (Isa 57:5Jer 3:6).

8—Celebrating Christmas is friendship with the world which is an act of hatred toward Elohim. In this area, it makes one a friend of the world and an enemy of Elohim (Jas 4:4).

9—Elohim condemns, forbids and calls an abomination bringing any pagan items into our houses (Deut 7:24–26), of which Christmas trees and nearly all Christmas’ associated accoutrements, paraphernalia and traditions are associated.

10—The Bible commands the saints not to put up anything that even remotely resembles a Christmas tree. Jeremiah 10:1–5 is almost a perfect description of a modern Christmas tree—and it was a pagan custom 1000 years before Christmas became a Christian holiday in the Catholic Church.

11—Christmas perpetuates the lie of Santa Clause to one’s children. Lying is not a value one wants to pass on to their children. Lying is a violation of the ninth of YHVH’s ten commandments and is a sin.

12—The Bible commands the saints not to learn or practice the ways of the heathens (Jer 10:2Lev 18:320:23).

13—Christmas is about syncretizing biblical truth (i.e., the birth of Yeshua) with pagan and satanic customs. In the Bible, YHVH commands his people not to be like the heathens, turn from evil, and don’t learn their evil customs. Yeshua commanded his disciples to be in the world, but not to practice its evil ways (John 17:1114). Christmas is practicing the evil ways of the heathens.

14—For many, the main focus of Christmas is on self (“What gifts am I getting?”), rather than on Elohim’s gift to mankind, which was Yeshua the Messiah (who wasn’t even born in December). Christmas generally promotes a culture of selfishness and self-centeredness. These are values that were antithetical to everything that Yeshua and his disciples lived and taught.

15—Christmas promotes an atmosphere of greed, covetousness and materialism, since the major focus for most people is on receiving gifts or what’s in it for me, and not on Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. 

16—Christmas is a tradition started by the Catholic Church, and I’m not a Catholic and I don’t take my spiritual marching orders from any pope—especially when he tells me to do something contrary to the Bible, the Word of Elohim.

17—Christmas is a short, one day long holiday. Too much emphasis is placed on this one day. The devil has tricked and shortchanged Christians into substituting Christian holidays like Christmas for the biblical ones. YHVH gives his saints seven biblical holidays with two of them lasting for seven days each (see Lev 23). These biblical holidays are called feasts, and they are spiritual and guilt-free celebrations focusing on rejoicing and righteously partying with family, friends and Elohim around godly and biblical themes all involving the gospel’s plan of redemption. They are totally righteous with no paganism mixed in. This can’t be said about Christmas.

18—Do your homework. You will find that even the phrase “Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas” is sacrilegious and blasphemous.

19—If Christmas day turns sour for people (e.g. because of bad family experiences and unfulfilled expectations), then one’s year is ruined until next Christmas when one gets another shot at it in hopes it’ll be better the next go around. How pitifully sad!

20—Christmas as celebrated by the majority of people ends up taking the focus off the glorious event of the Savior’s birth, trivializes it and then places the emphasis on gift-giving, partying and mindless unbiblical pagan traditions and rituals.

21—The Bible commands us to abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thess 5:22). There is much evil, Satanic and idolatrous baggage associated with Christmas; therefore, those who are serious about their biblical walk of righteousness and want to be obedient to YHVH Elohim should not be going near it.

22—Those who celebrate Christmas in the traditional way are honoring or worshipping pagan deities. Anytime anyone puts a pagan practice or tradition ahead of obedience to Elohim and his Word, this is, by biblical definition, idolatry. Whether it’s Christmas lights on the house, wreaths, evergreen foliage, mistletoe, the Christmas tree with its red balls, gifts under the tree, Santa Clause, or even the Christmas greeting of “Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas,” it all originates from ancient Satanic, idolatrous and lewd sex worship practices originating from pagan religions. This is not something with which the true saints of YHVH Elohim wants to be involved.

