The Gilead Institute of America

What About Santa Claus & Christmas Trees?

The name Santa Claus is indispensably connected to Christmas, and especially with the practice of giving gifts on that day. Some believe that Santa Claus originated with a man known as St. Nicholas. He was a bishop in Asia Minor during the fourth century who did many charitable deeds in his time.

 On the other hand, some are of the opinion that the name Santa Claus originated way back in the time of Nimrod. In some ancient drawings depicting this Babylonish ruler, he is shown wearing a long beard, carrying a spotted fawn or deer, and holding a fir tree in his hand (all symbols now employed in one way or another with Christmas and Santa Claus today).

 Nevertheless, regardless of which origin of the name Santa Claus one chooses to believe, the concept of Santa Claus on a whole is totally fictitious. To tell children that Santa Claus is a man that lives in the north pole, rides a sled pulled by reindeer (one of which is called Rudolph who is known for his red nose), and that he, Santa, is responsible for bringing all the presents that are received on Christmas day, is totally untrue and should not be encouraged by true Christian parents.

 All who desire to follow the example of our beloved Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will always seek to live and speak only the truth. They will also earnestly seek to uphold the following words in their own lives and in the lives of their children:

 "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." John 4:24.

 (It is interesting to note that when the letters of the name, Santa, are re-arranged, they spell the word--Satan. Surely this is not by chance!)

As to the origin of the Christmas tree the Bible declares:

 "Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good." Jer. 10:1-5.

 Surely, none can deny that this decorated tree made mention of by Jeremiah the prophet answers to what is known today as the Christmas tree. Of course the trees of modern times are no longer decked only "with silver and with gold," but instead multicolored electric bulbs, tinsel, and various other objects. What we see today would certainly outdo the decorated trees of Jeremiah's day. Also, instead of the trees being fastened down "with

nails and hammers," people now use many different kinds of sophisticated wooden stands, special pots, and metal holders. Nevertheless, despite these technological changes the very same custom is still being followed in modern times. Therefore, despite these modifications God's original position regarding the observance of this "apparently innocent" practice is still very clear: "Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen . . . for the customs of the people are vain [of no value]" (Jer. 10:2-3).  

 In many ancient civilizations trees were worshipped as gods. Sometimes people even carved trees into strange looking images which they bowed down to and worshipped as their deities. But the question is appropriately asked, "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" Isa. 40:18. When these things are really considered, we can better understand why God prohibited His people from associating themselves with any practices that related whatsoever with pagan customs involving the use of trees, including decorating trees as it is still done today at Christmas time. Concerning the folly in using trees in this manner, the prophet Isaiah rightly declares:

 "He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. . . . To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One." Isa. 40:20, 25.

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