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4m Nigerian Christians who won’t celebrate Christmas

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By Sam Eyoboka  with Agency reports

The Pew Research Center, Nigeria has put the population of Nigerian Christians at over 85 million. According to the research, Nigeria has the largest Christian population of Christians in Africa with various denominations, saying that the number of Christians in Nigeria has grown from 21.4 per cent in 1953 to 49.3 per cent in 2010. The above figure may not be backed by any empirical data because nobody knows how many Nigerians there are. The authorities have been too afraid to find out. Every headcount held in Nigeria in the past 30 years has ended in national controversy and with strong allegations of population inflation. The last census was carried out in 1991.
But how many of the above figure will be able to answer the question: “Why do you celebrate Christmas?” Many would say Christmas honors the birthday of Jesus. Others feel that Christmas is a good Christian family get-together. Many do it simply because they’ve always done it. Christmas can appear tantalizing to the eye and ear. People appear happy, generous, full of good cheer. Twinkling lights decorate many houses. Santa Claus and his reindeer are pictured as poised to lift off from snow-covered front yards or rooftops, although in the southern hemisphere and tropics there is no December snow. The colorful, peaceful-appearing Christmas scene can be intoxicating, addicting. Shoppers pack stores, browsing for gifts they hope to buy at bargain-basement prices. Soaring strains of White Christmas, Silent Night or Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer resonate everywhere. The December weather of the northern hemisphere might be frightful outside, but the feeling and warmth inside is delightful. Christmas trees with twinkling lights and bright, sparkling ornaments create a mystical and glowing environment. Entire families want to experience the special mystery that only comes with the Christmas season. There is no religious holiday quite like it for the millions everywhere who observe it.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Over four million Nigerian Christians will regard Sunday, December 25, as any other Sunday and go about their normal Sunday business without the fanfare associated with the season. About 300,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nigeria will not be part of the Christmas celebration because they believe in Jesus and God (Jehovah), and follow God’s teachings but do not celebrate religious holidays or birthdays. Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate milestones like anniversaries and graduations. One of the reasons they don’t celebrate Christmas is because December 25 is not the birthdate of the historical Jesus. In fact, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses belief, Jesus’ birth date can’t be narrowed down to any specific date but can be estimated counting back from the day of his death when he was 33 1/2 years old. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe December 25 being recognized as the birth day of Jesus came from the Pagan tradition of the birth date being near the winter solstice. Pagans worshipped the sun god and tried to convince Christians to observe their tradition by telling them it was Jesus’ birthday.

Seventh-Day  Adventists 

Seventh-day Adventist Church, which was started in Nigeria in 1914 by a Missionary David C. Babcock after coming from mission in Sierra Leone, does not celebrate Christmas. About 278,000 Adventists live in Nigeria. They do not celebrate any religious holidays or festivals. The only time that Seventh-day Adventists set apart as holy is the weekly Sabbath, which occurs from Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset. One reason that Seventh-day Adventists cite when explaining why they do not celebrate Christmas is that the date of December 25 has no biblical basis. They also do not celebrate Christmas because they believe that Christmas is a holiday that encourages materialism and consumption. While Seventh-day Adventists do not officially celebrate religious holidays, they do use holidays to focus on biblical messages. 