23—Christmas puts a lot of people into financial debt. Debt is bondage and evil.

24—Christmas was become a major money-making venture for merchants, and I refuse to be suckered in by their marketing schemes to purchase their products.

25—Celebrating Christmas is following a multitude to do evil—something YHVH forbids (Exod 23:2).

Now that you have received the light of the truth about Christmas, you are responsible before Elohim to live up to that truth. Will you put obedience to the Word of Elohim and his truth first in our life, or continue to walk in sin? To obey Elohim means to cast out of your life all idolatrous practices and cease doing that which is evil and sinful. This is then followed by choosing to obey YHVH Elohim in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23–24). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas 4:17).


Paganism creeps into our lives in many ways, and YHVH’s people love it!

An oak tree at the altar of the pagan Israelite temple at Tel Dan in northern Israel.

Jeremiah 17:2, Wooden images…green trees.In ancient times, sacred tree-like poles (like obelisks called asherah poles) and green trees were set up near pagan altars for the worship of the Babylonian and Canaanite sex goddess, Astarte (or Ishtar from which the Christian festival Easter derives its name).

In Exodus 34:13, YHVH commands the Israelites to destroy the pagan sex worship symbols that the NIV Study Bible describes as wooden poles, or carved images, that were set up in honor of this pagan goddess at pagan worship sites. The International Bible Encyclopedia (vol. 1, p. 317) states that a tree trunk with branches in honor of this pagan deity was often placed next to the altar of YHVH—something YHVH abhorred! (Deut 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 23:6). In Deuteronomy 16:21, YHVH forbids his people from placing wooden images or trees next to their altars. 

You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the YHVH your Elohim. 

Today, at Christmas time, contrary to the Written Word of Elohim, Christian churches place trees next to their altars of worship.

Jeremiah’s description of such a tree in chapter 10 is eerily reminiscent of our modern Christmas tree, which finds itself placed in significant places where people gather whether it be in Christian churches and in homes. Sometimes this pagan deity was represented by a tree, sometimes by an obelisk type pole. The asherah pole is related to the matstebah, which is defined as “image, pillar, stump, tree or altar.”This type of pagan representation made its way into the religious system of ancient Israel, something YHVH forbad and something he expected righteous leaders to destroy (e.g. 2 Kgs 10:25–27). Have you ever wondered about the origins of the church steeple and about its striking resemblance to the ancient Egyptian obelisk, which was associated with phallic and sun god worship?


Christmas in May

Jeremiah 10:2–5, 

A Christmas Tree?

Is this passage a denunciation of the Christmas tree? Some say yes, and others so no. Let’s briefly discuss this issue.

The use of trees or wooden poles as an object of worship in the ancient world was universal as a fertility/phallic symbol. The Bible strongly condemns involvement with this pagan custom. Obviously the tree of Jer 10 is not a Christmas tree, since Christmas as we know it didn’t enter into Christianity until about the late fifth century AD. However, the pagan implications of the Christmas tree are clear as evidenced by history, which is why it was outlawed by the Puritans and many other religious groups in America. It was not until the 1850s with many Germans migrating to America with their Christmas tree tradition that Christmas became popularized again in this country.

The scriptures advise us to abstain from all appearances of evil. At the very least, because of its pagan connotation, a Christmas tree is an appearance of evil. Furthermore, where in the Bible do we find any examples of YHVH’s people reclaiming a pagan tradition, sanitizing it, and them practicing it? This occurred only when Israel was in a state of apostasy or was attempting to syncretize the religion of the Bible with the pagan practices of the surrounding nations.

True, many things in our daily lives have been tainted by paganism. If we were to toss out everything that fits that category, we probably wouldn’t be able to say anything, wear anything, eat anything, or do anything! What we are to throw out are those things that the Bible forbids, anything that is indigenously pagan, or anything that leads us away from YHVH and his Word.

