New Year, Winter, Janus
Just a little bit of study will show that the new year is not on January 1 (in mid-winter), but rather in the spring when everything is coming to life and being re-born. Grass starts growing again, leaves come back on the trees, birds start chirping, and nature starts singing. The first month on the Biblical calendar is named Abib (Exodus 12:2; 13:4) meaning "ears of grain." The month name stems from the harvest of barley in the spring-time. The Biblical calendar is found in the heavens, Genesis 1:14-18. It consists of the sun, moon, and stars.
The pre-46 B.C. Roman calendar actually had lunar months that began on what was called then the kalends of March or March 1. March 1 then and March 1 now do not coincide because March now is an arbitrary solar month that consists of strictly 31 days. March - pre-46 B.C. - was a lunar month consisting of either 29 or 30 days depending upon the lunar cycle. The Roman month of "Martias" (March) was the moon that came closest to the spring equinox. This equinox which takes place on the current Gregorian calendar around the latter part of the month of March.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar of Rome, under the advice of an astronomer named Sosigenes decided to discard the moon from the Roman calendar and adopt a strictly solar calendar. The reason that January (then Ianuarius) was chosen to be the first month on the calendar was because it was named after the god Ianus (Janus), a two faced god of new beginnings. He was the god of gates, doors, births, etc. He had one face to take out the old year and bring in the new. He was sometimes depicted holding the number 300 in one hand and the number 65 in the other.
After I studied this out years ago, it seemed to me that I should acknowledge and celebrate the beginning of Yahweh's year, not the beginning of a year that is completely out of kilter with nature and dedicated to a pagan, heathen god. Here are some links to get you started if you want to search this out yourself.
At this time of the year my children see most people celebrating the holiday known as "Christmas." We, on the other hand, do not celebrate the holiday. I remember being in the grocery line one year in December and an elderly woman looking at one of my children and asking them "What is Santa brining you this year?" My little 5 year old looked up and responded, "We don't believe in Santa Clause." The woman looked puzzled and then looked at me, the Father. I gently told her, "Ma'am, we do not celebrate Christmas." You would have thought I was dropping each of my children off of a cliff. She looked at me in a way that would make any person feel uncomfortable. Those of you that do not celebrate this holiday know one of the most popular responses from parents that do celebrate, "You are depriving your children." I hear it just about every year.
This short blog entry is not meant to detail the main reason or sub-reasons I do not celebrate the holiday. The facts about the origins of the winter holiday are available to anyone who wants to do a little "digging." The simple point I want to bring up is this. While people today believe that Christmas is a major holiday for the Christian church, the church which claims the Bible as her guide, it is an undeniable fact that neither Yeshua or the apostles of Yeshua celebrated the holiday that people now believe honors the Messiah.
Scholars date Yeshua's birth to around 2 B.C. (give or take). The next year when his birth rolled around, no one who knew him, not even his closest family, celebrated his birth. The Hebrews never even celebrated birthdays with parties, cakes, candles, wishing, etc. During the life of Yeshua, still no celebrating his birth. After Yeshua left the earth, the apostles or earliest followers of Yeshua never celebrated his birth. If it's so honorable to celebrate Christmas why do we not see the people who knew him face to face doing so in the 1st century A.D.?
Many people believe my family is "weird" because we do not celebrate Christmas. We stick out like a sore thumb at this time of year. However, had we lived as Hebrews in the 1st century - followers of Yeshua the Messiah - we would have fit right in. The only people celebrating anything similar to the holiday now known as Christmas were the Romans who celebrated Saturnalia. A festival held around the winter solstice in honor of the god of agriculture, Saturn.
Usually, when I initially tell someone that I do not celebrate Christmas they immediately ask, "You mean you do not believe in the birth of Christ?" This is because they associate the modern holiday with the birth of Messiah. I gently explain to them that the birth of Messiah has nothing to do with this holiday called Christmas. The name Christmas didn't even actually come about until around the 11th century A.D. The holiday we know today is a blending of ancient heathen customs and truth. Yahweh is not honored when we take the truth about the birth of His sinless Son and attach numerous customs to it that were originally used to honor false gods.
