There is no doubt that some of what we now refer to as Christmas traditions can be traced back, in some form, to pagan cultures and celebrations. The ringing of bells, for example, is generally thought to have had its origin in the early pagan winter celebration of ringing of bells to drive out evil spirits. In later centuries, bells were rung on Christmas Eve to welcome in the spirit of Christmas with joyful noise (Psalm 95:1). When Christians enjoy the beauty of a glorious bell choir ringing Christmas carols, we are reminded of the coming of Jesus into the world, not the driving out of evil spirits.
Similarly, there was an early pagan tradition of lighting candles to drive away the forces of cold and darkness. However, is it likely that our hearts are drawn to those early pagans rather than rejoicing in our Saviour, the Light of the World (John 1:4-9) as we light candles? Of course not. Nor is it likely that when I give gifts to my loved ones at Christmas, the gifts will have less significance to either of us because some Druid somewhere in time offered a gift to his goat as part of some pagan ritual. No, we remember, as we should, the gifts given to the Christ-child by the Magi (Matthew 2:11). Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and therefore His birth is worthy of celebration.
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