Often our view of the Scriptures is filtered through our emotions. We all struggle with this spiritual disease. When we’re extremely partial to a belief or an idea, we have a hard time conforming our lives to those Scriptures that disagree with us. Thus, we have a spiritual blind spot. For many, Christmas has become a spiritual blind spot because it is so ingrained in our families and the culture. It is perhaps the hardest thing for people to let go of because of family and emotional ties. Each of us has to make the choice: do we love the praises of family or the praises of Elohim more (John 12:43)?

Some might accuse those who see Jeremiah 10 as a denunciation of the Christmas tree of prooftexting. By definition, a prooftext is a biblical passage used to support a theological argument or position. It can’t be denied that Jeremiah 10 is the perfect description of what has come to be known as a Christmas tree. This is not prooftexting, this is fact. The Word of Elohim says don’t do it. This is fact. I didn’t make it up, I just read it and believe it. Furthermore, to view Jeremiah 10 as a stand alone scripture or prooftext is incorrect. When Jeremiah 10 is placed against the larger context of the heathen practices of the Gentile cultures around ancient Israel, and against the Bible’s repeated prohibitions against (a) Israel’s adopting pagan religious practices of any kind, and (b) more specifically, not bringing into Israel the worship of the pagan fertility symbols of which the tree was a central object, YHVH’s prohibition against the Jeremiah 10 tree was much wider and broader implications. Basically, YHVH says “don’t do it,” and for me that settles it. YHVH wants a people for his own who will unquestioningly obey his word; who are of a contrite heart and tremble before (i.e., obey) his word (Isa 66:2). 

Elohim has given us seven biblical feasts that we can do that will bring glory and honor to him. Let’s practice and rejoice in what he has given us.

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13 Ways Hanukkah Is Different from Christmas

Hanukkah (a Hebrew word meaning “the Feast of Dedication” and also known as the Festival of Lights) is a minor holiday in Judaism and is only mentioned once in the Scriptures (John 10:22). It is the memorial of the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem after the pagan Greeks had defiled it with idols. There is no scriptural command to celebrate it. There is no indication that Yeshua or the early disciples celebrated it, although John in his Gospel mentions that Yeshua happened be at the temple during this holiday. Nevertheless, Hanukkah as great positive spiritual ramifications.

Although Hanukkah and Christmas occur in the same month, they are totally different from each other. Hanukkah is not a replacement for Christmas for those who have discovered the pagan origins and unbiblical nature of Christmas. Here are several ways how these two holidays differ.

