To answer these questions it is necessary to go outside the New Testament. The Encyclopedia Americana says, "The Christmas celebration was not observed in the first centuries of the church." The Catholic Encyclopedia says, "Christmas was not among the early festivals of the church."
Now notice this: If we cannot find the Christmas observance in the New Testament, and a secular encyclopedia says that it was not observed in the first centuries of the church, and a religious encyclopedia says that it was nonexistent in the early church, then we must conclude that it did not originate with the apostles.
By whose authority did this December observance originate? Colliers Encyclopedia tells us that Lyberius, the Bishop of Rome, whom the Catholics regard as one of the early Popes, ordered in 354 A.D. that "December 25th be observed as the birthday of Christ." December 25th had formerly been used by the Romans as a feast day for their Sun-God, Mithra. The Roman Saturnalia (riotous festival of Saturn) also came at this time. "The indications are that the church in this way grasped an opportunity to turn the people away from a purely pagan observance of the winter solstice to a day of adoration of Christ the Lord. Both Saint Cyprian and Saint John Chrysostom allude to this thought in their writings." (Colliers Encyclopedia) "December 25th was already a festive day for the sun god, Mithra, and appealed to the Christians as an appropriate day to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the light of the world." (Lincoln Library of Essential Information)
From these statements by reliable sources it is easy to see that the date of Christmas had its origin in a pre-Christian age among the pagans. It was adopted into a so- called "Christian" holiday by the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, the word "Christmas" is of Catholic origin. The word is derived from the medieval "Christes Masse," the mass of Christ, which is a corruption of the Lord's Supper. On December 25th, even until this day, the Catholics hold a special Mass for Christ. In time, "Christes Masse" came to be shortened to "Christmas."
Christmas, then, had its origin and authority in the Roman Catholic church.
- by David Padfield