I realize some people reading this may celebrate Christmas; this may be an entirely new concept to many. I want you to know that I have not written this in hatred, but in love. I would simply ask you to study the origin of the customs that go on this time of year. Why do people decorate homes with greenery, including placing a tree in their home? Why do people celebrate this holiday in the winter, around and on December 25? Where do these customs come from. After studying the origins a few Scriptures to begin with are Leviticus 18:1-5 and Deuteronomy 12:28-32. You might also read the account found in Exodus 32. Never forget this simple point though: the earliest followers of Yeshua did not celebrate Yeshua's birth in any way as a holiday. They could have; Yeshua was born and I'm sure those who accepted Him for who He was were very excited and thankful for His birth. But they never celebrated His birth, much less on December 25, with an evergreen tree in their homes. Seek Yahweh earnestly in prayer, asking him always to lead you along the the pathway of Scriptural truth.
I'm Going to Work Today
I was talking to a fellow the other day about doing some work for him and I told him I had Sunday (Easter Sunday) open. His response was, "You remember it's Easter right?" My response was, "Yes, I know. I do not celebrate Easter." He must have not celebrated it either because in a few minutes I will be leaving to go to his house for work.
To many people it seems strange to not celebrate Easter, but instead work on the day, but this would have been the practice of Yeshua the Messiah and every single follower of Yeshua in the 1st century Christian faith. No one, let me repeat, not one single follower of Yeshua in the 1st century (in the New Testament Scriptures) celebrated Easter. Easter didn't have anything to do with Yeshua, but it had everything to do with the custom of the heathens who honored the spring fertility goddes by such names as Ashtoreth, Astarte, Eostre, Ishtar, etc. All the sunrise services, egg hunts, easter bunnies, etc. stem from worship to this goddess.
If Yeshua the Messiah, nor his apostles and followers celebrated Easter then why should we? If they didn't think it to be important to their true worship and faith, why should we? Do you realize that while Yeshua lived (as well as His disciples) there were people on the earth and possibly in close proximity to Jerusalem that did celebrate Easter? Did you know that the people who celebrated it were not followers of Yahweh at all? Did you realize that people actually hunted eggs, had sunrise services, and depicted "easter" bunnies before and during the time of Yeshua for heathen, pagan worship?
Is Yahweh honored in the celebration of Easter? Not in the least bit, He is rather dishonored. To take such paganism and attempt to attach it to the resurrection of the Son of Yahweh is a stench in Yahweh's nostrils. You don't mix the holy with the unholy. You don't proclaim a feast to Yahweh and then build a golden calf to help you out in your worship (Exodus 32). Father help us to see the error of our ways more and more.
My Question to a Messianic Rabbi
Last night I attended a teaching/lecture about the Passover led by a Messianic Rabbi from the Atlanta area. It was very enjoyable to say the least, and I agreed with much of what He had to say, although I didn't partake in the "seder" because I will keep Passover next moon in the Gregorian month of April.
There was a few things mentioned by the Rabbi concerning the Jewish traditions that take place during the Passover seder/meal. These traditions are not participated in by me and my family because we feel they are additions to the Passover and not commandments from Yahweh. Exodus 12 is great place to go to learn about how to keep Passover, but Jewish tradition has added some baggage to its observance and such tradition is not necessary if one desires to celebrate the Passover.
That being said, I was talking to one of my friends during a break about asking the Rabbi about Easter - and I eventually got to ask him myself just before his departure from the church grounds. I asked him, "Sir, did the earliest followers of Yeshua in the 1st century celebrate Easter?" He looked at me like I was crazy! "Of course not! You've got to be kidding me!" were basically his words/statement. I then told him that I had figured he felt this way, but just wanted to hear it from him.
Easter is a man-made festival/day that has nothing to do with true worship. The name stems from a fertility goddess if anyone desires to do the research to find, and the practices such as sunrise services, easter egg hunts, bunnies laying eggs, etc. all have everything to do with false worship rather than with true worship. It is certainly true that Yeshua resurrected from the tomb on the third day, but none of his disciples or anyone in the Bible ever celebrated what the professing church world calls Easter today.
Simple question: If the early assembly did not celebrate Easter in the 1st century, why do people make it such an importance today? Why didn't the early believers think it to be important? The answer is because it was not important. They did not see it proper to mix pagan/heathen customs with great truths like the resurrection.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.