God’s Kingdom Society,  GKS

 For God’s Kingdom Society, a church founded by a Nigerian, Saint Gideon Urhobo in 1934, that parades over three million population, the reverse is the case. Members of the church believe that Christ, the reason for Christmas celebrations, was not born in December but rather in October. They do not also call their commemoration of the day Christmas but Freedom Day celebration. Accrding to the church with headquarters in Warri, Delta State of Nigeria, there are geographical evidence to prove that Jesus Christ was not born in December, stressing that Christ was not born in winter and “judging from the time that Zachariah officiated in the temple, we can count the time that his wife got pregnant and that was from the month of July, which is Tammuz. “From the month of July to December is six months and in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s conception, the angel went and told Mary that she would be pregnant. Mary’s conception started from the month of January. January to September, we have nine months and every matured child will be in the mother’s womb for at least 280 days or nine months and anytime in the 10th month, he will be born. “So it was with John the Baptist, the angel having told the father that his wife would be pregnant in the month of July. Then, in December, which was the sixth month, her cousin Elizabeth went and stayed with her for three months. Six plus three gives us nine and anytime in the tenth month, April, John the Baptist was born. Having known that John the Baptist was born in April, we only need to add six months giving us October when our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was born.” According to GKS, Freedom Day Celebration is to tell mankind that God has been so kind to man that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to liberate the world. Christmas to members of GKS is a misnomer. To them Freedom Day Celebration is not Christmas but a celebration of Christ’s liberation. “Christmas is a misnomer, I am not just saying it, scholars have said it,” Adedokun said. “In the West African Pilot of 1937, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said: ‘Three days from today, the Christian world will celebrate Christmas, although scholars and those with academic training know that Christmas is a misnomer. In so far as December 25th is concerned, it not being the date of the birth of Joshua, Emmanuel, Benjamin, David, Christ whom the Greeks call Jesus, yet, we follow in the medieval origin of this neo-pagan festival to associate ourselves with the message of glad tiding and peace.’ “Astronomers and scholars know that Jesus was not born on December 25, if you go to the internet, you will see for yourself,” the GKS minister stated. 

Was Jesus really born on December 25?

 Please pause for a moment and ask yourself: Was Christ really born on Christmas Day? After all, the Bible nowhere tells us the day of His birth. In fact, most credible secular historical writings tell us that Christmas, more than 200 years after Jesus’ death, was considered sinful: “As late as A.D. 245 [the early Catholic theologian] Origen … repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 6, p. 293, “Christmas”). In A.D. 354, a Latin chronographer mentioned Christmas, but even then he did not write about it as an observed festival (ibid.). There is no biblical evidence that December 25 was Jesus’ birth date. In fact, the Bible record strongly shows that Jesus couldn’t have been born then. For example, Luke tells us that the shepherds were keeping their sheep in the fields at night when Jesus was born. “And she [Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:7-8, emphasis added throughout). But late December is Judea’s cold and rainy season. Would shepherds actually keep their fragile flocks out in the open fields on a cold late-December night near Bethlehem? No responsible shepherd would subject his sheep to the elements at that time of year when cold rains, and occasional snow, are common in that region. “The climate of Palestine is not so severe as the climate of this country [England]; but even there, though the heat of the day be considerable, the cold of the night, from December to February, is very piercing, and it was not the custom for the shepherds of Judea to watch their flocks in the open fields later than about the end of October” (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1959, p. 91). Luke also tells us that Jesus was born at the time of a census ordered by the Roman emperor (Luke 2:1-3). The Romans were brilliant administrators; they certainly would not have ordered people to journey to be registered at a time of year when roads would have been wet and muddy and traveling conditions miserable. Such a move would have been self-defeating on its face. The belief that Jesus was born on or around December 25 simply has no basis in fact, even if 2 billion people have accepted it without question. As the famous playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.”

 Does Christmas really honor Christ?

 If the Christmas holiday is an important celebration to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, why is it nowhere mentioned in the Bible? Why didn’t Christ instruct His closest followers, His 12 chosen apostles, to keep Christmas? Why didn’t they institute or teach it to the early Church? Before you answer, consider that Jesus gave great authority to His 12 apostles, assuring them that they will hold positions of great importance and responsibility in His Kingdom (Matthew 18:18; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29-30). But since Jesus never taught His apostles to keep Christmas, nor did they ever teach it to the Church though they had years of opportunity to do so, shouldn’t that make us question whether Christmas is something Jesus really wants or appreciates? So how did Christmas become such a widespread practice if the Bible doesn’t sanction it, if Christ didn’t observe it and if He never taught His disciples and the early Church to celebrate it?




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