When I first learned about the "true origins" of Christmas some twenty years ago by now, I was pretty shaken by the information and stopped celebrating it for a time. But over the years I've come to look at it differently. If you don't know its origin, if you celebrate it innocently as an opportunity to glorify Christ, or even if you DO know its origin but treat it as an opportunity to glorify Christ nevertheless, it really doesn't matter that the date and some of its trappings were taken from pagan holidays. Something done in innocence IS innocent.
I think the scripture that applies most particularly to this concern is 1 Corinthians 10:24-33:
1Cr 10:24-33 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's [wealth]. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another [man's] conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.That is, don't even THINK ABOUT whether the food in the marketplace was sacrificed to idols (i.e. demons), don't worry about it, it's food given by God and idols are nothing. BUT of course if your brother is aware of the sacrifice and takes it seriously, then abstain for his sake. I don't know if this last concern applies to any Christians' attitude to Christmas, I rather doubt that it does but it would take some thinking about.
Those who insist that Christmas REALLY IS a pagan holiday are insisting that what is in our minds is irrelevant, that what the pagans call it is what it REALLY is. What do they want us to to do, simply eliminate some dates from our calendars altogether because they "really" belong to the pagans? What should we do, sleep through them? When we say "Merry Christmas" are we REALLY saying "Happy Death of Christ?" That's what they claim. What WE intend by the words is irrelevant to them. They superstitiously insist on an "objective" meaning to the words, as if there is simply no way we can avoid "eating the food sacrificed to idols" as it were, even though Paul tells us if we don't consider it at all then we are innocent of the charge. In contrast, our wise ones who know the "true origins" of the holiday, just as if they "know" the food in the marketplace was sacrificed to idols, are going to make us idolaters no matter what our intentions.
The great Charles Spurgeon also spoke against the celebration of Christmas, but if the information at this blog is correct, he nevertheless allowed it as an opportunity to preach Christ's birth and didn't condemn those who celebrated it.
As I note above, the word "merry" in the greeting "Merry Christmas" is sometimes condemned because the word "Christmas" "really" refers to the blasphemous Catholic ritual sacrifice of Christ, which of course cannot be merry, but is it fair to adhere to that meaning of "Christmas" which hardly anyone knows anyway? NOBODY thinks of the "mass" when wishing someone a Merry Christmas.
But apparently some object to the word "merry" apart from all that. Here's what Spurgeon said about the word as reported at the blog mentioned above:
Observe, this morning, the sacred joy of Mary that you may imitate it. This is a season when all men expect us to be joyous. We compliment each other with the desire that we may have a "Merry Christmas." Some Christians who are a little squeamish, do not like the word "merry." It is a right good old Saxon word, having the joy of childhood and the mirth of manhood in it, it brings before one's mind the old song of the waits, and the midnight peal of bells, the holly and the blazing log. I love it for its place in that most tender of all parables, where it is written, that, when the long-lost prodigal returned to his father safe and sound, "They began to be merry." This is the season when we are expected to be happy; and my heart's desire is, that in the highest and best sense, you who are believers may be "merry." Mary's heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of her joy, it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was not such merriment as worldlings will revel in to-day and to-morrow, but such merriment as the angels have around the throne, where they sing, "Glory to God in the highest," while we sing "On earth peace, goodwill towards men." Such merry hearts have a continual feast. I want you, ye children of the bride-chamber, to possess to-day and to-morrow, yea, all your days, the high and consecrated bliss of Mary, that you may not only read her words, but use them for yourselves, ever experiencing their meaning: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior."I wonder how often we'd be reminded of many of the great truths of scripture about God's incarnation as man in Christ's birth, such as this one, if we did not have Christmas as their occasion? How often would we hear the hymns we know as Christmas Carols, or the pure King James scripture and glorious God-exalting music of Handel's Messiah if not for Christmas?
So some treat the pagan definition of the date as if it were The Reality to which all else must bend. If it was originally celebrated as Saturnalia or as the birthday of Tammuz, this sort of mentality declares that it really IS Saturnalia or the birthday of Tammuz no matter what people make of it now. If the "yule log" belonged originally to a pagan festival then the mere mention of the word "yule" is to this mentality some kind of demonic invocation. This is absurd, and it is a violation of the spirit of the scripture I've quoted above. You CREATE the idolatrous mentality you attach to these mere dates and terms by equating them with their original meaning instead of recognizing that what they REALLY are has nothing to do with their original meaning but ONLY WITH WHAT THEY HAVE BECOME AND WHAT THEY ARE IN THE MINDS OF THOSE WHO CELEBRATE THEM. We do NOT celebrate "Tammuz's birthday" or "Saturnalia." We do NOT celebrate the "mass" either, so who cares that it refers to a Catholic blasphemy? If it is not that in the minds of those who celebrate it then it is simply not relevant. We KNOW Christ's actual birthday is not given in the scripture and we KNOW that if it were it would not be December 25th. SO WHAT?
You stumble your brethren and offend their conscience by making them aware of idolatries of which they would be completely innocent except for your meddling.
Hey, Mr. Wise Man. Say your birthday falls somewhere near Hitler's birthday and one year your family couldn't celebrate it on your actual birthday but chose another day for the occasion that just happened to be Hitler's birthday although nobody in the family knew that. Except Uncle Wilhelm who owlishly proclaimed that the family was not REALLY celebrating YOUR birthday, but REALLY celebrating Hitler's. Would he be right?
Just because witches and warlocks and idolaters have chosen a particular date on the calendar for their nefarious purposes does NOT mean we have to accept their definition of that date. May 1st is not "Beltane" unless you are a witch or a "neopagan," it's just May 1st.
Later. I feel the need to offer a caveat here. Not about what I've said above but about other innocent appropriations of what really are idolatrous or demonic activities. Such as the use of oracles, the Ouija board, the practices of Eastern religions and that sort of thing. AND the knowing participation in Catholic idolatries such as the Mass or "veneration" (worship) of Mary and Catholic "saints" and the like. Even if done in complete innocence of the occultic and demonic nature of these things you may still be exposing yourself to their demonic influence, because there IS no truly innocent way to practice something that really is demonic in both origin and common use. It is possible that you may be protected to some extent by your innocence of their true meaning, nevertheless, but this is not the same thing as dates on a calendar which all belong to God, or food in the marketplace that also all belongs to God. But some things DO have demonic origins, EXCLUSIVELY demonic origins, and you DO expose yourself to their influence by using them at all.
I innocently accepted a mantra through a Transcendental Meditation ceremony some years before I became a Christian, unaware that the sound I was given is the name of a Hindu "deity" I was unknowingly invoking whenever I pronounced it in my mind. I also got involved with various oracles and discovered their amazing "uncanniness." There are demons behind them too. I was definitely exposed to demonic activity through these things, some rather frightening occurrences as a matter of fact. The mantra quite suddenly opened up a vision to me as I simply sat pronouncing it in my mind - an amazingly clear vision as if I had been transported to some other place altogether, that so startled and frightened me I couldn't ever practice TM again. Some things you cannot REALLY fool around with "innocently" no matter how ignorant you are of their true nature.
It is also important that people be warned of the true meaning of the Catholic mass so that they can separate themselves from such things, and the demonic nature of the supposed apparitions of "Mary" for the same reason. These things are demonic delusions that will capture innocent minds if not warned about them.
BUT the celebration of a holiday with the intention of glorifying Christ or even in a heathen sort of innocence that nevertheless associates the holiday with Christ as a festival of "Christendom" with no knowledge of idolatries associated with it, is not the same thing. This really is best understood in the terms of the scripture I've quoted above, a case where there is no demonic influence if it is not recognized.