  • Hanukkah is about staying pure from and resisting unbiblical pagan practices and defilement. The Catholic Church invented Christmas as a blend of biblical and pagan themes as an evangelistic tool to woo the pagans into Christianity. This is not how the Bible teaches that evangelism should be done! The gospel is to be preached and the pagans are to repent of their sin. The saints aren’t to become like the pagan sinners to win them to Messiah. Hanukkah, on the other hand, was intended to keep YHVH’s people separated from paganism, so they could remain true to biblical truth.
  • Hanukkah celebrated the cleansing of the temple from the defilement of pagan practices. Christmas involves bringing pagan defilement into the church. It is the corrupting of the church. Hanukkah was about purifying the temple of Elohim. The Bible teaches that the saint are now YHVH’s spiritual temple and we are to keep our temple pure and undefiled from the corruption of the world (1 Cor 2:16–17).
  • Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible (John 10:22); Christmas is not. It is true that the birth of Yeshua is well documented in the Gospels, but there is no command to celebrate his birthday. Instead, YHVH gave his saints the weekly Sabbath and seven biblical festivals to celebrate (see Lev 23). Christmas is not one of these commanded biblical holidays. To observe Christmas and to not observe the Sabbath and biblical feasts, which YHVH commands is people to do is, by biblical definition, sin, for sin is the violation of the laws or commandments of Elohim (1 John 3:4). 
  • Hanukkah was birthed out of spiritual revival (rejection of unbiblical pagan practices). Christmas was born out of spiritual apostasy (becoming like the pagans to “win them to Christ”).
  • Originally Hanukkah didn’t involve giving gifts. This is a recent tradition to compete with the popularity of Christmas.
  • Originally Hanukkah didn’t involve putting up Christmas-like lights. This too is a recent tradition to compete the popularity of Christmas and has nothing to do with theme of Hanukkah. At Hanukkah, one lights the hanukkiah or eight-branched candelabra only in honor of the temple’s menorah. The Christmas tradition of putting up lights goes back to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia where the pagans lit candles in honor of their demonic sun god. This has nothing to do with Yeshua, and everything to do with paganism.
  • Hanukkah doesn’t have the blatant ancient pagan sex worship symbols that Christmas has (the Christmas tree, the red ball-shaped Christmas tree ornaments, wreath, mistletoe, holly, Christmas lights, giving gifts et al), which come from the pagan demon-worship rituals of the Druids, the Scandinavians, and Germans, the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and the Egyptians.
  • Hanukkah never involved putting up a tree or a bush and decorating it with lights as Christmas does. The Christmas tree tradition is purely pagan in origination and has nothing to do with the Bible, except for the fact that the Bible identifies this practice as rooted in ancient pagan customs that YHVH’s people are NOT to do (Jer 10:1–5).
  • Hanukkah is about the survival of a small remnant of Jewish people desiring to remain true to their biblical faith against overwhelming odds. Christmas came about through compromising biblical truth in an attempt to come up with a way to placate the heathen masses who couldn’t let go of their idolatrous and unbiblical traditions. Hanukkah commemorates how the Jews were trying to keep the flame of truth alive against all odds, while Christmas is about diluting and profaning the truth of Yeshua’s birth with pagan customs, and then moving the time of his birth from the fall to the time of the winter solstice when the heathens were honoring their demonic sun deity.
  • At Hanukkah, children and adults play the dreidel game, which was how the Jews surreptitiously studied the Torah (the Law of Moses) when the heathens ruling over their land forbad it. The Torah teaches us about the YHVH’s seven biblical feasts. Christmas (and the other non-biblical Christian holidays) is religion’s attempt to draw people away from the Word of Elohim and replace it with man-made, pagan-based traditions that make the Word of Elohim of none-effect. This is something that Yeshua condemned (Mark 7:8–9; Matt 15:6).
  • Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday, while Christmas is the major Christian holiday of the year. The holidays that the Bible considers to be major, which YHVH commands his people to celebrate are the weekly Sabbath, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Day of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day.
  • Christians have two major (non-biblical) holidays they celebrate each year: Christmas and Easter. Those who follow the Bible celebrate seven major holidays or festivals as listed in Leviticus 23, and Hanukkah isn’t one of them. Clearly the Bible has more to offer in terms of exciting holidays and spiritually significant and meaningful celebrations than does mainstream Christianity with its non-biblical, man-made and pagan-based holiday traditions. Besides, the seven biblical holidays depict the seven steps one must take to obtain the free gift of immortality. Wow! No pagan-based Christian holidays can beat this!
  • In a certain sense, Hanukkah trumps Christmas, since without Hanukkah there would be no Christmas. How is this? Hanukkah celebrates the victory and preservation of the Jewish people in the land of Israel over their pagan Greek rulers who were trying to exterminate not only them, but their biblical based religion along with YHVH’s Torah. If it had not been for this remnant band of Jewish diehards (some of whom died for their faith in the struggle), not only would the Jewish faith in the land of Israel have been stamped out, but likely the Jewish people would have ceased to exist either through genocide or forced assimilation with the pagans around them. Had this happened, how would the Messiah have been born in the land of Israel about 140 years later, which Christmas celebrates? There would have been no Jewish culture for the Messiah to be born into, and it’s possible that his ancestors would have been killed in a Jewish holocaust as well.