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What Does The Bible Say About Celebrating Holidays?

The Bible does not explicitly prohibit or command the celebration of holidays. However, it does provide principles that can guide believers in determining whether and how to celebrate various holidays.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible neither prohibits nor commands the celebration of non-religious holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s. It emphasizes spiritual priorities rather than regulations.

Principles like maintaining peace, avoiding idolatry, and focusing on Christ can help guide decisions.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine relevant Biblical passages concerning religious festivals, discuss principles regarding the celebration of days and seasons, analyze Scriptural evidence on major holidays like Easter and Christmas, and provide guidance for the application of Biblical wisdom.

The Bible on Religious Festivals

Old Testament Festivals

The Old Testament describes several religious festivals and feasts that God commanded the Israelites to observe. These included festivals like the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23).

These festivals commemorated key events in Israel’s history, like the exodus from Egypt, and were times for the people to gather worship, offer sacrifices, celebrate God’s provision, and anticipate the coming Messiah.

Principles and Warnings Regarding Religious Festivals

The Bible lays out principles about the heart attitude behind celebrating festivals. For example, Isaiah 1:14 says God hates festivals when the people’s hearts are not right with Him. Rather than outward ritual, God desires inward faith and obedience.

Colossians 2:16-17 explains that the Old Testament festivals foreshadowed Christ, who fulfilled them.

The Bible also issues warnings about festivals, especially those with pagan origins. Deuteronomy 12:29-32 warned Israel not to worship God in the same ways other nations worshiped their gods. Over time, some churches adopted pagan customs and reinvented them as “Christian” festivals.

However, many argue this syncretism corrupts faith. For example, some say Christ was actually born in spring, not December 25, and condemn blending gospel truth with pagan traditions.

Fulfillment in Christ

The Bible teaches that Christ’s life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the meaning behind the Old Testament religious festivals. As the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), Christ took God’s judgment in our place, reconciling us to God.

Hebrews 10 celebrates that Christ’s sacrifice made animal sacrifices and religious rituals obsolete for those who trust in Him. We no longer need a temple, priesthood, or annual atonement to approach God. Believers now celebrate salvation and freedom from sin continually rather than one week a year.God still calls His people to gather in worship. But for Christians, Christ serves as the substance behind the Old Testament shadow. The feasts find their interpretation and ultimate meaning in the redemption accomplished in Christ. Believers can celebrate this redemption every day.

Principles Regarding Days and Seasons

Liberty in Christ

The apostle Paul reminds us that as Christians, we have liberty in Christ (Galatians 5:1). We are not under obligation to observe special days, festivals, new moons, or sabbaths as requirements of the law. However, Paul also encourages us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

If celebrating certain holidays brings joy to a fellow believer and does not violate scriptural principles, we can join in celebration while maintaining our liberty in Christ.

Maintaining Peace

The Bible encourages us to “let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths” (Colossians 2:16). However, we are also exhorted to live peaceably with all and avoid offending others (Romans 12:18, 1 Corinthians 10:32-33).

We can thoughtfully consider cultural celebrations on a case-by-case basis, being sensitive to the consciences of others.

Avoiding Idolatry

Scripture sternly warns against idolatry – worshipping anyone or anything other than the one true God (Exodus 20:3-6). Celebrations centered around false gods or the occult should clearly be avoided. Even certain traditions originally tied to Christian holidays may have become so commercialized and worldly that they lead people away from Christ rather than towards Him.

We need wisdom and discernment to recognize potential idolatry.

Focusing on Spiritual Priorities

As Christians, we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We should be careful not to allow celebrations to overshadow our primary spiritual focus of bringing glory to God, building His Kingdom, and sharing the Gospel.

Paul reminds us to set our minds on things above rather than earthly things (Colossians 3:2). We can celebrate holidays in a God-honoring way, while keeping our eyes fixed on eternal treasure in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

Evidence Regarding Major Holidays


Easter is one of the most celebrated Christian holidays, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, some argue that Easter has pagan origins, stemming from festivals celebrating the fertility goddess Eostre.

Regardless of origins, many Christians around the world gather to celebrate on Easter Sunday with church services, family meals, Easter egg hunts, and more. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 67% of Americans planned to celebrate Easter that year.


Christmas is arguably the most popular Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth on December 25th. However, biblical evidence does not confirm this actual date. Some claim the timing was chosen to coincide with pagan winter solstice festivals.

Nonetheless, Christmas remains a major religious, cultural, commercial celebration worldwide. According to National Retail Federation data, over 166 million Americans were expected to shop during the 2022 Christmas season.

What about Other Religious Holidays?

Christians hold a range of views on celebrating other religious holidays. Most oppose partaking in holidays honoring other deities. However, some may acknowledge certain secular aspects. According to data from Statista, an increasing number of non-Jewish Americans have hosted or attended a Passover Seder in recent years.

In 2021, 25% of respondents reported attending a Seder, up from only 2% in 2020.

Application of Biblical Wisdom

Celebrate Unto the Lord

The Bible encourages believers to celebrate and partake in holidays in a God-honoring way. Colossians 3:17 (NIV) instructs, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

This verse reminds Christians that even their celebrations and holidays should ultimately point to Christ and bring glory to God. Rather than self-indulgence, believers’ motives should be worship, thankfulness, and sharing the gospel.

For example, at Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:4-20). And at Easter we remember Christ’s resurrection and triumph over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). These holidays provide opportunities for believers to reflect on God’s truth and grace.

The celebrations can include family time, gift giving, feasting, and outreach to the poor and needy (Nehemiah 8:10). In all things, the focus should remain on the Lord.

Focus on Christ

The Bible warns about the dangers of idolatry and worldliness (1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, Christians should be careful not to get caught up in consumerism, materialism, or secularism when celebrating holidays. It’s easy to make idols out of food, possessions, self, family, and traditions.

But Scripture calls believers to make Christ preeminent in everything (Colossians 1:18).

Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This should be the guiding principle. While there is freedom in the faith, believers should ask themselves, “Does this celebration bring glory to God or distract people from him?”

It’s wise to avoid anything that glorifies sin or distorts biblical truth.

Consider Context and Conscience

When approaching special days or seasons, Christians should apply biblical principles within their current cultural context. Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Believers should thoughtfully discern how to express God’s truth to their society in culturally relevant ways.

For example, during the Christmas season a family might display a nativity scene in their yard along with Christmas lights. The nativity points to Christ while the lights show their participation in cultural traditions.

And during October, believers might carve gospel-themed pumpkin decorations instead of demonic faces.

Additionally, Christians should act in faith according to their conscience before God (Romans 14:5-6). Personal boundaries differ, so legalism should be avoided. Through prayer and Scripture, believers must each determine how to walk in holiness while showing Christ’s love to the world around them.


In summary, the Bible does not explicitly prohibit celebrating non-religious holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Principles of Christian liberty, avoiding idolatry, and focusing on spiritual priorities guide the application of Biblical wisdom.

While the Bible is clear regarding Old Testament religious festivals and their fulfillment in Christ, there are open questions concerning the proper way to celebrate other modern holidays.

In the end, celebrations should be unto the Lord, focused on Christ, considerate of contexts, and guided by the Holy Spirit and individual conscience.

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